Hutton’s Shearwaters on Kaikoura Noticeboard Facebook page

Well done Sabrina.

For most of those birds crash landing, it is their first flight, ever.

They spend about 3 months in a dark burrow underground, being fed every day or two by a parent returning, but otherwise alone in a deep hole. (The parents can fly half way to the Chathams and back to find food, or as far south as Timaru, and bring back 50g of food to their chick.) The chicks get fat.
Then the parents stop coming.
The chicks get hungry.
They get lighter.
After a few days or weeks the urge to find food overpowers the security of their burrow.
They emerge, at night, flap their wings for a few hours, then take flight.

On their first flight, they either find the ocean, or they die.
Most make it.

They have never seen rivers, trees, roads, ocean.
They can’t see the ocean.
Often they are taking off in thick cloud and they can’t even see the mountains.
They are driven entirely by instinct.
Some sort of feeling that they need to go “that way”.

There is nothing in their instincts to prepare them for roads or street lights or cars or people.

Is it any wonder they crash and appear confused.

Anything we can do to help – to get them to the ocean where their instincts have prepared them to survive – helps.

60 years ago there were 10 wild colonies known, now there are only 2 remaining.

There isn’t another bird like them on the planet, that nests in the high mountains but feeds up to 30m underwater in the ocean.

They are seriously unusual animals.

They are born only here in Kaikoura.

A week after their first flight as chicks, they fly off to western Australia for the winter.

They are stroppy little things. They might take a bit of skin off with their sharp beaks if you are not wearing gloves, but I have lost lots of skin to them, the skin has healed and I’m still here.

I kind of like their attitude to life, a mix of exploratory, self sufficient, cooperative and ready to defend if required,

Every one we keep alive helps to keep these amazing birds around.

Keep your eyes open, if you are out at night and it is damp, then over the next couple of weeks you will probably see some, particularly over the next 2 nights.

[Ted (Chair Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust)]

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7 years from last tumour

A rather significant anniversary today – 7 years since the last tumour was cut from my shoulder. When the histology came back it said the margin wasn’t clear, and wider excision was recommended. By that stage I was confident that the combination of strict veganism and strict – twice daily, no exceptions, high dose vitamin C, could deal with it. So I said no to the wider excision, and have not cheated since, for 7 years.
No further tumours.
The two tumours that I did get after initially going vegan seemed to be the result of very slight cheating.
Not cheating seems to work.
Having a heaped teaspoon of pure L ascorbic acid, dissolved in a glass of water, twice a day, every day, no exceptions, seems to work.
Having no animal products, no dairy, seems to work.
For 7 years it has worked.
That is a significant test in my books.
It is two years past the 5 year mark accepted in cancer research statistics.
Today is a day worth noting and celebrating – at least for me.
A big thank you to Ailsa, for being with me, warts and all, on this journey called life.
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Economics – D

Social Vaccine Feb 2018 – 17/ “Ubiquitous Psychopathology” with Daniel Schmachtenberger

Actual interview with Daniel Schmachtenberger

Message sent to Scott Andrew following listening to the interview above.

Hi Scott,

Very much align with many aspects of what you and Daniel are trying to do. Have read a lot of Daniel’s writings, and he mine, and we talked on skype for a couple of hours last year.

I have a few issues with some of what Daniel said in that interview:

40:04 Daniel uses the term “mile long trawlers” – they do not exist. The largest trawlers are about a tenth of a mile long.

51:50 – Daniel states “still have less certainty than most less aware people. This is something we need to fix.”
Why? Why assume certainty is beneficial? Why not be willing to accept and stand in the fundamental uncertainty, and see it for the well of creativity that it is? Why try and force it to some polarity?

53:00 – Daniel states – “You’ll notice that for all the most consequential possible topics nobody has any idea what the fuck is actually going on.” That is not clear speech. Some people have an idea what is going on, but the interpretive schema those individuals are using are so far outside of the schema used by most people that the understandings encapsulated in them are not available to the vast majority. Most people would rather die for their inaccurate “truths”, than admit of the possibility of uncertainty or error. That much has been clear from my journey with a terminal cancer diagnosis over the last 8 years.

