Posts 24 Feb to 3 March 2011

Quite a bit happened over this time.


Continuation of – Community involvement in decisions about TOS violations


I disagree that I am arguing with Ning.

I am trying to figure out what Ning are talking about.

There seem to be two key themes in the key section of the TOS.
One relates to doing no harm.
The other relates to breaking no laws.

Both are problematical.

Looking at the Oxford English Dictionary – harm is defined as:
Evil (physical or otherwise) as done to or suffered by some person or thing; hurt, injury, damage, mischief. Often in the set phrase ‘to do more harm than good’.

Evil is defined as:
The antithesis of good in all its principal senses.

How far is Ning willing to allow us to go if we can argue that any discomfort caused is done for some greater “good”?

When one is operating in a paradigm that is beyond “good and evil” (to borrow from Ludwig), where does integrity lie when dealing with ideas that have no more meaning than “Santa Claus”, yet carry the force of law?

When it comes to breaking laws, in which jurisdiction?
In the jurisdiction in which the hard drives are stored, the corporate HQ of Ning, the writer, the reader?

I have a fairly good knowledge of the laws of New Zealand, but very little knowledge of the laws of any other nation. I have spent hundreds of hours working with senior partners in NZs largest law firm, so feel confident at the boundaries of jurisprudence in this nation, but not any other.

The “How” of working within the TOS come down very much to the interpretation of those TOS.

The rabbit hole I was stepping down with my last post was very much about interpretation.

What is harm?

Was Nietzsche correct with his assertion “That which does not kill me makes me stronger” ?

Is it possible to form an argument that anything short of causing physical death ought to be allowed?

[I am not advocating going that far, and I am advocating maximising freedom of expression, while simultaneously encouraging the greatest level of compassion.]

Which does leave some interesting dilemmas when someone is so attached to a scheme of interpretation that they prefer death to separation from it.

[followed by]

p>In respect of:

Which does leave some interesting dilemmas when someone is so attached to a scheme of interpretation that they prefer death to separation from it.

Amen to that too. Are you referring to anyone here?


I suspect there are many here who are in that mode.

It seems that the vast majority of those under 50 years of age are in that mode.  Most of us start there, and some (most) never leave. (Had an interesting conversation with Richard Rohr on this topic a few years ago.)

Anyone willing to kill for nationalism, or religion, or political doctrine (which is most people – though hopefully a small minority here).

Note that refusal to kill in the name of nationalism is actually a crime within the US legislative system.


In respect of all else, all legal systems come down to matters of interpretation.

Most legal systems respect the concept of precedent (using rulings established in similar contexts in some prior case).

I am not sufficiently familiar with US case law to be able to argue precedent effectively in your jurisdiction, and I think it is possible to build a case that the context of this community is unlikely to have much, if any precedent.

I don’t want to spend much time going down that line of thought, and it is something that someone else, with greater familiarity of case law in Santa Clara county in the state of California (as specified in section 30 of The Ning TOS ) might want to explore.


Most of the discussion is around Section 14 which is all about “safe and fun”.


I am totally happy that I can argue that all that I do is safe within the context from which I operate, and I am aware that my existence is classified as “unsafe” in many paradigms of thought.

I am definitely into fun also.

My purpose is to awaken people to their own infinite potential, their own power to determine their own destiny.

Entire legal and political systems are devoted to convincing people that they are better off leaving all important decisions in such matters to others who are “better informed”.

I can see a certain level of merit in such arguments, and all such are susceptible to invasions by destructive strategies (in a mathematical sense).


Sometimes awakening to the view of infinity is scary, and does not feel safe.  Some people have extreme anxiety reactions, and retreat as a result.


Life really can be quite dangerous.

Safe is not always an option.


To quote Helen Keller “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.


Sometimes, the safest thing, in the long term, is to expose and familiarise oneself with what may seem to some extreme dangers, so that when those dangers are encountered in a survival context, one is prepared.

This concept is familiar to military training and tactics.


It seems to me to be obvious that the survival of everyone on this planet depends on us being able to evolve our social, political, legal, and technological systems to a level that supports the expansion of individual awareness and responsibility far beyond the norms encountered today (even while acknowledging that there has always been a wide range of levels of awareness in existence).  This may appear dangerous to those firmly embedded in existing structures.


