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Environment / Why Should Evangelical Christians Care About Climate Change?
« on: February 20, 2018, 05:59:37 PM »
Here are five reasons from an evangelical Christian climate scientist.

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Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, has had quite a run lately. A few weeks back, she was featured in the first episode of the Showtime series The Years of Living Dangerously, meeting with actor Don Cheadle in her home state of Texas to explain to him why faith and a warming planet aren’t in conflict. (You can watch that episode for free on YouTube; Hayhoe is a science adviser for the show.) Then Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people of 2014. Cheadle wrote the entry. “There’s something fascinating about a smart person who defies stereotype,” Cheadle observed.

Why is Hayhoe in the spotlight? Simply put, millions of Americans are evangelical Christians, and their belief in the science of global warming is well below the national average. And if anyone has a chance of reaching this vast and important audience, Hayhoe does. “I feel like the conservative community, the evangelical community, and many other Christian communities, I feel like we have been lied to,” explains Hayhoe on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast. “We have been given information about climate change that is not true. We have been told that it is incompatible with our values, whereas in fact it’s entirely compatible with conservative and with Christian values.”

Hayhoe’s approach to science—and to religion—was heavily influenced by her father, a former Toronto science educator and also, at one time, a missionary. “For him, there was never any conflict between the idea that there is a God, and the idea that science explains the world that we see around us,” says Hayhoe. When she was 9, her family moved to Colombia, where her parents worked as missionaries and educators, and where Hayhoe saw what environmental vulnerability really looks like. “Some of my friends lived in houses that were made out of cardboard Tide boxes, or corrugated metal,” she says. “And realizing that you don’t really need that much to be happy, but at the same time, you’re very vulnerable to the environment around you, the less that you have.”

“In terms of addressing the climate issue,” says Hayhoe, “we don’t have time for everybody to get on the same page regarding the age of the universe.”

Her research today, on the impacts of climate change, flows from those early experiences. And of course, it is inspired by her faith, which for Hayhoe puts a strong emphasis on caring for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. “That gives us even more reason to care about climate change,” says Hayhoe, “because it is affecting people, and is disproportionately affecting the poor, and the vulnerable, and those who cannot care for themselves.”

The fact remains, though, that most evangelical Christians in the United States do not think as Hayhoe does. Recent data from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication suggests that while 64 percent of Americans think global warming is real and caused by human beings, only 44 percent of evangelicals do. Evangelicals in general, explains Hayhoe, tend to be more politically conservative, and can be quite distrusting of scientists (believing, incorrectly, that they’re all a bunch of atheists). Plus, some evangelicals really do go in for that whole “the world is ending” thing—not an outlook likely to inspire much care for the environment. So how does Hayhoe reach them?

From our interview, here are five of Hayhoe’s top arguments, for evangelical Christians, on climate change:

1. Conservation is conservative. The evangelical community isn’t just a religious community, it’s also a politically conservative one on average. So Hayhoe speaks directly to that value system. “What’s more conservative than conserving our natural resources, making sure we have enough for the future, and not wasting them like we are today?” she asks. “That’s a very conservative value.”

Indeed, many conservatives don’t buy into climate science because they don’t like the “big government” solutions they suspect the problem entails. But Hayhoe has an answer ready for that one too: Conservative-friendly, market-driven solutions to climate problems are actually all around us. “A couple of weeks ago, Texas … smashed the record for the most wind energy ever produced. It was 38 percent of our energy that week, came from wind,” she says. And Hayhoe thinks that’s just the beginning: “If you look at the map of where the greatest potential is for wind energy, it’s right up the red states. And I think that is going to make a big difference in the future.”

2. Yes, God would let this happen. One conservative Christian argument is that God just wouldn’t let human activities ruin the creation. Or, as Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma has put it, “God’s still up there, and the arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what he is doing in the climate, is to me, outrageous.”

Hayhoe thinks the answer to Inhofe’s objection is simple: From a Christian perspective, we have free will to make decisions and must live with their consequences. This is, after all, a classic Christian solution to the theological problem of evil. “Are bad things happening? Yes, all the time,” says Hayhoe. “Someone gets drunk, they get behind the wheel of a car, they kill an innocent bystander, possibly even a child or a mother.”

Climate change is, to Hayhoe, just another wrong, another problem, brought on by flawed humans exercising their wills in a way that is less than fully advisable. “That’s really what climate change is,” she says. “It’s a casualty of the decisions that we have made.”

3. The Bible does not approve of letting the world burn. Hayhoe agrees with the common liberal perception that the evangelical community contains a significant proportion of apocalyptic or end-times believers—and that this belief, literally that judgment is upon us, undermines their concern about preserving the planet. But she thinks there’s something very wrong with that outlook, and indeed, that the Bible itself refutes it.

“The message that, we don’t care about anybody else, screw everybody, and let the world burn, that message is not a consistent message in the Bible,” says Hayhoe. In particular, she thinks the apostle Paul has a pretty good answer to end-times believers in his second epistle to the Thessalonians. Hayhoe breaks Paul’s message down like this: “I’ve heard that you’ve been quitting your jobs, you have been laying around and doing nothing, because you think that Christ is returning and the world is ending.” But Paul serves up a rebuke. In Hayhoe’s words: “Get a job, support yourself and your family, care for others—again, the poor and the vulnerable who can’t care for themselves—and do what you can, essentially, to make the world a better place, because nobody knows when that’s going to happen.”

4. Even if you believe in a young Earth, it’s still warming. One reason there’s such a tension between the evangelical community and science is, well, science. Many evangelicals are young-Earth creationists, who believe that the Earth is 6,000 or so years old.

Hayhoe isn’t one of those. She studied astrophysics and quasars that are quite ancient; and as she notes, believing the Earth and universe to be young creates a pretty problematic understanding of God: “Either you have to believe that God created everything looking as if it were billions of years old, or you have to believe it is billions of years old.” In the former case, God would, in effect, seem to be trying to trick us.

But when it comes to talking to evangelical audiences about climate change, Hayhoe doesn’t emphasize the age of the Earth, simply because, she says, there’s no need. “When I talk to Christian audiences, I only show ice core data and other proxy data going back 6,000 years,” says Hayhoe, “because I believe that you can make an even stronger case, for the massive way in which humans have interfered with the natural system, by only looking at a shorter period of time.”

“In terms of addressing the climate issue,” says Hayhoe, “we don’t have time for everybody to get on the same page regarding the age of the universe.”

5. “Caring for our environment is caring for people.” Finally, Hayhoe thinks it is crucial to emphasize to evangelicals that saving the planet is about saving people ... not just saving animals. “I think there’s this perception,” says Hayhoe, “that if an environmentalist were driving down the road … and they saw a baby seal on one side and they saw a human on the other side, they would veer out of the way to avoid the baby seal and run down the human.” That’s why it’s so important, in her mind, to emphasize how climate change affects people (a logic once again affirming the perception that the polar bear was a terrible symbol for global warming). And there’s bountiful evidence of this: The just-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Working Group II” report on climate impacts emphasizes threats to our food supply, a risk of worsening violence in a warming world, and the potential displacement of vulnerable populations.

So is the message working? Hayhoe thinks so. After all, while only 44 percent of evangelicals may accept modern climate science today, she notes that that’s considerable progress from a 2008 Pew poll, which had that number at just 34 percent. Ultimately, for Hayhoe, it comes down to this: “If you believe that God created the world, and basically gave it to humans as this incredible gift to live on, then why would you treat it like garbage? Treating the world like garbage says a lot about how you think about the person who you believe created the Earth.”

Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But as Jane Mayer shows in this powerful, meticulously reported history, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.

The network has brought together some of the richest people on the planet. Their core beliefs—that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom—are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws.

The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch, whose father made his fortune in part by building oil refineries in Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany. The patriarch later was a founding member of the John Birch Society, whose politics were so radical it believed Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights.

