Postings 18-24 Feb

Quite a few different things happening here:

Question of the Day February 17, 2011 “Favorite Winter Activities”

What are your favorite things to do in the winter? Tell us about it/them!

Outside is play golf – winter is our main competition season.
Don’t do a lot of skiing any more.
My favourite thing is hard to choose; cuddled up with Ailsa in bed, with the rain outside; sitting in my chair, with the fire going, and the rain sleeting outside; feeling warm and comfortable, doing something on the computer – writing prose or software.

I like driving the 4WD in the snow.

Starting to cool down now – winter is not far away here in the southern hemisphere.

Continuing discussion of Advanced problems in “enlightenment” theory and practice

Hi Jen

How I relate and cope is basically doing what Bill suggested – looking at the dark areas.

I look not just within, but also outside, at the systems that underlie the matrix of our being in reality.

Thus I am interested in the physiochemical mechanism of mind and body, as well as the software systems running on them (culture, habits, belief, etc).
I am also very interested in the wider social/cultural systems, and the incentive structures within them, and the trends that such incentives produce.

There are lots of “dark” areas (an infinitude of them) and by focusing attention on the areas where we are “in the dark” that appear to be at a nexus (a joining of many paths), it does seem possible to make some rather rapid progress.

For me the focus has been on monetary systems of late, as money is clearly the dominant paradigm in our society (simply look at the architecture – who owns the biggest buildings, what are they devoted to).

It seems to me that the really serious issue with money is that it is a measure of exchange value, and not of real value. Things which are abundant have no exchange value, only things which are scarce.

If money is used only as a token of exchange between producers, then it is fine, it leads to the production of abundance (call this the exchange aspect of money).

As soon as money becomes a tool unto itself, and people start to create systems around the creation and exchange of money in and of itself, then the incentives exist which trend towards the destruction of human values (call this the profit aspect of money).

We as humans value abundance of things we need, yet to create maximum monetary value, there exists an optimal level of scarcity, that will create the greatest amount and flow of money.

This “optimal level of scarcity” from a money creation perspective creates vast amounts of human misery, as it means that there is a vast minority (bordering on a majority) who can never get their aspirations met in such an economic system. Reality for this group under such a system is that they see the many different layers of natural abundance which had sustained their ancestors being turned into scarcity to produce economic activity (usually for the benefit of those more economically literate than themselves), and their lives are diminished as a result.

It is possible to design systems to produce abundance, but such systems cannot ever be the “natural outcome” of an economic system. Once something exists in abundance – no one will pay anything for it (prime example – oxygen – abundant in the air, absolutely of the highest importance for us all – it is only in special areas of the very worst pollution, or under water, or in space, or in other areas where oxygen is not abundant, that we are prepared to pay anything for it). Their is no incentive to care for that abundance.

Putting a monetary value on something puts in place incentives such that it will become scarce, to a point that produces the optimal amount of trade and economic activity in that thing.

There is a strong argument in here, based on human need, for the removal of almost all “financial services”, and the disbandment of most functions around the creation and “rental” of money (which includes many levels of advertising, and most legislation – leaving money only as a token of exchange) – and replacing it with systems that produce and ensure abundance.

This may seem a little off topic, but it is actually one of the things that it appears to me that many people have a deep “intuitive” sense of unease about in our present society – and may be part of what prevents many of us from “applying their will” in a way that seems relevant to those immersed in the current economic cultural paradigm.

It seems to be that “our deep intuitive sense of unease that we are somehow participating in something unhealthy” is at war (internally) with our “need to contribute”.

[followed by]

Hi Jen

In my understanding, the world doesn’t “suck” it just is.
In the absence of understanding and design, what exists is pattern.
Some of that pattern is just random noise, some is the result of selection acting on random noise, and some of it really is the result of the design of some individuals for some purpose (mostly long forgotten).

I agree that there is an emergence of a new life form (mimetic) and that there are many domains in which there is great potential for conflict between genetic and mimetic life; and there is also much room for cooperation. What happens is very much up to us to choose.

I disagree with your characterisation of the emergence of life.
There did evolve a a group of anaerobic bacteria that were able to produce oxygen as a by product of the capture of photons, and as such were able to gain competitive advantage over other anaerobes. The other anaerobes could not tolerate the oxygen, and had to give them space.

