Tag Archives: science

Converting Information into Knowledge

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Converting Information into (useful) Knowledge

I’ve been rather “quiet” on the blog lately, not because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to share but mainly because I’ve been absorbing information from a wide range of bloggers about a wide array of current topics. We talk about “informed opinion” and it is a “brute” fact that without information one cannot have informed opinions. The thing to be aware of is that information is neutral so the source of it is quite irrelevant. What matters is what happens when the information hits home: when the mind identifies it, translates it, sorts it, accepts, rejects. On a 100% scale, gathering information shouldn’t take more than a 10% slice of awareness. The 90% slice is converting it into knowledge.

I’ll make a simple comparison. A swimming pool does not equate swimming. I you can’t swim it won’t do you any good. You will stand at the edge, stare in it, then turn away, or you can jump in and drown. You need to learn how to swim to enjoy the pool. Once you’ve got that you can go to something more challenging, like a lake, a river, the ocean, and learn how to swim all over again. Sure, you’ll have the basics on how to stay afloat for a while, but what about current? Undercurrents? Waves? Underwater snags or those submerged reeds that grab the feet and tighten on the legs as you try to pull away? As a life-long canoeist, kayaker, river and sea lover I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn how to interact with various types of water bodies, of “information” to stay afloat in, to learn from and of course to enjoy. Desire, determination and drive to overcome the initial reticence of the land creature to interact with water. Then, training, training, training, with risk and daring.

That’s my analogy and I think it is fitting because children in this modern day are not taught how to go from wishing to accomplishing. As information is forced upon young minds, wishes, dreams and desires are awakened and stirred but that’s just sitting on the edge of the pool stirring the water with one’s feet. That’s not swimming. Modern education is failing abjectly because it is inculcating, stuffing information but without simultaneous observation and experience nothing of value is learned.  In fact such inculcation is easily surpassed by even low level AI application. Once upon a time learning that 2+2=4 was a big deal. Now the same kid can find out the square root of pi while at the same time being told irrational numbers cannot be squared. Does the kid understand the implication? No but more “searches” will give other “answers” and the little brain will feel like it really knows “something” about “something” when in fact a half hour down the road it will have forgotten. After all, why bother with memorizing when it’s all at one’s fingertips?

Before anyone objects furiously that “there are some really smart kids out there” let me remind the reader that I speak of the majority, not the exceptions and also remind s/he that exceptions prove the rule – a truism. If there was no rule, there could be no exceptions so when someone brings up an exception they are proving the rule. I need to repeat that as with information most people have never bothered to understand that correlation. 

So we have access to more information than ever before, at least that we can know based on our short span of questionable history.  I could list so many examples of beliefs (information) that once formed the basis of education. Flat earth. It is a waste of time and money to educate girls because women can’t learn “stuff.” Two of my favourites. Currently we are just as stuck in beliefs used, not to improve conditions on the planet but to bolster/counter old beliefs or feed some collective hubris. Darwinian evolution theory – raised eyebrow? I can do better: moon landings as false flags. Stop reading now? 9/11 and the burning of Notre Dame – inside jobs – am I certifiable yet?

How to we know if we can neither observe nor experience “it”? How can we be so sure? How did we come to accept that the earth was some sort of sphere? When it was no longer a matter of belief but overwhelming evidence (even though we may still be quite wrong about that “certainty” and future generations in for a bigger surprise without going back to the flat earth belief). To learn something we need to work through it from many different angles, to observe and experience it differently. I think, for example, that experience has demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that women are at least as intelligent as men and all they needed was a chance to demonstrate their intelligence and dexterity side by side with men. Yet there are still large pockets of resistance to this (which bothers me a lot), as there are still sincere flat earthers (which doesn’t bother me in the least).

The problem with belief is, it is not founded on knowledge – it relies on supportive belief and rejects evidence. That leads to the perpetuation of the vilest types of abuse on this world such as misogyny, racism, zealotry, bigotry, the economic and sexual exploitation of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.  These are results of information not converted to knowledge.

Now the tough part: how do we convert our information into knowledge if we cannot observe first hand, or experience, the information? Is there a back door that can be used to let us escape the trap of being informed without being educated?

Though still not entirely satisfactory to me, I did devise a mental tool whereby I could determine the ‘value’ of certain information and the danger of other. I don’t know if my ‘tool’ has a name so I have to describe how it works instead.

I’ll take one of my favourite conspiracy theories: moon landings as false flags. (If you find yourself reacting strongly to such an accusation it’s time to look inside and ask, ‘why am I reacting negatively to such a statement? What’s in it for me? Am I afraid to realize I was taken in by the System so many years ago and spent my life believing a monstrous lie? Am I a patriot who feels obligated to defend “my country right or wrong”? Why is believing in the moon landings so important to me particularly?”) Already, that is the beginning of converting information into knowledge. But that’s not nearly enough. Let’s take the story all the way down – and yes, even if there is an American flag on the moon, and there are booted human footprints in its regolith.

Assume for a moment that I am a reasonably intelligent human being, not only well informed on what matters, but able to analyze that information and make use of it. Continuing with the “space program” (check this link for example about the reality of costs in space exploration and its purpose:  https://www.forbes.com/2009/07/16/apollo-moon-landing-anniversary-opinions-contributors-cost-money.html#2e1736181d04

Although it has been scientifically proven that getting live human beings to the moon – and back (that’s the big one) alive was impossible in 1969, as much as it is impossible today, with insurmountable problems of Van Allen belts radiation + solar radiation; weight of lander and impossibility of blasting free of even low lunar gravity based on available power, to little stupid details like camera and light angles, non-matching shadows and yes, numbers on rocks (staged!), that is not the issue for someone converting information into knowledge. Here’s what should matter: did these extremely expensive maneuvers “make America great again”?  Is the world in general in better shape socially, economically and environmentally today than it was in 1969? Yes, the “Evil Empire” (Soviet Union) imploded in 1991 but can we credit the moon landings for that? Even if we could, was that the end of the Cold War or did it just morph into another series of imperial endless wars mostly driven by America’s desperate need to control all major resources of the planet in order to maintain its military/corporate global empire?