When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency. Richard Mellon Scaife, the mercurial heir to banking and oil fortunes, had the brilliant insight that most of their political activities could be written off as tax-deductible “philanthropy.”

These organizations were given innocuous names such as Americans for Prosperity. Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement, abetted mightily by the Citizens United decision—a case conceived of by legal advocates funded by the network.

The political operatives the network employs are disciplined, smart, and at times ruthless. Mayer documents instances in which people affiliated with these groups hired private detectives to impugn whistle-blowers, journalists, and even government investigators. And their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation, once far outside the mainstream and still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Meaningful environmental, labor, finance, and tax reforms have been stymied.

Jane Mayer spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews-including with several sources within the network-and scoured public records, private papers, and court proceedings in reporting this book. In a taut and utterly convincing narrative, she traces the byzantine trail of the billions of dollars spent by the network and provides vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy.

Dark Money is a book that must be read by anyone who cares about the future of American democracy.

When you walk in our front door at the monastery, one of the first things you might notice is a large poster of the Bhavacakra. I am going to use wikipedia's description of it, because it is as good an interpretation that I could find. I have studied this in depth, along with the I-Ching's wheel of hexagrams, and the wheel of astrological symbolism from dark to light ( the Tao ). The wheel has no beginning or ending, but there is a way to step off this wheel through meditation.


Bhavacakra, "wheel of life,"[note 1] consists of the words bhava and cakra.

Bhava (भव) means "being, worldly existence, becoming, birth, be, production, origin".[web 1]

The Sanskrit word bhāva (भाव) is rooted in the term bhava, and means "emotion, sentiment, state of body or mind, disposition."[web 2] In some contexts it also means "becoming, being, existing, occurring, appearance" while connoting the condition thereof.[web 3]

In Buddhism, bhava denotes the continuity of becoming (reincarnating) in one of the realms of existence, in the samsaric context of rebirth, life and the maturation arising therefrom.[2] It is the tenth of the Twelve Nidanas, in its Pratītyasamutpāda doctrine.[3]

The word Chakra (चक्र) derives from the Sanskrit word meaning "wheel," as well as "circle" and "cycle".[4]

The word chakra is used to mean several different things in the Sanskrit sources:[5]

    "Circle," used in a variety of senses, symbolising endless rotation of shakti.
    A circle of people. In rituals, there are different cakrasādhanās in which adherents assemble and perform rites. According to the Niruttaratantra, chakras in the sense of assemblies are of 5 types.
    The term chakra is also used to denote yantras (mystic diagram)s, variously known as trikoṇa-cakra, aṣṭakoṇa-cakra, etc.
    Different nerve plexuses within the body.

Legend has it that the historical Buddha himself created the first depiction of the bhavacakra, and the story of how he gave the illustration to King Rudrāyaṇa appears in the anthology of Buddhist narratives called the Divyāvadāna.
Explanation of the diagram

The bhavacakra is painted on the outside walls of nearly every Tibetan Buddhist temple in Tibet and India, to instruct non-monastic audience about the Buddhist teachings.[6][7]

Elements of the bhavacakra

The bhavacakra consits of the following elements:

    The pig, rooster and snake in the hub of the wheel represent the three poisons of ignorance, attachment and aversion.
    The second layer represents karma.
    The third layer represents the six realms of samsara.
    The fourth layer represents the twelve links of dependent origination.
    The fierce figure holding the wheel represents impermanence.[8]
    The moon above the wheel represents liberation from samsara or cyclic existence.
    The Buddha pointing to the white circle indicates that liberation is possible.

Symbolically, the three inner circles, moving from the center outward, show that the three poisons of ignorance, attachment, and aversion give rise to positive and negative actions; these actions and their results are called karma. Karma in turn gives rise to the six realms, which represent the different types of suffering within samsara.

The fourth and outer layer of the wheel symbolizes the twelve links of dependent origination; these links indicate how the sources of suffering—the three poisons and karma—produce lives within cyclic existence.

The fierce being holding the wheel represents impermanence; this symbolizes that the entire process of samsara or cyclic existence is impermanent, transient, constantly changing. The moon above the wheel indicates liberation. The Buddha is pointing to the moon, indicating that liberation from samsara is possible.[9][10]

Hub: the three poisons

In the hub of the wheel are three animals: a pig, a snake, and a bird. They represent the three poisons of ignorance, aversion, and attachment, respectively. The pig stands for ignorance; this comparison is based on the Indian concept of a pig being the most foolish of animals, since it sleeps in the dirtiest places and eats whatever comes to its mouth. The snake represents aversion or anger; this is because it will be aroused and strike at the slightest touch. The bird represents attachment (also translated as desire or clinging). The particular bird used in this diagram represents an Indian bird that is very attached to its partner. These three animals represent the three poisons, which are the core of the bhavacakra. From these three poisons, the whole cycle of existence evolves.[11][12]

In many drawings of the wheel, the snake and bird are shown as coming out of the mouth of the pig, indicating that aversion and attachment arise from ignorance. The snake and bird are also shown grasping the tail of the pig, indicating that they in turn promote greater ignorance.[12]

Under the influence of the three poisons, beings create karma, as shown in the next layer of the circle.

Second layer: karma

The second layer of the wheel shows two-half circles:

    One half-circle (usually light) shows contented people moving upwards to higher states, possibly to the higher realms.
    The other half-circle (usually dark) shows people in a miserable state being led downwards to lower states, possibly to the lower realms.

These images represent karma, the law of cause and effect. The light half-circle indicates people experiencing the results of positive actions. The dark half-circle indicates people experiencing the results of negative actions.[12]

Ringu Tulku states:

    We create karma in three different ways, through actions that are positive, negative, or neutral. When we feel kindness and love and with this attitude do good things, which are beneficial to both ourselves and others, this is positive action. When we commit harmful deeds out of equally harmful intentions, this is negative action. Finally, when our motivation is indifferent and our deeds are neither harmful or beneficial, this is neutral action. The results we experience will accord with the quality of our actions.[13]

Propelled by their karma, beings take rebirth in the six realms of samsara, as shown in the next layer of the circle.

Third layer: the six realms of samsara

The third layer of the wheel is divided into six sections that represent the six realms of samsara, or cyclic existence, the process of cycling through one rebirth after another. These six realms are divided into three higher realms and three lower realms. The wheel can also be represented as having five realms, combining the God realm and the Demi-god realm into a single realm.

The three higher realms are shown in the top half of the circle:

    God realm (Deva): the gods lead long and enjoyable lives full of pleasure and abundance, but they spend their lives pursuing meaningless distractions and never think to practice the dharma. When death comes to them, they are completely unprepared; without realizing it, they have completely exhausted their good karma (which was the cause for being reborn in the god realm) and they suffer through being reborn in the lower realms.
    Demi-god realm (Asura): the demi-gods have pleasure and abundance almost as much as the gods, but they spend their time fighting among themselves or making war on the gods. When they make war on the gods, they always lose, since the gods are much more powerful. The demi-gods suffer from constant fighting and jealousy, and from being killed and wounded in their wars with each other and with the gods.
    Human realm (Manuṣya): humans suffer from hunger, thirst, heat, cold, separation from friends, being attacked by enemies, not getting what they want, and getting what they don't want. They also suffer from the general sufferings of birth, old age, sickness and death. Yet the human realm is considered to be the most suitable realm for practicing the dharma, because humans are not completely distracted by pleasure (like the gods or demi-gods) or by pain and suffering (like the beings in the lower realms).

