Living in the cloud

2017/04/05

A friend has gotten me to think about the difference between studying to gain knowledge and learning how to access knowledge quickly.  ‘In an era when I can look up practically anything, why should I spend years studying different subjects so that I can be tested upon them?’ is a paraphrase of what he said.  He also once talked about living in an “effluent society”, but that is neither here nor there.

Human knowledge has far exceeded the ability of any one person to grasp.  We need to decide what are the fundamentals that we must teach each other, what skills are so essential that we should group people together for hours at a time so that they can learn them.  Simply knowing that knowledge exists is not the same as having the knowledge, and knowledge affects our actions and thoughts.  But not all people are going to be receptive to the same knowledge, so we must choose a way to convey it that is flexible, with those who are interested being able to pursue something further.  The ‘classroom’ has become one of the biggest impediments to education, in my opinion, because it stipulates that everyone is going to learn at the same rate, and in the same way.

Treating us as individuals means stepping away from the industrial ‘assembly line’ method of instruction.  Focusing on a persons strengths, helping them to overcome weaknesses, developing their personalities, these are the role that the public school system must fulfill.  We can have a room full of students, but we should not view them as a ‘class’.  American society has gutted the family, destroying the network of relatives and friends that were responsible for the raising of the young for thousands of generations.  Nurturing means showing the world to someone, while helping them to cope with it.  The world is a vast mix of ideas, cold realities, and ignorance.

The electronic world offers us near instant feedback on our efforts, if we are strong enough to pay attention.  Living in the cloud means being aware of each other in near real time.  This promotes a group consciousness, a multi-mind, which can occur when a number of people are thinking about the same thing at the same time.  We may be evolving into a single sentient organism, if some science fiction writers are correct, but we still need to get along with each other in the meantime, and schools are where we will learn how.  People have to be taught how not to get caught up in emotions, how to say ‘no’ to themselves, and to others, and how to believe in themselves as people, with intrinsic value.  We have to care about ourselves before we can really care about others.

Destroying our community

2017/03/22

Without community, humans are nothing, for they will lose everything they create or accomplish, when their life ends. Community can preserve the creations of the individual, and build upon the accomplishments of its members. Community is what gives us strength in times of adversity, community is what helps us to find work or other resources, community is essential to the human existence.

Community is under attack, being gutted, by the wealthy of the United States. They have no sense of community, feeling no inclination to share their immense wealth in ways that create meaningful work for everyday people. The tiny fraction of the population which controls nearly all of the wealth resents any suggestion that what they are extracting from the community is, in any way, shape, or form, the property of those whose work made the wealth. Their incredible wealth has made it so that they can live beyond the community, without the need for others to help with the children, or the gardening, or the housework. They pay servants for those services, thus maintaining a barrier between themselves and the working class people.

The ‘haves’ label as communism any attempt to improve the community which requires the redistribution of wealth. Yet, without community, there would be no ‘haves’, or ‘have-nots’, because humanity would have perished long ago. If we do not take care of each other, eventually we all will encounter a time when we need help and there will be no one there.

Debt: Destroying us with money.

2017/03/14

“Money and debt make it possible to influence people without having public executions.” Justin Michael Barnett 2017/03/14

Money has been fundamental to human development. Debt has been an instrument of mass destruction, which is ravaging our society, our entire planet right now. Debt is funny money, money which has not been made yet. However, debt can be recorded in American accounting as an asset, increasing the monetary worth of the lender, even though collection of a certain percentage of debt is impossible. Debt is the American contribution to the world, a slavery made possible by using material things as a basis of our self image.

Americans probably were not the ones who came up with the idea of a company store, where employees can charge food and other goods to an account. The company never paid quite enough to get by on, so most of the employees were in debt to the store. But if they quit, they would have to pay off the company store. American companies went into Nicaragua, bought up most of the countryside, and planted bananas. Then the locals were offered employment with the banana company, (Day-O! Daylight come and me want go home.) or they could starve. Or move.

But that was not the worst. In order to keep consumerism from collapsing due to the American public having spent their savings completely, easy credit was introduced. Debt. This was a creation of the banking industry, the idea that someone would be allowed to purchase something with money that they had not earned yet. The idea of individuals being able to borrow money is exceptionally recent, compared to the immense history of banking. But then, so is the economic model of consumerism, which is the structure of the American economy.

As consumers, we are expected to consume. However, we are not making enough to consume very much, in spite of how cheap everything has gotten. Things are so cheap because they are made from American materials shipped half way round the world, processed into goods by people making a dollar or two a day, and then shipped back to the United States. That is a simplistic generalization to illustrate the insanity which prompted manufacturers to abandon a labor market which demanded health care benefits, retirement benefits, and vacation time. Calculating the worth of products in money makes it seem worthwhile to ship materials to China to get finished goods back. There is no monetary way of calculating the value of jobs, health care, extended families, and happiness.

