Quora – fungi in multicellular organisms

Quora – What are fungi in multicellular organisms called?

Depends entirely what they are doing there.

They can be working cooperatively with the organism, in which case they can be somewhere on the spectrum of symbiotic associations; or
they can be more on the spectrum of parasitic organisms (that do more for themselves than for the host); or
they can be more on the spectrum of invading organisms (disease organisms), that are more purely there for their own interests at cost to the host organism having somehow managed to evade the host’s defenses.

There is no simple answer.
It’s kind of like asking what do you call a person in your house?
If you invited them there, they may be a guest.
They may be there to benefit you – if they come from the communications company to fix a problem they have remotely detected, or a doctor on a house call (fairly low probability event these days).
They may be burglars there to steal you stuff, or gate crashers to your party.

Without a lot more specific detail, the question does not make much sense.

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Quora – Libertarian philosophy

Quora –
Why is the Libertarian philosophy unpopular?

Libertarian philosophy is not a singular thing, like most things it is a spectrum that can be extremely complex.

Most people seem to think of Libertarian philosophy as the extreme end of the spectrum that advocate for the extreme sort of freedom to follow whim devoid of moral responsibility for the reasonable foreseeable consequences of action.

That is the sort of straw man argument that gains popularity – an over simplification of something.

I consider myself a classical liberal.

My highest values are individual life first and foremost – applied universally.

Next to that is individual liberty – again universally applied.

And I acknowledge that we all live in social and ecological contexts, and that we are all complex beyond our ability to accurately comprehend, thus by necessity we must all over-simply our understandings of reality. That is a given – however knowledgeable and brilliant we may think ourselves to be.

A knowledge of evolution, biochemistry and systems theory tells us that at every level form requires boundaries. Without boundaries, form cannot sustain itself.

When you get to extremely complex systems (and we know of nothing more complex in this universe than the human brain, and the software running on it), then we need at least 15 levels (and often 20+ levels) of boundaries to maintain the levels of complexity present.

For me, respect for life and liberty demands acknowledgement of the existence of those necessary levels of boundaries, and the fact that what is necessary will be very contextually dependent, and will likely vary substantially with seemingly small changes in context over time.

Understanding evolution, and social organisation in complex social systems, also clearly demonstrates that complex systems are based upon cooperation, and that competition tends to destroy complexity and drive systems to simplicity.

So while I call myself a libertarian, I am on the spectrum of libertarians that acknowledges that our biology and our culture can and does carry deeply encoded lessons from our deep past, and that we ignore them at our peril.

I acknowledge that individual existence demands social and ecological responsibility, and the no rule based system can ever be optimal in all contexts, however closely it may approximate optimality in some contexts.

I am clear that the idea of individual liberty finds its greatest and most powerful expression in a cooperative social context where diversity is respected, provided that it does not actively pose a risk to the life or liberty of any others.

And in such a complex context, there can exist multiple levels of awareness, and multiple levels of distributed trust networks.

Where libertarian philosophy seems to be failing seriously at present is in equating markets with liberty.

Certainly, historically, the greater the freedom in markets, the greater the degrees of liberty and security present; and that was so because most things were in fact genuinely scarce.

Now that we live in an age of exponentially expanding computation; the set of goods and services that can be fully automated and delivered universally is also expanding exponentially.

Unfortunately anything universally abundant in a market has zero market value.

The old system of market thinking is now rapidly becoming the single greatest barrier to the delivery of universal abundance (and the security and freedom that delivers), but the ways of thinking that equate market freedom with individual freedom cannot see the issue present – are not willing to challenge such a fundamental assumption.

So in this sense, those at the extreme end of the libertarian spectrum who deny their absolute reliance on social cooperation are quite rightly despised by the vast majority who see that our social systems are founded in such cooperation (the mathematics and logic of which are now well understood from games theory).

That extreme end of libertarian thought than deny their social and moral responsibility are quite rightly rejected by the majority.

But in rejecting those extremes lies a great danger of rejecting the notion of liberty itself.

Just as in rejecting religious extremism their is a great danger of rejecting the profound lessons encoded in mythology.

In this sense, I find Jordan Peterson to point to something profound and powerful.

The essence of life seems to be to find that boundary between order and chaos that works. In a very real sense that seems to be the definition of life at every level.

Too much order and there is not enough variation to adapt to the changes that happen in reality, and life itself is at risk.
Too much chaos and there is insufficient reliability in the boundaries required to sustain life.

And within that sweet zone, between order and chaos, can exist all manner of complicated and complex, near or far from equilibrium, complex adaptive systems – this amazing diversity of life we find ourselves within.

The idea of liberty, if approached with childish simplicity, becomes the greatest threat to life. This is where libertarian philosophy often fails, and is rightly despised by many in that failure.