I make this point, and I only need one, to demonstrate how the moon landings, real or false, were nothing more than a massive propaganda effort to bolster the military industrial complex and turn the US and subsequently the entire world into a controlled “security state” a la George Orwell’s “1984.”

Honestly, the whole world got worse. Credit (blame) whom you will for that but I “blame” the sheeple for believing without evidence; for accepting without reasoning, testing, experiencing.

“The world of spirits is unpredictable Mrs. Santiago. Are you a believer, Mrs Santiago?”
“Si, si, I believe, I believe. I pay more… I believe!” (paraphrase from the movie “Ghost”)

Biological Annihilation-a Planet in Loss Mode

 How to introduce such an article? I copied it verbatim from TomDispatch (http://www.tomdispatch.com/) and although I am certainly aware of the devastations being caused by “climate change” I am most certainly not ascribing most of it to climate change.  Rather it is obvious that our standing on the cusp of  an “extinction protocol” has mostly to do with Earthians consistently refusing to consider changing their lifestyles, their obsolete traditions and their belief systems – all of which are guaranteeing the end of civilization.  I therefore must introduce it with these hated words: How about “you” taking responsibility for the state of the world? You will say, “How?” and I can tell you that there is an endless list of effective “hows” by which you can make a difference. But not one of these efforts will mean anything if you don’t become the change you wish to engender.  That’s right: the only way to make change is to become the change.  It begins by caring as if your life and the lives of your loved ones, depended on it.  *By the way, it does*

Obvious question here: How long can we condemn all other sentient life on this planet to massive dieback and not bring it upon ourselves? When does the “bad predator” realize that the prey he killed off was essential to his own survival?   ~burning woman~

Biological Annihilation
A Planet in Loss Mode
By Subhankar Banerjee

If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up.  After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants.  Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

Someday, such a planetary winnowing may prove to be the most tragic of all the grim stories of human history now playing out on this planet, even if to date it’s gotten far less attention than the dangers of climate change.  In the end, it may prove more difficult to mitigate than global warming.  Decarbonizing the global economy, however hard, won’t be harder or more improbable than the kind of wholesale restructuring of modern life and institutions that would prevent species annihilation from continuing.   

With that in mind, come along with me on a topsy-turvy journey through the animal and plant kingdoms to learn a bit more about the most consequential global challenge of our time.

Insects Are Vanishing

When most of us think of animals that should be saved from annihilation, near the top of any list are likely to be the stars of the animal world: tigers and polar bears, orcas and orangutans, elephants and rhinos, and other similarly charismatic creatures.

Few express similar concern or are likely to be willing to offer financial support to “save” insects. The few that are in our visible space and cause us nuisance, we regularly swat, squash, crush, or take out en masse with Roundup.

As it happens, though, of the nearly two million known species on this planet about 70% of them are insects. And many of them are as foundational to the food chain for land animals as plankton are for marine life. Harvard entomologist (and ant specialist) E.O. Wilson once observed that “if insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

In fact, insects are vanishing.

Almost exactly a year ago, the first long-term study of the decline of insect populations was reported, sparking concern (though only in professional circles) about a possible “ecological Armageddon.” Based on data collected by dozens of amateur entomologists in 63 nature reserves across Germany, a team of scientists concluded that the flying insect population had dropped by a staggering 76% over a 27-year period. At the same time, other studies began to highlight dramatic plunges across Europe in the populations of individual species of bugs, bees, and moths.

What could be contributing to such a collapse? It certainly is human-caused, but the factors involved are many and hard to sort out, including habitat degradation and loss, the use of pesticides in farming, industrial agriculture, pollution, climate change, and even, insidiously enough, “light pollution that leads nocturnal insects astray and interrupts their mating.”

This past October, yet more troubling news arrived.

When American entomologist Bradford Lister first visited El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico in 1976, little did he know that a long-term study he was about to embark on would, 40 years later, reveal a “hyperalarming” new reality. In those decades, populations of arthropods, including insects and creepy crawlies like spiders and centipedes, had plunged by an almost unimaginable 98% in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest within the U.S. National Forest System. Unsurprisingly, insectivores (populations of animals that feed on insects), including birds, lizards, and toads, had experienced similarly dramatic plunges, with some species vanishing entirely from that rainforest. And all of that happened before Hurricane Maria battered El Yunque in the fall of 2017.

What had caused such devastation? After eliminating habitat degradation or loss — after all, it was a protected national forest — and pesticide use (which, in Puerto Rico, had fallen by more than 80% since 1969), Lister and his Mexican colleague Andres Garcia came to believe that climate change was the culprit, in part because the average maximum temperature in that rainforest has increased by four degrees Fahrenheit over those same four decades.

Even though both scientific studies and anecdotal stories about what might be thought of as a kind of insectocide have, at this point, come only from Europe and North America, many entomologists are convinced that the collapse of insect populations is a worldwide phenomenon.

As extreme weather events — fires, floods, hurricanes — begin to occur more frequently globally, “connecting the dots” across the planet has become a staple of climate-change communication to “help the public understand how individual events are part of a larger trend.”

Now, such thinking has to be transferred to the world of the living so, as in the case of plummeting insect populations and the creatures that feed on them, biological annihilation sinks in. At the same time, what’s driving such death spirals in any given place — from pesticides to climate change to habitat loss — may differ, making biological annihilation an even more complex phenomenon than climate change.

The Edge of the Sea

The animal kingdom is composed of two groups: invertebrates, or animals without backbones, and vertebrates, which have them. Insects are invertebrates, as are starfish, anemones, corals, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, and many more species. In fact, invertebrates make up 97% of the known animal kingdom.

In 1955, environmentalist Rachel Carson’s book The Edge of the Sea was published, bringing attention for the first time to the extraordinary diversity and density of the invertebrate life that occupies the intertidal zone.  Even now, more than half a century later, you’ve probably never considered that environment — which might be thought of as the edge of the sea (or actually the ocean) — as a forest. And neither did I, not until I read nature writer Tim McNulty’s book Olympic National Park: A Natural History some years ago. As he pointed out: “The plant associations of the low tide zone are commonly arranged in multistoried communities, not unlike the layers of an old-growth forest.” And in that old-growth forest, the starfish (or sea star) rules as the top predator of the nearshore.

