Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone

Time gets away easily.
It has been a very busy couple of weeks.

Christmas morning in the Howard household, and just about to wake Jewelia.

I’m going to start with my most recent post elsewhere, then go back in time and catch up again.

Z is for Zodiac

Merry Christmas Laurie and all

It is Christmas morning here in New Zealand. Ailsa and I are up, and just waiting for Jewelia to wake.

The Zodiac is an interesting way to finish.

A set of symbols made from little points of light in the sky, that were seen by our distant ancestors to rotate around us every day, and shift during every year, and change with respect to the shortest and longest day on a cycle that takes some 26,000 years.

How could they have guessed that we were living on a small planet, orbiting an average sort of a sun, orbiting an average sort of a galaxy (which is a collection of billions of suns), in an average sort of cluster of galaxies, in a universe with billions of galactic clusters.

How could they have guessed that we are all made of the stuff of long ago exploded stars, that due to small fluctuations in the density of the massive stars that exploded long ago, collected in a region of space, and condensed into this sun and it’s planets.

How could they have guessed that evolution by natural selection would act upon a group of replicating molecules called Ribonucleic Acids, and would, over about 4 billion years, eventually produce the huge diversity of life we see about us, including ourselves.

How could they have guessed that this process would leave each of us human beings (whatever our race or creed) more than 99.5% genetically and chemically identical; with brains that have experiences that give rise to minds that are more than 90% the same; tuned to survive by noticing that which is different, and ignoring that which is the same.

Thus the “differences” that we see in the descriptions of the zodiac signs are so broad, that if we are honest with ourselves, we could all see all aspects of all of them. Sure, some people favour one over another, at times, and we all have them all.

As it is Christmas, I love to think on the story of Jesus.
For me it goes something like this:
A good young Jewish boy, he was raised in the traditions of his culture, yet some of the things he observed didn’t make sense to him. So he took some time out, and went into the desert, and noticed that he didn’t actually create the ideas in his mind, he simply observed them happen to him, and then he had a choice to act on them or not. Never having seen a computer, and not knowing anything of molecular biology or systems theory, or logic; he made sense of his observations by observing that “the creative spirit of god” is within every one of us.
Amen to that Brother.

He observed what many great observers of self have done throughout history that we all start with a sense of our own wrongness, and by bringing acceptance to all that is, and accepting that it cannot be any way other than what it is, we can gain both peace and freedom to create; and the source of that creativity is something deep and mysterious that resides in every one of us (he characterised this as God, for me it is the holographic nature of the storage and retrieval process used by the subconscious machinery of our minds).

He observed that we are all far more alike than different; that we all make mistakes, and it doesn’t help any of us to be too judgmental of others “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

He came back from his time alone, and spoke out openly against the accepted authority and wisdom of his day.
He was a maverick, who for a time had no agreement from others, but gradually managed to get others to see some aspects of what he was saying, but few “got it” to the depth that he had “gotten it” – which was at once a source of anguish and hope to him.

So yes – Merry Christmas all, and to all a happy New Year.

A beautiful still, hot and cloudless morning here in Kaikoura – mid summer at its best. Just 7am and already in a T shirt.

U is for Unity
December 14, 2010

Profound connectedness of thought trains this morning Laurie.

After waking and doing my stretches I went back to bed to read a few pages of “The Emperor’s New Mind”, it’s the sort of book one can only read a few pages of before having to take “time out” for contemplation.

I had just finished the chapter on “Turing Machines” (mathematical abstractions of possible computational devices), and was thinking about some of the statements made on the nature of infinities in some of the examples used.
I started to contemplate two of the simpler infinities, the infinity of whole numbers, and the infinity of fractions.
I started to wonder what the relationship was between any fixed subset of those infinities, characterised by a number “n”.
If one counts zero as a number, then the set of whole numbers up to n has n+1 elements.
I wondered how much bigger, exactly, is the set of numbers and fractions. So I worked it out.
It turns out to be (n+1) +( ( n+1) times the sum of all the digits 1 … n-1). So it is very much larger than n.
That took me a couple of minutes to figure out and test, using the standard procedure of mathematical induction.

