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July 5th, 2011
Train of Doom
Made it to Philadelphia. It was quite a trip. Some of us called it "The Train Of Doom". One of those journeys where we all felt a lifelong bond with each other afterward. Found some wonderful new friends.
First the train was 3 hours late out of Denver due to track work in the mountains. We did ok going through Nebraska overnight, but in the morning partway between Lincoln and Omaha suddenly the train just quit. All the power went out. The cars began to turn into ovens. There was no food service and not much water. We had a pretty good announcer who kept us up to date. He gave us a few reminders that we shouldn't exit the train because somebody might get hurt going straight down to the ground. Then we heard, "It looks like a couple of people have escaped. Please don't do that." So we all rushed to the windows and saw a man and woman running up the little hill there toward a building that looked like it might have a phone. We found out later they had called a car rental place, had a car delivered, and drove the rest of the way to Chicago.
A few minutes later the announcer said, "Legally we can't hold you here on the train, but we still can't recommend that you go outside." That was all we needed -- within seconds everyone was out wandering around the area, trying to order pizzas, and doing all sorts of mischief.
We ended up stalled for over 5 hours there! They tried repairing the problem. Eventually they had to disconnect one of the engines, leave it behind there, and borrow a freight engine from Burlington Northern to drag us the rest of the way to Chicago. We were told the fundamental problem was some sort of computer virus that had completely shut down the 2nd engine and also made it impossible for it to let signals flow through to the train. We're all curious about how that could have happened. More wonders of modern technology.
Of course being so far off schedule we frequently had to stop and wait for freight traffic for up to an hour at a time. Partly that was due to flooding. In fact, when we crossed the Missouri we could see a number of buildings partly submerged. There were a lot of men standing by the tracks, ready to get back to work once we passed. Elaborate structures depending on plastic barriers had been built to keep the tracks open.
There are 3 transcontinental railroad lines. The other 2 were completely shut down by flooding, and in fact some of the people stuffed on to our train were passengers from the other lines.
When we got to Chicago, about 12 hours late by then, they had to put us on a bus for a 750 mile scenic trip to Washington DC. I was the only person going on to Philadelphia and so had to get on another train for the last part of the trip.
The welcome in Philadelphia was excellent. A Dragon Slayer found a place for me to stay with a friendly Australian substitute teacher. It's a very interesting neighborhood in transition, a block from an elevated train station.
By coincidence i heard an NPR broadcast about some scientific research into what allows people to do well after natural disasters. Turns out only one factor makes any difference at all. It's not wealth, social position, location, or intelligence. The only way people can reliably survive a disaster is by being connected with their neighbors.
Current Music: WRTI Classical Radio
June 21st, 2011
3-Fold Study: Synergetics, Permaculture, and Tesla
Some will inevitably ask, "what does Tesla's work have to do with Permaculture or Synergetics?"
At this time few other researchers are in fact doing anything that would lead specifically to integration of these three streams. Our whole society would benefit from such integrative work.
For too many, Tesla's work has implied the rampant development of technology with no limits. This would be a huge mistake. Tesla himself was always aware of overall ecological implications of his inventions, which was remarkable for those times. In particular he often wrote about using technology to end war. On a small scale unrestrained progress based on Tesla's work has already been observed to induce insanity and undesirable weather effects in a few cases. Therefore a solid ethical framework for further research is very much needed.
Permaculture includes a set of ethical principles which ought to be applied to all technological development. Previously the most well known coherent ethical system in this regard has been what Amish people have managed to construct. Their work has been excellent in terms of setting up highly functioning communities, but has been impossible to consistently extrapolate into a wider scope for people outside their communities. That's one of the reasons why the growth of Permaculture has been such a significant advancement -- it is inherently free of any previous ethnic or religious ties.
Synergetics is a broad mathematical discipline that allows us to find and place natural principles in a broad geometric framework. Historically all science has been backed up with mathematics in one way or another. Those of us who have explored the work of Tesla and beyond have quickly run into limitations imposed by conventional calculus, trigonometry, and geometry. Synergetics thus provides workable ways to calculate the effects of technological development according to established natural observations.
In essence what is being proposed here is a threefold study of disciplines in context with each other. It is especially hoped that younger researchers will take this new path.