In 2013, a starfish die-off — from a “sea-star wasting disease” caused by a virus — was first observed in Washington’s Olympic National Park, though it was hardly confined to that nature preserve. By the end of 2014, as Lynda Mapes reported in the Seattle Times, “more than 20 species of starfish from Alaska to Mexico” had been devastated. At the time, I was living on the Olympic Peninsula and so started writing about and, as a photographer, documenting that die-off (a painful experience after having read Carson’s exuberant account of that beautiful creature).

The following summer, though, something magical happened. I suddenly saw baby starfish everywhere. Their abundance sparked hope among park employees I spoke with that, if they survived, most of the species would bounce back. Unfortunately, that did not happen. “While younger sea stars took longer to show symptoms, once they did, they died right away,” Mapes reported. That die-off was so widespread along the Pacific coast (in many sites, more than 99% of them) that scientists considered it “unprecedented in geographic scale.”
Baby Starfish, Olympic National Park. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2015.

The cause? Consider it the starfish version of a one-two punch: the climate-change-induced warming of the Pacific Ocean put stress on the animals while it made the virus that attacked them more virulent.  Think of it as a perfect storm for unleashing such a die-off.

It will take years to figure out the true scope of the aftermath, since starfish occupy the top of the food chain at the edge of the ocean and their disappearance will undoubtedly have cascading impacts, not unlike the vanishing of the insects that form the base of the food chain on land.

Concurrent with the disappearance of the starfish, another “unprecedented” die-off was happening at the edge of the same waters, along the Pacific coast of the U.S. and Canada.  It seemed to be “one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded,” Craig Welch wrote in National Geographic in 2015. And many more have been dying ever since, including Cassin’s auklets, thick-billed murres, common murres, fork-tailed petrels, short-tailed shearwaters, black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars. That tragedy is still ongoing and its nature is caught in the title of a September article in Audubon magazine: “In Alaska, Starving Seabirds and Empty Colonies Signal a Broken Ecosystem.”

To fully understand all of this, the dots will again have to be connected across places and species, as well as over time, but the great starfish die-off is an indication that biological annihilation is now an essential part of life at the edge of the sea.

The Annihilation of Vertebrates

The remaining 3% of the kingdom Animalia is made up of vertebrates. The 62,839 known vertebrate species include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

The term “biological annihilation” was introduced in 2017 in a seminal paper by scientists Geraldo Ceballos, Paul Ehrlich, and Rodolpho Dirzo, whose research focused on the population declines, as well as extinctions, of vertebrate species. “Our data,” they wrote then, “indicate that beyond global species extinctions Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations.”

If anything, the 148-page Living Planet Report published this October by the World Wildlife Fund International and the Zoological Society of London only intensified the sense of urgency in their paper. As a comprehensive survey of the health of our planet and the impact of human activity on other species, its key message was grim indeed: between 1970 and 2014, it found, monitored populations of vertebrates had declined in abundance by an average of 60% globally, with particularly pronounced losses in the tropics and in freshwater systems. South and Central America suffered a dramatic loss of 89% of such vertebrates, while freshwater populations of vertebrates declined by a lesser but still staggering 83% worldwide. The results were based on 16,704 populations of 4,005 vertebrate species, which meant that the study was not claiming a comprehensive census of all vertebrate populations.  It should instead be treated as a barometer of trends in monitored populations of them.

What could be driving such an annihilatory wave to almost unimaginable levels? The report states that the main causes are “overexploitation of species, agriculture, and land conversion — all driven by runaway human consumption.” It does, however, acknowledge that climate change, too, is a “growing threat.”

When it comes to North America, the report shows that the decline is only 23%. Not so bad, right? Such a statistic could mislead the public into thinking that the U.S. and Canada are in little trouble and yet, in reality, insects and other animals, as well as plants, are dying across North America in surprisingly large numbers.

From My Doorstep to the World Across Time

My own involvement with biological annihilation started at my doorstep. In March 2006, a couple of days after moving into a rented house in northern New Mexico, I found a dead male house finch, a small songbird, on the porch. It had smashed into one of the building’s large glass windows and died. At the same time, I began to note startling numbers of dead piñon, New Mexico’s state tree, everywhere in the area. Finding that dead bird and noting those dead trees sparked a desire in me to know what was happening in this new landscape of mine.

When you think of an old-growth forest — and here I don’t mean the underwater version of one but the real thing — what comes to your mind? Certainly not the desert southwest, right? The trees here don’t even grow tall enough for that.  An 800-year-old piñon may reach a height of 24 feet, not the 240-feet of a giant Sitka spruce of similar age in the Pacific Northwest. In the last decade, however, scientists have begun to see the piñon-juniper woodlands here as exactly that.

I first learned this from a book, Ancient Piñon-Juniper Woodlands: A Natural History of Mesa Verde Country. It turns out that this low-canopy, sparsely vegetated woodland ecosystem supports an incredible diversity of wildlife. In fact, as a state, New Mexico has among the greatest diversity of species in the country.  It’s second in diversity of native mammals, third in birds, and fourth in overall biodiversity. Take birds.  Trailing only California and Arizona, the state harbors 544 species, nearly half of the 1,114 species in the U.S. And consider this not praise for my adopted home, but a preface to a tragedy.

Before I could even develop a full appreciation of the piñon-juniper woodland, I came to realize that most of the mature piñon in northern New Mexico had already died. Between 2001 and 2005, a tiny bark beetle known by the name of Ips confusus had killed more than 50 million of them, about 90% of the mature ones in northern New Mexico. This happened thanks to a combination of severe drought and rapid warming, which stressed the trees, while providing a superb environment for beetle populations to explode.
Dead finch on my porch. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2006.

And this, it turned out, wasn’t in any way an isolated event. Multiple species of bark beetles were by then ravaging forests across the North American West. The black spruce, the white spruce, the ponderosa pine, the lodgepole pine, the whitebark pine, and the piñon were all dying.

In fact, trees are dying all over the world. In 2010, scientists from a number of countries published a study in Forest Ecology and Management that highlights global climate-change-induced forest mortality with data recorded since 1970. In countries ranging from Argentina and Australia to Switzerland and Zimbabwe, Canada and China to South Korea and Sri Lanka, the damage to trees has been significant.