That started me on a couple of minutes of fairly abstract contemplation of the nature of infinity, which then bought me back to the beginning.

There are two different sorts of counting systems.
There are those that start from 1, and there are those that start from zero.
I started to contemplate which was more valid, and how each related to reality.
I quite quickly found myself in a loop, where I was switching from viewing the world as starting from one, and viewing it as starting from nothing, until the two different abstractions sort of blended into a greater unity, a sort of “grand equivalence” – where it was all simply a matter of perspective.

Did it really matter if one considered that nothing gave rise to one, or that one gave rise to something else. Aren’t the processes essentially equivalent?

Is it really possible to contemplate the absence of something, without also holding an example of that thing, in which case the concept of nothing (zero) never really exists (as the thing must always exist in the abstract as a referent to be able to state that there is none of it). There may in fact be none of it in existence, but it is not possible to refer to “none of it” being in existence without bringing at least one of “it” into existence (at least in the abstract) as a referent.

It turned into a fascinating half hour of mental gymnastics – from the purely abstract mathematical realm, to the realm of reality, the birth of cosmology and us, to the philosophy of ontology.

It got me contemplating how many errors I have found in the great works of mathematics and logic. Einstein’s relativity has an error in premises for example. He states that in the absence of external referents, it is impossible to tell if one is in an accelerating frame or a gravitational frame. Actually – it is relatively simple to tell the difference. All one needs is two pendulums suspended from a bar.
If one is in a gravitational field, each weight will point to the center of mass of the attractor, thus the strings will not be parallel but will converge.
If one is in a pure accelerating frame, then they will be parallel.
If one is in a mixed frame, then the angle of convergence will change with time.
If one is in a centripetal frame (on the inside of a spinning wheel), they will diverge.
I guess it is possible to create very unusual configurations of matter that may take three or more pendulums to distinguish between, and the principle still holds.

So yes – I agree with Wright; the details are important.
The details of logic.
The details of history.
The details of evolution.
The details of experience.
The details of what we do with the infinite possibility available to us.
The details of the language we use to express the relationships and abstractions that present themselves to our awareness, in the hope of communicating them to another.

These context machines that are our human brains are sensitive to context at every level.

There does not appear to be any limits to the levels of abstraction available; and there are very real limits on what exists in reality, and how much any physical thing can do in a given amount of time.

Finding a balance of actions between sustaining body, sustaining relationships, contemplative exploration, physical exploration, making money, creating new contexts – is not a simple task. No “right” answer – just the answers we have in the moment.



creative space

Holographic relationships – the more one experiences, the greater the clarity available, and always a sense of being somehow not quite all there, and all there, at the same time.

It has been a fun morning – Thank you for your part in it.

Question of the Day December 15th 2010

How do you feel about change?

I’m not very fond of change for change’s sake, I like most things to be where I expect them to be; and I am quite able to accept and embrace change when it comes, or it is needed.

Question of the Day 16th December 2010

What do you admire and are thankful for this holiday season? What are your passions?
Let us know what gifts you’d like to receive this holiday.

There is so very much that I admire and am thankful for.
The love and caring of my wife and children.
The love and support of so many different people, friends, community and complete strangers.
The efforts of so many different people, in so many different fields, that goes far beyond simple self interest, and well into the realm of contribution to others for it’s own sake. From those that repair the roads, maintain the water systems, telecoms, internet services, food supply, minerals, manufacturing of all the gadgets that give me the time and opportunity to write in this forum (and others).
All the policemen, doctors, nurses, caregivers, trainers that help others to help themselves.
I am thankful that I am alive, that I live in such a beautiful place, such a peaceful and abundant place, in such relative security.

My passions are many: family, golf, cycling, ocean, tramping, philosophy, computers, exploration – bringing all of these things into the service of developing and promoting systems that support and sustain abundance, peace and security for all (no exceptions). Expanding the horizons of tolerance and diversity.