Those are some of the things that we have lost because of money and materialism. We should also include the environment, courtesy, patience, and sharing. Money allows us to live outside of the community, not dependent on group resources to survive. Debt shackles us to the past, destroying our future.

Keeping the sky from falling

2017/03/06

Most people seem to have little interest in space.  They perhaps believe that nothing that goes on off-planet will affect them.  Yet, it has been shown that rocks falling on Earth can affect us.  Most recently, a city in Russia, Chelyabinsk Oblast, was nearly hit by a meteor large enough to destroy a building, and the shock waves damaged hundreds of buildings.  There are geological remains of impact craters kilometers across, and photographs of the results of a meteor blast which leveled trees for kilometers around.

Detecting these rocks from here on Earth can be very difficult, because they are dark and do not reflect very much light.  Also, some of them spend most of their time between the Earth and the Sun, so they are nearly impossible to see.  Back in the early 1990’s, a rock over a kilometer across passed between the Earth and  the Moon, and no one knew it was there until it was between the Earth and the Moon.  A rock that size would destroy an entire region, and could potentially cause extreme weather which would make life on Earth very difficult.  An impact of a similar size 65 million years ago is almost certainly what ended the long reign of the dinosaurs.

From outer space, rocks are much easier to detect, because they reflect some of the thermal energy of the Sun.  A satellite close to the orbit of Venus would be able to detect any large rocks with orbits near the Earth’s, and could also detect any intruders from the outer Solar System.  A few hundred million dollars for such a satellite does not seem too expensive to insure that we do not get blind-sided by a big rock.

 

Are community and society evil?

2017/03/06

There is a lot of talk about how ‘socialist’ the Affordable Care Act is.  To me, socialism is society at work, the caring for of the individual by the group.  If we ditch society, what have we left?  The individual?  Individuals die, leaving behind nothing except what they have created that is of value to the group.  Society, the group, may survive, but the individual will not.  The group, the community, is what our effort should benefit, because if we make things better for everyone, they will get better for us, too.  But ‘community’ is very close to ‘communism’ in some people’s dictionary, and communism is the mortal enemy of capitalism.  Except in China, apparently.  Any talk of ‘sharing the wealth’ brings out rabid, growling conservatives, bound and determined to protect everything that they have acquired.

For too long have humans been able to survive as individuals, without the aid of the community.  Being a member of a group, a community, was essential for survival for most of human evolution.  Being a member of community is also the only way that what we have accomplished, what we have learned, will be passed on, remembered, used.  But wealth has made it so that some can believe that they are above the community, that they do not have to contribute to the welfare of the group.   To these people, society is an enemy, an adversary.  They view individuals as faceless drones, of no value beyond their ability to work and to consume.  They are comfortable exploiting these workers because they are not part of the same community.

We can now look back at our home from outside, from the orbit of the Moon, for instance.  What we see is a single planet, which we all share.  No longer can we pretend that we are separate from any others.  We are all in this together.

 

Afraid of what we need

2017/03/06

People are expecting many changes in the near future, some are hopeful, some are fearful, and many are hoping that things will go back to the way that they were.  Trying to stop change is fruitless, because change is inevitable, and perpetual.  We can deflect it sometimes, channel it in ways that are beneficial, or slow the change down, so that we can cope with it more easily, but stopping change is impossible.

We must learn to ride the change, as a surfer rides the wave, or a kayaker rides the current.  We can draw power from change, when we direct the change in ways that benefit us.  We are constantly presented with decisions that will allow change, or deny it.  When we repeatedly deny change, our choices dwindle, until we are left with none.  The change will happen without our input, our guidance.  Knowing what is important is critical to guiding change, because we must look ahead and see what is coming.  Without a sense of where we want to go, of what we need, we are lost when suddenly confronted with a choice.

Often, people complain that they are detoured away from their objectives, diverted from their chosen path.  We must understand the difference between plans and goals.  You can plan how to reach a goal, and sacrifice everything trying to do so, or, you can keep your goals while navigating the convoluted, winding path that appears before you.  By holding on to a goal, we have guidance in our riding the flow of change.

A new gender type

2017/03/01

Perhaps it is time to admit a new gender to the human race, ‘womyn’, the male version of women. Because some men are behaving as though there was no difference in the sexes. They are masculine without being macho; empathetic, sensitive, nurturing, resilient, compassionate, and many other traits that have been traditionally considered feminine. This is essential, because it is the male of the species who must change, not the female, if true equality of the sexes is to occur. Of course, as men change, so will women. But the changes in society that must occur involve men being able to act more feminine, not women becoming more manly.