The three lower realms are shown in the bottom half of the circle:

    Animal realm (Tiryagyoni): wild animals suffer from being attacked and eaten by other animals; they generally lead lives of constant fear. Domestic animals suffer from being exploited by humans; for example, they are slaughtered for food, overworked, and so on.
    Hungry ghost realm (Preta): hungry ghosts suffer from extreme hunger and thirst. They wander constantly in search of food and drink, only to be miserably frustrated any time they come close to actually getting what they want. For example, they see a stream of pure, clear water in the distance, but by the time they get there the stream has dried up. Hungry ghosts have huge bellies and long, thin necks. On the rare occasions that they do manage to find something to eat or drink, the food or water burns their neck as it goes down to their belly, causing them intense agony.
    Hell realm (Naraka): hell beings endure unimaginable suffering for eons of time. There are actually eighteen different types of hells, each inflicting a different kind of torment. In the hot hells, beings suffer from unbearable heat and continual torments of various kinds. In the cold hells, beings suffer from unbearable cold and other torments.[14][15][16][17][18][19]

Among the six realms, the human realm is considered to offer the best opportunity to practice the dharma.[17] In some representations of the wheel, there is a buddha or bodhisattva depicted within each realm, trying to help sentient beings find their way to nirvana.

Outer rim: the twelve links

The outer rim of the wheel is divided into twelve sections that represent the Twelve Nidānas. As previously stated, the three inner layers of the wheel show that the three poisons lead to karma, which leads to the suffering of the six realms. The twelve links of the outer rim show how this happens—by presenting the process of cause and effect in detail.[20][21]

These twelve links can be understood to operate on an outer or inner level.[22]

    On the outer level, the twelve links can be seen to operate over several lifetimes; in this case, these links show how our past lives influence our current lifetime, and how our actions in this lifetime influence our future lifetimes.[22]
    On the inner level, the twelve links can be understood to operate in every moment of existence in an interdependent manner.[23] On this level, the twelve links can be applied to show the effects of one particular action.[22]

By contemplating on the twelve links, one gains greater insight into the workings of karma; this insight enables us to begin to unravel our habitual way of thinking and reacting.[22][24][25]

The twelve causal links, paired with their corresponding symbols, are:

    Avidyā lack of knowledge – a blind person, often walking, or a person peering out
    Saṃskāra constructive volitional activity – a potter shaping a vessel or vessels
    Vijñāna consciousness – a man or a monkey grasping a fruit
    Nāmarūpa name and form (constituent elements of mental and physical existence) – two men afloat in a boat
    Ṣaḍāyatana six senses (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind) – a dwelling with six windows
    Sparśa contact – lovers consorting, kissing, or entwined
    Vedanā pain – an arrow to the eye
    Tṛṣṇa thirst – a drinker receiving drink
    Upādāna grasping – a man or a monkey picking fruit
    Bhava coming to be – a couple engaged in intercourse, a standing, leaping, or reflective person
    Jāti being born – woman giving birth
    Jarāmaraṇa old age and death – corpse being carried

The figure holding the wheel: impermanence

The wheel is being held by a fearsome figure who represents impermanence.[8]

This figure is often interpreted as being Mara, the demon who tried to tempt the Buddha, or as Yama, the lord of death.[26] Regardless of the figure depicted, the inner meaning remains the same–that the entire process of cyclic existence (samsara) is transient; everything within this wheel is constantly changing.[27]

Yama has the following attributes:

    He wears a crown of five skulls that symbolize the impermanence of the five aggregates.[28] (The skulls are also said to symbolize the five poisons.)
    He has a third eye that symbolizes the wisdom of understanding impermanence.[28]
    He is sometimes shown adorned with a tiger skin, which symbolizes fearfulness.[28] (The tiger skin is typically seen hanging beneath the wheel.)
    His four limbs (that are clutching the wheel) symbolize the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death.[29]

The moon: liberation
Above the wheel is an image of the moon; the moon represents liberation from the sufferings of samsara.[21][30][31] Some drawings may show an image of a "pure land" to indicate liberation, rather than a moon.

The Buddha pointing to the white circle: the path to liberation

The upper part of the drawing also shows an image of the Buddha pointing toward the moon; this represents the path to liberation.[21][30][31] While in Theravada Buddhism this is the Noble Eightfold Path, in Mahayana Buddhism this is the Bodhisattva path, striving to liberation for all sentient beings. In Tibetan Buddhism, this is Lamrim, which details all the stages on the path, while Zen has its own complicated history of the entanglement of meditation practice and direct insight.
Drawings of the Bhavacakra usually contain an inscription consisting of a few lines of text that explain the process that keeps us in samara and how to reverse that process.

Alternative interpretations

The Theravada-tradition does not have a graphical representation of the round of rebirths, but cakra-symbolism is an elementary component of Buddhism, and Buddhaghosa's Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga) contains such imagery:

    It is the beginningless round of rebirths that is called the 'Wheel of the round of rebirths' (saṃsāracakka). Ignorance (avijjā) is its hub (or nave) because it is its root. Ageing-and-death (jarā-maraṇa) is its rim (or felly) because it terminates it. The remaining ten links (of the Dependent Origination) are its spokes (i.e. karma formations [saṅkhāra] up to process of becoming [bhava]).[32]

Western psychological interpretation
Some western interpreters take a psychological point of view, explaining that different karmic actions contribute to one's metaphorical existence in different realms, or rather, different actions reinforce personal characteristics described by the realms. According to Mark Epstein, "each realm becomes not so much a specific place but rather a metaphor for a different psychological state, with the entire wheel becoming a representation of neurotic suffering."


“Bridges to the Neverland” (CC) George Grie

To prevent civilizational collapse, a bridge may be necessary—specifically for geeks—between systematic rationality and fluid, meta-rational understanding. (Not to be alarmist or anything.)

This is an obscure and superficially implausible claim. Here’s why I think the bridge may be needed—and a sketch of how to start building it.
Stages and bridges

My conceptual framework draws on Robert Kegan’s model of adult cognitive, affective, and social development. (I recently posted a summary elsewhere. This metablog post won’t make sense unless you understand Kegan’s model, so read that post first, if you haven’t already!)

Kegan describes three stages of adult development (numbered 3, 4, and 5). We could call them pre-rational, rational, and meta-rational. These stages are distinctive, internally consistent, relatively-well-functioning modes for organizing one’s thinking, one’s self, and one’s relationships. They might be described as “islands of psychological stability.” To progress from one island to the next, you must cross a heaving sea of psychological confusion, in which the previous mode no longer seems functional, but you cannot yet operate in the next mode reliably. These stage transitions are emotionally and cognitively difficult, and typically take several years, during which one may think, feel, and act inconsistently.

Ideally, a society and culture provides “bridges” of support from one stage to the next. To some extent, ours does. However, Kegan pointed out that we have allowed the bridge from stage 3 to 4 to fall into disrepair. We are not adequately teaching young adults how to be rational, systematic, or modern. This is the central theme of his In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life.

This problem seems to have only gotten worse in the two decades since he wrote that. That is what makes me fear civilizational collapse. Keeping modern institutions operating requires cognitively modern, rational operators. We may be destroying the conditions necessary to produce them. I’ll explain this in more detail later.

Our society and culture do even less to support the transition from stage 4 to 5. This transition, between the rational and meta-rational stages, is particularly difficult; and no bridge has yet been built. This is an unrecognized lack—and so, an opportunity to contribute. It has, perhaps, never been seriously attempted, so it may be unexpectedly easy: “low-hanging fruit” that has not yet been plucked.

Between stages 4 and 5, there is a gap, a stretch of open ocean. One recognizes the limitations of rationality, but can’t yet work effectively in the meta-rational mode. Many people get stuck treading water here, trying to stay afloat, often not even able to see the dry land of meta-rationality on the horizon. With rationality seeming the only basis for meaning, they fall into nihilistic depression. This is sometimes informally called “stage 4.5,” although it is not a “stage” in the same sense as the others. It is not a workable mode of organization. However, its dysfunction is stabilized by spurious logic of nihilism. Some stuck there may be barely capable of everyday functioning. Others manage better, by recognizing the limits of rationality while continuing to use it effectively in practice.