Current Music: Com Thou Fount by David Crowder
June 20th, 2011
It's like i signed up for a course, and the materials just pop up in my environment as needed. You could call the course "Dynamics of Abuse". So i suffered some abuse as a child -- not seriously horrible, but bad enough -- and it affected me as an adult. Big whoop. Happens to everyone. Destroyed 2 marriages and did lots of other damage too. Never enough to get me involved with the justice system, but bad enough. Somewhere along the line i made a decision to avoid justifying my abusiveness, and see if there's some way instead to completely stop doing that sort of thing. Thus, the need to read these books.
A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer
At some junior high schools, especially in marginal neighborhoods, this book is everywhere. Teachers and social workers like it because sometimes when a student reads it, a case of abuse gets smoked out.
As someone who has been accused of being abusive, i am especially sensitive to this area. I want to know more about how it happens, and how to prevent ourselves from becoming abusers.
I never did anything like what's in this book. But it could have evolved, given my background and life history. Many people are in a similar position, and can benefit from knowing this perspective.
A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer
This story of recovery from serious abuse is extremely helpful. Anyone can use the data and benefit from it. Much of the social awkwardness and self-doubt resulting from childhood abuse is accurately depicted. What's more important is how the author shares the steps that were necessary to becoming more healthy. Spirituality and forgiveness are, of course, involved. The author's honesty is deeply appreciated.
A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen
Caution -- reading this book will put you through all kinds of turmoil. The sincere reader will question every part of reality, religion, goodness, and culture. Well we definitely need to question our culture. Many people agree on that. No other book has ever done such a thorough job of tracing abusiveness throughout our entire culture. What i really love about this book is the solution it ultimately presents. It's unexpected, and very workable.
Current Music: Singers & Swing channel
May 8th, 2011
Anyone who checks out on their own leaves behind certain persistent questions. In this case nobody seemed to have more reason to do that. Accused of a heinous crime, brains destroyed by 5 months in a horrible jail waiting for a bail hearing, plenty of psychological torture, and several family members having done the same thing in the past. In fact that family tradition may go back hundreds of years.
And the questions keep gnawing. Should i have called more? Should i have been more insistent on talking, even when it didn't seem welcome? I could see Gavilan only from a distance most of the time -- someone who looked self-sufficient, was ok with being alone, a hard worker, devout, and a student of success.
Somehow the success never materialized. Many theories were put forth, but in the end only that one person ever knew why. When the accusation came a few months ago, there was no way to fight it, and all of us had to wait unreasonably (and unconstitutionally) long for anything to come from a totally dysfunctional justice system. We were all certain that the accusation was false.
We can blame the Veteran's Administration. Stuffing a bunch of medications down a recently released prisoner virtually at random, and providing no opportunity for meaningful therapeutic discussion, definitely is not workable. If nothing else comes out of this, we have a strong call for comprehensive reform of psychiatric / pharmaceutical practices as administered by many government agencies.
Meanwhile a torn family will carry on somehow. Some of the many friends will help. But we will all miss that upright sense of morality, prayerfulness, and quiet love. Have a great flight, Gavilan!
Current Music: crummy TV show
April 25th, 2011
Don't Sleep -- There Are Snakes
Noble Savages have returned. We can find them in a recent book that's been getting a lot of attention lately: Don't Sleep – There Are Snakes by noted linguist Daniel Everett. He summarizes experiences of 30 years working with the Pirahan people who live deep in the Amazon jungle. He went there to bring them Christianity. Over time, they converted him, which is a big part of this story. Now he has released this book which should delight humanists, agnostics, and atheists everywhere.
What he depicts is a small group of Amazonian natives who speak a language unrelated to anything else in the world. They struggle with daily survival in a brutal environment, and yet are among the happiest people on Earth, despite the fact that their life expectancy is about half that of people in more civilized areas. Consistently for the past 500 years they have refused to learn any other language or adopt many types of technological systems. Hardly any have ever left their little jungle domain.
Many people around the world agree that this culture and its dedicated members should be preserved. That's a big step up from the opinions of previous authorities, who believed that any group like this needed to either get civilized or wiped out. In Brazil today there are many who still hold this opinion, although it is not officially sanctioned as in the past. That's largely due to the work of people like the author of this book. Still this group remains vulnerable, literally on the edge of extinction due to several obvious factors. A related tribe, the Maru, is already extinct.