In 2010, trying to absorb the larger ecological loss, I wrote: “Hundreds of millions of trees have recently died and many more hundreds of millions will soon be dying. Now think of all the other lives, including birds and animals, that depended on those trees. What happened to them and how do we talk about that which we can’t see and will never know?”

In fact, in New Mexico, we are finally beginning to find out something about the size and nature of that larger loss.

Earlier this year, Los Alamos National Laboratory ornithologist Jeanne Fair and her colleagues released the results of a 10-year bird study on the Pajarito Plateau of New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains, where some of the worst piñon die-offs have occurred. The study shows that, between 2003 and 2013, the diversity of birds declined by 45% and bird populations, on average, decreased by a staggering 73%. Consider the irony of that on a plateau whose Spanish name, Pajarito, means “little bird.”

The piñon die-off that led to the die-off of birds is an example of connecting the dots across species and over time in one place. It’s also an example of what writer Rob Nixon calls “slow violence.” That “slowness” (even if it’s speedy indeed on the grand calendar of biological time) and the need to grasp the annihilatory dangers in our world will mean staying engaged way beyond any normal set of news cycles.  It will involve what I think of as long environmentalism.

Let’s return, then, to that dead finch on my porch. A study published in 2014 pointed out that as many as 988 million birds die each year in the U.S. by crashing into glass windows. Even worse, domestic and feral cats kill up to 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion small mammals annually in this country. In Australia and Canada, two other places where such feline slaughters of birds have been studied, the estimated numbers are 365 million and 200 million respectively — another case of connecting the dots across places and species when it comes to the various forms of biological annihilation underway on this planet.
Dead piñon where birds gather in autumn, northern New Mexico. Photo by Subhankar Banerjee, 2009.

Those avian massacres, one the result of modern architecture and our desire to see the outside from the inside, the other stemming from our urge for non-human companionship, indicate that climate change is but one cause of a planet-wide trend toward biological annihilation.  And this is hardly a contemporary story.  It has a long history, including for instance the mass killing of Arctic whales in the seventeenth century, which generated so much wealth that it helped make the Netherlands into one of the richest nations of that time. In other words, Arctic whaling proved to be an enabler of the Golden Age of the Dutch Republic, the era when Rembrandt and Vermeer made paintings still appreciated today.

The large-scale massacre and near extinction of the American bison (or buffalo) in the nineteenth century, to offer a more modern example, paved the way for white settler colonial expansion into the American West, while destroying Native American food security and a way of life. As a U.S. Army colonel put it then, “Kill every buffalo you can! Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.”

Today, such examples have not only multiplied drastically but are increasingly woven into human life and life on this planet in ways we still hardly notice.  These, in turn, are being exacerbated by climate change, the human-induced warming of the world. To mitigate the crisis, to save life itself, would require not merely the replacement of carbon-dirty fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy, but a genuine reevaluation of modern life and its institutions. In other words, to save the starfish, the piñon, the birds, and the insects, and us in the process, has become the most challenging and significant ethical obligation of our increasingly precarious time.

Subhankar Banerjee, a TomDispatch regular, is an activist, artist, and public scholar. A professor of art and ecology, he holds the Lannan Chair at the University of New Mexico. He is currently writing a book on biological annihilation.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2018 Subhankar Banerjee

 

After listening to Lakme, the Flower Duet

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

I like beautiful music and although I prefer music over song, either can be from any era, just as long as it is beautiful to my ears and it moves me. So I was listening to Lakme, part I, The Flower Duet (in this case performed by Anna Netrebko and Elina Garanca – See YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf42IP__ipw)

…And I was thinking, again, about Earth and about “Man” as Earth’s current lord and master. I was thinking of a line by Carl Sagan in “Contact”: ‘You are capable of such beauty, and such horror.” (Quoting from memory but the gist is here)

Whenever I engage myself, mind-wise, on Earthian matters, I get confused as to how I should approach it. Is it “you” and me as the cosmic observer, or should I include myself in among the observed? How do I decide this? First, I must be sure it isn’t a matter of hubris; that if my observation runs into negative judgment, that if I remove myself it isn’t in any way because I think I’m superior to the rest of Earthianity, but because I no longer think, speak or act as most of “you” do. This process, this judgment, must be impeccable on my part.

I believe it is, therefore I am going to be the observer and use the “you” though certainly in the generic sense. I do not know “you” as individuals, therefore it will be according to your conscience whether you “fit in” or can truthfully remain outside the picture. For you, today, I will once again take up the role of the Trojan prophetess Cassandra and say things you will not find acceptable.

You are capable of great beauty… certainly, and the piece of music I mention above proves it even by itself. You don’t have to be able to write, play or sing such, you just have to be able to listen to it and have the capacity to let it enter you and fill you and for the three or four minutes it takes, let it displace all other thoughts, feelings and emotions. Simple, really.

The problem however is that too often it seems impossible to let go. The “immediate” presses upon the mind and demands full attention. That immediate could be anything from the most pleasurable to the greatest pain or loss. The mind-heart refuses to let go of its current obsession driven by anticipation or the immediacy of physical or mental pain.

Earth is not a place conducive to an overall sense of peace, comfort and wholesome satisfaction. Even in the most remote corners, surrounded by nothing but nature, unless one is blind, the reality of the turmoil taking place in the skies, the seas, the trees, the soil, impinges on one’s awareness: predators, everywhere. You see, your world’s natural motive force is based on predatorship or perhaps I should coin a word here: predatorism, because in fact that is the concept that rules Earth. Some are born to kill, many, many more are born to be killed, eaten or absorbed into the natural fabric, their lives cut down long before they can complete their natural cycle. Even your great mountains are worn away by waters and passing winds.

I realize that most of you do not engage your world this way. You do not sense this, though you may be vaguely aware of it, and you generally shrug it off, or use it as an excuse for indulging in what Sagan called, “great horror.” You call it the food chain, and that’s that, as if somehow that explains it away. As if that same nature you want to wax poetic about can also be the brutal barbaric entity that supports your convenient food chain. As if there is no unacceptable dichotomy here, no problem.