I love to explore the limits of our current understanding of notions like infinity and possibility.

What I would love to receive is cooperation in spreading the message of the power of cooperation in diversity, in creating abundance far beyond what any economic system is capable of delivering.

V is for Vitamins

Hi Laurie

So many interesting and related things in this post.

Exactly what is essential for life?

As a biochemist by training, I have a certain level of familiarity with the notion of vitamins – certain key things that must be present for us to function optimally.

Until very recently, I was under the impression that the body could handle most things thrown at it.

A little over 7 months ago, being told I had inoperable cancer and a life expectancy of a 50% chance of making 5 months, started me on some serious investigation.

Understanding the results of those investigation requires understanding several related ideas.

There is no such thing as a poison – without referring to the concentration of that thing. We have evolved and adapted to survive with almost everything in our environment, but only within a certain range of concentrations.

There are a few dozen of these things that have gotten the name “vitamins”, and are listed here.
These are special in the sense that our bodies are not capable of generating them from other materials in our diet.

This inability to synthesize these compounds is one extreme end of a spectrum.
There are some 80,000 different chemicals within our bodies.
Our bodies are capable of creating and controlling the levels most of these chemicals, within fairly broad limits, and every one of them is sensitive, to some degree, to the content of our diet.
Vitamins, form one end of the spectrum of sensitivity, if not present in our diet, we have none of them; and there are thousands of other things in our diet and our environment that have affects on the concentrations of other things in our bodies, which in turn effects how our bodies operate at many different levels.

For some of the vitamins in our diet, it is almost as easy to overdose on them and turn them into a poison as it is to have too little (Vitamin A {from eating livers} would be the best example).
For others, like Vitamin C, the recommended minimum is just sufficient to prevent acute deficiency disease. Vitamin C seems to be one of those dietary elements that we can actually effectively use far above the recommended minimums – perhaps 1,000 times as much when fighting disease.

It seems that our systems are remarkable in their ability to survive in situations that are far less than optimal, and often they do so by doing things that are not in our long term best interest (evolution is like that – we can accumulate quite a few damaging things, provided that the impact of the damage doesn’t usually hit until we have raised our children).

Thus it now seems to me that optimal health is so much more than simply getting the minimum amount of essential vitamins to avoid acute deficiency disease.

It seems to me that optimal health is about reducing as many as possible of those chemicals that have known carcinogenic activity; getting as wide a range as possible of as many different live nutrients as we might assume are similar to those that would have been in the diets of our hunter gatherer ancestors over the last 6 million years, keep ourselves physically active, etc.

So yes, Vitamins are one extreme, of a vast spectrum of things essential to physical good health.

Then there are all the ways that mental activity interacts with the physical systems within our bodies – the greatest of which is stress.

So yep – great post, and it seems to me that our current level of understanding of what is actually going on is way less than 10% of what is available there to be known (possibly less than 1%). We are such amazingly complex entities.

W is for Writing

Hi Laurie

I can identify with all that you and Roamer and Barbara say (and of course I have my own take and expression on it 😉 ).

I just spent about a minute in a sort of stasis, trying to choose where to start.
So often it is like that with me, whether writing a blog like this, or a computer program, or some piece of legislation, or whatever – there will be a range of possible levels and starting places, each with its costs and benefits, advantages and dangers – and sometimes my head hurts from trying to find an “optimal” place to start.

Yet the weird things is, once started, the process takes on almost a life of its own.
It is not longer the conscious me in charge.
The conscious me gets set to one side, allowed to read what comes out, but not to interfere too much in the production and flow (it gets free range later, in post production editing, if it thinks it needs to).

What seems to be at work is the subconscious me, the sum of all my experiences both subjective and objective (internal and in the external “reality” of life), in the holographic context machine that is the human mind.

