Places to see

Joie de Vivre

If tapping your heels together three times would instantly transport you anywhere in the world—different from your current location—for a 3 week holiday, where would you go?

Hi Laurie
Glad you enjoyed the trip and good to be back in communication.

As the saying goes, I’m not greedy, I just want a lot.
I want to see the whole planet, all of it’s diversity, the geology, the weather, the oceans, the life forms, the people, the artefacts.
Iceland is up there on our list of places to go. I’d like to see the many parts of England, Scotland and Germany that my several ancestors left in the 1800s to come to New Zealand. So many things to see, all interesting in their way. And Kaikoura is the place to return to for us – with its own many levels of beauty and uniqueness. Even as I sit here and write this I can look up at the snow covered mountains within 15 miles, 9 sparrows on the deck getting their morning feed (about 100 compatriots perched in nearby trees waiting their turn), large swells are crashing on the beach, their Shuussshing noise providing a backdrop to all other sounds, the spray they generate rising like morning fog over the beach, and a quick glance skywards reveals 6 layers of cloud, each displaying in its form information about the composition and behaviour of that particular layer of the atmosphere, and in the house the dogs are playing, and Ailsa tapping on her keyboard, the extractor fan whirring in the kitchen.

So much information, so much constant change, so much beauty.

And the internet – this, connecting me to diverse communities around the planet.

What an amazing existence!

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Longfin Eels

Longfin Eels campaign on facebook

It’s not the commercial hunting that is the major factor in decline, that is being managed reasonably well.

The major factor is the loss of wetlands.

We just did an inventory of wetlands in the Kaikoura region (I chair the Kaikoura Zone Water Management committee) and we have lost over 95% of wetlands in our region – drained and turned into farmlands.

That is where longfins used to live.
Their habitat is disappearing.
Extremes of drought are increasing in frequency (making survival even more difficult for those that remain).

Putting screens on turbine intakes on dams would make a big difference.

Making it easy for anyone to catch and transport elvers from the bottom of dams to areas beyond the dams would help (instead of threatening anyone who does such things with prosecution).

Picking on commercial fishermen is the easy thing to do. They are largely independent, and mostly acutely aware of the environment within which they work, and the threats facing it – while also facing the necessity of making a living.

Seeing the whole picture, and dealing with the entire set of issues, is much more difficult.

So while I acknowledge the problem, picking on eel fishermen is not a big part of the issue in my understanding, their impact is already managed and controlled. Reducing other impacts of wetland loss, and all the chemical contaminants we are putting into waterways through our use of things like liquid soaps, overuse of detergents etc – those are huge, and largely unknown.

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Money cartoon – comments added!

On Ailsa’s Facebook Page – Cartoon of a man with a stick tied to his back, with a string tied to a wad of money, running hands outstretched towards the money, with an open grave unseen ahead.

I just can’t bring myself to “Like” this – and yes – accurate in many cases.

And it need not be so.
Money is almost all myth.
It was a really useful idea when most goods and services were in fact genuinely scarce.
But we have had exponentially increasing computational systems for over 120 years. We can now automate the production of a large and exponentially increasing set of goods and services.
The only thing stopping us developing systems that deliver all the goods and services required to live whatever sort of life one responsibly chooses (and there is a test of reasonableness that most {over 99%} would have no problem accepting) is the very idea of money.

Money as an idea is based in scarcity. It only values things that someone doesn’t have. So poverty is an integral part of making the money system work. Consider Oxygen in the air – arguably the most important thing for any of us, yet of no monetary value.

We could easily (in a technical sense) create systems to deliver all the essentials of water, food, shelter, education, communication, healthcare, sanitation, transport to every person on the planet – but doing so would make all those things as valuable as oxygen in the air to the monetary system – zero value. So there is not, nor can there ever be, any monetary incentive to do such things. In terms of money, they just don’t make sense.
In terms of humanity – money no longer makes much sense.

In day past, yes – one could make a strong case in terms of utility, information processing, coordination and cooperation – but those days are past.
We have far more powerful tools now, that do a much better job, and money as a concept now works against the interests of humanity both individually and generally.

So yeah – funny, but not so funny cartoon.

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A practical way to increase the likelihood of living a long time in good health and fitness


Donate money at the link above

Here’s something practical that seems worth putting a little cash towards.

Another link explaining what is going on

I don’t often suggest putting real cash into things, this one seems to be an exception.

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Homo-economicus vs biological adaptation

What Milton Friedman Got Wrong: Biologists Destroy Homo-Economicus

Homo-economicus vs biological adaptation

Agree entirely with the general thrust of this article, and evolution is much more complex than even this article explicitly acknowledges.

Fitness of any phenotypic trait is something of a sum over life history of the positive and negative impacts of that trait (and any related traits by their degrees of relatedness).
In considering the term life history, one must be cognisant of all the variations in environment encountered, in both space and time.
When considering the aspect of time, it is the time that the particular allele enabling this particular phenotype actually remains in the population. Thus an allele that has a small negative impact most of the time, but every 100 generations results in a probability of .9999 survival in some specific event that occurs on average every hundred generations, might still be strongly selected in a population. Similar numbers can apply with respect to particular habitats encountered. A population may be the only population that can successfully survive in the conditions at some particular site, and from the secure physical base, spread to surrounding areas even though in many other senses other species would normally out compete them (if not for that secure base area where they have no competition). Sometimes those specific events or contexts are not at all obvious.

So evolution in this sense is very much like a hologram – where every bit in the image contains a little bit of information and influence from the entire object being imaged. Evolution deals with this summation of probabilities (positive and negative) across all aspects of space and time that particular organism exists in.

Similarly in the mimetic context.