The stages of individual development are manifest also in forms of social organization. Pre-rational psychology is typical of pre-modern societies—what I’ve described elsewhere as the “choiceless” or “communal” mode. Rationality is characteristic of systematic, modern societies. Postmodernity corresponds to the 4.5 breakdown.
Postmodernism sabotages the bridge to rationality

In the 1970s and 1980s, the best postmodern/poststructural thinkers presented meta-rational views, based on their thorough understanding of systematic rationality.1 This first generation of postmodern teachers had a complete “classical education” in the humanities; they mastered the Western intellectual tradition before coming to understand its limitations.

Deconstructive postmodernism, their critique of stage 4 modernism/systematicity/rationality, is the basis of the contemporary university humanities curriculum. This is a disaster. The critique is largely correct; but, as Kegan observed, to teach it to young adults is harmful.2 Few university students have consolidated rationality. Essentially none are ready to move beyond it. Pointing out its defects makes their developmental task more difficult.

You cannot understand what is wrong with rationality until you are capable of being rational. You cannot go beyond rationality until after you can use it reliably. You cannot become meta to systems you do not appreciate and do not understand how to deploy. You cannot move from stage 3 to stage 5 without passing through stage 4.

In fact, even most teachers of postmodern theory don’t understand it. Unfortunately, the postmodern pioneers chose to write in obfuscatory riddles. Their insights were difficult enough to understand without that. Few followers could extract the insights. Most teachers are second-generation professors who didn’t understand pomo when it was new, and third-generation ones who were mainly taught dumbed-down second-generation “pseudo-pomo.”

They were never taught to think, and can’t. What they learned was to imitate the founders’ appalling rhetorical style. They even learned to not think—because thinking would lead to questioning the nonsense, which would get you ejected from pomodom. Consequently, most contemporary pomo writing is—as everyone admits—incoherent blather, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. That’s “pseudo-pomo.”

At this point, many humanities professors cannot take even a rational, stage 4 stance; they were not taught to think. Lacking that, they cannot critique rationality accurately. They could not possibly transmit stage 5 meta-rationality to their students now.
“All systems must be destroyed”

Still worse, pseudo-pomo misunderstands the postmodern critique simply as “all systems are wicked, false ideologies invented by the powerful as means of oppression, and must be destroyed.”3

Unfortunately, “critical theory” has so far failed to produce a broad, positive, clear and practical meta-rational vision. With nothing beyond the discredited stage 4 to look forward to, it is mostly no longer possible for humanities majors to develop a rational, systematic self. Nor can they participate effectively in a rational, systematic culture and society. At best, if they do somehow make it to stage 4, deconstructive postmodernism can only push them on into the ultra-relativist nihilism of 4.5. In that abyss, you realize rationality is not the answer, but can see no alternative. There is essentially no support available for the further transition to stage 5.4

This scares me. Up until the 1980s, a university humanities department did teach you how to think—and it was the standard education for the ruling class. Since then, it has taught you not to think. What happens as people trained in postmodern anti-thought move increasingly into positions of power? Without an appreciation for administrative and technical rationality—much less the ability to deploy them personally—how can they lead governments, corporations, universities, churches, or NGOs?

Recently, major institutions seem increasingly willing to abandon systemic logic: rationality, rule of law, and procedural justice. Such systems lost credibility decades ago, and are under increasing cultural/political attack from the pomo-educated. But for now they are critical to maintaining civilization. Someone has to keep the machinery running. Until we can build a fluid, meta-rational stage 5 society, destroying stage 4 institutions means everyone will die. (Not to be alarmist or anything.)

Building a bridge to stage 5 may be critical to keeping the bridge to stage 4 open. Because the postmodern critique is correct, it’s intellectually indefensible to insist on rationality as The Way and The Truth and The Light. To make stage 4 palatable, it has to be clear that it is not the final destination. Confirming the accuracy of the critique opens the possibility of a third alternative to the stage 3 and 4 worldviews. Saying:

    “You are right, systems are not ultimately workable as the basis for society and culture” and
    “You are right, systems do always get appropriated by the powerful as means of oppression”

makes credible:

    “Psychologically, understanding rational systems is a stage you need to go through to get beyond them” and
    “However imperfect, systems are the main way we currently know how to deliver the material and social prerequisites for life, so we need to keep them running for now.”

Misperception of woo blocks the bridge beyond rationality

STEM5 education teaches the value of technical systems, including formal rationality. STEM education ignores postmodernism, so the bridge to stage 4 is still intact there. Thus, stage 5 meta-rationality is now probably more accessible for STEM folks than other people. I think it is important to present stage 5 in language STEM folks can understand and will find attractive.

For people in stage 4, anything that is not rational may sound like simple irrationality, or magical thinking, and so they are likely to reject it. As a further difficulty, stage 5 has some specific commonalities with stage 3 (pre-rationality), making it harder to distinguish. Dualism—insistence on precise boundaries—is characteristic of stage 4. Monism—rejection of boundaries, and over-emphasis on connections—is characteristic of stage 3. Stage 5 recognizes that boundaries and connections are both nebulous and patterned, so it is neither monist nor dualist. However, from a rationalist point of view, meta-rationalism’s rejection of black-and-white thinking just looks like the blooming buzzing confusion of stage 3 monism, which rationalism is right to reject.

For someone in stage 4, relativizing the ultimate value of rationality seems certain to slide into Romanticism (prioritizing emotions and subjective experience over objective understanding) and woo (supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and wishful thinking). Since nearly all talk about limits to rationality is motivated by stage 3 Romanticism and woo, this is an inevitable misapprehension. However, that is not the stage 5 agenda. This must be made extremely clear.

My summary of Kegan’s theory included a point that merited only a footnote there, but which I want to emphasize here:

    Stages 3 and 5 both tolerate contradictions, but of different types and in different ways.

    Stage 3 does not feel a need for rational justifications, and mostly doesn’t have the capacity to use them; so it mostly doesn’t even notice logical contradictions, and isn’t bothered by them when it does. However, stage 3 can be highly intolerant of contradictory value judgments, because they threaten community harmony.

    Stage 4 finds contradictions within its system a fundamental problem, and tries to eliminate them one way or another. Eventually, if contradictions cannot be eliminated from the system, it must be replaced. Stage 4 wants to find the right system, and if two contradict, that shows one is wrong.

    Stage 5 recognizes the value of sorting out contradictions within a system, and retains stage 4’s ability to do so. However, it doesn’t expect any system to work perfectly, so it tolerates internal contradictions if they appear relatively unproblematic. Stage 5 entertains multiple systems, and is comfortable with contradictions between them, because systems are not absolute truths, only ways-of-seeing that are useful in different circumstances. Stage 5 is uniquely comfortable with value conflicts, since (unlike both 3 and 4) it does not take any value as ultimate.

Emanuel Rylke commented, perceptively:

    You say “People in stage 3 tend to misunderstand stage 4 as being stage 2” and hint at the possibility for a similar error at stage 4: “3 and 5 both tolerate contradictions” (I myself got hung up on this superficial similarity for multiple years). I think that’s not just a coincidence but a reason for why we can make a reliable distinction between these stages in the first place. If you view cognitive development as a river then sections where progress lies in a direction that looks backwards create a sort of reservoir. Basically there progress is counter intuitive so people slow down a lot and pile up. These then can more easily recognized as separate stages compared to a continuously flowing river.

For stage 4, stage 5’s tolerance of contradiction is indistinguishable from stage 3’s; both appear simply irrational.6

Lacking a clear presentation of stage 5, and particularly a clear explanation of how it differs from stage 3, it is inaccessible from stage 4 directly. At best, one can only reach it from 4.5, the gap of nihilistic despair. This generally provokes anxiety, rage, and depression, and is not a good place to get stuck.

