Saturday, April 29, 2006

Life, free will and the illusion of time.

"It is crucial to say first that this is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what to take when. It is just because you are not ready to do what you should elect to do that time exists at all. "

Reality, and name-checking God.

A Course In Miracles ~ Free Miraculous Healing Course:
"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."

The Fitzgerald Report The Hundred-Year Lie : How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health: Books: Randall Fitzgerald:
"Of those 40 years of increased lifespan during the 20th century, no more than seven years can be credited to modern medicine, with even most of that due to advances in medical technology rather than drugs. That estimate comes from Dr. Dick Jackson, director of the Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ninety percent of the reduction in the death rate occurred before the introduction of antibiotics or vaccines, adds Dr. Anthony Cortese, a former U.S. Public Health Service official. It was largely due to improved water, food, and milk sanitations; a reduction in physical crowding; the introduction of central heating, municipal sewer systems, and refrigeration; and the move away from highly toxic coal and wood burning to less toxic natural gas and oil.

The scientist who discovered the first two commercially manufactured antibiotics, the microbiologist Rene Dubos, admitted in his book The Mirage of Health: "The introduction of inexpensive cotton undergarments easy to launder and of transparent glass that brought light into the most humble dwelling, contributed more to the control of infection than did all the drugs and medical practices."

...When the drug had earlier been tested on monkeys, their glands swelled up. Because no other adverse symptoms were detected in the lab animals, this drug, which is designed to treat leukemia, MS and rheumatoid arthritis by stimulating the immune system, was approved for testing on human volunteers in London. (The drug called TGN1412 comes from a German biopharmaceutical company.)

Each of the six volunteers administered the drug suffered almost immediate multi-organ inflammation and ended up on life support machines. In a classic understatement, a physician trying to save the men's lives at a London hospital told the news media: "It could be that defects with this drug didn't show up in preclinical data from the tests on primates."

As The Hundred Year Lie documents, animal testing of chemicals cannot predict how these substances will affect human health. To the contrary, we have decades of evidence that animal test results give manufacturers and the public a false sense of security about the safety of synthetic chemicals in food, medicine and consumer products.

"So what, then, is the primary objective of compulsory education?"

Nerdshit » Blog Archive » Dumbing Us Down: An Interview With John Taylor Gatto:
"The primary objective is to convert human raw material into human resources which can be employed efficiently by the managers of government and the economy. The original purposes of schooling were to make good people (the religious purpose), to make good citizens (the public purpose) and to make individuals their personal best (the private purpose). Throughout the 19th century, a new Fourth Purpose began to emerge, tested thoroughly in the military state of Prussia in northern Europe. The Fourth Purpose made the point of mass schooling to serve big business and big government by extending childhood, replacing thinking with drill and memorization while fashioning incomplete people unable to protect themselves from exhortation, advertising and other forms of indirect command. In this fashion, poor Prussia with a small population became one of the great powers of the earth. Its new schooling method was imitated far and wide, from Japan to the United States.

...Reflexive obedience is at the heart of the thing. The principal way this is measured is through testing, and most recently through standardized testing. Other vital attributes of a model modern citizen—each necessary to the health of a mass production economy—are an indifferent or poor ability to speak in a public forum or to write cogently (hence rendering all protest ineffective and short-lived) and an inability to think critically (which opens the mind to receptivity to various forms of coercion, like advertising).

Few of us stop to consider the message of school bells, for instance, though many of us are aware that rats and dogs have been trained to respond to such signals for a century and more. If, at the clang of a gong or the sound of a buzzer we must stop whatever it is that we are doing and go to another cell where we begin doing something entirely different, the constant repetition of these drills over the years sets up an internal state where, for many, nothing is worth beginning because the natural predilection to continue or finish will be frustrated.

...State-approved standardized curriculum acts the way blinders do on a horse—they focus attention narrowly on a body of data arranged in a particular way by invisible employees of the political state. This data cannot be argued with, substituted for or amended. The dialectical processes with which thinkers like Aristotle were familiar thousands of years ago—and elite private boarding schools like Groton and St. Paul’s are quite conversant with today—simply don’t exist for public school students.