Over time, the oxygen releasors changed the physiochemistry of the oceans and the atmosphere, and created a niche where a whole new domain of life could exist (complex multicellular oxygen breathing life). Some of the oxygen creators entered symbiotic relationships, becoming chloroplasts and mitochondria within this new breed of eukaryotic cell.

So yes, things change, and we can still find forms of most of the different sorts of life that have existed on the early earth in specialist environments now.

The term meme was first publicised in 1976. That is not long ago. Only 20 years before then we first figured out the structure of DNA. Only in the last decade have we actually mapped out our own genome.
I strongly suspect that the details of the interactions of our genetics on the molecular level will still be astonishing us in another 50 years, as we discover them.
In 1974 I was a member of the first undergraduate class on planet earth to be formally taught the theory of plate tectonics.

I don’t see it as a rush to AI, though I do see AI as both a probability and a major danger, if the birth/transition is not managed well (childbirth always has been a dangerous time for humanity).

I see our growth in our own awareness as a major part of the process. Looking at the areas of darkness, and bringing the light of awareness and understanding to them.

Yes we have laws, and we can change them.
What we change them to, and why we do it, are critical to our survival.
At present the law making system is dominated by concerns about money.

Money rules.

We can change that.

We have that power.

As I see it, we can (and in a sense must) build the symbiosis between our genes and memes; and we are taking many very positive steps in this regard.

Where I see the real problem is in the mimetic realm.
The battleground between different realms within the mimetic realm is the battle that most concerns me.

The battle between culture and the individual.
All individuals must start their existence in a cultural paradigm (there is no other way to begin).
Some of us get to move beyond culture, into a realm of the infinite exploration of infinite possibility.

Most are still living in the realm of culture.

Within any cultural realm there are things that are true and false, right and wrong, for that particular culture. These binary declaratives have no reality outside of the particular culture, yet within the culture they are real enough.

It is possible for individuals to move into a realm that is beyond culture, and from that realm, to effect changes in the cultural realm they have left (or indeed, any other – but the one they came from will be the one they are most familiar with, and can most easily modify).

I suspect a great many people are very close to becoming “post cultural”, and are operating post culturally for ever longer periods of time.

[followed by]

Hi Jen
At this point, the idea of “upload” seems very remote to me.
We are very different from any digital machine.
Software emulation of our hardware systems is unlikely to get anywhere near real time in the next half century.
I suspect that the human brain is very close to as compact as we can get. I suspect we are a very efficient use of matter. as a processing entity. It is certainly far more complex than any computer yet in existence – by many orders of magnitude.

It seems very probable that we will make AI, and that is a separate thing.
It seems likely we will create interfaces between us and machines far more efficient than any currently in existence.

I think we (as a species) may be around for a very long time.
I think it possible that we as individuals may be around for a long time.

It seems probable that culture (as a mimetic entity) may be about to be superseded by individuals that are orders of magnitude more complex.

[followed by]

Hi Jen

Generally speaking the mammalian brain is not that interested in fertility, just in the act of copulation.
So long as that machinery stays in tact, then they can practice all they like, without a problem.
Some people will still die, so there will be some children born.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Those that want to keep seriously breeding will have to go off planet, and at some point we will have to stop increasing the population. There are physical limits.

[followed by]

Hi Jen

I think what most women experience as “ringing of the biological clock” is a cultural interpretation of something that has them want to have babies. That something is a desire to care for something young.

In animal studies, it is clear that animals do not care what species the thing they are caring for comes from. Farmers are able to mother anything to anything. A case you may have seen on TV, of a lion mothering a gazelle. I have seen dogs raising cats, sheep raising pigs, pigs raising lambs, …
Many women use animals, cats seem to be a favourite, buts dogs do as well.
Many women mother their men – that works for some.

As with most things in the biological world, the intensities of such things vary enormously.
Much more importantly (it seems to me), the cultural imperative and interpretation of such urges also varies greatly.

Question of the Day February 18, 2011 Irrational Fear

What is your most irrational fear?

I have no irrational fears.

There are lots of dangerous things out there in the big wide world.
It is perfectly rational to be afraid of just about everything!!!

Given the hordes of fears in my mind, I must be normal 😉

Can people who deny science be educated? How?

Education is a very personal thing.
It requires learning to trust your own distinctions, intuitions and abstractions at least enough to test them in reality.

We all start out with simple binary distinctions, things like true/false, right/wrong, good/evil; and it is only with much time and experience that we get to see those simple distinctions are very poor approximations of infinite spectra.