For libertarian philosophy to be the power it can and must be, it must acknowledge all the very necessary levels of social cooperation, upon which individual liberty finds its highest expression. That demands a deep knowledge of both biology and strategic thought (which is basically high level mathematics).

And there must, inevitably, exist a tension in the many different levels of approximation to an understanding of those boundaries that must be present in any diverse society.

We are the most cooperative species we know of. Liberty requires life. Life demands we acknowledge and participate in all those cooperative levels.

There is no requirement that liberty be simple – it rarely is.

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Write track

The Write Track

Whether verbal or written, excellent communicators always answer two questions:
1. What is the point?
2. Why does it matter?

Are you an excellent communicator?

Hi Laurie,

I try to be an excellent communicator, and I don’t always succeed.

Sometimes the “point” is just too far outside of accepted norms for others to “get it” easily.
And sometimes it works.

One of the biggest things I regularly try to communicate is that the rate of change is exponentially increasing, and many of the older ways we had of doing things are failing in ways they never did in the past. We need to be willing to change some things that are fundamental to how most people currently view the world, like the idea of using markets to measure value.

And it’s complex.
And we can do far more with cooperation than is possible with competition.

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Close call – big rock got close

Copied from Spaceweather – 16 April 2018

Near miss by a rock about 100m wide – and we only saw it one day out.

With little warning, a relatively large asteroid flew through the Earth-Moon system on April 15th only 192,200 km (0.5 LD) from our planet. 2018 GE3 was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey approaching Earth on April 14th. Hours later, amateur astronomer Michael Jäger of Weißenkirchen Austria video-recorded the space rock rushing through the southern constellation Serpens:

“According to wikipedia, 2018 GE3 is the largest known asteroid to pass that close to Earth in observational history,” says Jäger. “It was shining like a 13th magnitude star at the time of my observations.”

Based on the intensity of its reflected sunlight, 2018 GE3 must be 48 to 110 meters wide, according to NASA-JPL. This puts it into the same class as the 60-meter Tunguska impactor that leveled a forest in Siberia in 1908. A more recent point of comparison is the Chelyabinsk meteor–a ~20-meter asteroid that exploded in the atmosphere over Russia on Feb. 15, 2013, shattering windows and toppling onlookers as a fireball brighter than the sun blossomed in the blue morning Ural sky. 2018 GE3 could be 5 to 6 times wider than that object.

If 2018 GE3 had hit Earth, it would have caused regional, not global, damage, and might have disintegrated in the atmosphere before reaching the ground. Nevertheless, it is a significant asteroid, illustrating how even large space rocks can still take us by surprise. 2018 GE3 was found less than a day before before its closest approach.

Based on an observational arc of only 1 day, 2018 GE3 appears to follow an elliptical orbit which stretches from the asteroid belt to deep inside the inner solar system. Every ~2.5 years the space rock crosses the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars–although not necessarily making close approaches to the planets themselves.

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Quora – why do so many vegans quit being vegan

Quora – Why do so many vegans quit being vegans?

I have been vegan now for almost 8 years, strictly so for 7 years.

I was a carnivore for 55 years prior to that.

I became vegan after watching my oncologist write “palliative care only” on my file, and hearing him tell me that “there is nothing known to medicals science that can improve the probability of your survival”, which he gave as “could be dead in 6 weeks, a 50% chance of living 5 months, and a 2% chance of living 2 years”.

Going vegan didn’t immediately come to mind.

It only occurred after doing a lot of reading.

I have been vegan, and on high dose (1 heaped teaspoon pure L Ascorbic acid dissolved in a glass of luke warm water, twice daily) vitamin C since a week after that conversation. The last tumour was cut out of my shoulder 7 years and 2 weeks ago. The ones on my liver disappeared 7 years and 9 months ago.

Being vegan isn’t easy.

Most places in this country (New Zealand) don’t serve vegan food.

It is difficult for me to go out and eat with other people.

Socially – being vegan is difficult.

Having a high metabolism, I need to eat a lot, often.

The two things one really needs to watch when being vegan is omega 3s and vitamin Bs. I’m consistent with both.

It is so much easier to be healthy being vegan, I haven’t had noticeable symptoms of a cold or flu since going vegan, my varicose veins went away, lots of things like that.

Yet I still miss things like alcohol and chocolate (which can be vegan, but cannot be RAVE vegan) and sausages at a BBQ. The no refined foods part of being RAVE vegan poses an extra level of difficulty.

And I am alive.

The last conversation I had with my oncologist he said – “whatever you are doing, keep on doing it, but if I recommend it to anyone, I will lose my job” – which is true, and is also a sad indictment on the society in which we live, which is much more about the interests of money than it is the interests of individual life and individual liberty applied universally.

So as a simple answer to your question – it is very difficult being vegan.

It is socially different.

It is hard to fit in.

It is difficult and expensive to get good quality fresh food.

It helps if one has training as a biochemist (as I do) to be able to self monitor the nutritional requirements.