For me, the forum is a definite part of the process.

I am doing my best to make it safe and fun.

I am aware that many would not agree.

In my paradigm, there are no definite or right answers.


[followed by]

Hi Gil

Doesn’t it strike you as just a little odd, that in a world where people are starving, and people are shooting each other with guns, we are constrained by terms of service that not only require us to care for another’s physical “safety” but also for all aspects of “emotional safety”, however anyone cares to interpret that?

Doesn’t it strike you as even a little bit bizarre?
Doesn’t it seem like pure fantasy?

It is difficult enough keeping people safe in reality (as a series of earthquakes just down the road from us has amply demonstrated in the last few days). To attempt to do so at all levels of imagination is just plain weird.

Reality is not safe.
Pretending otherwise is insane.
Those who have the greatest probability of surviving are those who have the greatest level of awareness and preparedness for the risks they are exposed to.

I agree that there is certainly a level at which we need to be responsible for how our communications land. We need to be able to dance with the consequences of our actions, there are always unforeseen consequences – for everyone, at all levels (including the levels we are not yet aware of, which seem to be infinite).

Living is like playing a game – the game of life.
Being here is part of the game of life.

The only way that I see through is openness and trust, in the full awareness that sometimes that trust will be betrayed, and there will be consequences.

Communication is only possible, if people are willing to be open about all the nuances, all the levels they are pointing at.

Communication about concrete things is easy, we can point to them, or show pictures of them.

Communication about abstract notions is much more difficult, as each individual must make the abstractions for themselves. When it comes to abstractions based on abstractions, it becomes consequentially more difficult. Take that to 6 or seven or 8 levels, and the probability functions are severely stacked against communication.

Building a useful understanding of what we are as individuals requires at least 4 nested levels of abstraction, to achieve any sort of coherence – 7 seems preferable.

Being here is being.
It is life.

This is it!

[followed by]

Hi Gil

There is no doubt that if not under stress or threat from other individuals, the default mode for human beings is cooperative.

Cooperation is a major strategy at many levels of our being.
Our cells are are eukaryotic – meaning they are derived from a cooperation between different sorts of bacteria within a single cell membrane.
Our bodies are made of trillions of cooperating cells (with mechanisms to fight those who stop cooperating and go cancerous on us).
Our brains receive most of their initial input from our cooperating cultures.
We are born into cooperating families, in cooperative societies, and we form cooperative associations at many levels.

We are basically programmed for cooperation; and we are also programmed to take advantage of opportunities – so we will “freeload” if we think we can “get away with it”. So any system has to have strategies that make it “not worth the risk of being caught” – which is a key component to ensuring cooperative systems work.

Antagonism comes about when we perceive threat.
That can happen at many levels.

Unfortunately, modern knowledge is a direct threat to many cultural paradigms. People must be willing to re-examine beliefs in the light of new information, if we are to be able to cooperate.
If I am faced with a cultural paradigm that threatens my survival (like any of the fundamentalist religious paradigms that see all difference as “evil” to be exterminated), then I will protect myself (or anyone else similarly threatened who requests my help).

I agree, that the most powerful way to gain cooperation is to have people identify with a group that includes all other people at the same level as themselves, and all other sentient life on a similar level.

That is one of the things I am working at.

[followed by]

Interesting speculation Gil

When my cells became cancerous, and the specialist said there was nothing known to medical science that could alter the survival probabilities, I had to find an empowering context for that.

He was the expert.

I had to find a context in which I could both believe what he said, and live.

That took a bit of doing.

In one sense, I could do it easily as a statistician – I know that a statistic says nothing about what will happen to any specific entity, it deals only with populations. Thus I could live for a very long time, so long as most others died.

That did not seem like a fair way to play the game, so I left that as a backup plan, and looked for a context in which all with cancer could win.

After a few days investigation it became clear that there was very little investigation by medical science on the effects of diet. There was a lot done by dietary science, but medical science has a poor relationship with all competing modes of thought.

Then I found Mike Anderson’s site. Mike has done an enormous amount of research. I read it all, and had a few discussions with Mike.

I adopted the program.
My body hated it.
It objected.
Everything tasted foul.

I was going through withdrawal from sugar, coffee, animal protein, fat; all together.
I was recovering from major surgery, and working to get tumours off my liver by diet alone.