At some point, that will bring people to the point that they get to view things as probabilities, rather than as absolutes, and they will start to talk about their level of confidence in particular assertions.

In my understanding, science does not deal with “truth” as such, it deals with levels of approximation and levels of confidence in particular hypotheses. Specific tests may falsify an assertion, but no amount of tests can prove an assertion true in all possible tests (there will always be more tests potentially available).

Reality may be finite (though very large), yet the realm of the possible seems to be not merely infinite, but composed of an infinite array of infinities.

So show them how ideas progress – use an example like “flat earth”:

If one is building a house, then considering that the earth is flat is a perfectly adequate first order approximation.

If one spends one’s life travelling from village to village within a local area of a hundred miles or less, then the approximation holds up, and is useful for all practical purposes.

It is only when one starts travelling long distances, of a thousand miles or more, that the discrepancies between flat earth and round earth start to become far more than simple measurement error can account for, and we need to reconsider our model, and use something closer.

As a second order approximation, the earth can be considered a sphere.
That works well for most navigational purposes, and will allow you to travel around the world and return home.

One can continue that story through several more phases, as a good example.

Question of the Day February 19, 2011 Songs for Children

What are your top 5 recommended songs for young children to learn?

TED Conversations – Population

Why do so many think that population growth is an important issue for the environment? Don’t they know the facts of demographics?

I agree that population is stabilising, and is not a major problem.
I disagree with many contributors who think we are running out of resources.
We have plenty of resources, all the energy and matter we could conceivably need, we just have less than optimal systems in place around those resources.

Part of problem relates to the technologies we use, which are typically expanding exponentially, and could expand a lot faster is they were not constrained by the need to recoup investment in the previous generation of products.

The other part of the problem relates to the the social systems we use, most of which are based around money as a system of valuation.
Using money as a system of valuation has a serious negative effect on a significant minority of all societies, because money is a measure of exchange value, and exchange is based on scarcity. Most people value abundance, but there is no monetary value in general abundance (abundant goods are free). Thus monetary systems have an inbuilt incentive to create scarcity, which results in a significant fraction of any society experiencing scarcity, when we actually possess the resources and technology to produce general abundance of many goods and services.

In terms of energy, sunlight delivers an equivalent of 6 inches of oil over the entire planet every year. Plenty of energy. Yet because it is decentralised, and abundant, there is no economic incentive to develop technologies to harness it (too much profit being made from existing technologies – oil and coal). For a more detailed discussion of the concept see

Having recently (10 months ago) changed my diet to vegan (after 55 years of carnivorous diet), it seems clear to me that we could sustain a population of 9 billion at a conservative density of 2 people per acre (very easy for vegans) using only 12% of the land area.

It is actually quite easy to sustain 3 people off a half acre section in temperate climates.

[followed by]

Question of the Day February 20, 2011 “Want to know about new person”

When you meet someone for the first time, what is the main thing you’re curious about? What would you most want to know about them?

I’m interested in them, what makes them “tick”.

I’m interested in anything they want to tell me about themselves, their lives, their dreams, their understanding.

[followed by]

how can evolution explain instinct? For example, how do birds quote-on-quote “know” how to build elaborate bird nests?

Hi Emanuel,

Evolution is a usually slow process, that happens over vast numbers of individuals and vast amounts of time.

Instincts are very complex things.
Evolution does not require that instincts work every time.

What it requires, is that on average, over time, animals with instincts for particular behaviours have some competitive advantage over the other animals with different behaviours competing in the same niche at the same time and place.

Thus very subtle changes in either form or function can provide very subtle advantage, that gradually change the frequencies of particular characteristics or behaviours in populations.

Some birds dig depressions in the ground to lay their eggs in, others build a nest of rings of stones, and some use grasses or twigs.

It is easy to imagine how even a little bit of a bowl shape helps to keep eggs under a sitting bird, and increases the chances of the eggs being successfully incubated.

When nests move off the ground, and into trees, the dangers of an egg rolling out are even greater, and the rewards for secure nests consequently greater. When pressure from predators is added in, it is easy to imagine how some of the more complex nest structures have evolved, from much simpler predecessors.

When you look at the range of different nest types that different species of birds build now, you can see all sorts, from simple collections of sticks, to intertwined sticks, to multi-layered thermal insulation, to enclosed nests, to hanging nests.

It is easy to imagine how small changes in behaviour in response to environmental factors like cold winds, swaying trees, snakes, hawks, weasels etc, have by gradual selection amongst slight variations, over eons of time, led to some of the amazing nest structures we find being built by some birds in some places.