It was the fact that these people were absolutely unwilling to accept Christianity that drove the author into his decision to become atheist. Christians need to look carefully at this. If there really is a group of people that legitimately can't accept a relationship with Jesus Christ, what does that mean? We hate to imagine that an entire group, even one this small, would have to endure eternal punishment because of cultural factors that couldn't be brought under anyone's control.
Many aspects of Pirahan culture went into their collective decision that Christianity cannot be accepted. It appears that their language literally cannot hold some of the concepts involved. Some of these elements are common to other native cultures, and some seem to be unique to the situation. Sorting out which of these are most important is a huge intellectual task in itself.
One could say that this culture embodies some principles that constitute an exact opposite of Christianity:
Living only in the present, with no memory of events beyond the current generation.
Tolerance of abuse against women and children.
Reluctance or refusal to help neighbors in trouble.
Hardening of the heart as a cultural ideal.
Conversion by the natives is very much an acceptable story to modern, anti-theistic intellectuals. On the other side of this story is Everett's ex-wife, who reportedly is still working on finding a way to persuade Pirahans to accept our Savior. Obviously this situation deserves prayer. It also deserves a lot of reflection. If we assume that the Bible is our fundamental authority, and simultaneously assume that each culture on this planet has a purpose, how can we reconcile the apparent differences in these positions? Perhaps we will have to expand our language to hold the necessary concepts.
Current Music: movie on Disney Channel
March 10th, 2011
Just when the world looks completely grey
when it looks like a few elite
have hijacked most of the money in the world
to go off and build hideouts somewhere
and are accelerating the destruction
as if the rest of us no longer had any
you notice a tiny splash
It's a butterfly, that's all.
But it makes you aware there are
infinite ranges of color
everywhere in the universe
and exquisite infinite music just waiting
for fingers to play it.
So you paint with the colors
and hear the music
to be shown
there is so much beyond everything we know
and that we
We can bring everyone else
create beauty and
Current Music: Peter Gabriel & Deep Forest
January 5th, 2011
It's always difficult to discuss this. One really good principle to live by is, "if you can't tell your mother what you're doing, you shouldn't be doing it." I can't bring myself to believe anything the government or the conspiracy theory people have to say about the HAARP project. I've met a guy who wrote a book about it, and seriously disliked him. Yes, that's a judgment -- i thought he was one of those opportunists who likes to make a living by creating fear in people. He had no real solutions.
There are many reasons why these birds could be dying, and none of them are good. Most likely it has to do with increased air turbulence in general. That increase has partly been driven by the Gulf Oil Disaster. Also, the disaster put a lot of chemicals into the air over Arkansas and Louisiana, much more than we've been told. Our government apparently doesn't want to know what's happened there. If you know what to look for you can see it in the clouds, especially those strange dull rainbow colors that ride along sometimes.
From my viewpoint, it's not about this specific project. It's a cultural mindset that says some people know what's good for us, and they have an inherent right to do whatever they want. Life and the universe are much more complicated than that. I can't be an expert on HAARP -- nobody can reliably tell me the truth about what's going on up there. I do know that weather can be modified, and have done it a few times, using extremely simple and gentle tools. I can't prove that. What i can do is pray every time i have an opportunity to do something about the weather.
The Mennonite mindset of stewardship would imply that before we do any serious tinkering with our planet, whether it's geological (extracting oil) or atmospheric (HAARP), we need to approach the task with great humility and prayer. That's not what these scientists are doing, and ultimately that's why birds are dying.
Current Music: Gospel channel
November 8th, 2010
Alternatives to Capitalism
While we're all struggling with this Not-So-Great Depression, many people are publicly and privately expressing misgivings about the capitalist system. Sometimes that becomes an excuse for not trying to find a job. And, of course under present conditions it may be impossible for some people to find jobs. But there's always work to do anyway, and often when someone simply starts working all sorts of amazing things can happen. People who do this sort of thing can be called "social entrepreneurs" and they are a huge factor in the revitalization of cities such as Detroit and Philadelphia.
Capitalism is definitely flawed. It is based on many aspects of human aberration. One especially difficult part is how it assumes that people are motivated only by low emotions such as greed and fear. Another problem, which is partly what we're seeing now, is how cyclic depressions are naturally created as an outgrowth of the capitalist banking system. And, of course, any time a group such as a pharmaceutical company or large financial firm manages to exercise influence over government all sorts of disasters happen.