Every time I went to see a doctor they told us that there was no hope, that we should prepare for the inevitable painful death. After each visit Ailsa and I would be in tears, and we would have to create possibility again; in the face of such forcefully delivered orthodoxy.

After 2 months I paid for another scan of my liver, one tumour was gone, and the other two bigger ones had halved in volume. I stuck to the regime.

After another 6 weeks I paid for another scan, this time there was no trace of any tumours on my liver, but there were another two growing in the tiny part of the lymph system that still remained in my neck and face – more surgery – out they came.

I am now 3 months out from that last surgery, and no trace of any tumours at present.

I took a set of choices, that I was going to do whatever I could to ensure that I lived, without leaving my family in poverty as a result.
We spent relatively little money – under $10k in total – with all the travel and extras.

I accepted prayers, and tried several mind energy modalities (they cost little except time, and caused no harm – so were much better than many medical treatments), several mind body strategies, my own take on placebos (mind body in a different context) and did the dietary stuff – alkalizing the body, removing animal proteins, providing diversity, and antiangiogenics.

It all seems to have worked.

I know the mind has a huge influence on the body (the placebo effect proves that), and I understand many of the general pathways. I also understand a little of dealing with my own subconscious demons.

Cells go non-cooperative all the time. Most of us by age fifty have about a dozen cells a day that go cancerous, and mostly our immune systems catch and deal with them before they grow to a mass that is any danger to the whole – and sometimes not.

My immune systems were compromised on several levels.
They are much healthier now, and still suboptimal.

Our society has its immune systems severely compromised.

In so far as we allow money to be used in ways that are not directly related to the exchange of goods and services, we have allowed a cancer on society to grow. Many now worship the cancer.

We need to revitalise the immune systems of our society – which basically comes from the levels of awareness of the individuals within it.

I have strong doubts that any of the religious interpretive schemas that have served societies reasonably well in the past, are up to the task required today.

The levels of awareness required are such that no religious interpretation can survive; yet many of the practices and general forms of approach to life can continue – they simply require a new context.

[followed by]

Hi Gil

When you wrote: I agree so much with you on this Ted. It starts with each individual, but how do you teach this and overcome the “worship of the cancer”. A task of epic proportions…

Not really of epic proportions.
It is a rather simple set of distinctions really.

Money is a great tool, and very beneficial to society, when it is a means of exchange only.

When money becomes a thing that is valued for itself, then people seek to maximise money, rather than to maximise the goods and services that money is used as an exchange medium for.

We need to eliminate the ability of money to be an end in itself, rather than be a tool for the exchange of goods and services.

It is the focus on the generation of money that leads to scarcity (as the maximum amount of money is generated at a given level of scarcity in each situation). If we focus simply on the generation of goods and services, what results is abundance, and money is a good mechanism for mediating the exchange of that abundance.

Both mechanisms are present in society today, and the big money is made in the financial services sector, which in reality does very little of social value, other than accumulating money. It does very little to promote the production of goods and services.

Almost all of the stock market, the futures markets, the Foreign Exchange markets, are of no social utility, they are little short of legalised theft – a huge gambling game, played by people with the smartest computer systems, all stealing a little from each and every one of us that actually produces something of utility for our fellow human being.

Once people make this simple distinction for themselves, the charging of interest, and most of the trading practices of financial institutions, will be outlawed.

It will quickly become abundantly obvious that borrowers do lenders as much of a service as lenders do to borrowers. Without borrowers, the excess production of lenders would go to waste. Borrowers do lenders a service by carrying forward in time the utility value of the lender’s excess of production.

If our systems are geared to the production of abundance, rather than to the accumulation of money – then humanity and the ecosystem will be the better off for it.

Our legal systems need to change their emphasis from creating barriers to entry, and protecting monopolies, to an emphasis on providing accurate information.
Rather than forcing people to meet standards, it should force people to be clear about what standards are met, and what are not, and allow people to judge risk for themselves. Bicycles and Rolls-Royces both provide transport, but to very different standards, and at very different costs.

It is abundantly clear that without a healthy ecosystem, the abundance of oxygen in the atmosphere that we enjoy would not continue, and we would all suffocate.

Awareness is the key – slowly and steadily building it.

Question of the Day February 24, 2011, Non-Violence

With thoughts of the trouble in the Middle East:
How do you think tyranny can be conquered without violence?