54:01 Daniel states – “There is profound difficulty in the ability to make sense of both what is true and what is right behaviour in response to what is true. And we can get, without getting into what the solution is yet, we can get that these are problems that we have to – that should at least be central to our conversation – right! We should centrally be focused on how do we go about knowing what is true, how do we go about getting rid of disinformation, how do go about (like in the me too movement it wasn’t so much disinformation as in people creating false information as people hiding information, right – that allowed negative things, abusive things, to continue for so long). So how do we start getting an accurate information ecology, and how do we start having conversations about what the right strategic approaches to problems are? Do we have to change capitalism? Do we have to change government? What are the right ethical approaches to some of these macro dynamics? I think that at minimum these should be more central to the conversation because they actually are central to what needs to happen.”
55:15 – Your response – “Absolutely!”
I say – No.
Consider the possibility that the very idea of being right is actually the biggest problem we face.
The idea of being right is founded in the idea that we can actually model reality perfectly, that we can have Truth.
Certainly we want to be as accurate as possible in our speech.
Certainly we need to avoid saying things we are confident are false.
And being as accurate as we can be is not the same thing as the classical notion of Truth.
To me that classical notion of Truth is all illusion.
Any modern understanding of the complexity of reality, and the nature of our neurophysiology, and the nature of understanding itself, clearly shows that all understanding is some sort of heuristically based model of reality. Some sort of simple model that worked in the context of our past, but may not be well adapted to our future.
We need to get in our bones that what we experience as reality isn’t. Our experience is of a model of reality that our subconscious neural processes create based on a complex mix of physical hardware selected of deep evolutionary time (our brains), software systems selected over deep cultural time (our language and culture more widely), our actual physical interaction with reality (whatever that actually is), and whatever choices we make at whatever level of choice and distinction we manage to instantiate.
It now seems beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that the very idea of “Truth” is a very simple approximation to something profoundly more complex and fundamentally uncertain.
The very idea of “a right way” is a profound simplification of what seems to be an infinite variety of possible ways all with similar utility, and a much larger infinity of possible paths with substantially negative utility, some subset of which actually contain existential risk at some level. is a recent work of mine on this general subject.
One needs to be able to relax the notion of “A Right Way” enough to be able to see some beginnings of the infinity of the possible actually present, and to start negotiations about which general direction we head in, and how we continue to navigate through the troubled waters ahead. And in times of very high risk, it is powerful to have one experienced individual making the calls about where to point the ship. In calmer times, greater degrees of discussion and negotiation are both possible and desirable.
And one has to be alert to the possibility of artificially created storms, created to mask some other purpose.
1:20:00 – align completely with Daniel on the issues of “how to sense make”.

On the wider issue of McMurtry’s “primary Axiom” – for me it fails in many fundamental ways – it looks more like prison than freedom as written. And if you are interested, I can elaborate on that in depth.



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Back on the bus

Get Back on the Bus

What keeps you on track?

Hi Laurie,

What gets me on a bus is deadlines.

And as you are aware from my latest writing:
Key themes required for understanding
life at every level seems to demand a balance between order and chaos, between being on the bus, or just wandering in the wilderness.

I guess a big part of my life is doing the wandering, searching the unexplored territory for both threats and opportunities; looking for ways to effectively mitigate the very real risks facing us all today.

And I can certainly be “on the bus” when a deadline approaches. Had one instance a few years ago where as the start date for a major software project I had been working on for 6 months approached, and I was able to put real data into the system, an issue emerged. I spent 40 hours at the keyboard with the only breaks being for essential toileting. I made the deadline with 2 hours to spare, and the system worked.

And I seem to have a preference for the more chaotic aspect of the searching of new spaces.
That was one of the very interesting things to emerge from database theory about 10 years ago, that for a fully loaded processor, the most efficient search possible is a fully random search. Creating and maintaining indexes can speed access in times when speed is required, but it actually takes more processor cycles overall than simply randomly searching the available knowledge space.

And the page above is my latest session “on the bus”, trying to give some idea to others of what it is I have discovered in my journeying.

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Ideapod – Embracing Change

Ideapod – Embracing change

Darwin Quote: It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

Yes, and what that quote does not address directly is that survival is likely to be a multivariate probability distribution across populations and generations that will be very context sensitive and include factors like:
ability to cooperate;
ability to detect and remove cheats in the cooperative;
ability to learn;
ability to adapt to current environment;
ability to effectively locate and move to an optimal environment when this one degrades;
ability to maintain current environment at somewhere near optimum;
ability to survive famine;
ability to survive plague;
ability to avoid predators;
ability to compete hard enough to survive, but not so hard as to make too many enemies;
ability to do some combination of all of the above with the least amount of computation, time and energy.

All of that summed over thousands of generations and including all the many very infrequent but very important events (like ice ages, super-volcanoes, …..).

It really is very complex!

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Let Me Call You Sweetheart

What’s your favorite relationship ingredient?

Hi Laurie.

All the ingredients you mentioned are important, as are all the others listed above, and the one no one has mentioned (perhaps for social reasons) is sex – very important from a male perspective (that chemical drive can be very strong in the male brain).

And making the effort to look for the great things in our partner, as we are all sufficiently complex that we have vast distributions of attributes from the abominable to the great, with all shades in between, and it is all too easy to focus on the undesirable and ignore the rest. Being active in seeing the entire spectrum, and focusing one’s words on the positive end of that spectrum, seems to be important.

And here in NZ it has been Valentine’s day for over 8 hours, with many words and acts of love and appreciation exchanged between Ailsa and I.