...As I said before, standardized tests measure the degree of obedience obtained by individual students. They pretty much rank every kid in the nation from first to last. They justify wholesale exclusions from professional study even though they have never been shown to correlate with future behavior in any professional area. Most of us don’t know this, but the rough and ready test of everyday behavior in regard to these instruments should be enough to open anybody’s eyes. Has anyone reading these words ever asked a doctor, lawyer, architect, babysitter, barber or what have you—even once—what their grades or test scores were? Has anyone even thought to do so? Case closed. Schools don’t teach the way children learn. Children learn by observation, experience, trial and error and involvement, not by confinement and thin abstractions.

That healing power of religion...

Questions about sales, selling, influence, persuasion, and more! by Kevin Hogan:
"My personal feelings about religion mirror those of Ben Franklin, William James and the other great philosophers. Religion is an organized way for people to collectively come together and experience some specific set of feelings which they find useful or familiar. It can be the opiate of the masses in post reformation Christianity or it can be the fuel for terrorist activity and ultimately war. People will die for ideologies much faster than they will for values.

'Religion' imparts from a human leader a set of beliefs and attitudes and actions toward other people. In the majority of religions those actions are largely neutral to slightly positive for society or perhaps simply a bit annoying. In fundamentalist religions the beliefs of the leaders are driven into the minds of the masses as a stimuli to harm or hate others. Thus, my personal opinion is that religion is potentially dangerous. It is also potentially useful.

Religion by definition is run by the individual who claim to represent or maybe even be in touch with a god. No one tests him, checks his cell phone calls to and from heaven or paradise. The masses simply believe it to be true because it's what they were taught. Study religion and it's long history and you study the most powerful and painful uses of influence for good and evil. There is much to be learned from watching how religion ...influences...the masses."

Friday, April 28, 2006


Fred On Everything:
"Women want security, comfort, nice houses and nice cars. Men eventually feel cramped by them. Of course there are exceptions. The old social order, in which women were shy and retiring and stayed in the house, was to a considerable extent artificial. You now see women on the long mountain trails, sometimes solo, and diving the deep walls in the Caribbean. But they are exceptions.

And so you get a young engineer who knows that something is wrong but may not know what. He’s bright. Engineers are. He is working on some detail of the hot section of a big new high-efficiency turbo-fan. It is interesting work and well paid. After work every day he goes to the local hangout to check out the babes, though somehow they aren’t quite what he’s looking for, and his buddies come by with their new Lexuses, and they drink beer and talk about the market. Every night. Another birthday rolls around. He asks the overarching question for a lot of young males today in a world that isn’t theirs: “Is this all?”

Maybe he gets a motorcycle, or skydives, but it’s still the controlled world, artificial adventure. Or, just maybe, he goes to some silly survival school, an answer arguably ridiculous to a question that isn’t."

Being vs Doing

You Are A Cog.: Refuge, Part Two:
"Achieving goals will not make you happy.
Peace of mind, refuge, is not reached following a checklist of achievements.

We should not be inspired to do something, we should be inspired to be something. To be someone. In other words, don’t just achieve a goal. Be someone that achieves goals. Don’t just do a kind deed. Be a kind person. Like that."

Failures of Motivation

Find the Answer Now! Archives:
"Q: Why can't I get motivated...?

1. Self-sabotage
2. Fear of success
3. Fear of failure
4. Conflicting beliefs
5. Conflicting values
6. No reason to do so
7. People will benefit aside from you, that you do not like"

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Derren Brown's a British mentalist/magician who does all sorts of cool tricks and psychological suggestions using a "mixture of magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship".

He's got some excellent specials that run on the BBC.

Check out his KUNG FU MIND PUNCH!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Moron, meet Obvious

Overheard in the Office: The Voice of the Cubicle - 4PM Staff Meeting:
"4PM Staff Meeting

Drone: With all the cutbacks, re-orgs and layoffs, what is management doing to keep up morale?
Manager: It's called a paycheck. You know, that thing that magically appears in your bank account every month? That is your motivation. Any more questions?