In places without the added dangers of ground predators or swaying trees (like seabirds nesting on remote islands), the nests tend to be simple structures of stones, or burrows in the ground. In these situations, such simplicity is all that is required. There is little benefit from anything more complex.

Everything in living systems is a balance of costs and benefits, with survival being the ultimate test of success.

[followed by]

What does it mean to be authentic?

Authenticity has an illusive quality. It’s like ‘Blink”, you know it when you see it, but can you describe it? How is it you know when someone is being authentic?

For me being authentic is simply a matter of the absence of any intention to deceive at any level.

Sometimes people can be open on one level, and deceptive at another.

Often times we deceive ourselves as to our actual motives (games theory requires that we have the capacity to do this).

How we “know” is via the mechanism of “holographic association” (the mechanism that powers the “blink” phenomenon that Malcolm Gladwell so eloquently describes). It is the power of the brain to form linkages via the mechanism of storing and retrieving information as interference patterns. We learn what is normally associated with deception and what is not. Actors, poker players, deceivers of all realms, learn how to imitate these patterns that our subconscious can recognise, and thence deceive most of us.

[followed by]

It seems to me that in one sense, of terms of agreement, section 14 (Acceptable use and conduct) of the Ning Terms of Service (which we all ticked a box that we had read and understood – whether or not we had actually read and understood) says in part that:

…”you specifically agree that:

You will not post, email or make available any Content to Users or use the Ning Platform:

  • in a manner that is misleading, deceptive or fraudulent or otherwise illegal or promotes illegal activities, including engaging in phishing or otherwise obtaining financial or other personal information in a misleading manner or for fraudulent or misleading purposes;
  • in a manner that is libelous or defamatory, or in a way that is otherwise threatening, abusive, violent, harassing, malicious or harmful to any person or entity, or invasive of another’s privacy;
  • in a manner that is harmful to minors in any way;
  • in a manner that is hateful or discriminatory based on race, color, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic or national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or age or is otherwise objectionable, as reasonably determined by Ning;


Now that section raises a huge issue, about what is so?

Is what is so what people perceive?

What is abusive?

What is harassing?

What is reasonable?


There is clearly a sense in which the whole of FEE was harmful to degree of control exerted by the class of entity that most people identify as self, and is partially covered by the term “ego”.


There is little doubt that some of the postings were of a fairly low level nature, and were fairly clearly in breach of most accepted definitions of that section of the TOS.


I for one had not given it much thought, as I entered the melee of my own free will, and was not surprised by some of the words I encountered (and was very pleased by some of the others).


It looks like this is a lesson to us all – that if we see someone start “playing the (wo)man, not the ball”, we all have a responsibility to “blow the whistle”, to ask a few hard questions, and “call a foul” if necessary.


I for one will certainly take this aspect of the responsibility of engagement more seriously in the future.

I had been adopting a “water off a ducks back” approach.

[followed by]

Hi Team

I agree with much that LL says above.

I am not interested in further engagement in Star’s TSK version of enlightenment – and as she has specifically asked me to leave a couple of threads, doubt I would be welcomed. From my perspective, I find she is not particularly tolerant of diversity where that diversity challenges assumptions she has about the nature of being. It is almost a mirror image of what was happening here and in FE, FEE.

Here – by definition, everything (all levels) is up for challenge.

Nothing in the realm of knowledge or understanding is sacred.

We acknowledge that every human being has infinite potential, and we also acknowledge the reality that for most people, that potential is constrained by internal barriers that are mostly of cultural origin.

We value every individual, without necessarily valuing anything that they currently believe.
Most people do not have that distinction.
Most people have collapsed (or, more correctly, have not yet distinguished) those two domains and identify with their beliefs.

Therefore, this is not a safe place for most people.

Question of the Day February 23, 2011, Afraid Die

Tomorrow you die…are you afraid?

Had something similar happen last year.

Had the top melanoma expert tell me that there was nothing medical science could do for me, and I could expect a 50% chance of living 5 months, and could expect to die in great pain.

To say I did experience fear would be a lie. Of course I felt fear. I felt anger, hope frustration, you name it in the emotional pantheon and I felt it.

After a few days, I decided that I was going to choose to do whatever was required to give a different outcome – I chose possibility.

Here I am, 10 months on, alive, pain free, free of any sign of cancer (may or may not be cancer free – and it seems like a reasonable probability).