And, little or no support is available for the 4.5 to 5 transition. Mostly you can only get to stage 5 through a rare combination of luck, intelligence, and endurance.
The nihilistic gap, STEM depression, and postrationalism

Many of the people I care about most, and find most interesting, are STEM-educated refugees from ideological rationalism. They’ve mastered rationality, they’ve seen through it—and many now are stuck. Systems cannot provide them with meaning; but neither, it seems can anything else. Many fall into crippling nihilistic depression—a characteristic of stage 4.5. This is awful.

4.5 is necessary en route to stage 5, but maybe it doesn’t need to be so horrible. One needs to become disillusioned and disappointed with rationalism, and then angry at it, and perhaps temporarily reject it altogether (in theory at least). Moving beyond any of the developmental stages involves a profound sense of loss: of one’s previously comfortable mode of making meaning. One’s meaning-making mode is always experienced as “the self,” and the new mode seems frighteningly alien—even though it is more powerful once mastered. The 4-to–5 transition is particularly difficult, as it appears no new meaning is possible even in principle, which implies you are nothing, and have no value.

However, if you understand that meaning re-emerges at stage 5—or can accept this, based on plausible testimony—then you need not descend into despair.

Recently, there has been an exodus from the rationalist movement, and some exiles have loosely grouped under the banner of “postrationalism.” (For an informal review, see Darcey Riley’s 2014 post and the reader comments on it. More recent contributions are from Sarah Perry and Warg Franklin.) Postrationalism is an early work-in-progress, whose meaning is as yet unclear, but seems to have much in common with Kegan’s stage 5, and with the complete stance as I describe it in Meaningness.

(I’m a little wary of the term “postrational,” because it might be misunderstood as a rejection of rationality, in favor of something irrational. That describes stage 3 Romanticism. Kegan’s stage 5, the complete stance, and—so far as I understand it—postrationalism do not abandon rationality. They deploy rationality as a miscellaneous collection of oft-useful tools, rather than The Single Correct Way To Do Everything. I’m using “meta-rational”—just in this post, so far—as an experimental alternative, meant to suggest that. However, the problem with “meta-rational” is that it may be misunderstood as “applying systematic rationality to itself.” That is not stage 5; it’s just an extra-fancy version of stage 4. Elsewhere I am using the word “fluid”; I’m not sure whether that’s better.)
The current adult developmental landscape

This diagram summarizes past, current, and potential future ways beyond stage 3. Dotted lines show routes that are mainly unavailable, and dotted boxes are stages that are mainly unavailable.

(This is a good time to remember that adult developmental theory is a conceptual model, not Eternal Truth. Like all models, it highlights and partially explains some phenomena, and marginalizes and distorts others. I am using it here because it provides a useful vocabulary for discussing some patterns I want to point out.)

Twenty-some years ago, Kegan said that the bridge into stage 4 was through participation in a systematic institution: either employment or university education.

Employers such as large corporations and the military induct young adults into bureaucratic rationality. This bridge is still open. However, it seems increasingly under cultural-political attack. Further, it has never led beyond stage 4. Stage 5 institutions are rare, transient, and perhaps entirely hypothetical.7

“Pseudo-pomo” now stands in the way of a systematic humanities education. It is probably still possible to reach stage 4 in some English departments, but you’d have to be smart, lucky, dedicated, and discreet—so I’ve made that a dotted box in the diagram. If you do reach it, the genuine pomo critique is still available; I’ve drawn it with a solid line. However, the critique leads only to ultra-relativistic nihilism. The logical next step, a positive non-eternalist stage 5 cultural and social vision, does not yet exist. (I do plan to try to sketch one in Meaningness and Time—but that’s not what this post is about.)

Formal rationality is central in STEM education, so it’s now the best route to stage 4. STEM departments do not explicitly go beyond that. However, at least some professors understand the limitations of formal methods and the inherent nebulosity of their subject matter, and may teach that informally. They may also teach some stage 5 cognitive skills informally, implicitly, or by example.

Some STEM people figure out the limits of rationalist ideology on their own. Lacking any intellectual or social framework for that, the discovery often leads to nihilistic despair and social isolation. This is common enough that I’ve given that box a solid border. “Postrationalism” is, perhaps, the dawning of a conceptual structure and social support network for moving beyond it.
A bridge to stage 5 for STEM people

So, I really want to help. I care particularly for the STEM-educated who are lost in the nihilist abyss.

But also, STEM people are the most likely to have made it beyond stage 4, and therefore the most likely to be able to reach stage 5. With stage 4 discredited, getting a critical mass of people to stage 5 may be the only way to preserve civilization from systemic collapse. That could be brought on by broad cultural, social, and psychological reversion to stage 3 tribalism. (Not to be alarmist or anything.)

Stage 5 may contain the answers to current pressing social and cultural problems (as I’ll eventually argue in Meaningness and Time). But perhaps even more critically, building the bridge from 4 to 5 may be the only way to keep the bridge from 3 to 4 open. (And to repair the bridge to rationality for non-STEM people.)

Stage transitions usually cannot be accomplished solo. Intellectual understanding is not enough. A bridge needs a culture and community that help in three ways. They should challenge current-stage behavior to push you toward the next; they should support you during the transition, to minimize negative consequences when you are halfway through and can’t quite make the next stage work; they should confirm (praise and reward) next-stage behavior to the extent you can do it. Systematic institutions, ideally, provide these for new members, transitioning from stage 3 to 4.

Cultural and community context for the 4-to–5 transition has, thus far, been rare. The meta-rational mode is not broadly recognized. Context for reaching it has been created only rarely, idiosyncratically, by exceptional individual mentors, plus their circle of students. I’m probably not in a position to do that currently. I can probably best contribute through mere explanation. Alas, that is radically inadequate. Maybe it is better than nothing, though.

Each developmental stage can be explained in terms of any aspect of human being. Kegan discusses the 4-to–5 transition in terms of ethics, marriage relationships, and management style. These are not areas that STEM folks are typically particularly interested in. It may be more helpful to explain in terms of cognitive, or epistemological, approaches. Cognition and epistemology are central in Kegan’s model overall, but he’s vague on how they change in the 4-to–5 transition.

Perhaps this is one place I can help.8 Challenge, here, entails explaining the limitations of rationality; support means showing how meta-rationality works, and how to make the transition emotionally feasible; confirmation is pointing out the power of meta-rationality. Meaningness, the book, is supposed to do all three of these, eventually. In fact, it might be described overall as guide to the transition from stage 4 eternalism through 4.5 nihilism to stage 5—the complete stance. (However, the book is mostly an enormous collection of IOUs, so far!)

This book section explains how rationality fails when you try to make it do too much. It’s quite incomplete, and there isn’t even a good overview yet. I’ve also addressed the issue, obliquely, in several metablog posts; and it will also appear in other parts of the book, for example this page.

To be honest, I’m not altogether enthusiastic about writing these bits. The issues have actually been understood pretty well for most of a century. So I’m impatient. I’m like “come on, you can’t really believe anything that dumb, can you!”, which is not a helpful approach.9 Unfortunately, no one else has taken the time to explain the problems clearly and carefully in straightforward language, so far as I know. The discussion is scattered across a dozen disciplines, written in the distinctive academic codes of each. Summarizing this will—or would—be a public service; but not as much fun as I would like.

Anyway, one way or another, many people do figure this out, but get stuck at stage 4.5, so maybe it’s not as important to challenge rationality (from a stage 5 perspective) as to help build the 4.5-to–5 bridge.

As support for that route, I plan to explain in more detail why nihilism is wrong, and to offer antidotes to its emotional pitfalls. Some of this I have drafted in detail, and I’d like to complete those parts soon. (In terms of priorities, I have been torn between working on that and on “The history of meaningness,” which I hope is relevant to some current political dilemmas.)