730 International Parkway
Richardson, Texas"

Gosh, whatever could have been going on? - Catholic priest found dead in Caracas hotel; police seek rent-boy assailant:
"Following news early this morning that the dead body of a Barquisimeto priest had been found in a room at the Hotel Bruno (close to Avenida Casanova) in Caracas, Venezuelan Conference of Bishops (CEV) secretary, Monsignor Ramon Viloria has told reporters of the Catholic Church hierarchy's concern over the weekend death which police investigators are treating as having taken place 'under strange circumstances.'"

Ya know, if the traditional "Christian" god does exist, omnipotent and omniscient, he's got a really fucked up way of doing things.

Lightning kills 5 children praying at cross - 25 Apr 2006 - World News:
"Five Mexican children were killed when a large metal cross they were praying at was struck by lightning in central Mexico, local media reported.

Five children between 9 and 16 years old died and several others suffered burns when lightning struck a white-painted metal cross set on a hill in the town of Santa Maria del Rio early on Sunday, according to two newspaper reports."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"the wisest approach may be to simply admit, “There are some things I just don’t know.”"

To Thine Own Self Be True:
"You’ve come full circle though. You conclude that what you should do with your life is to figure out what you should do with your life. Dead end.

You’re playing a game where you don’t know all the rules, and the exact purpose of the game isn’t clear. However, you still have to make a move. You have no choice in that respect. Even standing still is a valid move in the game of life. If you look to the game for answers, the ultimate answer will be that you should make moves that will help you figure out the game. But since you don’t know the game well enough, you still don’t know what move to make right now. This approach simply isn’t helpful. It just doesn’t create clarity. It will only leave you more confused.

Of course, you could just start making random moves to learn about life through trial and error. That’s a valid short-term approach, but we can do better than that…

First, let’s redefine the way you think about career. Just for a moment, forget about job titles, responsibilities, goals, projects, and tasks. Consider your career as an expression of who you are: being instead of doing.

...Once you come at this problem from the mindset of beingness, instead of doingness, your real career becomes this: Your career is to express your inner self through the physical universe. That’s your job description.

Your true career is the dynamic expression of your inner being.

...Do you hesitate to make a long-term career commitment because you don’t want to limit yourself? I don’t want to limit myself either. By using an inside-out approach to career, you don’t have to limit yourself. You can express the whole you to the world, not just a small piece.

Do you find your current career too limiting? Do you enjoy your work while also wondering about all the other things you could be doing? Why not find a way to do them too? Stop thinking in terms of A or B, and think A and B. What would happen if you redefined your career as the outer expression of your inner being? What parts of your inner being are not enjoying enough outward expression? Are you incapacitating your intellect? Curtailing your creativity? Squelching your sense of humor?

Don’t turn your career into a prison for your soul. If your inner self wants to spread out, let it. To thine own self be true."

Monday, April 24, 2006

How we defeated Hitler

Best of Zines:
"Hitler once said that he would win the war either way -- if he lost, it would be because the allies built an even bigger war machine. Does this make sense to you? Fifty years after and we still haven't caught up to Hitler. How many world leaders, in 1999, could hear this insight without scoffing or just being baffled?"

It is all arbitrary, ya know.

Best of Zines:
"If the surface of the earth were covered with diamonds and gold, and we could get mud only by digging deep mines, then we would dig deep mud mines, and people in houses of diamonds and gold would look with bitter envy at the rich brown lustre of the houses of mud, and they would work their whole lives to live in mud houses and employ maids to scour the filthy unsanitary diamond and gold dust off the precious mud floors.

The mud-dwellers would hide their shameful secret -- that they still weren't happy. They would feel guilty and start ambitious programs to bring mud to the whole world. They would go to the most pathetically undeveloped places, where people relaxed all day in villages built of diamonds and gold that they just picked up off the ground; they would tear down the villages and erect modern mud housing projects; in return for this service, they would teach the people productive job skills by putting them to work in the mud mines and the mud-processing plants. If anyone complained, they would be indignantly denounced as ungrateful by people who had worked their whole lives before they earned the privilege of living in mud.