One needs a really powerful incentive to keep it up.

Most people are not told they are “terminal cancer”, and even for most people who are, going vegan is too hard, and they would rather die than make that sort of effort ongoingly, every day, without fail.

It need not be that way, if systems were different, but right now it is that way.

Might be a very good idea if we changed the systems, and made it a lot easier to eat vegan, with lots of fresh, healthy, tasty food. But that not a high probability outcome in the near term.

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Global Citizen

Global citizen

We don’t just want to be the generation that ends extreme poverty – that is setting the sights too low.
We need to aim higher.
We need to be the generation that empowers every human being, where-ever they are, to do whatever they responsibly choose.
And responsibility is important.
It means acknowledging that all systems require boundaries to give them form – without boundaries complexity cannot exist, and everything degrades to a uniform simplicity. I am not at all interested in that.

Responsibility means acknowledging that we live in complex ecological and social environments, and their continued existence (our continued existence) makes demands upon us. Those demands are not about following the whims and desires instilled in us by biological and social evolution – though those can point to important things, and we ignore them at our peril.
Nor can it be simply following the rules that exist, though it must mean looking deeply at those rules, and breaking them only if seems necessary for the benefit of all (yourself and all others).

Respect for individual life, individual liberty, demands of every one of us that we look deeply at everything, ask deeply why things seem to be as they are, and how might they be different in ways that work for all of us, and the living systems that we exist with, and that sustain us?
Understanding evolution tells us that we are the result of heuristics that worked well enough in practice, in the past, for the survival of our ancestors. Not any sort of perfection, just a close enough approximation to be useful in the specific contexts in which our ancestors survived. It seems to be what we are, what we have. We under or over value any aspect of it at our peril.

Life seems to be an eternal exploration of the boundary between order and chaos. Too much order and we cannot adapt to the changes that happen in reality. Too much chaos and the complexity that we must have breaks down.
Eternally, at every level, life seems to be an exploration of this balance.

Demanding safety in schools addresses only the symptoms.
We must demand systems that deliver a reasonable approximation to justice to every individual, everywhere.
That doesn’t mean everyone has the same, or is the same – quite the contrary, it means everyone having enough to be able to make reasonable choices that are meaningful to them, and are responsible in the wider social and ecological contexts within which they live.

There can never be a set of rules that define that.
It must always be an exploration of the infinite.
It must always contain uncertainty and risk – the science and logic of that is beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

And the science and logic is also clear, that the evolution of complexity is fundamentally based in cooperation, not competition. Competition leads to simplicity. All complexity is the result of new levels of cooperation.

And Axelrod showed 50 years ago that raw cooperation is always vulnerable to exploitation by cheating strategies, so we need to be ever watchful, ever exploring more effective strategies for detecting and removing cheating strategies.
In this sense, the old saying is as true now as ever before – “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance” – all levels.

So yes – certainly – global citizenship.
And we must address the fundamental issue of using a scarcity based system of measuring value in a market place when computational systems give us the power to automate the production of abundance, that by definition has no market value.

In this sense, intellectual property laws are nothing more than the institutionalization of poverty – an attempt to prop up a system that is no longer serving our needs, and is rapidly moving in the territory of existential level risk.

The economic system is complex.
It has many levels of complex systems that are very important for life and liberty, distributed information, distributed governance, distributed risk management etc.
We need to develop effective mechanisms for distributing all of those things (and more) before we transition away from markets, and transition we must if we wish to survive. UBI may be a part of an effective transition strategy, giving us the years we need.

So we need to think deeply, systemically, about what we do, about where we put the limited time, energy and resources that we have.

Don’t treat the symptoms – focus on the cause.

Look deeply within.
Choose responsibility.
Start small.
Be cooperative, but not naively so.
Be prepared to do what it takes to identify and remove cheating strategies, at whatever level – and be prepared to admit the mistakes that we all must make in such a process.
Be prepared to take risks, and do so responsibly.

Nothing simple.
Nothing easy.
Build your trust networks, and do so with open eyes.

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Ideapod – Democracy failing

Ideapod – democracy is failing

Gaurav asked – “Then tell me the best way to govern”

What do you mean when you use the term “govern”?

Do you mean it in the sense of a governor on a diesel motor – a thing that only has an influence when other systems try to take the “system” beyond a limit that is survivable (over-speed)?

What are the existential limits you are thinking of?
How do they vary with context?
How closely do our existing systems approximate such a thing?
To what degree have our existing systems been “captured” by levels of “cheating strategies” that divert value to the interests of a few over the interests of the many?
What does freedom look like when multiple levels of awareness coexist within the same sets of system?
How might freedom at one level appear to those at other levels?

At what level does one agree to negotiate levels of consensus across levels of systems and awareness?

Perhaps most important, what are the major sets of context present, and what are the major levels of threat – to both life and liberty, present in those contexts?

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