Cognitive support, and confirmation, mean showing clearly that meta-rational cognition is possible and valuable. “How to Think Real Good” may be a start, although this was not how I thought of its purpose when I wrote it. There’s vastly more to say on this subject.

Even if all that were completed, it would fall far short of building a bridge—because that requires a social and cultural context. Can such a thing exist? I am confident it can. It will take collaborative construction by many contributors, though.

    Michel Foucault was, in my opinion, the foremost among them. Unfortunately, his premature death prevented what might have become a complete meta-rational presentation. His last work—the multi-volume, unfinished History of Sexuality—is the best. It’s only incidentally about sexuality; it’s about self and society, knowledge and power, language and experience.
    This is in the final chapter of his In Over Our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life, “On being good company for the wrong journey.” The “wrong” journey is that from stage 4 to 5, which he thought almost no university student was ready for.
    Kegan pointed out that although campus identity politics is usually presented in pseudo-pomo terms, it could also function as an intuitive attempt to move toward stage 4 from stage 3. The structure of the identity-political ideology is itself a system, which may be a helpful support for some students in forming a coherent, systematic self—an identity. That was in his 1994 In Over Our Heads (pp. 337–338, 342–344, 347). Unfortunately, I suspect that using identity politics as a bridge to stage 4 was more feasible in the early ’90s, at the height of the subcultural mode, than it is now in the atomized mode. Identity politics then retained considerable conceptual coherence from its Marxist roots; but it has become increasingly incoherent. Identity gave way to intersectionalism—in a way consistent with the development from the subcultural to the atomized mode—and that is probably still less capable of leading anyone beyond stage 3.
    See, however, Kegan’s discussion of destructive antimodernism (4.5) vs. reconstructive postmodernism (stage 5), in In Over Our Heads, pp. 324–334. This is about as clear a statement of the way forward, within the critical theory framework, as has been written to date, to my knowledge.
    Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
    This is structurally identical to Ken Wilber’s idea of the pre-rational/trans-rational fallacy, which also draws on adult developmental psychology. I am skeptical of his “trans-rational,” however; it seems to be mostly Romantic monism, which I think is actually anti-rational (and wrong and harmful).
    Kegan developed a theory of stage 5 institutions with management theorist Bill Torbert; I may write about that at some point.
    With the caveat that, unlike Kegan, I’m not an empirical psychologist, so anything novel I say can only be guessing.
    “Pop Bayesianism: cruder than I thought?” particularly suffered from this problem. I followed up, eventually, with “Probability theory does not extend logic,” which is very patient and properly pedagogical. (Until the second appendix, anyway.) It was a drag to write, and I kept promising it for years before finally finishing. When I did, the people who already understood the issues nodded their heads and said “yes, of course,” and the people who were committed to Bayesian rationalism ignored it.

Diner Newz & Multimedia / Just finished my new online CD "Fish Man"
« on: January 20, 2018, 06:51:45 PM »
My fifteen year old midi guitar controller died. I decided to search for a new one. I found the cheapest one I could find, and then a place that was selling a used one for 1/2 price. I bought it. It is wireless and fits nicely on my semi hollow body guitar.
  Now I  have formed a new band and have called it "Fish Man". Me on keyboard. Me on Bass. Me on Guitar. Me on Horns and Strings and Pads. Me on Lead instrument.  The discerning listener will notice I have a formula for the creation of the songs. It is intended, because I am old and tired of getting complicated. I have presented various styles of music in this compilation with some new and exciting lead instruments.

Enjoy if you can. ( that is the title of my first cassette of original music 32 years ago )

The Kitchen Sink / I don't want to put Emojii's in my newz titles
« on: January 20, 2018, 11:17:03 AM »
This new idea of putting an emojii in the title has the following problems for me...

1. It interrupts the the flow of my transfer of the intended context of my newz posting.

2. It changes the context of the title by adding a symbol that doesn't come close to representing the language.

3. It adds a lot of extra time to look up the emojii and the search until you find something that really doesn't work for the title.

4. I don't want  to compromise the impact of the title in plain language with a barely related icon.

5. When you say "I am issuing a new style directive on the Diner", you surely mean it is optional, right?

There is a new icebreaker in the international diplomatic circuit. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call at the UN General Assembly for declaring an International Yoga Day has gained support from several quarters — many representatives from Congress and President Obama as well have shown keen interest in yoga.

From being an ancient spiritual pursuit for those seeking enlightenment, yoga has been absorbed into mainstream lifestyle by people from all cultures and backgrounds across the globe. And now it has also arrived in the global political arena. Good governance and administration require multi-faceted skills and yoga brings skill in action. In fact, it was called Raja Yoga because it was practiced by kings and princes in the ancient days.

Yoga became popular in the West as a solution to lose weight or as a physical exercise and people also found relief from many ills such as stress, anxiety, professional burnout, addictions and insomnia. In additions to its remedial properties, yoga is also a path to realize and harness your deepest potential.

It has a profound impact on multiple levels of our existence. While stretches and postures make the body supple, pranayama and meditation take the mind deep within. An unknown dimension opens up within our being that enriches the experience of life in many ways. There are several benefits of yoga — it enhances health, improves memory and concentration, sharpens the intellect, de-stresses the system and increases energy levels. It also unveils an intuitive ability within us, which is much needed for creative pursuits and in overcoming obstacles like the writers’ block.

According to Maharishi Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the oldest known text on the subject, yoga is freedom from all the distortions of the mind. If we observe the mind, we will realize that it is always engaged in one of five things:

1. Seeking proof or answers
2. Forming conclusions
3. Imagining or fantasising
4. Remembering past events or memories
5. Dreaming

Yoga or union with the Higher Self happens when the mind is not engaged in any of the above. You usually identify with the activity in the mind. In the waking state, you are caught up in all that you see, smell, hear, touch, taste. If not, you return to sleep or to the state of dreaming where you are completely cut off from the world. None of these really give that deep rest that the system needs to totally recover from the stress that it gathers.

In the physical realm, it takes effort to get results. In the realm of the mind, what is needed is effortlessness. For instance, you cannot relax or go to sleep by putting effort; in fact, putting effort is counterproductive. It takes a certain kind of skill to become effortless. The ability to deeply relax renews your ability to be dynamic in action. Passion is like the in-breath but you cannot just breath in; you need to breath out as well and that is dispassion. Life becomes a harmony when we have all three — passion, dispassion and compassion.

Often one has to sacrifice personal freedom to some degree to observe discipline. But yoga is a discipline that opens the door to inner freedom, contradictory as it seems. With practice, you acquire the knack of switching between different modes of the mind, from engaging with the outside world to withdrawing from it and going within; between passion and dispassion. This skill of moving outward or inward at will makes you the master of your own mind, and when you win over the mind, you win over the world.

The Kitchen Sink / Oh, the glories of country living!
« on: January 12, 2018, 03:51:29 PM »

The Monastery - From left to right. Animal cottage and chicken pen, Old house, pump house, tavern building/our house.