So let's look at some alternatives. One going concern right now is North Korea. They have definitely found an alternative to capitalism. We know a few things about how that's working out. Every time a truck goes through the countryside with a foreigner visible in it, the truck gets totally mobbed by obviously starving peasants hoping for a few crumbs of food. In the middle of the capital Pyongyang there is a huge unfinished hotel that was supposed to be the world's largest and a great exposition of how successful this alternative economy can be. Reportedly nobody has worked on it for several years now.
Russia experimented with an alternative to capitalism between 1917 and 1989. They're still trying to recover. Look up Khodorovsky, a man who is constantly persecuted for crimes that neither he nor his lawyers can understand. His real crime appears to have been running a successful company. Of course before capitalism was reinstated things were much worse for everybody. Most people regarded themselves as slaves and basically refused to produce any quality products. As a saying from that time went, "We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us."
China has gone through some fairly brutal experiments with alternatives, especially during the "Gang of Four" period in the late 60s when anyone could instantly be taken out of their homes or off the street and sent into slave-labor camps for "re-education." Now China has a mixed capitalist and government economy and their environment is being torn up tremendously. Saying anything that might not be liked by the government brings down tremendous persecution. At this rate they may not be able to survive another 50 years as a country.
Which leaves us with the Taliban. Sure, that's another alternative to capitalism, but how many people do you know who want to live without any music or sports, and keep all female relatives in constant seclusion?
I'm sorry to say that workable alternatives to capitalism have not yet appeared on this planet on any large scale. There are a few small communities where it's happening. These are either religious, like The Farm in Tennessee or the many Bruderhof settlements, or they are living miracles built around business interests such as Twin Oaks in Virginia. In any event we know that operating a commune structure takes a tremendous amount of work. Much of that work is in human relations, including emotional meetings that seem to go on forever.
We have to build these alternatives. But it's clear now from studying history that we will have to do the work ourselves, through human relations, all from the bottom up. Top-down alternatives to capitalism so far have all failed miserably. Anybody ready to work hard?
Current Music: country playlist
July 5th, 2010
July 5th Rest Stop
This was originally a letter to a friend, but it looked like this information might be useful to everybody. So here it is!
You had some questions about the oil volcano situation. Not sure I understand all of what you were asking, but perhaps I can be of some help.
Panama seems relatively stable. Its central ridge is mostly high. In fact to the south of the Canal Zone the territory becomes increasingly impassable, to a point where they've never been able to finish about 100 miles of the Pan-American Highway. It's just pure jungle and lots of tough hills. The canal itself is pretty narrow, and then takes advantage of some high lakes. Ships have to go through a system of locks that raise and then lower them going through. They also have options about where the water comes from. It's my understanding they can use fresh water from the lakes extensively.
So there's not much chance of the Pacific getting contaminated directly.
Most of the Gulf currents go out around the tip of Florida and then northward through the Atlantic. That means Ireland, Iceland, Brittany, and Great Britain are at the worst risk for consequences.
Lately i've seen reports from Louisiana and Arkansas of rains falling and leaving an oil sheen. That's probably going to be one of the worst effects because it could destroy the ability to grow crops in much of the Southeast and Midwest. Cuba, Haiti, and possibly the Mexican coast are at risk. It may even wipe out some water supplies, meaning entire communities would have to be evacuated within a space of 3 days after the sources are gone.
A lot of this is going to play out slowly over several years based on normal climate patterns. Then again the climate patterns haven't been all that normal in the first place. All that oil residue being sucked up into clouds is likely to spawn increased air turbulence, meaning a greater chance of massive thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes all through the South and Midwest.
Of course there will be no more seafood available from the Gulf or most of the North Atlantic. Nobody's wanted to think about that lately. Right now the main impact has been on shellfish, shrimp, & oysters. But there will be many other species affected as time goes on.
There's a great Internet resource called www.theoildrum.com that is mainly populated by petroleum engineers. That has become for me the most credible source of information. They're doing a lot of mythbusting. Some of the more extreme cases we've heard are not going to happen. As for this whole thing being done deliberately, I find human stupidity to be fully adequate as an explanation.
