Tag Archives: opinion

Like a Sphere in Flatland

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A man in my e-mail group asked to be excluded from my responses.  He said I was “negative” and “liberal.”  I had merely mentioned I don’t believe in war, that it is barbaric, institutionalized murder.  I said I don’t believe in standing armies, either.

It really hurt my feelings that he called me “liberal.”  Liberals don’t like me, either.  In fact, on the political continuum from the various “ism’s” at the extremes and including “liberal” and “conservative,” I don’t fit anywhere.  I feel like a sphere in Flatland.

For those who haven’t read this charming classic satire, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin A. Abbott (1884), it is well worth reading, and only 160 pages.   In it, narrator A. Square describes a planar world in which the social hierarchy is determined by how many angles you have.  When Lord Sphere makes himself known to A. Square, he is incredulous until taken on a visit to “Spaceland.”  His attempts to convince his fellow Flatlanders of the existence of a third dimension only gets him in trouble, and he ends up in jail for his lunacy.

Another image, maybe more appropriate to the linear liberal-conservative standard and its limitations, is of trying to assess the validity of a book by the scientific method.  The scientific method is the holy grail of modern scientific dogma, but it is limited by its linear approach. Scientists believe this makes it superior to other methods of assessing truth.

The scientific method presumes cause and effect, yes-and-no, good and bad, right and wrong.  It sneers at extraneous information, abstractions, symbols, and patterns. Logic is linear:  words must come out in sequential fashion.  Those who relate this to the left brain–the seat of verbal thinking and expression in most people–claim superiority of this hemisphere because of its lock-step method of reasoning.  The right brain is associated with symbols, patterns, dreams, and appreciation for art and music.

However, the brain is wired such that incoming sensory information travels through the thalamus, the pain center, then through the limbic system, the emotional center, before it reaches left or right brain.  In other words, every thought is colored by physical and emotional input before it becomes conscious.  Even the most logical and rational analysis is founded on emotional bias.

The scientific, linear mode presumes to be objective, insofar as is humanly possible, yet the choice of study subject is based on emotional factors.  The idea that artificial intelligence, with its binary code, can eventually surpass the human brain’s abilities discounts the spontaneous creativity of the right brain and its symbolic language of patterns and associations.

The recent preoccupation with what’s called “fake news” shows how easy it is to confuse the “rational” mind.  Misinformation, propaganda, distortions, opinion, gossip, libel, and slander have always been around.  Assumptions presumed to be factual have fallen apart over and over in light of new evidence.  The earth used to be flat, remember, and the sun revolved around it.  Now there’s a widespread concern that people don’t know whom or what to trust, with “trust” seemingly synonymous with blind faith in the source.

What is truth, after all, and does it matter?  If this trend leads to a greater tendency to question authority or formerly trusted sources, or to more critical thinking, it might result in the revolution in consciousness that some people imagine.  We will not achieve it through the scientific method, which requires an artificial situation that attempts to reduce variables to one.  In life there is always infinitely more than one variable to consider.  Thus, trying to place anyone on a linear political scale reduces her dimensionality to a pitiful caricature, but we see it all the time:  the blacks, the women, the illegals, the racists, the poor, the 0.1 percent, and on and on.  The so-called advocates, whether members of the identified group or not, posture themselves as knowing the condition, needs, and wants of the group.

Labeling of groups dehumanizes them, clumps them into an agglutinated mass of undifferentiated genetic material that serves only to concentrate emotion into an identifiable target for support or attack.  Advocates tend to use that emotionally laden grouping to promote their agendas, which may be personal or may be backed by yet other groups.

I can only know my own truth, and even that changes moment to moment or as soon as I turn my head.  Truth is a slippery little rascal.  Like a sphere in Flatland, or a book whose value defies the scientific method, I can see from above or below the plane, or even with the plane, but at least I know the difference between a line and a circle.  The scientific method might judge based on emotionally based standards of comparison, but patterns make no judgments and have no beginnings or ends, no cause-and-effect, and reveal no ultimate truth.

My dislike for war, and for fighting, compels me to avoid arguing, recognizing as I do that my choice is emotional, as is my detractor’s.  Energy goes out of me when I’m drawn into conflictual situations.  I believe this happens with others, too, but I could be wrong.  The relentless focus on competition and struggle, on differences cemented by stifling labels, only feeds the problems, generating parallel, linear, universes with no spherical perspective.

Daybreak

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S. Squire Rooster, Attorney, for the Law of the Land

No matter what happens on Election Day, the US has the opportunity to curb presidential power and to force Congress to become more accountable to the voter-citizen-taxpayers who have been increasingly disenfranchised.