Today, about 10am our water stopped running. Our pump house that I built is 15ft square and 4ft high. It is well insulated and we put a light bulb inside when the temp drops below 20 degrees, and put a space heater in when it drops below 10 degrees, just to make sure the pipes inside don't freeze. It is located down our pasture, across a frozen creek, and down the old driveway about 200 yards from the converted tavern to house we live in. Misa walked over to check the pressure gauge, came back and said we have 0 pressure, and the space heater was still on. We figured that the pressure regulator device had gone bad. She drove 20 miles to town and got a new pressure regulator and some fuses, while I gathered the tools necessary to take the bad one off and replace it with the new one. I took a short nap and when I awoke she was back. It is 16 degrees here with a wind chill of 9 degrees.  We trekked over to the pump house and began the operation.
  When I unscrewed the pressure regulator, the last of the pressured water came spraying out. It got everywhere. Then we attached a small hose to the spicket inside to drain the rest. If the pressure drops to far we have to pump up the tank with air with a small electrical air pump, so I was working fast. I couldn't get the the regulator off the pipe it was attached to. While trying to do so I broke the pressure gauge and she had to go back into town to get a new one while I went back across to try to get the regulator off the pipe. In doing so I smashed my shin with a hammer as deflected off the vice grips I had attached to the pipe while holding the regulator stable on the floor. I still couldn't get it off. I decided to go put it in the table mounted vice in the garage, which is connected to the tavern building, and use a small piece of rebar to turn it, it came off. Now I had to go back over to the pump house to get the new regulator to place it on the pipe. Put teflon tape on each end of the pipe and screwed the new one in place. She returned with the gauge at about the same time. We walked over to put the two new gadgets on, plus two new fuses. On the wet floor I began to work, but my glasses were fogging up so bad I had to take them off, and it is hard for me to see anything in detail without them. So basically working by feel, I attached the new gauge, put the wiring back on, which Misa diagrammed on her cell phone, and put on the gauge. Put one fuse in, and the other refused to cooperate for 10 minutes, but finally did.
    I flipped the electricity back on and WAH LA, it worked, and not only worked but she happened to get a higher pressure regulator and our water is blasting out the faucets. I haven't taken a shower in two years because the pressure is so low . I hand wash my whole body about once a month. I think now the shower will work great. Yahoo!
  If we had called a pro to fix it probably would have cost about $300, we did it for $40, plus we would have had to wait for a day or two to get them here. As many of you know I am taking Prednisone, and I drink about 12 glasses of water each day.
  When I woke this morning I had the strangest song running through my mind. It was frantic and made little since to what I normally create, but I did my best to create the obscure song, and called it "Forced". Go figure!
  I chose this life style in a monastery because I desired to know what life and our universe/s "are" the best I could. With a vow of poverty, and bailing wire and duct tape, we have kept this place going for 34 years. I wouldn't have it any other way.

The Kitchen Sink / Results of my sinus CT scan
« on: January 06, 2018, 03:31:47 PM »
The Doctor emailed..."    Frank,
    Your CT scan does not show evidence of significant sinus disease, so maybe no
    sinus infection anymore.  Even though you're not sneezing that much so might be
    unusual, but I suppose this could be allergies.  We're going to call you in
    Prednisone, an anti-inflammatory medication, to see if that helps.  In the
    meantime, can re-try Allegra or Claritin or Zyrtect, all over-the-counter.
    You do have a couple of bad teeth on the CT scan, and the Radiologist suggests
    that you see a dentist.

So no surgery, yea!!! Hope this stuff works!

  I have no idea of the cost of the surgery, or what type I will need yet. I have no health insurance and it will be self pay. The limited facial/sinus scan is $385. If the cost od surgery is too much, I will be busted, so I might not get it, and if it gets too bad, i will take a long dirt if anyone has any ideas on how I should proceed I would appreciate it.


Diner TV / Album: Knarfs Music
« on: December 14, 2017, 04:11:56 AM »
Audio list — 1 audio file from one album
My music is create.

12th day of Christmas (2:22)

Knarfs Music
I was on my morning walk yesterday and realized today begins the 12th day before Christmas. I started hearing the song in my head and wondered if it arranged as a round. So I downloaded a midi version of it, and arranged it with three rounds. What do you think? Does it sound like a reasonable 3 part round?


Human rights and Palestinian solidarity activists frequently mention violations of international law and the commission of war crimes by the state of Israel. The IPSC National Coordinator Kevin Squires took a look at some of these offences in detail for Liberty, the monthly newspaper of SIPTU, the largest trade union in Ireland.

It was part of a four page ‘Palestine Special’ in the September edition, which also included contributions from Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu, Dr. Claudia Saba of Gaza Action Ireland, and Mags O’Brien of Trade Union Friends of Palestine. You can read the whole section online by clicking here on pages 15 to 18 (PDF).

Collective punishment

Israel operates a military policy of collective punishment called the ‘Dahiya doctrine’, after the area in Lebanon where it was first used by Israeli forces in 2006. Simply put, the doctrine sees massive force being used upon the civilian population in order to exert political pressure on enemy forces. Aside from being a classic definition of the word “terrorism”, Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines collective punishment as a war crime, stipulating that “No persons may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited … Reprisals against persons and their property are prohibited.”

Settlements and Annexations

The first Israeli settlements were built in late 1967, immediately following the military occupation of the Palestinian territories.  Today over half a million Jewish-Israelis live in such settlements. As Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that it is illegal for an occupying power to “deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”, all such settlements are thus war crimes. UN Security Council Resolution 446 declares settlements have “no legal validity”.

In 1980 Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem as Israel’s “complete and united” capital. UNSC Resolution 478 declares the annexation “a violation of international law” which is “null and void and must be rescinded.” UNSC Resolution 497 similarly states that Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights in also illegal. 

The Wall

In 2002 Israel began building 710km a barrier consisting of 8m high concrete walls, military watchtowers and barbed-wire fences on Palestinian land. Israel claims its purpose it to prevent Palestinians from crossing into Israel, but its route winds deep within the West Bank –only 15% of its route follows the Green Line border– leading  it to be dubbed the ‘land grab’ or ‘Apartheid’ wall. In 2004, the International Court of Justice (The World Court) issued an Advisory Opinion regarding the legality of the wall, stating that the wall “and its associated régime, are contrary to international law” and called for reparations for those affected by its construction.

Right of Refugees’ Return

Between 1947 and 1949 Jewish-Israeli military forces ethnically cleansed at least 750,000 Palestinians from what became the state of Israel, representing some 85% of the indigenous Palestinian population. 1967, Israel forced around 300,000 people (around half of them already refugees from 1948) from their homeland. Today, refugees and their descendants number, at a conservative estimate, around five million people. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that “forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”  Under Article 147 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, “unlawful deportation or transfer … of a protected person” constitutes a grave breach of the Convention.

For six decades Israel has refused Palestinian refugees their Right of Return; UN General Assembly Resolution 194 states that Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” This resolution has been reaffirmed many times over by UNGA. Opponents of Palestinian rights claim 194 is irrelevant as UNGA resolutions are non-binding, however Israel’s accession to the UN was predicated upon its acceptance. Furthermore, the resolution is merely an acknowledgement of the specific applicability of the right of return to Palestinian refugees which, according to the Cambridge Journal of International & Comparative Law can be found in eight branches of international law: inter-State nationality law, law of State succession, human rights law, humanitarian law, law of State responsibility, refugee law, UN law, and natural/customary law.

The Siege of Gaza

Since 2007, the 1.8 million people in the Gaza Strip have existed under a regime of land, sea and air closure, known as the Siege, or Blockade, of Gaza. This siege has kept Gaza on the brink of a humanitarian disaster for the past seven years, a policy described by an Israeli official as being to “put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” There is broad consensus amongst human rights organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as UN offices such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that this siege is illegal. UNOCHA called it “collective punishment, a violation of international humanitarian law,” while outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has stated that it “is illegal and should be lifted.”

UN Resolutions

Israel is currently in breach of, or has been the subject of, over 30 UN Security Council resolutions directed at it alone for violations which it has never taken action to remedy.


Last week, the world was informed of yet another expansion of Israeli "settlements" by the Netanyahu government. Israel announced plans for 285 new units in the West Bank, and the retroactive approval of 178 units that were built in the 1980s. Part of an ongoing series of announcements, Israel has now advanced plans for 1,700 new units since July 1.

The UN Mideast Envoy, Nicolay Mladenov, was incensed. "Israeli settlements in occupied territory have no legal validity and are an obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

And the response from Canada and its federal political parties: silence.

