Tag Archives: Power

Butterflies

Three things do not exist…

Insignificance.

Impotence.

Isolation.

In 1963 Edward Lorenz ¹ presented a hypothesis to the New York Academy of Science.

In essence it stated that a butterfly could flap its wings, thus setting in motion molecules of air, which would move more molecules of air, eventually starting a hurricane on the far side of the planet.

Derisive laughter greeted this hypothesis—Lorenz and his seemingly wacky idea were literally laughed out of the meeting.

Well, he who laughs last…

More than thirty years later, physicists from round the planet concluded that what was known as “the butterfly effect” was dead accurate!

A while later this “wacky idea” was declared to be scientific law!—aka The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions.

Law.

Like Boyle’s Law.

Like The Law of Conservation of Matter And Energy.

The physicists took nothing on faith.

They had experimental data to back up their acceptance of “the butterfly effect.”

Now, this law deals with much more than bug wings.

It literally deals with everything.

We’re part of “everything.”

What initial conditions can we establish which will have equally profound effect?

Many might answer that without a “majority” behind them, nothing beyond mere beginnings can be achieved.

Well, consider the total energy output of a lone butterfly flapping its wings a few dozen times.

Ultimate result—a hurricane—the total energy output of a typical specimen is greater than the energy potential of the combined nuclear weapons arsenals of the entire planet.

If such a tremendous effect can result from such a relatively puny “initial condition”, what can we achieve by taking a few steps while refusing to believe in failure?

The timetable may not be ours to control.

We might not live to see the “hurricane” that results from our “wing flapping.”

But, considering this law, belief in our individual powerlessness to effect positive change is, I sincerely believe, an untenable position.

We are all greater than we have ever suspected!


¹ Founder of chaos theory, a branch of mathematics focusing on the behavior of “dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.”

Recycling (1st)

is what I intended to discuss, but somehow it became a written exercise in free association, chasing various rabbits round the meadow.

Why do we wait for information to be spoon-fed to us by “experts”?

Experts screw up.  They’re human—they’re no better than all us non-experts.

A case in point: IBM was once convinced that random access memory, (RAM), would always be “scarce and expensive”—limited to 64 kilobytes.  Talk about getting it wrong…

Another grim example:  The Challenger disaster.

Also, we all know the Titanic was built by expert nautical engineers in a crack shipyard, while Noah’s ark was built in the middle of nowhere by nomads who had never built so much as a rickety raft in their entire lives.

Regarding experts telling us about recycling, (recycling….finally);  What’s stopping Joe (or Josephine) average citizen from snooping in the Yellow Pages for recycling info?

Things they might want to know:  Is there a local recycling center? Is it a drop-off  site or do they collect?  If the latter, what do they collect and when?

No local site?  They could call 1-800-CALL-EDF.  Ask the Environmental Defense Fund for help finding a nearby site.

And now, returning to the rabbit chase…

Calling city hall to ask about recycling, pointedly but politely asking “why not?” in case they’ve done nothing to promote recycling can serve notice that recycling is a matter of increasing concern to local voters.

Politicians set the political agenda only in the absence of our input.

The ultimate reason government gets away with ignoring voters except at election time is because we’ve let ourselves be reduced bit by bit to apathy and conformity.

We’ve come to wait for experts to decide something, and then to tell us what is to be done, assigning us our role(s).  We’re not being compelled.  We let this happen.

Politicians use these “experts” to lend credibility to their agendas, which may not square at all with our best interests.

This is not real democracy.

We should be setting the agenda(s).

By “We” I mean real people, born of a biological process, with souls, not legally constructed “pseudo-people”, whose “birth certificates” are really corporate charters.

A related post : Politics (3rd)

Politics (2nd)

” Why, of course, the people don’t want war…That is understood.  But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.  It works the same way in any country. ”

Herman Goering


“Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purposes…and you allow him to make war at pleasure.”

“I am a firm believer in the people.  If given the truth they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.  The great thing is to bring them the real facts.”

“We, the people, are the rightful masters of both congress and the courts, not to overthrow The Constitution, but to overthrow (those) who pervert The Constitution.”

—Abraham Lincoln

Technology (2nd)

Have you ever been told that technology per se is politically neutral?

Lets think about that.

If a huge commercial solar power generation plant burned up completely, the total damage to the environment, and to public health and safety would relate to the damage done by a meltdown at a nuclear reactor as a loud lit fart relates to a volcanic eruption.

The difference between solar power generation and nuclear power generation is more than the danger to public safety in the event of malfunction.

Solar power plants, being far less dangerous to operate than nuclear power plants, make possible smaller government presence in the economy.  Nuclear power plants mandate larger government presence. (More bureaucracy and regulation.)