Even big, hunky men can behave as gently and compassionately as a women would, and they naturally would, except for programming from their society that such behavior is unmanly. In repressing women, men have repressed themselves, denying themselves the outlet of emotion, the renewing effects of nurturing, the vulnerability of displaying affection for another. By admitting that men can behave in feminine ways, we admit to a blurring of the lines between male and female. Our society insists on maintaining very definite roles for men and women, That must change, we must recognize that gender and social roles are not set in stone.

Stopping the pain

2017/02/28

Most people I know are hurting in some way, spiritually, emotionally, physically, or in other ways.  Life seems to be needlessly complex, and drains us of energy.  We often do not feel like our work is of value to anybody, and getting rewarded for what we do is frequently inadequate and materialistic.  People all over the country are losing their sense of community, withdrawing from society, becoming increasingly isolated.

Most of us are doing the jobs of three people, yet our pay is the same as it was 30 years ago, correcting for inflation.  Wages should have grown as productivity increased, but the capitalists kept them low, choosing instead to pocket the increased revenues.  These are the same people who decided to send jobs overseas so that they could increase their profit margins.  Those decisions were made without regard for community, or society, and were driven by pure greed.  Everyone was making decent money back in the 1970’s, but then thefts began.  Retirement funds held by unions, Social Security, trusted companies, all were ripped off, or ripped us off.  Social Security was the biggest heist in history, billions of dollars stolen from the fund that was supposed to pay out the benefits.  Enron was responsible for thousands of elderly folks to lose their retirement savings, along with Tycho, General Motors, and several others.

Greed is driving the push for ever-greater profits, a lust for money beyond reason, a desire for money that cannot be satiated.  People who believe that they are above having to work, because they have invested their wealth so that they can receive dividends.  Their neighbors used to live on interest from their investments, but the banking world is upside down now, and banks don’t pay interest anymore.  Banks are upside down because nobody is saving any money, like they used to.  Who can afford it?  A friend of mine said the other day that most of the people that she knows are one crisis away from losing everything, because they have no reserves left.  Can’t use credit cards anymore, the interest is so high.  If you can get one.

Only new hires, or teenagers, should be working for the minimum wage.  People should be earning more, so that they are not struggling to survive.  They should have the chance to do a good job, one that they can be proud of, rather than be forced to turn out shoddy merchandise or poor service.  We all need to remember that we need community, feeling connected to each other, sharing with each other.  These are things that government cannot make happen by passing laws or creating regulations.  These are things that capitalists should be doing anyway, to protect their most valuable resource, people.

Gobbling us up

2017/02/16

Probably the greatest danger we Americans face is not terrorists, nor is it a president who acts like a terrorist.  Illegal immigrants are not the problem, unless they refuse to show up to build the Wal.  I mean Wall.  What is behind so much of the misery and despair right now is plain old Greed.    Instead of being rewarded for the enormous contribution that they have made over the last 50 years, workers have seen wages stagnate, benefits shrink, and workloads skyrocket.  The average wage should be about three times what it is right now, regardless of what the minimum wage is.  Were wages this high, economic activity would be much greater, with more consumption of goods and services, as well as more people owning their homes.

Somehow, we have to get the 1 percent to spend their money on us.

Trump this!

2017/02/12

 

President Trump, could you please talk to your multi-billionaire friends, and convince them to shake loose some of that money that they have so much of?  It would really help, because there is enough wealth in the U.S. to buy everyone a house, a car, a college education, and healthcare for the rest of their lives.  But it is locked up in the hands of a few, where it just sits, or is used to create even more wealth, by manipulating numbers instead of making actual work happen.

Raising the minimum wage will simply make it so that you can be broke with more money than ever before, because everything will get more expensive.  Unless the greedy people agree to give up the massive profits that they are taking with no effort on their part.  Sometimes, profits are so large that the owners could double the wages paid and still take home a tidy sum.  A lot of the money is going to pay dividends, which is where people get paid for doing nothing.  Lend a company money by buying their stock, and they pay you every year, even if they end up paying you more than you lent them.  Isn’t that a nice system?

President Trump, do the unbelievable thing, get your wealthy friends to spend their money on the masses, instead of just letting it sit in banks.  Talk them into paying for low-income housing, or public transportation, or music education, things that will raise the quality of life for everyone, and put people to work doing it.  Remind them that the tax rate on the very wealthy used to be 95 percent.  Today, it is closer to 30 percent.  Without the wealthy voluntarily putting a portion of their wealth into the community, the community will die.  And community is dying all across America.  Help us, please!