No-one knows the future.

No one can tell you when you are going to die, even if they have their finger on a trigger, there could still be a misfire.

Death happens when it happens.

We have life – this brief interlude between birth and death – let us enjoy it, and do what we reasonably can to prolong it, and make it as enjoyable as possible (for everyone).

Do I fear death?

No, and I intend to avoid it if at all possible, or at least for as long as possible.

Not out of fear, but just because life is experience and possibility, and death is non existence.

[followed by]


I suspected that I would differ from many here in the interpretation of what spirit is.

Funny, that Ailsa and I had a similar conversation last night. I was explaining to her about my drive to understand things. If a car breaks down, I can usually determine why, and know what to do to fix it, even if I do not have the tools available to do that at the time. Similarly with all mechanical devices, and many living systems. I have built my own computer from components (in 1980). I have built a radio from scrap parts (in 1970). I have fixed so many engines, internal combustion, steam, electric (DC and AC). Fixed cars, trucks, diggers, bulldozers, motorbikes, aeroplanes, boats, …
I grew up on farms, and learned how to manage both the land, and the animals on it.
I watched a great uncle make a bridge across a ravine by walking up and down the ravine, looking carefully, then after several hours, taking his ax, and felling two trees. Those two trees formed the bridge beams, where the fell – they were within a couple of inches of both level and parallel.
I studied biochemistry at university, and also systems theory and computers.

It is clear to me how our awareness arises, as an emergent property of a complex system.

It is clear to me how intuition works, how we are able to know without working out, how the brain uses the mechanism of storing and retrieving information as interference patterns to let my great uncle make his intuitions about exactly which trees to fell, and exactly where to place his ax strokes; or me to form my understandings, or you yours.

Without all that history of understanding that I have, I can understand how those exact same mechanisms as have me have the understanding I have, give others the understandings they have.

I understand how it all happens, at least at the “broad brush” level of understanding.

I understand, that I am so far out in a unique realm of experience and unique set of intuitions, that communication with others about the more remote extremes of those experiences and understandings is almost impossible – and I keep trying, in the hope that just maybe, I will be able to help someone.

One of the things that is clear to me, is that it is possible to create a world where people coexist in peace and prosperity, and it is not possible for that to happen in a world where economic considerations dominate decision making.

Economic values are values of scarcity – that which we are willing to trade something for.

Abundance has no economic value.
If everyone has abundance, no one needs to trade, hence no requirement for money.
Abundance is anathema to economic systems.
Abundance is not a natural outcome of economic systems.

It seems to me that creating systems that deliver abundance is a prerequisite for sustainable peace.

One of the things we could create an abundance of is life.
It is now possible to plan (though not yet deliver) mechanisms to rejuvenate every cell in the human body, and thus allow for indefinite life, with a body that is physiologically only 20 years old (though it may be thousands or millions of years old).

No existing culture is prepared for such possibilities.

We either create a culture that does work, or we as individuals move beyond culture.
For me, the latter seems most appropriate.

[followed by]


I certainly do not have your experience, I have mine, and it seems to me quite probable that I have had similar classes of experiences to those you have, but have a different interpretive schema.

Within the schema I use, it seems that I can model a system within which the interpretations you use are one possible set of interpretations that are probable outcomes of a “holographic system”; and they are not compatible with the experience set that I have (too many things falsified at too many levels by too many tests).

I have made a lifetime habit of testing assumptions, and checking things for myself.
It is a very rare day that I do not question and test something for myself. Most days I test dozens of different things. Over my lifetime, that equates to hundreds of thousands of tests – performed, checked, integrated.

Yes – I am weird. While most people socialise, I design and perform tests of various possible interpretations (even on the golf course).

It is just how I am, by choice and discipline. I distrust authority, on principle.

I am aware of the amazing power of belief, the power of mind at levels we have little direct access to.


Question of the Day February 22, 2011, Natural Supplements

Do you use natural or herbal supplements, and if so, what are they?

As noted above, was a bit distracted yesterday, not to mention busy with meetings until after 9pm.

No – I don’t use any herbal “supplements”. I just eat vegan – mostly raw. – is what I am doing.

My weight dropped from 86Kg (190lb) down to 73Kg (160lb) in the first couple of months, and has been stable ever since. On my 186cm (6’2″) frame, that makes me a little on the lean side, but that is how I was during my late teens and early 20s.