There are a number of issues I would like to see on the 2017 Congressional plate.  At the top of my list is to abolish Daylight Savings Time.  This semi-annual Congressional jerk-around forces me to reset no less than eight clocks every six months.  The time change has caused me to be late for Easter brunch (for which I was never forgiven), to be late for my first day of work at a new job, and for a number of other social and professional blunders that I’ve repressed.

The guy pictured above could care less about Congressional mandates.  He starts his insistent crow the moment the sun peeks over the horizon.  Nor is the sun influenced by US law, so why is everyone who goes by clock time so easily manipulated by a bunch of lobbyists in Washington DC?

Wikipedia gives an exhaustive account of the history around the world  of Daylight Savings Time.  For our purposes, Congress made created a national standard in 1986-7 (PL 99-369) at the behest of Clorox and 7-Eleven lobbyists.  Both Idaho senators voted for it under the pretext that fast-food outlets would sell more french fries (made from Idaho potatoes).  Arizona is the only continental state that does not observe it.

Today, November 6, 2016, on this first day of freedom from the abhorrent DST, I make my semi-annual bid for doing something practical and achievable without causing anyone undue stress.

Where does your Congressperson stand on Time?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go re-set some clocks.

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Disaster

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When disaster strikes on the home front, world events and political wrangling fade into a surreal background.  Hurricane Matthew knocked out electrical power in 90% of Chatham County, with power lines down on the streets, flooding in low-lying areas, and people like me stranded behind  fallen trees.

Eight huge trees fell across our driveway, with branches so thick that the road wasn’t passable even on foot.  It took two and a half days for us to clear trunks and branches from the road so we could get out by car.  It took another five days for power (and in my case, water) to be restored.  My brother-in-law was so desperate for his television fix that he hooked his car battery to an inverter and the TV so he could watch the presidential debates.

The storm hit Saturday morning (October 8) around 5 a.m.  I had spent the Wednesday prior in the hospital emergency room with a hypertensive crisis, with blood pressure in the stroke range.  I’d been having headaches and was beginning to lose my eyesight.  The doctors wanted to admit me, but I negotiated my way out of it, claiming that there was no one to take care of my animals, and the storm was coming.  “If I have to die, I’d rather die at home than in the hospital,” I said.  The docs begrudgingly discharged me with blood pressure medicines and a follow-up visit after the storm.

So I ended up playing lumberjack three days later, grateful that my body is still in good enough shape to take care of necessities.  Because of the power outage, my stricken eyesight and blocked roads, I was isolated from all stimuli outside my immediate environment, the sounds of chain saws throughout the neighborhood and the unhurried and unchanged sounds of nature.  I did what I could, using stored water for washing dishes (gas stove, fortunately), emptying the refrigerator of food before it went bad, cleaning, sweeping.  meditating.

The outside world seemed unreal, a dream.  I had decided the hypertension came from becoming overly involved in world events, caring too much for things I can’t control or even influence.  The body is known to generate the same stress hormones when faced with close and real as well as artificial (like TV news) danger.

I decided the hate and fear mongering perpetuated by the media creates a chronic state of mass arousal and over-stimulation that grows on itself.  This energy has nowhere to go, except to wear down the body and sap its vitality.

As a symbolic thinker, I believe everything that happens has significance beyond what is immediately apparent.  That my fate is connected to the world’s fate puts my body in the cross-currents between inner and outer, a tree splintered by the winds of forces beyond my understanding or control.  That I choose not to see what’s happening is my purely human physical reaction to the clashes of Armageddon at my doorstep.

 

 

 

The Game of Life

games0807Life is a game. The purpose is to have fun. Part of the fun is learning the rules, and to distinguish between Real Rules and Fake Rules. Real rules make sense, but fake rules don’t, even if the Powers That Be insist that They Are Right. If the fake rules go against your version of real rules, you feel trapped by mutually exclusive rules.

This is one of the game’s challenges. You win by learning to navigate the real rules while avoiding or destroying the fake ones. As you expose the lies, you discover there are few real rules. These promote individuality, originality, and creativity, for yourself and others, if you’re playing the game right.

This is a game everyone can win, because you don’t compete with other players. In fact, one of the real rules promotes cooperation with others, but finding common ground is another challenge in the game of life.

There are easy challenges and hard challenges. The real rules apply to both. Only you can judge how hard they are, or whether and how you meet them, and only you can determine whether you win or lose the game of life.

The fake rules may tell you that you are losing when you are winning, or winning when you’re losing. You must learn the difference between winning and losing under the real rules. Although others can guide, instruct, help, encourage, or hinder, they are playing by their rules, and they are also learning the difference between real and fake rules.

The real rules, when applied, work for everyone. The fake rules work only for a few and for a limited time.

Sometimes fake rules fool everyone into believing they are real rules, but over time their deceptive nature shows. If you can penetrate the illusions to discover and apply the real rules, you win points in the game of life.