The biggest earthquake risk right now is St. Louis. Nobody understands the plumbing under the planet well enough to say for sure whether or not the New Madrid fault will be triggered by this. I would think not, because the volcano is actually relatively small and a good distance away. But there could be other activity on that fault, and it was a huge risk area before all this happened simply because it has not discharged since 1811. What we always want to see is a lot of small earthquakes over a period of time, and that area has been
relatively quiet all these years.
There is a great evil residing in St. Louis. It's a company called Monsanto which makes a ghastly system of weed killers and specialized crop seeds that are immune to the weed killers. That's the GMO stuff i'm always ranting about and am probably allergic to. Along with much of the world. Monsanto has to be stopped one way or another – they are literally #1 on the list of corporations that should not be allowed to exist any more. In some ways they've already done way more damage over a much wider range than the oil volcano could ever do.
Any time there's a great evil, there is an increased chance of natural disasters. New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Mississippi & Alabama have long been centers of decadence. N.O. has fostered a cold-hearted Voodoo culture. Biloxi in particular has come to depend heavily on the gambling mentality for its existence. Fishermen in those areas have long been careless about the ecology. That's why I say that Katrina was no accident. The way it's been “cleaned up” has been inhumane and corrupt. Most of the recovery funds have fallen into the hands of huge, greedy development corporations. So perhaps the stupidity that allowed this volcano to happen was in some way triggered by the destructive cultures dominating that region.
Right now it's the morning of July 5 & i'm safe & sound at the apartment of a new friend close to Center City in Philadelphia. He's a good guy – hope I don't overwhelm him with my teaching stuff. He seems interested in a lot of what i'm into, so that's cool.
The weekend was fun. Passed out event cards at First Friday, an artist's gathering, Friday night. Only about 1/3rd of the random people passing by on the street would accept our cards. Most of the artists were enthusiastic about what we're doing. Stressed out my foot pretty bad, so on Saturday just lazed around in Lawndale, falling in & out of sleep for the day. Went out around 8:30 to get dinner from the nearby deli & there were cops, barricades, and tons of people all over the streets. A couple of priests walked by & I asked them what was going on. Turned out there was a community fireworks show scheduled a block away. So I went to the deli, got dinner, & ate part of it. Then went out, found a nice rock that a friendly neighbor let me share, & enjoyed a pretty good show.
Sunday (yesterday) went to Oxford Circle Mennonite Church in the morning, played harp a bit at the service, and got moved over to Fairmount which is right next to downtown (which they call Center City here).
In the afternoon went to the big street fair, which was only a couple blocks from here, & then Nick found me after some difficulty and brought me over to a Tea Party rally @ Independence Hall. That was a great event – good speakers, well run, excellent ideas. Almost all the people there were receptive to our message about the Tesla Days next week. This was in sharp contrast to the way people were at all the other places we've passed out cards. Our media people have been terribly unfair in the way they have portrayed Tea Party people. Some are real idiots, but you'll find that in any group. The rest are solid, true conservatives who are an asset to any human society.
After the rally Nick took us back to the street fair. Mark, Dave S. and I stationed ourselves at the entrance & must have passed out over 1,000 cards thru the next couple hours. Eventually my feet wore out & was able to walk s-l-o-w-l-y back to the apartment for a couple hours nap.
Last nite there was a great fireworks show over the street fair area. Found a great place to sit about a block away, and was amazed at my patience. Met some nice folks there & chatted while watching parking enforcement dramas for the next couple hours. Turned out the guy sitting next to me had lived in Lawndale for 34 years – he was the first person I met here who had even heard of the neighborhood. The big show was worth waiting for!
So that's life in Philadelphia at the moment, a city that mostly works. Great place to be!
Current Music: Owl City
June 18th, 2010
So i consistently say "everyone is worth saving." Lately have spent some time trying to establish communication with a guy who is challenging, antagonistic, and seems only partially literate. This is against the advice of at least 2 friends who also know him.
Today i'm charged with helping care for a dog who is SERIOUSLY ugly. Fat, short-haired, stupid, and whenever she gets out she knocks over everything in sight. Also can't seem to avoid stepping on my very tender feet.
This is a complete challenge to everything i believe in.
Well, better being stuck with a difficult dog than a difficult person anyway. Just have to keep reminding myself, "I can do this!" at least through Sunday.
Maybe i'm in a position to learn something.
Current Music: 102 Gospel Jamz