In a sense, I can fully understand why it is that people say that it is like god is speaking through them, because in a very real sense it is not the conscious egoic self at work, but rather the holographically connected deeper self, with the interwoven shadows of everything it has come in touch with throughout its existence. And at the same time, I am aware that calling it god is such a dis-service in another sense, in the sense that it ascribes something that is essentially and deeply “us” to something else.

It is hard to give any sense of the depth of both individuality (the intensely personal) and the depth of connection to everything else (reality) that I have, and at the same time it seems that it is not necessary to invoke any sort of awareness to explain the complexity – though it is often a convenient shorthand in thinking about it.

On another level entirely, I am driven to write as a means of expression, of gathering together concepts and crafting them into a package that can be easily transmitted from one to another; of creating a suite of tools in my mind to enable me to bridge the gap between what I see as possible at some point in the future, and the reality in front of us right now.

It is both an unconscious drive, and a fully conscious choice – aligned.

So I read, I write, I experience as many aspects of reality as I can fit in within the constraints of the economic and cultural situation I find myself in.

In this community of people around this blog in particular I find a creative mix that keeps me coming back.

Thank you one and all for creating this space that encourages this creativity to flow – a great big thank you to Laurie.

Question of the Day 19th December 2010

“Now what do you suppose would happen if one were to try to treat those around you with the virtues (the ideal qualities of human conduct)
justness, loyalty, good sportsmanship, fairness, honesty, kindness, consideration, compassion, self-control,tolerance, forgiveness, benevolence, belief, respect, politeness, dignity, admiration, friendliness, love and did it with integrity?”

What I have noticed is that the response depends very much upon the perceived level of threat in those I meet.

The more relaxed and secure other people feel when they meet such qualities, the more positively and deeply they respond and emulate.
I’ve found that most people have very good “BS” detectors, and can spot any level of egoic manipulation a long way off.

I agree with the general thrust of your assertion, “Be the change!”.


@OM – it seems to me that integrity covers it – in my understanding sincerity is just another sham – an excuse for not delivering, like “it doesn’t really matter if I didn’t make it, provided I really intended to”.

To me, both the intention and the outcome are important – and both fit within the concept of integrity.

@Akira – what seems to work is just noticing things – bringing them to the attention of both conscious and subconscious, without accompanying declarations of “right” or “wrong”.

About 16 years ago it was bought to my attention that “always” rarely occurs in nature. Usually, when we use the term “always” what we really mean is “often”. Now I seldom use the term “always”.

Usually, when I notice myself using “always”, it is an indication that I am not operating at my highest level of intention. Some other words on my notice list are: never, right, wrong, maybe.

[second followup]

So many related ideas in this series of posts.

@ Thomas – the notion of “Force words” doesn’t seem helpful to me, and I can certainly get a sense in which there appears to be a “force” of “authority” behind such words.

In my understanding, such words stem from the second stage of awareness that we get to by declaring ourselves to be wrong.

The first stage of awareness is “simply” learned from culture.
For the most part that awareness is not questioned or critically challenged in any way (at least not until we reach the age of about 5-7 [hence the old Jesuit saying “give me the child until the age of 7 and I will give you the man”]).
Thus, during the second stage of awareness our judgments are all based on some level of the distinction “right/wrong” or “good/bad”.

When we reach 3rd level awareness, we see that ideas like “right/wrong” are a very simple binary distinction that attempts to capture the essence of an infinite spectrum of consequences to actions that spread out through space and time. In a sense, some sort of simplification of any infinity is required for any finite entity (such as a human being) to be able to comprehend any aspect of it. As our universe seems to include infinite possibility, it seems that we need to encourage and enable the majority of people to progress from level 2 to level 3, as a minimum.

There are many possible paths to such a transition (perhaps an infinite number), and it appears that culture does not play any significant role in either promoting or inhibiting such transitions.

One little tool that find I seems to be useful is a simple thought experiment:

Consider the notion of freedom of thought.

Are you sufficiently free to be able to entertain two opposing thought systems?