It seems that it is possible to remove most of the incentives for most people to support tyranny, by creating systems that provide abundance to all.
This removes the incentives provided by poverty and hopelessness, and also removes the incentives of many who support tyrants for money.

This leaves the class of individuals who are tyrants or who support tyrants because they enjoy the sense of power over others, or they enjoy inflicting pain on others.

Both of these pathologies do not respond to much short of sheer power.

Removing most of their potential to build a large support base limits the level of power required to deal with them. Thus the level of violence could be reduced to the minimum required to restrain a few pathological individuals, rather than an entire army of individuals.

Specifically in respect of the Middle East situation, there is an pair of added components, of generational issues of injustice.

Producing and distributing systems that ensure individuals have abundance of food, shelter, water, education and transport appear to me to be central to any system that wishes to have long term sustainable peace.
No economic system can deliver such abundance, because economic value is fundamentally a measure of relative scarcity (rather than a true measure of value).

Thus, so long as we base our governance structures on economic values, we are likely to face a future of systemic lack of abundance, and the conflict which is the almost certain result.

Continuing – Discussion of the process in the “Fully Engaged Enlightenment” group


Agree that both the Lone Wolf, and group approaches have power, and ultimately, it is the lone wolf deep within that must fight.
And like the old shaman said – we all have two wolves within us, a dark one and a light one, and they fight.
The one that wins is the one that we feed.
I also like Arthur C Clarke’s definition “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.
In the Tarrot deck, the magus and the fool are next to each other.
I don’t believe Crowley and friends had any real idea what they were playing with (in terms of the levels of holographic association and the intuitions they provided); and they did develop some powerful operative practices.

For me, a modern interpretive schema, based on concepts like Quantum Mechanics, atomic and molecular chemistry, biochemistry, evolution, cosmology, physics, mathematics, systems theory, games theory, and intuitions derived from mechanics, LASERs, farming, fishing, politics, service clubs, building, programming and running computers; all come together in a coherent set of patterns of the major trends lead from light like stuff to matter to life to awareness.
For me, this is far more powerful than any preceding schema.

Question of the Day February 26, 2011, Vehicle

Do you drive? If so, what kind of vehicle and why?

Yes I drive, almost anything for almost any purpose.
We own three cars, a 4WD, and a campervan, two motorboats, a canoe, three bicycles.
I have driven all manner of trucks, tractors, dozers, diggers, motorbikes, boats, sailboats, airplanes, gliders, helicopter ….
Just depended on what needed to be done.
Most vehicles I can get competent within a hour or so, and make myself useful.

Mostly I drive a Toyota Hilux (1995) 2.4l diesel.

Question of the Day 27 Feb 2011-Online Groups

What online social groups/networks/sites you participate in? How are they similar and how are they different? What do you get from each that makes each important to you?

Mostly I am involved here in ANG (A New Gaia).
I maintain a wordpress blog.
I also have a facebook presence.
I am sometimes active in the TED Conversations.
I sometimes engage in a bunch of other sites – but not on a regular basis.
I also maintain my two sites solnx and fishnet, and subsites for the boating club (which I am president and have been for 6 years), Lions Club (which I am vice president, and start my term as president in 3 months) and Kaikoura Coastal Marine Guardians (which I am treasurer). Also involved in the local conservation group (Forest & Bird), the Kaikoura tramping club, the golf club, the high school, and as an ex district councillor on occasional issues (the most recent being disposal of solid waste from our sewerage treatment station).

Here at ANG, I am engaged in the deepest level of inquiry into the possibilities inherent in being human.
In other fora I am more focused on day to day realities of life.

Question of the Day 28th Feb -Games

What types of games do you play?

Mostly golf, with a little bit of cards.

Back in my younger days I played all sorts of games, and once spent 25 hours straight playing “Space Invaders” – earning over 3 million points, with some 40 spare lives.

For the last few years I play very few games – almost no computer games. Too much to do.

John Fullerton Responds to INET Users

not efficiency or scale, but abundance

Yes markets are efficient at distributing scarce commodities, and they can fail at scale issues, and the real issue is much deeper.

Markets measure trade value, or scarcity value, the difference between desire and supply.

Markets do not reward abundance.

Abundance has zero economic value. If everyone has all they need, what point trade?