The only things I supplement are vitamins C and B complex, and glucosamine sulphate.

As I wrote to someone today about what I eat:

For me, I now soak a cup of organic rolled oats as the last thing I do before going to bed.

When I get up, I drain the water off, then add in the juice of an orange (eating the pulp after juicing), then slice on a banana, then a handful of blueberries. Finally I add a tablespoon of LSA (Linseed, Sunflower and Almond). This is my breakfast – every day for the last 6 months.

I keep a lot of nuts in the pantry – almonds, cashews, hazels, brazils. I also have macademia nuts, which I crack open with a rock hammer, on a piece of basalt I put on my lap (with a nice little nut shaped depression chipped out in it).

I also keep the fruit bowl full – lots of bananas, oranges, plums, apples, pears, tomatoes etc

Water melons are in season at present – so we are eating a lot of them.

Then I can go out to the garden, and pick peas, beans, cauli, broccoli, spinach, carrots.

We make juicies from carrots, beetroot, apple and pear (and watermellon at present).

We have wholemeal organic bread, which I toast and on which I put avocado and papaya most days (tomato sometimes).

We often make “roll you own sushi”, in which we cut the nori into 4, and put all the ingredients on the table, and select our own ingredients – I usually have brown rice, carrot, cucumber, avocado, toasted sesame seed, preserved ginger, soy sauce and wasabe.

Ailsa often does up salads for dinner.

Sometimes she does a sort of pancake, made with wholemeal flour, which we cook on baking paper (rather than using oil) in a frying pan.

Often I bake kumara (sweet potato), after cutting it into 8 wedges along the longest axis.

Ailsa is the one to talk about creative cooking. I’m much more of the “same thing every meal” sort of habit.

[followed by]


Looks like you have read very similar stuff to what I have.
I have had some really interesting discussions with Christine Jones of Australia recently, who is deeply into soil ecology. It is now clear that the associations that form between mycorrhizal fungi and roots, and the mycorrhizal fungi and archea in the deep soil, can see carbon transport between the surface and the deep soil in time frames of under an hour.
If the appropriate relationships are present, then the deep soil can replenish the surface soil quite quickly, but not fast enough to heal the results of intensive agriculture.

In the longer term, we do need to stop wasting our bodily waste and send it back to the soil from which we grow our food. If we close that loop, we can be much more sustainable.

It will mean growing our own food, so that process will need to be automated at the local scale – rather than relying on central growing, processing and distribution.

Very few people yet have any real awareness of the levels of interaction of micro and phyto-nutrients in the behaviour of human cells under extreme conditions. Our cellular and bodily systems are complex at a level that way less than even 1% of the most educated have any real conception of. Even the most aware are aware that our ignorance is profound and must always be so (the systems are just that complex – no single mind can hold them all).

Community involvement in decisions about TOS violations

Background for this discussion: The Ning TOS have the “force of law” for every member of this network, and Ning Inc. is close to being the “Supreme Court” on TOS matters.…..

The terms of service can be found at the bottom right of this screen (and all screens)

I’ll add a bit of cut and paste to this:

It seems to me that in one sense, of terms of agreement, section 14 (Acceptable use and conduct) of the Ning Terms of Service (which we all ticked a box that we had read and understood – whether or not we had actually read and understood) says in part that:

…”you specifically agree that:
You will not post, email or make available any Content to Users or use the Ning Platform:”

in a manner that is misleading, deceptive or fraudulent or otherwise illegal or promotes illegal activities, including engaging in phishing or otherwise obtaining financial or other personal information in a misleading manner or for fraudulent or misleading purposes;
in a manner that is libelous or defamatory, or in a way that is otherwise threatening, abusive, violent, harassing, malicious or harmful to any person or entity, or invasive of another’s privacy;
in a manner that is harmful to minors in any way;
in a manner that is hateful or discriminatory based on race, color, sex, religion, nationality, ethnic or national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or age or is otherwise objectionable, as reasonably determined by Ning;”

Now that section raises a huge issue, about what is so?
Is what is so what people perceive?
What is abusive?
What is harassing?
What is reasonable?

[followed by]

I’m going to kick this a bit further down a hole.

When we are talking about people being hurt, are we talking about the physical? (I suspect not.)
In the physical sense, it is relatively simple to judge if someone is being hurt.
You can see someone doing something to someone else, and judge quite clearly if it is wanted or unwanted. If both parties are wearing leather and carrying whips, you can be reasonably confident it is consensual and leave it alone.
If it is in a street, and some rough young bloke is trying to take someone’s handbag, you can be reasonably certain it is not consensual.