Can you think of a world in which the notion of God has reality?
Can you now think of the same world, except without the notion of God, and where all things can be adequately explained by randomness within certain limits of lawfulness?

Consider, that unless you can hold one or the other, based upon your own choice, at any time you choose; that your freedom of thought is probably severely restricted by cultural restraints that you have not yet distinguished.

It seems to me, that when we use the “force words” {always, never, etc}, our awareness is, at that time, usually residing back at level 2 or level 1.
Please avoid the temptation to think of such activity as being “wrong”.

What seems to work is simply to notice what is so, and to express a clear intention about what one’s desired outcome is (eg to be in level 3 or higher awareness at all times).

The usually trap that most of us fall into upon achieving level 3 (or higher) is, after some period, to consider that state as “right”, wherein we immediately transition back to level 2. {Like a big snakes and ladders game in a sense.}

I’m on the road for a couple of days – so better leave it at that for now.

Question of the Day 17th December 2010

“Is there an area in your life you’d like rehabilitation
or a failed dream–or is there a film that moved you to achieve a new goal?
What “mountain” would you like to climb spiritually?”

Just about every area of my life qualifies as a mountain to climb, and .
The first step on the path to integrity is noticing where it is not present – which puts me firmly on the first step.
I’m noticing integrity isn’t a lot of places.

The dream not yet achieved: universal peace, security, abundance and longevity.

Y is for You

Hi Laurie

We align so well on this post.

For me, your question “When you take away all of those trimmings, who are you?”, only sort of makes sense.

There is a certain surface level in which most of us tend to identify with various aspects of our cultural or physical history – as you say, the groups, the occupation, the place of birth or residence; and there is also a much deeper level to these things.

For me, the “who am I” question has occupied thousands of hours of thought and contemplation.

It seems to me that at one level, I am a biological entity. I am one particular expression of some 4 billion years of evolution by natural selection operating at many different levels.

At another level, the cultural beginnings and much of the content of my mind has had a similar evolutionary history that is essentially somewhat shorter, yet not much less complex, in that it has mostly happened over the last few hundred thousand years, and probably over 80% of it in the last couple of hundred years.

Then there is the extra level, of the connections ( the intuitions and abstractions) that my own mind has made within itself.

Then there is the connectedness to all things, that is powered by the “holographic” nature of the unconscious mind that allows for me to have the conscious experience that I am. In holographs, all bits are related to all other bits in a very powerful way.

So there is a very real sense in which if you take away all of that, then there is nothing left. And at the same time, by having all of that present, something else is present also.

Then there is the notion of choice, of exploration of the infinite potentiality that seems to be available within the uncertainties at the margins of the rules that govern this “reality” in which we find ourselves.

So there is a sense in which I agree, at this latter highest level, that yes we have available to us pure choice, pure possibility; and there is also a sense in which the degree to which each of us is able to access that pure potentiality in any given moment has a large component of culture, history and habits involved.

And yes – I am totally aligned, that purpose is a choice, something which only makes any sense, and only has any security within it, if it is something that we each own as our own.

Why am I here ? What is my chosen purpose?

So many possible and related answers to those questions.

To create both security and adventure.
To extend human life indefinitely.
To create systems that enable us to enjoy freedom, technological expansion, prosperity and individual growth while maintaining and enhancing abundance and biological diversity.
To accept the possibility of death in any moment, and embrace the possibilities that are life in the moment.
To explore the range of human experience possible, while at the same time limiting the damage that the consequences of my choices impose on others.
To have fun, to follow my bliss, to make a difference for others. …….


Question of the Day December 24th 2010

Do you remember believing in Santa Claus? Do you remember being told the truth, and your response?

I cannot bring the exact memory to mind, and I have a ghost of a series of impressions of believing in Santa until around age 4.

I have always been prone to bouts of taking things very literally, still am. Sometimes I can only see the surface level meanings in things (even finding the first level of humour can take me a while), and at other times the levels of meaning seem to stretch off into infinity.