That’s the problem, you see, the fact that you don’t see a problem with how nature works. You don’t see a problem because you don’t realize the direct relationship with your own social failures: your wars, genocides, social injustices of every possible kind juxtaposed with those of the world you happen to be temporarily using as a base because… you have no choice: you can’t get away, and if you could, you would have no clue where to go. Some of you feel that your species is a failure, but how many see your world’s “procession” as an equally and connected abysmal failure?

I feel both, the horror that is the working natural system of this world, and the greater horror that is an intelligent, sentient, self aware (ISSA) species calling itself “mankind” that refuses to question the modus operandi of its natural world; refuses to question its own modus operandi; refuses the simple expedient of connecting the dots in order to realize why things are as they are and why no lasting (real) solution to man’s social problems has ever come forth. The only times some significant change has ever happened was through the exercise of violence. That true statement should make any rational being stop and take note: why must it require violence to make significant change within the social structure, and why is it that any and all such changes have failed and are in the process of failing right now?

To me that would be the “why?” question of all the “why?” questions. Why do you always fail? Look, even now, while shooting off on all kinds of tangents based on IT and AI, you are helplessly realizing that this technology is quite likely going to supplant you, perhaps destroy you as ISSA beings. Barely has the technology begun that already you know without a doubt that some way or another it is going to bite you in the ass, and that severely so.

You see? There is no win-win here, not under the current hegemony; the current “force” or “power” that operates this planet. You, people of earth, are not that force or that power, but its slave species. There, I’ve said it, and but for rare exceptions, that is not something you will find acceptable, therefore you will find it necessary to reject the thought outright. If you did not, guess what? You would be forced to look into this in depth and who knows where that would lead? To confront your real nemesis?

No. I can easily tell you where it would lead: back to organized religion. Without self empowerment; without the power to cancel out all input and replace it all with your own thoughts, your own self-made ISSA reasoning, the forces or powers I speak of, will seem to smile in your brain. They will prod you along, with fine words or goads, down the chute into a ready-made religion that will, of course, explain it all. You will then accept the “new” ideas this “new” religion programs into your mind and who knows? It could explain how the AI is a divine power, or it could just as easily make you believe that the time has come to launch a “revolution” against science and technology and you will go off to destroy all vestiges of science and technology, mindlessly following the dictates of a few madmen who will tell you they are “making the Earth great again.”

Either way, you see, you’re not your own person: you are an actor, a puppet, a robot because you are not in control of your own mind. So you will go along (or you will be of those who will violently oppose the barbarians) and indulge in much, much more horror and under your feet, in the seas, in the trees and in the air, predators will continue to kill and eat, and billions of lifeforms will die premature deaths in attempts to sate the hunger of an insatiable system – as Costello would say, “Same as you!”

Quote: “Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty- five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” (Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt)

Re-Blog from George Monbiot: An Electrifying Idea

Taking the liberty to post a copy and paste of a most excellent article by George Monbiot. There are a lot of complaints about the way things are, and are going, and I’m certainly as guilty of that as anyone else and it is to me happiness and relief to be able to post about a revolutionary technological idea that could change our world.  Remember how we were taught in high school that agriculture changed everything for man; how we began a new civilization from that idea?  Well, here’s an idea that goes beyond agriculture and could make agriculture and fishing obsolete. 

Whichever side of the ideological fence we are on, religion or technocracy, we are all basically hoping and waiting for some “miracle” to move us off an unsustainable path as a species and civilization.  Could this be it? Could we do this and avoid the inexorable “die back” to result from our obsession with the maintenance of our old and obsolete ways?  Have a read, it’s quite short.

An Electrifying Idea

Posted: 06 Nov 2018 06:16 AM PST

What if we abandoned photosynthesis as the means of producing food, and released most of the world’s surface from agriculture?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 31st October 2018

It’s not about “them”, it’s about us. The horrific rate of biological annihilation reported this week – 60% of the Earth’s vertebrate wildlife gone since 1970 – is driven primarily by the food industry. Farming and fishing are the major causes of the collapse of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Meat – consumed in greater quantities by the rich than by the poor – is the strongest cause of all. We might shake our heads in horror at the clearance of forests, the drainage of wetlands, the slaughter of predators and the massacre of sharks and turtles by fishing fleets, but it is done at our behest.

As the Guardian’s recent report from Argentina reveals, the huge forests of the Gran Chaco are heading towards extermination, as they are replaced by deserts of soya beans, almost all of which are used to produce animal feed, particularly for Europe. With Jair Bolsonaro in power in Brazil, deforestation in the Amazon is likely to accelerate, much of it driven by the beef lobby that helped bring him to power. The great forests of Indonesia and West Papua are being felled and burnt for oil palm at devastating speed.

The most important environmental action we can take is to reduce the area of land and sea used by farming and fishing. This means, above all, switching to a plant-based diet: research published in the journal Science shows that cutting out animal products would reduce the global requirement for farmland by 76%. It would also give us a fair chance of feeding the world. Grazing is no answer to the ecocide caused by grain-fed livestock: it is an astonishingly wasteful use of vast tracts of land that would otherwise support wildlife and wild ecosystems.

The same action is essential to prevent climate breakdown. Because governments, bowing to the demands of capital, have left it so late, it is almost impossible to see how we can stop more than 1.5° of global warming without drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The only way of doing it that has been demonstrated at scale is to allow trees to return to deforested land.

But could we go beyond even a plant-based diet? Could we go beyond agriculture itself? What if, instead of producing food from soil, we were to produce it from air? What if, instead of basing our nutrition on photosynthesis, we were to use electricity, to fuel a process whose conversion of sunlight into food is ten times more efficient?

This sounds like science fiction, but it is already approaching commercialisation. For the past year, a group of Finnish researchers has been producing food without either animals or plants. Their only ingredients are hydrogen-oxidising bacteria, electricity from solar panels, a small amount of water, carbon dioxide drawn from the air, nitrogen and trace quantities of minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium and zinc. The food they have produced is 50 to 60% protein, the rest is carbohydrate and fat. They have started a company (Solar Foods), which seeks to open its first factory in 2021. This week it was selected as an incubation project by the European Space Agency.