People who claimed to prefer living in gold and diamonds, and stubbornly refused to better themselves, would be dismissed as lazy and shiftless. If too many people became lazy, they would have to be somehow compelled to work in the mud factories and do their part for the common good. Eventually, a country might become rich enough to make building codes that required all structures to be made of mud, so no one would have to endure the shame of looking at -- or worse, living in -- golden houses. Of course, anyone blessed with living in such a muddy country should be deeply grateful,and do their share of the work that maintains such enviable muddiness.

But now there's a new discovery! By digging even deeper mines, with even greater effort, we can extract a substance so rare and refined that only the most laboriously trained noses can appreciate its exquisite scent. That's right -- shit! And if we all redouble our activity, we may see a day when anyone, by working hard enough, can earn the chance to live in a shithouse."

Remember... it's just a ride.

In the spirit of Bill Hicks and Richard Bach.

...this world and everything in it is a game: I don't mean competition; I mean (1) a narrowing of consciousness (2) for fun. If you and I play chess or cards or something, we are agreeing to temporarily forget our wider world and focus in to a simplified world of invented rules and symbols. If your concentration is strong enough, you can totally block your awareness that it's just a made-up game, that its original purpose is fun, that what happens in it is not very important, that the other players are your friends, that you can quit at any moment, and that you can change the rules.

The March of Progress

Best of Zines:
"But isn't the world changing faster than ever? No! I think the world is more cautious, more lifeless, and more controlled than it has ever been. In the old days you could run off and join a traveling show, or the gypsies. Imagine if someone came into your city now, and set up a tent in a park, and put on a play or told fortunes. Someone worried about their property values would call the cops, who would throw all the people in jail and confiscate their stuff."

Love vs Fear

Best of Zines:
"In theory, love is the strongest emotion. But in the actual world I see around me, the strongest emotion by far is fear, and the strongest kind of fear is the fear of looking bad. I feel like, to most people, I am a tool to keep them from looking bad, which I do, in their hands, by living the way they live and acting happy. If I live like them and fail to act happy, I threaten to expose their own life-long unhappiness that they've worked so hard to keep hidden from themselves; so they get furious and abuse and threaten me until I act happier. And if I live unlike them, and let on that it's working, they get murderous. I'm pretty sure that my parents and closer friends wouldn't kill me, but remember that we're dealing with the strongest emotion in this world. I think the real reason behind all genocides and systematic mass killings is that some people are living in a way that makes you look bad, and it's easier to just murder them all than to admit that your whole life has been a giant humiliating mistake, and start over from nothing."

Good vs Evil

The Parable of the Box:
"In the 1930's, anthropologist Ruth Benedict tried to discover why some cultures are 'good,' to use her word, and some are not. She noticed that members of some cultures were generally 'surly and nasty' -- words she and her assistant Abraham Maslow recognized as unscientific -- while members of other cultures were almost invariably 'nice.'

Benedict is of course not the only person to have made this distinction. The psychologist Erich Fromm found that cultures fell, sometimes easily, into distinct categories such as 'life-affirmative,' or 'destructive.' The Zuni Pueblos, Semangs, Mbutus, and othes that he placed in the former category are extraordinary for the way in which they contrast with our own culture. 'There is a minimum of hostility, violence, or cruelty among people, no harsh punishment, hardly any crime, and the institution of war is absent or plays an exceedingly small role. Children are treated with kindness, there is no severe corporal punishment; women are in general considered equal to men, or at least not exploited or humiliated; there is a genarally permissive and affirmative attitude toward sex. There is little envy, covetousness, greed, and exploitativeness. There is also little competition and individualism and a great deal of cooperation; personal property is only in things that are used. There is a general attitude of trust and confidence, not only in others but particularly in nature; a general prevalence of good humor, and a relative absence of depressive moods.'

Readers may more closely recognize our own culture in Fromm's description of the Dobus, Kwaikutl, Aztecs, and others he put into the category of 'destructive.' These cultures, he said, are 'characterized by much interpersonal violence, destructiveness, aggression, and cruelty, both within the tribe and against others, a pleasure in war, maliciousness, and treachery. The whole atmosphere of life is one of hostility, tension, and fear. Usually there is a great deal of competition, great emphasis on private property (if not in material things then in symbols), strict hierarchies, and a considerable amount of war-making."

...Benedict found that good cultures, which she began to call "secure," or "low aggression," or "high-synergy cultures," could not be differentiated from "surly and nasty" cultures on the basis of race, geography, climate, size, wealth, poverty, complexity, matrilineality, patrilineality, house size, the absence or presence of polygamy, and so on. More research revealed to her one simple and commonsensical rule separating aggressive from nonaggressive cultures, a rule that has so far evaded implementation by our culture: the social forms and institutions of nonaggressive cultures positively reinforce acts that benefit the group as a whole while negatively reinforcing acts (and eliminating goals) that harm some members of the group.

The social forms of aggressive cutures, on the other hand, reward actions that emphasize individual gain, even or especially when that gain harms others in the community. A primary and sometimes all-consuming goal of members of these cultures is to come out ahead in their "dog eat dog" world.

Another way to put this is that social arrangements of nonaggressive cultures eliminate the polarity between selfishness and altruism by making the two identical: In a "good" culture, the [selfish] man atop the box from the parable above would have been scorned, despised, exiled, or otherwise prevented from damaging the community. To behave in such a selfish and destructive manner would be considered insane. Even had he conceived such a preposterous idea as hoarding all the fish, he would have been absolutely disallowed because the box was held at the expense of the majority, as well as at the expense of future generations. For him to be a rich and influential member of a good culture, he would have had to give away many or all of the fish. The act of giving would have made him rich in esteem. But he would never have been allowed to strip the river. There would have been no fear with regard to the "gift" of fish, for social arrangements would have made him secure in the knowledge that if his next fishing trip failed, his more successful neighbors would feed him, just as this time he had fed them.

It all comes down to how a culture handles wealth. If a culture manages it through what Benedict called a "siphon system," whereby wealth is constantly siphoned from rich to poor, the society as a whole and its members as individuals will be, for obvious reasons, secure. They will not need to hoard wealth. Since this generosity is manifested not only monetarily but in all aspects of life, they will also not need to act out their now-nonexistent insecurities in other ways. On the other hand, if a culture uses a "funnel system," in which those who accumulate wealth are esteemed, the result is that "the advantage of one individual becomes a victory over another, and the majority who are not victorious must shift as they can." For reasons that should again be obvious, such social forms foster insecurity and aggression, both personal and cultural."

Effectiveness vs. Psuedo Hypocrisy

Ran Prieur interview by Tim Boucher:
"A lot of people, especially middle class liberals, think that opposing something consists of avoiding guilt, being pure, keeping your hands clean. To me, opposing is simply about fighting well...

During the Seattle WTO uprising, there was a much-circulated photo of a kid with a Nike shoe kicking in the Niketown window. The affluent puritans saw this as hypocrisy, but if you think through the logic, they're saying that the substance of resistance is refusing to wear a shoe with a certain symbol, and kicking in a fucking window is just pretention. They've got it backwards! The way I see it is, he was using the enemy's own artifact against it. Imagine if all Nike shoes were put on feet and used to break Nike windows! My position is, not only is it OK to use the resources of this system to break it down and build something better, ideally all the resources of this system would be used that way."


Ran Prieur interview by Tim Boucher:
"If they need a label to grasp it, they need to become more intelligent. A label is like a propaganda button in people's heads. It makes it possible to talk about something without understanding it. As soon as something gets an easy label, it gets dumbed down and misunderstood... If you don't have a label to lean on, it forces you to really figure things out and explain things."

Explore the edges...

Ran Prieur interview by Tim Boucher:
"...I see the world as a conflict between the grass and the pavement, and I work toward siding with the grass, or being the grass. On the physical level that's about 'dropping out,' finding a way to meet my basic needs and still have plenty of free time. And then my writing is about the mental levels. Part of it is breaking people out of the mental prison of seeing this society on its own terms. Things we take for granted, like the existence of police, or having to pay for water, or not being permitted to sleep in public, or being dependent for survival on wage labor, or having your entire day structured by the clock, would look like a dystopian nightmare from any other time in history, especially prehistory.