Arohanui to you and Len

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A new Invisible Hand

Why New Economics Needs a New Invisible Hand

The New Invisible Hand suggests the existence of a middle path.

Here in New Zealand today is Darwin Day (12th Feb 2018).
That is fitting.
Darwin traveled widely, looked closely at things, and was able to think about things in ways that were not widely socially acceptable in his time.
What he did with what he had was amazing.
He had no idea of biochemistry, neucleic acids, computational or complexity theory, quantum mechanics – yet he championed the idea that differential survival of variants can lead to change.

Today we have so much more.

Today we know so many more classes of complexity.
We understand recursion, the ability of systems to fold back on themselves and create new levels.
We have computational tools and resources that are on double exponential expansions.

Some of us understand that being an aware human in today’s intellectual, economic and cultural reality already involves some 20 levels of cooperation in action.

And being able to see that cooperation allows for the emergence of complexity, while competition drives systems to simplicity, is a crucial part of the puzzle, and our survival.

Being able to see that cooperation can only flourish when at least two conditions are present:
1/ the risk to individuals (at whatever level of boundary set one defines individual) comes largely from factors outside of the population of individuals; and
2/ there are sufficient attendant strategies present to detect and remove cheating strategies from the population, and return any such cheats to cooperative behaviour;
is crucial.

The common conception of evolution as “nature red in tooth and claw” is not accurate, and it certainly can go that way if resources get scarce and move the balance of risk from external to internal factors within a population.
Cooperation, and our survival as a species, requires abundance.

We find ourselves facing several grand challenges:

1/ How do we both maintain sufficient abundance of all necessities, and sufficient freedom, for all people, so that cooperative behaviour is maintained across all social strata? (The technology is relatively easy, the social systems, and changes in modes of thought and understanding are difficult.)

2/ How do we achieve 1/ above, and maintain the biophysical environment within limits that are some approximation to optimal for life?

3/ How do we transition away from scarcity based markets to abundance based systems while retaining all the many essential and very complex functions that markets have performed in recent centuries ( in terms of distributed information processing, distributed governance, distributed risk management, etc {as per von Hayek et al} ) that are essential to life and liberty?

4/ How do we find a balance in law that maintains the essential boundaries, at the same time as it maintains essential freedoms?

Agree with David that the simple idea that it is either complete freedom or central control is so simplistic as to be an existential level risk in and of itself.

Reality is many orders of magnitude more complex than that.

In reality, we need many levels of distributed networks to make this system work.

Pretending anything less than that is insanity.

Yes we need to design systems that both value individual life and individual liberty, and does so within responsible social and ecological contexts, and that is a problem of sufficient complexity that it must be an ever evolving system.

Tools are neutral, it is how we use them, and to what end, that defines morality. And there will be as many solutions to that problem as there are individuals in existence.

And one cannot go down a path like this with any sort of simplistic understanding of liberty.

Liberty cannot be an absence of boundaries.

Any level of complexity requires boundaries for survival.
We are very complex entities, with many levels of systems, requiring many levels of boundaries to be able to survive.

The real question is, which of those boundaries present are actually necessary for the survival of us all, and which are there purely for the interests of some subset (ie are some form of embodied “cheating”)?

That is a really complex set of questions, and of sufficient complexity that there can be no clear and simple answer, ever; and it is a set of questions that we must each keep asking, and one that as a society we must develop ever better sets of tools to answer.

Fully automated production allows marginal cost of production to drop to zero. That means abundance is possible.

So exactly how we bring this new level of abundance to all, at the same time as we bring new levels of effective protection to every individual, and to the biodiversity of living systems, is the question for all of us?

One thing is clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt – that markets, with their value basis in scarcity, cannot do it alone. Our primary value metrics need to be based in abundance if this has any chance in logic of working, ie if any of us wish to survive long term.

The reasonable needs and wants of individuals are not infinite, they are for the most part quite finite and relatively easy (in the technical sense) to meet.

There are two terms in common use that are relevant in this context, that no longer have anything like their classical meaning:

To “sin” now means to do some “wrong” (usually against some arbitrary standard). It was once an archery term, that simply meant to miss the target. And all archers know that one gets better with practice. One needs to miss the target thousands of times before one can hit it reliably.

The term “meek” now means ineffectual. It was once a term applied to a fully trained and armed citizen who by conscious choice kept his weapons sheathed at all times except when they were absolutely needed. In that sense, it was a term that described the most powerful who had that power under conscious control and used it in the service of all.

Every one of us needs to develop all the skills and power we can, and we need to keep our weapons sheathed, unless absolutely required. And with a bit of luck, they never will be required – provided we develop the systems that can and do actually deliver abundance and security to everyone – no exceptions.

And for many sorts of weapons, keeping them sheathed can mean keeping them purely in the realm of information. There are many things that contain so much risk, they ought never to be made physical in any sort of ordinary context.

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