Finding out that there wasn’t a Santa was probably one of the things that got me asking a lot of questions (and with few friends, and busy parents, I had a lot of time for questions), and ended with me putting the story of God in the same category as Santa.

And just as the story of Santa has a role in promoting cooperation in laying down early system of selfless action, so it seems to me that the story of God has many similar very positive social functions, in building in a set of constraints on antisocial behaviours at several levels.
The story of Jesus (minus the added miracles) is one I find truly inspiring, with or without a belief in God.

Reply by Rev. O.M. Bastet 1 hour later

THAT “story” of THAT “God” doesn’t resonate with me, either, Ted. It ain’t at all what I mean by the word.

Reply by Ted Howard 1 hour later again

I get that OM, and for me it seems like it might go all the way down, and I get that there is no proof either way (for or against) – so for me it just comes back to a balance of probabilities.

For me, it is simpler to think that complexity arises from simplicity, and any which way one thinks about it, intentionality is more complex than a simple set of rules.

I can quite easily accept the idea that there might exist entities with powers and experience so far in advance of us that to all intents and purposes they meet the definition of gods, and it seems logical to me that those entities would have evolved from simpler systems through a process of evolution by natural selection in some matrix, at some time (perhaps outside the matrix of this universe).

My personal journey has involved pushing those ideas to the limits of science, logic and mathematics of about 30 years ago, and it seems unlikely that anything will significantly alter the basic structure of the system of understanding I have, though there is infinite room for additions and modifications at the margins, and for whole new levels of understanding to “transcend and include” that which is there now.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
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6 Responses to Merry Christmas

  1. holessence says:

    Ted – I love being able to find everything in one location. It’s like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

    Happy Holidays to You and Yours!


  2. Thanks Laurie,

    Wishing you & Len, and your family, and the dogs, a very merry festive season.
    Hard to think that you guys are having 8 hours of daylight while we’re having 17 hours of daylight. You’re in snow, and the last vestiges of snow are clinging to the mountain slopes above 7,000 ft. Down here at 300ft the ground is so dry that cracks are opening up that you could lose a marble down. Some places a little north of here had gusts of 100knots yesterday, while our peak gusts were around 60 knts, with temperatures in the low 30s – very hot and drying.


  3. holessence says:

    Ted – I just heard that you guys had an earthquake. I didn’t hear how bad it was, or exactly where in New Zealand. Are you and yours well?


  4. Hi Laurie

    Another moderate quake with an accompanying swarm of smaller quakes, in the continuing series of aftershocks of the big one, in Christchurch – (100 miles south of us).

    We didn’t feel anything, and it did have an impact on us as my sister bought her mother in law (Ali) with her – as she is getting really terrified by the earthquakes.
    The one yesterday took out the power over a big chunk of the city, and closed the largest mall in the city, due to engineering concerns.

    All is well here – we never felt a thing, and one day we will, when we get our own “big one”, which is well overdue. We have a major fault – very similar in type to the San Andreas, that runs just 5 miles from our place. A friend of ours developed a method of aging quake activity by measuring the size of lichens on the top of boulders, which has proved accurate over the last 800 or so years. According to analysis of many thousands of measurements, our local fault has an average return time of about 90 years, and last had a major shake 220 years ago. so it’s not a matter of “if”, just “when”.


  5. holessence says:

    Ted – I’m so glad that you and yours are well. A good portion of my childhood was spent on the San Andreas fault line. As a matter of fact, I’m here in Encinitas, California with my dad right now (Dec 16 through Jan 1). I haven’t been in a quake for several years, but I’ve been in several — from small, to large, and everything in-between.

    I remember when my son, Eoghan, was about 3 years old and we were having a doozie of a quake. It had been going for a few minutes when he came into the kitchen with his hands on his hips and said, “Okay, mommy, you can turn it off now!” It still makes me smile to think about how much “power” he credited me with.


  6. Thanks Laurie

    That’s the best laugh I’ve had in quite a while.


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