Human beings value abundance.

Markets tend towards a level of scarcity that maximises economic traffic.

To truly meet the needs of people, we must think beyond economic systems, and economic concepts, to building systems that deliver abundance of all essential human needs.

Then we can play as much as we like with economic systems at the margins – for non-essential items.

Essential needs are air, water, food, shelter, communication, education, transport, and health.

Beyond those, all else is choice.

Question of the Day March 1, 2011- Used Books

When you go to read a book, do you mind (or even prefer!) if it’s used? Or, do you prefer to just read things digitally?!

I don’t mind if books are new or used.
Whatever they are, if they are good books, I usually scribble critiques in the margins.

I do a lot of digital reading, but only a few full books. I probably spend 10 hours a day reading on my laptop.

[followed by]

Hi Kathy

Love the Will Smith video – getting the better of that little voice is not easy – it is persistent, and it can be done.

Not every problem has been met before, and most problems that most people encounter have been met and solved before, and reading is a great way to learn from other’s mistakes. (Actually there are infinitely more problems than anyone has even considered, let alone solved, but even that thought is invisible to most people).

Your definitional stuff in squidoo has some interesting aspects, and it seems very fixed in a binary interpretations.

It seems to me that all definitions are approximations. All things are infinitely connected, and the approximations we make in whatever limited senses we manage to approximate reality are all necessarily flawed, however accurate, creative and beautiful they are.

Understanding is always a personal thing, and if communication is a goal, then it is powerful to be aware of agreed conventions (like dictionaries) and also when it is necessary to go beyond them, into new and uncharted territory.

And yes – great work.



Continuing – Discussion of the process in the “Fully Engaged Enlightenment” group

“If the doors of perception were cleansed,
every thing would appear to man as it is
infinite.” – Blake

Slight clarification on Blake.

It seems to me that the world (the universe) is finite, and vast.
It seems that possibility is infinite.
What may yet come into being is unlimited.
What is in being at any instant is finite (yet vast – beyond knowing).

The vastness of reality often leads to confusion with infinity.

It seems that many people collapse and confuse the two realms, the realm of what is real now (finite), and the realm of what may yet become real (infinite possibility).

Coolin’ Your Heals?

Len’s not the only one ROFLing.

I have a slow fuse, but you do not want to be near me when it does burn through.

It gives me more opportunity to “cool my heels”, and sometimes I don’t – then I usually have a lot of mess to clean up (in one realm or another – or sometimes several).

I cool my heels most days.

Great post – thanks Laurie – got a really good laugh (just imagining you doin’ the three yr old thing. Na nah na nah nahh nahhh!!! ) Thank you for you openness, and willingness to share vulnerability. reminds me of the Brene Brown TED talk

Question of the Day March 2, 2011- communication

Which languages do you use and why?

Like OM, I speak English as a base language.

This is New Zealand English, which has borrowed many terms and concepts from the Maori language (the Polynesians who settled here around 1300 – some 500 years before Europeans arrived).

I also speak many different specialist areas of English, from history, philosophy, natural history, sciences, engineering, sociology, legal, political; then there are the slangs, school kids, street kids, farmers, fishermen, builders, metal workers, plumbers, electricians, politicians, various bureaucracies.

Then I write computer languages – mostly xbase, but also Basic, ForTran, CoBOL, Forth, Prolog, C, Pascal, assembler, java, many others – each with their own variants of logic, abstractions and syntax.

Then there are operating systems.

Then there are various philosophical models, various interpretive schema some including gods and some excluding them.

Then various cultural models – from Maori, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, French, Dutch, German, …. friends and acquaintances.

I have in the past written out lists of over 100 different meanings for a single word – which variance comes from combinations of context and interpretive schema in operation.

So – I speak and write English, in many, perhaps most, of its more common forms.

Why – to communicate, to experience being of value, to experience being understood, to experience belonging.

I also speak a very little of French, German, Japanese, Maori and few dozen words from each of several dozen other languages.

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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1 Response to Posts 24 Feb to 3 March 2011

  1. holessence says:

    Ted – It’s always a thought-provoking time to sit quietly with a hot cuppa tea and read your consolidated thoughts/correspondence from the past week. It’s like a fitness center for the mind — it gets exercised and has the opportunity to stretch and grow — thank you.


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