Then the prison has metaphysical levels, like the assumption that dead matter is the root of mind, which is a very recent and radical idea, and totally absurd if you can see it from the outside. Almost the entire 'new age' movement is just an attempt to make money from the shift back to seeing mind as the root of matter, but once the shift is done, they can't make money, so they draw it out and put lots of clutter around it. I want to get it done!

Also I'm a big follower of Charles Fort, not just his interest in strange phenomena, but his whole philosophy. Roughly his idea is that only the universe as a whole really exists, and everything else just seems to exist by inventing false boundaries. All our 'truths' come unraveled at the edges, and by exploring the edges we find new 'truths,' and it just keeps going. In Fortean science, there is no closure, and you can have many explanation systems all peacefully co-existing. Some people are only into the political angle of my writing and cringe at the metaphysical stuff, but there are tremendous political implications to a metaphysical system with no firm ground and no guiding principle except always looking beyond."

Living in a Novel - Rudy Rucker

"I'd like to propose a modified Many Universes theory. Rather than saying every possible universe exists, I'd say, rather, that there is a sequence of possible universes, akin to the drafts of a novel.

We're living in a draft version of the universe—and there is no final version. The revisions never stop.

From time to time it's possible to be aware of this. In particular, when you relax and stop naming things and forming opinions, your consciousness spreads out across several drafts of the universe. Things don't need to be particularly one way or the other until you pin them down.

Each draft, each spacetime, each sheet of reality is itself rigorously deterministic; there really is no underlying randomness in the world. Instead we have a great web of synchronistic entanglements, with causes and effects flowing forward and backwards through time. The start of a novel matches its ending; the past matches the future. Changing one thing changes everything. If we fully know everything about the Now moment, we know the entire past and future."



Sunday, April 23, 2006

Interesting concept...

Ran Prieur - about me:
"Can you summarize your thinking?

Awareness is more fundamental than existence. Matter is soft currency for mind (and language is soft currency for both). Reality is whatever we create (not you). 'Human consciousness' is one mode of awareness, possibly a dead end. The body/brain is a filter, a radio tuner, a keyhole the One Mind looks through. Everything is a keyhole. Dying is like emerging from a game. The universe is games within games. It has no beginning or end, therefore no basis for 'progress,' and no hurry. Like a forest, it builds chaos (harmonious emergent complexity) and catastrophes knock it down.

The universe is basically good but not perfect. For us to have free will, there must be room for mistakes, and sometimes they are epic. Human civilization appears to be a big mistake, or a bad game we're stuck in, grooving on our own alienation, ruining the really great game we call 'nature.' Our 'progress' is deviance, our 'wealth' is theft, our 'development' is murder, and our 'evolution' is inbreeding. But it's getting harder and harder to keep it going, and under pressure, we are changing. What's going to happen next?"


Posthuman Blues:
"A disciplined interest in UFOs is simply too taxing, just as fighting back against a corrupt administration is now perceived as ill-advised and misguided.

The Earth continues to burn and we ignore it, content to swallow false reassurances that we're not to blame, that everything will be just fine if we only wait. Patience.

It's no wonder we've become so appallingly acquiescent. We're overwhelmed. We want it to go away. We don't want to risk sighting any scary insects by looking under any rocks.

Melting ice caps? Why bother when we've got 'Grand Theft Auto' and MySpace? Mass extinctions? Who cares as long as espresso keeps flowing at the nearest Starbucks? Why fret over nonhuman intelligence when human intelligence is so obviously lacking?

Attempts to 'debunk' the Apollo Moon landings are especially telling. They demonstrate with abrasive clarity that too many of us have reached the end of our intellectual tether; we can't believe the triumphs of the past because we've allowed our future to become a barren caricature. It's easier to seek out inane 'conspiracies' than risk confronting our species' potential.

If the proverbial mothership should land, it's probable no one will notice because we'll all be too busy watching 'C.S.I.' Which isn't entirely bad, because at least the aliens won't be missing anything."


"See a Secret...Share a Secret"