The dimensionality of the resulting probability maps, the dynamic pressures resulting from constantly evolving n-dimensional contours, is amazing to contemplate, and even more interesting to experience as the diversity of organic, cultural and intellectual life we exist in.

In this sense, given that exponential expansion of our ability to generate and manipulate information, coupled with our exponential expansion of ability to automate processes at ever higher levels, is leading us to the situation where the entire concept of markets and exchange is now becoming the greatest existential risk facing our species.

When one looks at evolution from a systems complexity perspective, it is possible to characterise all major advances in complexity of living systems as the emergence of new levels of cooperation, with requisite stabilising strategies (as per Axelrod et al)

We can relatively easily generate fully automated systems that would deliver all the goods and services required to allow any and all individuals to do whatever they responsibly choose, but producing such a system takes most of those people outside the economic system and destroys much of the economic value present in our current exchange based (scarcity based) systems. Thus our focus on exchange now threatens to produce social pressures that put everyone in danger.
Competition alone cannot get us out of this hole, it requires massive cooperation, with all the attendant strategies to effectively prevent overrun by cheating systems (something our current economic system has failed completely to do).

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Intellect on Spiritual Path?

May 22-25,’16 ~ QofDay~ Intellect On Spiritual Path

How does the human intellect play a part in one’s spiritual path? What do you think of the following excerpt? Agree, disagree, have further thoughts on it? Please share.

“The intellect is one of the thorniest problems for a spiritual aspirant. One cannot do without it – indeed, it is essential – and yet one cannot allow it to remain totally dominant. The intellect must be fully developed before it is brought to a point of neutrality. Unless this is done, it will act as a block, and there will not be any ultimate spiritual success.”
~ 365 Tao (by Deng Ming-Dao) # 138

To me the passage displays a failure of understanding, and it is easy to see how it might seem to be that way.

It is clear to me that every human being is a very complex entity. We have many levels of systems within us.

Our conscious awareness seems to be an emergent property of those many layers of complex systems, and as such is both influenced by them, and in turn can influence them.
It seems that we can only ever consciously understand and deal in detail with a very tiny chunk of reality at one time, and yet we need to exist in the totality of the complexity that is a reality containing billions of galaxies, trillions of stars, billions of human beings, and quadrillions of other life forms. Each of us as human beings contains enough molecules so that if we had somehow managed to take a photograph of them all, and had been looking at that photograph at the limit of the human capacity to take in formation, and we had started when the universe began some 14 billion years ago, we would be about 1% of the way through the process (of looking at that one snapshot of all the atoms that is us). And yet at the native speed of atoms, we would need to take a movie at about a trillion frames per second, then slow it down to 25 frames per second, to let our puny consciousness be aware of the sorts of physical movement that is actually happening at the atomic level.

So we can understand general principles about ourselves, but can never hope to deal with the actual complexity. We have to keep our consciousness working at the high level stuff, and be willing to hand over control to the subconscious systems to deal with the complexity of the real.

This seems to be so at all levels of awareness and abstraction.

So there is definitely a sense in which one must both be willing to do the hard yards in training for mastery, and at the same time, be willing to give up the illusion of control, and accept that the best any of us can hope for is influence, and to do the best we can with the limited information and resources under our influence.

Again, this applies at all levels, from the internal development of awareness of the massive capacity and capabilities of our subconscious systems, to the even greater capacities of the reality within which we exist.

So there is this sort of dynamic tension between assertion of identity and creativity, and acceptance of being a close approximation to nothing at all in the greater scheme of things. Going too far in the direction of either of those polarities leads to serious pathologies, and there seems to be a vast and multidimensional spectrum of possibilities in between sufficient to accommodate infinite diversity and creativity.

One of the really interesting and odd things I have discovered in my journey comes from a subset computation theory, known as database theory, where it has been proven that if a processor is fully loaded, the fastest search is a fully random search. If one has spare, unused, processing capacity, one can use that to build indexes that will allow rapid searches when the occasional query arises, but it always takes more processor cycles to create and maintain the indexes than it does to do a fully random search on the dataset.
It seems that our brains are like that in several dimensions.

We need to learn to hand over our illusion of control, and to try out the intuitions that come back. They wont always be appropriate, but far more often than not, they will be the shortest way to our highest level goal. And at the same time it can be entirely appropriate to train and develop systems appropriate to those rare times when reality demands very rapid and accurate response to ensure survival. And there can be something of an art in making such distinctions.

So for me, my enquiries into the nature of reality, the nature of being human, the nature of choice, and the sorts of possibilities that seem to both call me, and be universally applicable, have taken me through this sort of grand tour of a lot of detailed disciplines, and back to a lot of ancient practical wisdom, but in a new set of contextual understandings, about the nature of being, the nature of systems and complexity and probability.

It seems that one only needs to rather loosely constrain randomness for quite amazing degrees of order to emerge at higher levels.
In that respect, it seems that the only constraint really necessary on sapient life are universal respect for individual sapient entities (human and non-human, biological and non-biological) and a respect for the freedom of such individual entities. So we do our individual best to modify our actions in reality to mitigate any reasonable risk that our actions pose to the life or liberty of others; and within those very broad constraints, anything goes.

And there are lots of consequential chains to those two, like caring for the environment that supports us all, and the possibilities available in physical reality (as a practical aspect of liberty). So it is both simple, and not – as seems to be the nature of reality.

And the spirit that moves me seems to have an awareness of all these things.

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Saying No

May 16-21,’16 ~QofDay~ Say No Comfortably

You have to say no to a lot of good things
In order to be able to say yes to a lot of great things.

Can you say NO and not feel uncomfortable ?

I’m getting better at it, and I really do like helping people, so it is hard for me to pass up an opportunity to help – to create more opportunity, more choice.

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