They use electricity from solar panels to electrolyse water, producing hydrogen, that feeds bacteria (which turn it back into water). Unlike other forms of microbial protein (such as Quorn), it requires no carbohydrate feedstock – in other words, no plants.

Perhaps you are horrified by this prospect. Certainly, there’s nothing beautiful about it. It would be hard to write a pastoral poem about bacteria grazing on hydrogen. But this is part of the problem. We have allowed a mythical aesthetic to blind us to the ugly realities of industrial agriculture. Instilled with an image of farming that begins in infancy, as about half the books for very small children involve a rosy-cheeked farmer with one cow, one horse, one pig and one chicken, living in bucolic harmony, we fail to see the amazing cruelty of large-scale animal farming, the blood and gore, filth and pollution. We fail to apprehend the mass clearance of land required to feed us, the Insectageddon caused by pesticides, the drying up of rivers, the loss of soil, the reduction of the magnificent diversity of life on Earth to a homogeneous grey waste.

The compound the Finnish researchers have produced from air, water and electricity is most likely to be used as a bulk ingredient in processed food. But (though this goes well beyond the company’s current plans) is there any reason why, with modifications of the process, it could not start to deliver the proteins required to make cultured meat, or the oils that could render palm plantations redundant? Is there any reason why it should not eventually replace much of what we eat?

According to the researchers’ estimates, 20,000 times less land is required for their factories than to produce the same amount of food by growing soya. Cultivating all the protein the world now eats with their technique would require an area smaller than Ohio. The best places to do it are deserts, where solar energy is most abundant. When electricity can be generated at €15 per megawatt hour (a few years hence), their process becomes cost-competitive with the cheapest source of soya.

Could a similar technique also be used to produce cellulose and lignin, eventually replacing the need for commercial forestry? Is there any inherent reason why the hydrogen pathway could not create as many products as photosynthesis does today? Could it help to change our entire relationship with the natural world, reducing our footprint to a fraction of its current size?

There are plenty of questions to be answered, plenty of possible hurdles and constraints. But think of the possibilities. Agricultural commodities, currently using almost all the Earth’s fertile land area, could be shrunk into a few small pockets of infertile land. The potential for ecological restoration is astonishing. The potential for feeding the world, a question that has literally been keeping me awake at night, is just as electrifying.

None of this means we can afford to relax and wait for an infant technology to save us. In the meantime, as urgent intermediate steps, we should switch to a plant-based diet and mobilise against the destruction of the living planet. You could start by joining the Extinction Rebellion that launches today [Wednesday].

But if this works, it could help, alongside political mobilisation, to change almost everything. Places which have become agricultural deserts, trashed by giant corporations, could be reforested, drawing carbon dioxide from the air on a vast scale. The ecosystems of land and sea could recover, not just in pockets but across great tracts of the planet. A new age of global hunger becomes less likely.

Crude and destructive technologies got us into this mess. Refined technologies can help get us out of it. The struggle to save every possible species and ecosystem from the current wave of destruction is worthwhile. One day, perhaps within our lifetimes, they could repopulate a thriving world.

http://www.monbiot.com

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

Monday morning. Blank screen. Emails read and responded to. Breakfast of protein powder mix, raisin bread toast and a few sips of hot coffee. Drab grey drizzle day, same as yesterday.

Thoughts pounding in my head, no particular order. Climate change is raising sea levels world wide; is it man-made? The science bloc increasingly thinks so; some have theories. Religion has doctrines, science has theories. Both are right. Both continually change their beliefs without ever admitting they were ever wrong.  It’s how the faith is propagated.

Remembering weird dream. Young, still on the old homestead. The father and eldest son have invented a machine to travel space. All must get on board and leave. Ever the practical, I look around and find many things left undone, tools not locked up, as well as house and sheds. I argue about it and set out to secure the property. My phone rings, I don’t answer, keep on working. Then comes the call of nature. After that I think, ‘It’s too late now, they will have left.’ I’m hoping I’m right – I realize how much I don’t want to go with them. I want to stay here and take care of things. The space machine I think is a very dumb idea. I say to myself, ‘It’s not how it goes, it’s not how we should do things. You don’t just leave.’ I walk down a city street, past a restaurant. I go in and recognize the owner, I’ve worked for her, waitressing. I lose my favourite ball cap and go look for it. An old man has it and is admiring it. I say, ‘That’s my hat sir, may I have it back please?’ He seems not to understand so I snatch it out of his hands and leave. I can’t wear it because I already have a hat on. I feel a great deal of confusion and uncertainty and the dream ends.

There are people in this world who are empaths. I’ve read about them and met some. They are people driven to take care of others but in most cases they can’t take care of themselves. They don’t understand themselves. Their lives are a mess, as are their homes and their finances. They don’t eat properly and have a great difficulty deciding what to wear. It seems as if their own person is a dilemma to them. Give them someone to care for however and suddenly they come alive, they are energized. They know the right and wrong words and action. I have maintained throughout my “aware” times that to be an empath on such a world as this is difficult, if not impossible. To function, something has to give. These empaths forget themselves and live according to their calling. Then there are the non-empaths who want to emulate them, who choose a path of service and turn into machines. It becomes a profession, a job, and there is no healing from their hands, even if they are taught proper bedside manners, they are transparent by their lack of heart. I try to keep my own place clean, and to wear proper and clean clothes but when it comes time to clean I have no heart for it. I need to be needed. That’s how empathy is measured if indeed it can be measured.

I wonder sometimes, well all the time, if the world is in as much of a mess; as chaotic; as my mind insists it is? I shouldn’t have to wonder, the evidence is all around me. Can I trust that evidence though, or am I too sensitive to the pain and suffering to the point where I no longer see or sense the pleasure many derive from the way they live their lives? Perhaps it’s a question of awareness. Do animals realize their dwindling numbers, the decimation of their particular species? They cannot express themselves as we do so we can’t know, but are they even aware of their loss in the face of human encroachment? Are we the ones who are supposed to be aware for them? Yesterday I saw an ad for a store that sells all sorts of hunting and fishing equipment. It’s a popular store but I don’t shop there. I have gone in that store and I smelled death and it made me sick. That’s the problem with being an empath.