    Such announcements must be met with firm and repeated condemnation, by Canada and all other governments.

Global Affairs Canada must have considered the 24 hours after Israel's announcement to be a slow news cycle. Their only press statement announced Minister Dion's upcoming travel to Micronesia.

But Israel's ongoing construction of settlements in the West Bank is no small matter. Such announcements must be met with firm and repeated condemnation, by Canada and all other governments that give lip service to human rights and the rule of law. Here's why.

As Mladenov observed, Israel's settlements are illegal under international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention states, "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

In 1958, the Red Cross explained the basis for this prohibition, stating:

    [This article] is intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain Powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons [...] to colonize those territories. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race.

Thus, Israel's settlements are colonies, with all the pejorative meanings. And with each Israeli colonial expansion in the West Bank, Palestinians struggle to maintain their livelihoods and their communities.

Aside from the illegality and inhumanity of Israel's settlements, they also spell dire trouble for the oft-touted "two state solution" for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Global Affairs Canada states, "Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlements also constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace."

Individually, all Canadian parties have expressed wholehearted support for the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Why is it, then, that neither our government nor any of our political leaders lament the growth of these Israeli settlements which are repeatedly hailed as a significant impediment to peace?

It's like two people arguing over how to divide a pizza while one of them eats it. It's no wonder that Mladenov asserted, "It is difficult to read in these actions a genuine [Israeli] intention to work toward a viable two-state solution."

There are different mechanisms of enforcement for international law. Formally, there are international bodies -- the ICC, the ICJ and others -- that are occasionally brought to bear effectively. Far more frequently, it is informal mechanisms that enable international law to bring positive change: collective condemnation, and a desire for international legitimacy.

    Canada is not a military superpower, but it can be a moral superpower.

The condemnation of Canada, its government and its political leaders is far more powerful than many might realize. While it may feel like empty hand wringing to some, history has repeatedly shown that if enough voices are raised, intransigent governments will move.

In one meeting I had several years ago with the foreign affairs critic of a major Canadian party, I asked him about the last time his party had condemned Israeli settlement building.

"Well, Tom," he explained, "Our disapproval of Israeli settlements is well known."

"But when was the last time you actually issued a statement?" I pressed.

"Well, we can't repeat the same thing in statement after statement."

I repeated, "But when was the last time you actually issued a statement of condemnation?"

He didn't have an answer for me.

In a final appeal for action last week, Mladenov said something which should give pause to everyone, regardless of where they stand on the conflict: "For years we have been managing this conflict, while the occupation has continued, Palestinians have been dispossessed, and a one-state reality has been establishing itself on the ground." If Mladenov is right, Palestinians may soon be echoing the battle cry against Apartheid South Africa: "One [hu]man, one vote!"

Canada is not a military superpower, but it can be a moral superpower. Canada may not be the host of Mideast peace talks, but it can grease the wheels for such talks. But to be either, our political leaders have to have the courage of their convictions.

In the meantime, silence is acquiescence.

The recent explosion of the Gaza War, rooted in a long feudal history between Israel and Palestine, has sparked international debate.

The 25-day conflict may be halfway across the world from United States, but it is not far from the minds of black Americans. HuffPost Live hosted a discussion on Thursday, about where black American allegiance should fall on the sides of this conflict, especially in light of recent comparisons drawn to the American Civil Rights Movement.

Kristian Davis Bailey, a research assistant at the Martin Luther King Institute at Stanford University, asserted that black Americans should oppose Israeli attacks of Palestine on the premise of the nation’s “colonial” ambition.

“I think that first and foremost what’s important to note is that Israel is a colonial project and as black people, we have a tradition, a right, and an obligation to oppose colonial projects.”

He further tied the struggle of black Americans to that of Palestinians in highlighting “material connections” between the oppression of both peoples. These he described in terms of police brutality and civilian interaction with law enforcement.

“The Israeli military will train with police units across the United States, the same private prison companies that detain Palestinians in Israel — which is illegal — also have youth detention facilities in the United States, South Africa, and around the world.”

Lawfare Project fellow Chloé Valdary, alternatively framed a case for siding with Israel’s right to act in Gaza based on the terminology of Bailey’s position. She first affirmed that Zionism is, by definition — according to W.E.B. DuBois — an anti-colonialist movement.

Valdary also blamed the use of terms such as “colonize” and “occupy” for “perpetuating colonialism” in the discussion of Israel, based on the origins of the term “Palestine” itself — originally coined by a roman imperialist.

However Dr. Anthony Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of the Humanities at Rice University, finds fault in discussing the current crisis in Gaza through ideology rooted in “biblically based claims.”

“You can’t resolve political economic and social dilemmas through an appeal to metaphysical claims that are theologically grounded.”

He acknowledged the logic for which black Americans could theoretically side with either nation, but ultimately condemned the violence of Israel’s attack in defense of Palestine.

“African Americans know well the desire to preserve personhood and to do that within the context of community, we understand that on the part of Israel and Palestine, but this appeal to religion allows for brutalization, dehumanization, extreme violence that should not be tolerated.”

The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.
- Autobiographical dictation, 30 June 1907. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2 (University of California Press, 2013)

From MINNEAPOLIS TRIBUNE, 14 February 1901.
Bottom caption: "Better quit your foolin', Mark, and go back and work at your trade."

An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.
- A Tramp Abroad

The new political gospel: public office is private graft.
- More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927

Yes, you are right -- I am a moralist in disguise; it gets me into heaps of trouble when I go thrashing around in political questions.
- Letter to Helene Picard,
22 Feb 1902

When politics enter into municipal government, nothing resulting therefrom in the way of crimes and infamies is then incredible. It actually enables one to accept and believe the impossible...
- Letter to Jules Hart, 17 December 1901

Look at the tyranny of party -- at what is called party allegiance, party loyalty -- a snare invented by designing men for selfish purposes -- and which turns voters into chattles, slaves, rabbits, and all the while their masters, and they themselves are shouting rubbish about liberty, independence, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, honestly unconscious of the fantastic contradiction; and forgetting or ignoring that their fathers and the churches shouted the same blasphemies a generation earlier when they were closing their doors against the hunted slave, beating his handful of humane defenders with Bible texts and billies, and pocketing the insults and licking the shoes of his Southern master.
- "The Character of Man," inserted in autobiographical dictation 23 January 1906. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 (University of California Press, 2010)

To lodge all power in one party and keep it there is to insure bad government and the sure and gradual deterioration of the public morals.
- Autobiographical dictation, 24 January 1906. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 (University of California Press, 2010)

I was an ardent Hayes man, but that was natural, for I was pretty young at the time, I have since convinced myself that the political opinions of a nation are of next to no value, in any case, but that what little rag of value they posess is to be found among the old, rather than among the young.
- Autobiographical dictation, 4 February 1907. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2 (University of California Press 2013)

I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
- Autobiographical dictation, 12 September 1907. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3 (University of California Press, 2015)

In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
- Autobiographical dictation, 10 July 1908. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3 (University of California Press, 2015) of the first achievements of the legislature was to institute a ten-thousand-dollar agricultural fair to show off forty dollars' worth of pumpkins in -- however, the Territorial legislature was usually spoken of as the "asylum".
- Roughing It

...when you are in politics you are in a wasp's nest with a short shirt-tail, as the saying is.
- "The Chronicle of Young Satan"

[In the Galaxy Magazine]: I shall not often meddle with politics, because we have a political Editor who is already excellent and only needs to serve a term or two in the penitentiary to be perfect.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

All large political doctrines are rich in difficult problems -- problems that are quite above the average citizen's reach. And that is not strange, since they are also above the reach of the ablest minds in the country; after all the fuss and all the talk, not one of those doctrines has been conclusively proven to be the right one and the best.
- "The Privilege of the Grave," Who Is Mark Twain?

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