Monday, July 4, 2016

quick morning notes on some complicated thoughts

Many important things have come to me in the past few days, and I regret that I can't do them full justice, because of the paper on brain data I am more than half finished writing now.

One: a striking experience at Quaker meeting, where a woman from Lebanon who has been spearheading efforts to assist Syrian refugees expressed extreme frustration, and difficulty in maintaining balance. In past months, I heard her praise Merkel for bringing in refugees to Europe, and for heeding the real human story of a Syrian child who died due to callous behavior by adult authorities of Europe. But yesterday, she was really deeply upset by the US government bringing in so many more people than they were able to take care of, leaving them to sink or swim, people who are starting to really suffer. (As I type this, it reminds me of religious people who want to force their religious beliefs on poor women in the inner cities, forcing them to have more illegitimate children than they know how to take care of. Will a new generation of religious restrictions also forbid them from meeting pork or beef hot dogs to those children?) She spoke of a family with a household already full of too much furniture, with the adults focusing on trying to get more, even as a twelve-year old child kept out of schools during war  is in a desperate situation trying to learn even first grade material, like reading, in an environment which easily taunts and tortures such kids. (That reminds me of the old story of first generation coming because they hear good things about America, especially getting money in America, while a next generation experiences radicalizing pain.).
Reminds me of how Cameron was hoping things could be arranged... maybe a hard kind of middle way but maybe actually better?

But mainly... for me the day starting with the usual enormous happiness, in bed near Luda, pleasant talk with birds in the background, in a light place... going over an "assumption dream" which included the funny not-quite-right image someone else has of Luda, as well as of me...
but then suddenly interrupted by a cold realization.

Cold as in temperature.

I said, roughly: "With that new thermostat, I feel like an ordinary citizen trying to cope with the complexities of the new US government. It was too hot yesterday, so I lowered the temperature setting. I didn't know that you need to click the right number of mysterious times to lower the temperature THEN." So it didn't cool down yesterday... but entered an instruction somehow to lower the temperature dramatically at 5:30AM this morning. A cold realization indeed.

I said: "Is Trump going to do to the US government what I did to the thermostat?"

"NO," she said,"You were the one behaving like the US government." Me: "That's a bit insulting!"
Her: "So now being like the US government has become the worst of insults?"

Thinking deeply about the realities of life can lead to important points which policy makers miss somehow. (I am reminded of a Berkeley professor, Shankar Shastry, who once explained why he was so much successful than others in some tricky physical control challenges:"It's all a matter of going in and extracting what the basic principles are causing the problem..." That's such a simple idea, but also so rare and so important to do.)

The new thermostat reminded me of the new Swedish alarm clock we got a few years ago, and about some of the cockeyed versions of "demand response" which some electric utilities and DOE/OER have tried to foist on the poor public. "Hey," said Luda,"What's wrong with a little bit of an intellectual challenge in the home?" Yes, it's better than sudoku... but is it really? There were versions of intelligent efficient powergrid pushed by "jihadi style market economists" (as ignorant of the underlying principles of economics as jihadis are of spirit and god) in which perfect human efficiency would be achieved by forcing every household to make intelligent thoughtful decisions about
every appliance and its intensity setting every 5t to 15 minutes, day and night. Of course, many utilities went to the opposite extreme, of following the historic reflex of behaving like caliphs or czars, controlling everyone's air conditioners in a total dictatorial way from a central command post.
There is a better, more truly human and efficient way, in the middle, with a more rational
blending of human and computer chips... but no, not the cyborg extreme either!
(By the way, do you know about those smiling apparatchiks paid and empowered by the conservative movement to try to force us all to become cyborgs? Yes, they know they are doing it, and I wonder at what point in the chain of command do people understand how evil their orders have become. Long dictatorial chains of command tend to do that kind of thing, even if the folks at the top delude themselves with the belief that "their" chain of authoritarian command is somehow advancing the cause of freedom. But I do not have time this AM to get into the very tricky balances needed
to avoid such extremes. We do need schools, and we do need institutions like Quakers, and we do need well-designed markets emphasizing the honest aspects of competition, to manage things ranging from ideas and money to even DNA, indirectly but importantly.)

As folks in Europe start getting vast powerful diffuse anxiety about DNA lately... I hope we will remember that creatures of the forest do not spend most of their lives being miserable, even though they do not always get what they want. We do not need political systems which make people so miserable so much, even if we decay all the way to the jungle level of standards. But sadly, the risk is that we will sink instead to outright extinction, through various willful but mindless/myopic convulsions.

The reading for Quaker discussion this morning was two pages in which Obama asked a leading author about how people can be so decent and rational in everyday life, and so destructively paranoid and crazy and even evil in collective political life. "Why the gap?" But the theme of groupthink versus collective intelligence, and sanity in general, is beyond the scope for me to wrote about this morning. I did a book review last week at Amazon, on the book Ruthless by Miscavage, with some relevance, though still not as long as the topic calls for. This morning... back to a rat brain by the numbers.  


As I make coffee.. I realize I felt a lot of trepidation when I typed the word "god" next to "jihadi,"
and consciously rejected using God or Allah next to jihadi.

For recent years... I would use the word "god" in conversations with Luda, where it is a useful shorthand and does not force permanent misunderstanding. But only very recently, talking with Quakers and a neighbor, do I start using it beyond that, because the misunderstandings really do blow up in people's faces. In fact, even with the neighbor... I said I am more comfortable talking about three more specific realities (RELATIVELY more specific), "pater galactucus, noosphere and archetypes." (The first two merit capitalization.) (And there are plain old other creatures.) So often people imagine they know which one they are hearing from, based on wishful thinking and narcissism!  But... must turn off coffee now...

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