That is physical and quite easy for our intuition.

In a forum such as this, we are all here by our own choice, none of us is here physically, and can all leave at any time we choose.

All that we are trading is words.
All that words are, are pointers to some form of memory or experience.

Someone skilled in the use of words can create almost any experience for most people.

Someone skilled in the reading of words can create almost any experience for themselves.

In between lies a couple of intersecting infinite spectra of possibilities.

What is harm in such a situation?

Looking at it another way.
Most people come from one of a set of various common modalities of behaviour.
Some people adopt modalities that are far outside the norm.
To some modalities, the existence of difference (any sort of difference) cause emotional distress (pain – harm within the terms of that modality).

Are we to be constrained by the “lowest threshold of tolerance of difference of interpretation”?

What about the mantra “I am totally independent of the good or bad opinion of others”?

Some of us are operating from paradigms, the very existence of which would have had us “burned at the stake for heresy” a mere couple of centuries ago, and could still get us prison terms (or worse – death by stoning) in some jurisdictions today.

The levels of understanding of the term “spirit” that have become available in the last few decades are far removed from anything available even 50 years ago.

For anyone willing to step outside the dominant paradigms, and take a close look at the data available, there is abundant evidence that there is no design (outside of evolution by natural selection) in living systems. The evidence is clear and unequivocal – beyond all reasonable doubt.

So when such massively divergent systems meet – what is “threatening, abusive, violent, harassing, malicious or harmful” to what?

This is not a trivial matter.

It is about as deep as it gets.

Do emotions count?

Could I possibly have gotten to the state that I have without suffering all the emotional pain that I have?
In a trivial sense the answer is no, and in a much deeper sense, I suspect it is also no.

Has that pain “harmed” me?
By whose definition of harm?

To me, now, it seems that the pain was a necessary part of the process. And at the time none of it was fun, and at the time I was very keen to be rid of it.

I suspect that the only path out of the common ground involves a certain amount of pain and suffering, as the herd is left behind, and expresses its displeasure at being left.

The question then becomes:

“Are pain or discomfort or perceived threat reliable indicators of harm?”

To which, I strongly suspect – the answer is no.
Yet I suspect that we will get no agreement from the majority on this notion.

Which then leaves the question:
“Can a group which is exploring the boundaries of spirituality operate within the Ning TOS?”

Which I am going to leave as an open question for a bit.

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) - see
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5 Responses to Postings 18-24 Feb

  1. holessence says:

    Ted – I know I sound like a broken record, but I really (!) appreciate the way you gather all of the good stuff in one spot – like the pot at the end of the rainbow!

    I read the whole nine yards while enjoying a cuppa tea. My absolute favorite thing was when you typed, “…I decided that I was going to choose to do whatever was required to give a different outcome – I chose possibility.”

    Yes, our winter is slowly sneaking your way (sorry) as your summer is slowing making it’s way here (yahoo!).

    How is Ailsa’s tailbone?


    • Hi Laurie

      Ailsa says the last couple of days haven’t been quite so terrible, she is a little more comfortable.
      She doesn’t want to “climb out of the pod and get back in the kitchen” just yet.

      For the first time I am confident that I have enough wood in to see us through the harshest of winters.

      The A&P (Agricultural and Pastoral) show is tomorrow, so when the postal service resumes (ours goes through Christchurch, and is out at present) something should be winging it’s way your way.


  2. Ted – I’m glad Ailsa’s a little more comfortable. Please assure her that she’s still in the pod (and you’ve never been out). By the way, I teach Reiki Level 1 to a new batch of students this coming Sunday. Will you please be the distance healing “guinea pig” again?

    We just (this week) ran out of fire wood. We almost (darned close) had enough.


  3. Hi Laurie

    You have my permission to use me as a “guinea pig” for Reiki students any time you like (if they were students of genetic engineering I might not be so willing 😉 .

    You button necklace is now famous, having got third prize in the show amongst all the crafts submitted (Ailsa also took a first and a second in the photography section, and huia got a second in her doggy section).


  4. holessence says:

    Ted –

    Oh my gosh, an AWARD WINNING button necklace, and I was already over the moon with excitement – whoohoo!

    Congratulations to one and all for the great showing – jewelry, photography, and pups, to boot!

    – Laurie


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