I spent a lifetime working for others. When I got a job, it was basically my life for 42.5 years. Now I’m retired, have been for a few years, but the “call” is still there, as if next morning I will get up, eat, get ready and head off to work. That’s the normal and it’s been interrupted. I can’t get used to it. This is Canada Thanksgiving weekend, day 3. Fortunately I have a job to go to tomorrow morning that will probably take all day. So a bit of the “old normal” to rely on.

Perhaps, from someone else’s point of view things aren’t as bad as they come across to me. Perhaps what’s real is actually what’s fake? Yet I must ask, where are the birds? Many birds pass through here in the Fall migration yet this year there are so few and basically they are the ones who reside here year round. I’m thinking that those fires that have raged through and devastated so much territory north of here are responsible. Millions of nests would have been burned in the fires and many adult birds fallen prey to the thick smoke and died too. There are many, many unfelt costs to our mindless expansion and raping of our wilderness. There are many warning signs being given to us to mind our ways, but are we minding?

I read a terribly sad story this morning about a terribly abused child who for years relied upon his faith in God to see him through his ordeals. Later in life, sick and broken from the earlier abuse, he finally realized no help would come to him from God. He said he walked out a final time from his church with tears in his eyes, realizing he was alone, had always been, would always be. I have done the same, for similar reasons, even if the “abuse” wasn’t on me in this life, it was in my past life, and I can feel the abuse that so many endure at this very moment. That too is me and no escape from it. What will this man do now, finding himself alone? Will he find another broken life to share with and limp along to death? Or will he discover self empowerment? I could make a bet on that were I a gambler.

Who am I? I am an empath. I am everybody, I am Nobody. I borrow feelings, or rather they come to me, as thread for my needle, and I patch and patch and patch but my civilization is a tattered rag.

Mt. 9:16 “No-one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.”

Armageddon: of Plots and Counter-plots

[a short story by Sha’Tara ]

“Mr. Chairman, there is one item remaining on this year’s agenda which I think should be considered before we adjourn for another century.”

The heavy-set, red-robed man at the head of the table nods imperceptibly and looks over the table with an undisguised bored expression.

“Very well, get on with it then.”

“Gentlemen, we are in the business of publishing best sellers on contract and I have here the contract for Yahu regarding the Earthian trilogy. It appears he hasn’t written a best seller in over 2000 years of his Earth time. We’ve made several inquiries about his intentions lately but without results. I have taken the liberty of having him present himself here today to explain why he has failed to fulfil his end of the agreement with this House and what he intends to do about it.”

The portly red-robed chairman nods in agreement. “Send him in, send him in.” He waves at the massive door in the side of the meeting chamber.

The door opens and a gnomish gray-robed shifty-eyed character with long white hair and beard enters and smiles at the gathering. No one greets him but the secretary who ushers him to a chair.

“Are you the same Yahu who claimed in his book to be the God of Earth?”

“That I most certainly am,” replies the wizened character with a quavering voice. “I Am that I Am.”

“Yeah well, so you say. Some 5000 Earth years ago you entered into a contract with us to write a trilogy about the creation, fall and termination of some world in your sector. We gave you the advance in power to manifest the ingredients required of your books. You delivered a very lengthy and repetitive but fortunately very violent Part One that contained enough murder, greed, sexual perversion, racism, slavery, misogyny and genocidal mania to easily rise to the top of our best seller list for over a thousand years.

Then you sent us a stultified Part Two in a very abridged and staid format that would have gotten nowhere had our editors not insisted it be tied to and weaved into Part One.

For Part Three you gave us a brief synopsis entitled “Revelation” but we are still waiting for that denouement. No action and no revelation. You are in breach of contract with this great Galactic Publishing house. Have you given thought as to how you are going to fulfil your agreements with us or do we need to bring legal action to recoup our losses?”

The wizened character stands up and wipes his brow with his over-sized sleeve. His voice quavers even more now.

“Please, don’t be so hasty!  Yes, I realize I made you all wait a bit long for the third part but it’s been very tough making this ending plausible. I mean, it was easy enough imaging the critters, evil spirit dudes and violent multitudes I mentioned in my blurb. Also you should know that I was rather busy at the time and I had a trainee write that part. I should have read it before it was sent to you but I was too absorbed observing (and abetting) some spectacular developments in an old empire of the time. I had several contracts to complete lesser books on that affair, which do not legally enter this discussion.

“To make a long story short – I don’t want to bore our illustrious chairman – I’ve taken steps to activate that Part Three on Earth. I’m sure that with our current developments of weapons of mass destruction, the fears around new diseases, global warming, overpopulation, wars over depleted resources and the utter, almost incredible, ignorance and overt incompetence of most of that world’s leadership, that a plausible scenario can be set in motion to satisfy the requirements my agents signed with your firm. Not only will there be a book but all of the action will be on video and made available to publish as a mini-series which shall appropriately be entitled “Armageddon.” I can assure this august assembly that our work won’t fail to entertain even the most blasé of your readers. It is guaranteed to be a box-office winner. You’ll be able to buy entire planets with your profits, gentlemen, you have my Word on that.

“What exactly are we talking about here, you’re wondering? Imagine: the total destruction of an entire world, its satellite and its “heaven” in real time. Imagine this: global war, famines, infectious diseases. Rampaging armies of mercenaries raping, looting, burning and killing unarmed innocents by the millions, year in, year out for as long as there remains life to destroy. Religious bigotry running rampant. Total lawlessness, or as they put it there, the law of the jungle in spades. Billions dead and dying of causes yet unknown. A sun going super-nova and a moon melting down upon a planet. My guarantee to you gentlemen is this: there will be no special effects. Everything the videos and accompanying best seller depict will be exactly as it unfolds. You will see it in real time, exactly as it happens. That, gentlemen, is the script I and my trusty group of shadow-writers, technicians and engineers, have been working on for 2000 Earthian years. You will find it was well worth the costs and the wait.

“How can you be so certain of the denouement, Yehu? That’s a mighty big set-up, even for one like yourself. Intelligent creatures possess a mind of their own.”