The former is consistent with the “small state” position of some present day politicians. The latter with the “big state” position favored by others.

But “small state” politicians seem beholden to the coal and oil industries and so won’t advocate for solar power.  “Big state” politicians won’t advocate for anything so “un-green” as nuclear power plants.

Technology is politically neutral?

Permit me to be skeptical.

Fundamentalism

Not just Christians…

Fundamentalists, whether Christian, Hindu, Moslem, Jewish, or Buddhist, are conservative, in some cases even reactionary.  Why? ¹

Glad you asked.

Fundamentalists are certain beyond any possibility of debate that their preferred sacred book(s), inerrantly portrays God’s, (or the gods’) will, which is to be followed to the letter.

Because they’re so sure they’re absolutely right, its simple logic that they regard any differing positions as absolutely wrong.

Therefore, though it may not be legally justifiable, the more militant² fundamentalists feel morally justified in imposing God’s, (the gods’)  will on everyone else.   After all, God’s, (the gods’) will, perfectly expressed in (each group’s preferred) scripture, must not be defied.

Social change is strongly resisted if it doesn’t square with ancient patterns of social organization reflected in their scripture(s).  What was condemned, say, 3000 years ago in scripture is to be condemned forever, because (each group’s preferred) scripture is a once-and-done-for-all-time perfect reflection of God’s (the god’s) eternal will—hence the social conservatism or outright reactionary tendency.


¹ Fundamentalism crosses religious lines. Therefore discussion in the round is tricky because the subject is inherently complex.  This post, a first effort, may change to reflect  evolving understanding.

² Some fundamentalists are content to “stand on (their preferred) scriptural truth and love the sinner.”  Unlike the more militant strains, they live law-abiding lives.  They don’t riot, shoot people, bomb crowded pizza parlors, or otherwise shred public peace, dignity, or safety.  Neither do they conspire to do away with democratic traditions or institutions, the better to impose rigid theocracy on everyone.  Theirs is the lawful activism of the ballot box.  In short, their intolerance is tolerable.

Deed Registration – Doggie Style

Are We Much Different From Our Pets?

Dad was typical of thousands of men:  He worked hard at his job, brought home the bacon, and made regular mortgage payments to keep his house and the land on which it stood.  As commonly understood, he was “getting somewhere.”  He was “successful.”

One summer afternoon I realized that Punky, the family dog, was, by the same criteria, even more successful than Dad.  Now, we all lived in the same comfortable house, ate good food regularly, and so forth.

But the dog, employing a different method of deed registration, owned a good deal more land than Dad.  She owned all of our yard, big pieces of our neighbors’ yards to the left and the right, about 2/3 of a block of public roadway, and generous slices of the yards of our neighbors who lived across the street.

How did she do it?  Having no problem with the humanity who lived in the houses on these various lots, she simply beat the hell out of other animals who trespassed on her domain.  (We might call this the “fang-and-claw” method of deed registration.)

The point is that much of what we humans do with our lives, is, barring the complexity of our activities, not so different from what animals do.  Yet we feel, no—we’re sure we’re better than the animals.   Are we?  Is life hierarchical, with human beings at the top of the pyramid and the Almighty above that?  Or is life a great circle, with the Almighty, however you understand Him/Her, at the center, and every creature on the same level?  Can you find anything in history, sacred literature, or tradition(s), to support the latter idea?

What is implied by the idea of a Great Circle of Life, with no creature any “further away” from the Almighty than any other?  Would this “equality” increase or decrease our peace, or power?  Would seeing life this way change our behavior?  How?

What do you think?

We All Save String.

A Partial List of Strings, With Commentary.

Authorities, the facts of life, duties, obligations, common sense, the powers that be, scientific truth, tradition, loyalty, allegiance, oaths, superstitions, nationality, political party, race, religion, tribe, our status as human beings, our sexual polarity, our family, social rank, job, system of etiquette, environment, ancestors—-we all acknowledge some combination of these things every day of our lives, mostly by paying our respects, doing our duty, discharging our obligations, and, unthinkingly, by accepting the limitations imposed on our freedom of thought, word, and deed by the same.

So, from one point of view, we live life with many such “strings attached”.  Lots of us wouldn’t feel comfortable if all the strings were suddenly cut away.  We literally wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.  Is it only because we have come to define ourselves as being merely the sum total of our strings?

Is it realistic to want to live life with “no strings attached?”  Is it sane or insane to ask that question?  Aren’t some strings at least somewhat beneficial some of the time?

What are we without our strings?

What were we before we had strings attached?  What were our capabilities?

Have you ever thought about yourself in this way?