“Gentlemen, do not, ever, make the mistake of ignoring the Earthian mind’s predictability. I programmed them, remember? They will respond on cue, make no mistake. I repeat, make no mistake about that. They will believe, they will kill and they will die, heroes and martyrs in their own minds even while committing the most atrocious of crimes. We have already begun to trigger their atavism in that respect and the results exceed expectations. This is win-win.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to stir the pot some more. I must return to a current political seat of power called “The White House” where the ignoramus’s in charge actually believe they worship me. I need to get their sensibilities inflamed to expand that war in the Middle East (don’t worry about these locations, they mean nothing to the actual story, just collateral damage to help us set the scene) and bring the Powers of the West ever closer to a final confrontation with the Powers of the East. You want a Revelation? I’ll give you the mother of all Revelations! I’m bringing you Armageddon!”

He departs with a flourish. He knows his Earthian humans and there is not a doubt in his mind at that point that he will create his masterpiece from the destruction of Earth. It had always been his plan to complete his trilogy thus but he had been stymied by those who claimed he was plagiarizing them and forced to put the work on hold time and again. But those who stood in his way, he had finally triumphed over: the Communists; the Socialists; the Anarchists; Atheists and Pagans and assorted others. Hardly anyone published them or read them any more. Even the new high priests of Science were beginning to “see his hand” in the movement of sub-atomic particles even if they didn’t use his name… yet. And now with his ironclad under the table agreement with his once avowed enemy, Mammon, (Capitalism for the uninitiated) the timing couldn’t be better.

The scales had tipped once more. The people clamoured for his kind of entertainment, even if it meant he’d be using their blood to write the grand finale. The sweet irony! Oh, how he hated the stinking, short-lived whining creatures. Prayers! Prayers for parking spaces and hangnails! Prayers for sick dogs, dead budgies and weeds in the lawn. Prayers for deliverance and salvation: well that last part was his own fault, he’d unintentionally, in a fit of anger, brought that on himself with a promise which he had then used to write Part Two of his trilogy. Live and learn hey, unlike the creatures he was about to annihilate in long, drawn-out bloodshed! They won’t learn, not ever, he’d made sure of that.

“Kill them all: God will know those who are his!”

“Damn, I just LOVE that line!” He says under his breath with his best sardonic smile as he settles back in his containment field for his trip to Earth, all but rubbing his hands in anticipation and glee.

Williams Lake Volunteer Project, week 2 of 4

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~    by Sha’Tara]

I feel too exhausted to write anything but it’s Sunday and I am bunking in a church basement, above which there is a “service” replete with raunchy wall-shaking rock-n-roll noise that passes itself off as worship “music.” So I’m out here in my van with my own music emanating from ear protectors because even out here at the end of the parking lot and with all windows closed the horror still penetrates. Well, that’s the world and that’s how madness has managed to pass itself off as normalcy. The programming has adjusted to make insanity seem sane, torture as entertainment, insulting performances as the highest form of praise for insane gods and equally insane followers.

Beginning of week 2 of a 4 week stint, today is a bit cooler due to a combination of light cloud cover and thick wood smoke. Yesterday ashes were carried on the wind, the smoke was eye-burning and the sinuses were not happy. It sprinkled a bit during the night, settling the ash blow but not the smoke. No matter which way the winds blow, there are wild fires all around… The West Coast is burning.

We are currently “processing” three houses for people who literally lost everything in last years wild fires. I’ve been working on framing the third house. Next door (almost) to this work site is one of the other houses I worked on framing over a month ago on my first venture in this part of the country. The outside is almost completed and it is a very pretty house.

It gives a true perspective of the “endless struggle” for survival through perpetual rebuilding as we rebuild burned-out homes surrounded by more of the same, in smoke and ash and more fires. Thus it will be as more of the earth is devastated through climate change and accompanying wars and man’s stubborn and stupid unwillingness to take responsibility for causing much of this negative change.

There is more. Two nights ago about a thousand dollars worth of lumber were stolen from our work site by locals. While this kind of theft is common practice among the predatory Earthians, hence all the resources spent on security to protect ourselves from one-another, it also goes to show how the creatures remain irredeemable. Our work sites are clearly identified as volunteer labour. They know the materials are purchased mostly from funds donated by individuals, many of whom can ill afford it. They know the situation, that these houses are being built to replace losses the owners could not recoup. They know, they know, they know, but they don’t care. They are just like their leaders and rulers: it’s all about me and if I can get away with it, I’d be a fool not to help myself, fuck the losers.

I could have entitled this “fuck the losers” because that is the real motto of Earthianity. We take advantage because that is the first rule of our type of survival. We steal because we can. We rise to the degree that we can push others down. We make ourselves feel good to the degree that we can oppress and push others to serve our desires and greed and we do not ask how the losers feel about it: it’s their role to provide.

While I’m sitting in this church parking lot I remember how many such parking lots I’ve walked through, driven in, parked in, then walked into the “sanctuary” to find God and along with that, a solution to man’s depraved nature. I’m made aware of the futility of it, and the vile hypocrisy. It’s all about entitlement, isn’t it. I’ve read the bible in a desperate attempt to discover the nature of God and I found it: God made man in his own image, and in that nature, as it expresses itself today, is God. To those who believe in God I say, seek not in institutions, books or theological arguments to find God: look at your species and how it interacts with others and with its environment. There is the mind of God in action.

For those who do not believe in God, nothing changes. The nature is the same. Atheists, by and large, claim to be superior to those still in bondage to religion but they are not. I have found no difference at all. Same Earthian hubris. Same sort of attitude summed up as “Après moi, le Déluge!” Their God is a mix of science (whore of the military-industrial complex) and their messiah, replacing Jesus, Buddha or Mohamed, is Darwin; promises of eternal life replaced with self-assurances of blissful annihilation.

What I have found, not only in this life but in remembrances of other lives, is that the Earthian creature is incapable of living empathetically. It does not understand self empowerment, the necessity of compassion-based self-sacrifice, putting others constantly before the self, or self-denial. Despite the clear and present evidence that its ways are bringing forth its own termination and perhaps that of this entire world, it refuses to take personal responsibility for any problem.

Quote: “A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.” ― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince.