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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Food Crisis

[ ]In case you have been out of touch recently, the continuously increasing prices of rice and other agricultural products all over the world have instigated a global food crisis, especially burdening for the already famished third-world countries, but also affecting the wealthy, full western world.

Here's two random articles on the subject:
"World Food Program warns of 'silent tsunami' of hunger"
"UN to set up task force to tackle global food crisis"

[ ]According to these, "100.000.000 people are estimated to have been pushed into poverty over the past two years", including 20.000.000 children in the threshold of malnutrition.

The reasons for this crisis are mainly:

1) The redirection of agricultural production to biofuel instead of nutrition, due to the increase of the fossil fuel prices.
2) The unpredictability of the weather, mainly extending the periods of drought.
3) The increased demand by the upcoming "middle class" of China and India.
4) The increase cost of agricultural production, due to the increased prices of fertilizers and needed energy.

1) Unfortunately, modern society is an "energy hostage". Almost everything needs oil to run. Oil is owned by few countries in the world and even fewer companies. They control its price. They control global energy.
Because of that, other companies find it profitable to grow plants not for food but for oil substitute, therefore, some people buy cheaper fuel at the cost of other people's food.
Our cars burn Human Beings.

2) Of course, our dependency on carbon fuel has created the Global Warming crisis, making the problem worse, since burning changes the climate, bringing even more droughts, therefore, even less fertility.

3) Our world economy patterns, always seeking the cheapest goods, have brought significant monetary power to multitudinous countries like China and India. These people, seeing that they have finally started gaining "buying power", they demand what is rightfully theirs: The affluent lifestyles of the westerners.
Imagine how it'll be like when the billions of Indians and Chinese have a couple of cars each, like people in Europe and America do.
It's time for our economic system of plenty to pay the piper.

4) Finally, our "blinder" policy of profit is constantly making agricultural endeavours more difficult and more expensive, resulting in less, pricier food for the people.

The solutions referred by the aforementioned articles are:

1) Ration cards for food.
2) Genetically Modified crops
3) The end of pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap supermarkets

[ ]On these I will only express my disagreement on the Genetically Modified Organisms. Such creations bear two dangers:
1) Genetically Modified Organisms do not naturally exist. They are monsters indeed and nobody can know what their effect on the ecological balance of the planet can be.
2) It's not a problem of quantity but of policy. GMO's or not, the people controlling the distribution will be the same.

[ ]In conclusion, THAT exactly is the problem: The current food crisis has been created by wrong, unviable policies, NOT material shortage.

We have made ourselves slaves to oil.
We have made ourselves slaves to "profit".

[ ]A more just distribution of goods CAN eliminate poverty.
[ ]Because what the present crisis is showing us is that no-one is invulnerable to injustice. Those responsible for third-world poverty will tomorrow (or even today) cause our own poverty.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Principles, part 1: Only the Structures really matter

"I" does not actually exist. It is merely a quite inaccurate colloquialism used in everyday life to describe the Self a specific Conscience is most familiar with.
For example, when we say: "I feel...", what actually meant is: "The expressing Conscience is currently taking part in the following (emotional) Structure:"
and when we say: "You think...", the actual meaning is: "The following Ideas are encompassed by a Conscience other than the expressing one (which is also present):"

In a similar way, "We" is also an inaccurate notion.
"We" is the grouping of several "I"s under a common Idea (usually), a common Structure. It is, however, much more accurate than "I", because "We" is a meaning (an action, really) that puts forward an Abstract Structure before the individuality of Self.
When we move from "I" to "We", it is the first time that we place an Idea as more important than a single person.

"Physics-ly" speaking, "We" is "Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity" to "Newton's Principia Mathematica" of "I".

Of course, the "Grand Unified Theory of Everything", the accurate Reality is the Abstract Structures.

The Abstract Structures (in contrast to the Physical or Material Structures), the Ideas, are actually the most important "things" in the Universe. Not only because they are the highest lifeform there is, but also because if you search for a "meaning" in anything, then you will only find that the Ultimate meaning is... in Meanings.
Even God (or whatever you believe in, for atheists) is an Idea.

I will relate to you an example: A person is alone. All he knows is "I" and in no way can he feel or call himself "complete".
Then he finds company and two (or more) "I"s turn into a single "We", a family, a society. That person now feels complete. Therefore, "We" is more important than "I".

What if, for some reason, that specific "We" breaks down and dissolves, leaving him a single "I" again?
What should that person do? Should he withdraw from life? Kill himself?

I know that most of you will say: "No! He should try and build another, a new 'We'!"
But, why? If the "We" that was the most important thing in the world no longer is, then why go on?

Because no single "I" or "We" is as meaningful, as important as the Idea of "a 'We' existing", of "creating a 'We'", of LOVE.

Friday, April 25, 2008

World's Greatest Little Secret

Let me let you on in a little secret.
Humans are not the highest form of life in the Universe.
It's the Structures. The Abstract Ideas.

Like living creatures, Ideas are born, grow and expand, produce new Ideas and even die when forgotten.

Whether existing independently of Humans or only through us, the certain thing is that we live (and occasionally die) in their service.
Without them we are nothing, mere animals. Literally devoid of meaning.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Definitions, part 4

Conscience (NOT moral): A part of the Universe that perceives itself.

Self: 1) The part of the Universe that separates itself from the rest of it (the Universe, that is).
2) The part of the Universe that is controlled by (the will of) a Conscience.

Insectoid: 1) Like an insect, of course.
2) The passionless, emotionless behaviour, so focused on the purpose that even the notions of self or personality are overcome.

Below is a picture by Gustav Klimt, "Hope":

Her expression is what I would call: "insectoid". She has no passion, no feelings. She is hope. She has no expectations, only certainty.
She's like saying:
"Think what you want, believe what you want, do whatever you can. A new life will be born and bring something new and there is no stopping this."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

There is no hope, unless it is action, a conclusion

Several religious dogmas (if not all of them) state that Man has been created after the "image" of the Creator Itself.
That belief renders us, people, essentially "Small Gods".

What if each and every one of us is a Small God?

And really, I'm not so much talking about the "Power" that a God might have, but, actually, our ability to shape and define Reality.

Just think about that our every thought, every move, every word is a
conscious statement about the world and defines what is and what is not. What is possible and what is not.

And, of course, so does everything that we
don't do.

EVERY action (or INaction, certainly), no matter how small, makes the world a little better or a little worse.
That is the Gift (and Curse) of being Human.

No hope, unless it's action.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

There is no hope, unless it is action, part 5: Reason for Living

All right. This question ought to be easy. What is our reason for living?
I'm not asking about some great "Meaning of Life", but about our personal reason for which we live.

So, what are we living for? Did our parents bear us and then we kind of got used to it?
Do we live just to survive? Do we live to raise our children? To pay bills? Just to have a pleasant weekend or spend time with our "significant other"?
What for?

I'd say that a good reason for living is to find Happiness. To be Happy and become even Happier. Wouldn't you agree?

If so, I'm afraid we've lost our way.

Nowadays, there are two major groups of people:

a) Those who actually struggle to survive, day by day.


b) Those who spend their days under pressure and anxiety to make money, to build careers, to "make ends meet", to "succeed".

The first kind are usually victims of war, famine, poverty or anything else that is an abomination to any society that calls itself "civilized".

The second kind are "victims of themselves" and generally the majority of us participating in this blog.

So, is this what we want? Is this what we should be doing with our lives?
I feel as if Happiness is on top of a mountain and we spend our lives trying to build a machine to get (faster and more easily) there, instead of just climbing.

We've turned the means into the goal itself and thus we've lost our purpose.

We are daily bombarded by "indices this" and "inflation that" and "shortage of the other" and I hear no-one wondering about the obvious:
"Is this Happiness? Is this the way to lead a life?"

Our lives are run by "profitability", "competitiveness" and "insecurity".
Is this the way to Happiness?

Everyone worries about the prosperity of numbers and no-one about the prosperity of the people.

I'd say it's time we re-established our focus.
Let's try this out:
Every day, when we wake up, let's ask ourselves:
"What will I do today that will make me Happy?"
And when we go to sleep:
"Did I make myself a Happy person today?"

No hope, unless it's action

Friday, April 18, 2008

There is no hope, unless it is action, part 4: The Environment

If you haven't noticed something... weird about the weather lately, you should leave the house more often...
Earth's climate is changing. Currently it's erratic, trying to adjust to the voracious exploit of natural resources and the constantly increasing temperature due to the greenhouse effect.

The problem is that Mankind was born and throve under certain conditions.
And these conditions are changing.

Weather phenomena have become wilder. Global temerature rises, as do sea levels. Available water and fertile soil are decreasing. Even the oxygen-producing trees are lessening in numbers.
What makes us think that we will continue to prosper under these new conditions?

Still, we go on raping the planet of its resources and pollute the environment, as if Earth will continue to nurture us indefinitely, no matter what we do, like a parent to a child.

But everything has its limits and where is action there is always reaction.

I'd say it's time we grew up. Not for the trees or the animals. Not for "the environment", but for our own species. For us and our children.

No hope, unless it's action.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

There is no hope, unless it is action, part 3: Wealth

Right. The issue of wealth is very simple, painfully so, if I may say.
Vision, opportunity or simple geography has blessed some people with more resources than others.
I guess money is a good thing. Money gives you commodities. It gives you security and prospects and the power to live the way you want.

The problem arises when some have too much money while some others too little. Then an unstable (and definitely unviable) Structure appears, where some have lots of choices and prospects (to the point of wasting) while others have very few or none.
No matter how poor you think you are, if you're reading this, it means that you have a computer and an internet connection, which makes us part of the richest people in the world.

That's right. The situation, planet-wide, is that bad.

Humanity is ONE. There are few truths bigger than this. No man (or a group, or a country of men) is an island. You cannot put limit to the people that affect you, or are affected by you. The happiness or distress of one is the happiness or distress of the whole and vice versa.

I know, it's so much easier to bypass that. If I'm getting by and my family and my friends, too, then I guess it's OK. After all, I'm not the richest in the world, not even in the country. I can hardly make ends meet. There are many others who can give some of their money or stop exploiting people in third-world countries. Right?

The thing is... let me put this through by relating someone else's words:

"The question that is always put is: 'All these viewpoints, the new theories of Modern Physics, what do they have to do with the so called 'real life' of Man?'
If we assume, like Classical Physics declares -or as the western society in its present form wants- that Man is a material construct with only material needs -eating, reveling, procreating- then Modern Physics is not needed at all. Classical Physics is enough.
But, think about this: A person whose only needs are eating, procreating and reveling, He hasn't many needs, He doesn't ask of the society many things.
A person who understands His True Nature, understands that He's a child of time-space, a child of the Universal Continuum, that His material substrate is nothing else but an image of His True Nature, asks for things that are outside His material reality, difficult to give by today's society. He asks for freedom. He asks for knowledge. He asks for participation in the decision-making. He asks for multitudes of things that society is not ready to give Him. That's why Modern Physics is not yet taught at the length that is needed. Society is not ready yet to accept that Man has to Know, because it realizes that when He Knows He will ask for things it cannot give Him."
-Dr. Manos Danezis. Professor of Astrophysics, University of Athens, Greece

In other words, if one wants to live like a Decent Human Being, he can do no less than act like one.

No hope, unless it's action.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Definitions, part 3: On the Stability and Viability of Structures

As the science of Stereology informs us, the position of a solid object is stable and balanced when it's difficult to move it away from that position. For example, a pyramid on its base is in balance, therefore, that position is stable. On the other hand, if you put it on its peak, it'll instantly fall, because that position is unstable.

The same holds true for every Structure. The less Entropy a Structure encompasses (describes) the more Stable it is.

Another characteristic of a Structure is its Viability.
A Structure is Viable when its adoption contributes to the continued prosperity of Man, Society and the Planet.

Hopefully, the meanings will be explained better with the following examples:

A Dictatorship can be Stable or not. It depends on its popularity and the strictness towards the protesters. But, as a Structure, it's not Viable, because the welfare of the populace is not decided by the citizens themselves, but by someone else.
Democracy, on the other hand, is Viable.

Likewise, though Homosexuality may be a Stable Structure (based on the genuine love between two people), it is not Viable.
A pair of homosexuals cannot procreate. (the sexual drive is a vital factor for the impregnation of women. If we expected to have children because "we have to", our species would have become extinct looong ago).
Heterosexuality, however, is Viable.

The Stability and Viability of Structures are not necessarily intertwined. Although a Stable Structure has many chances of also being Viable and a Viable one is probably Stable, the one does not include the other.

An example of an Unstable, but Viable (I guess) Structure, is that of flirting. The erotic game between two people is a totally flux Structure that can instantly go either way. However, it is quite Viable because it's the most preferable way for the formation of a mating.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Wisdom of Babylon 5, part 1

"We are starstuff, we are the Universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out"
-Delenn, Babylon 5 204, "A Distant Star"

"The Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The language is not Narn, or Human, or Centauri, or Gaim or Minbari. It speaks in the language of hope; It speaks in the language of trust; It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always, it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: 'We are one. No matter the blood; No matter the skin; No matter the world; No matter the star; We are one. No matter the pain; No matter the darkness; No matter the loss; No matter the fear; We are one.' Here, gathered together in common cause. we agree to recognise this singular truth, and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one. We are one."
- G'Kar, The Declaration of Principles of the InterStellar Alliance. Babylon 5 503 "The Paragon of Animals"

Friday, April 11, 2008

There is no hope, unless it is action, part 2: Taking things for granted

It is my impression that about a great deal of things, most people assume that the current situation, their present reality not only will last forever, but also that it's the same everywhere.
And I mean that both materially as well as culturally. We tend to think that our principles are adhered to by everyone or everywhere and the goods we have (or don't have) are in the same availability everywhere.

We tend to take things for granted.

In a way, that is both Human and expected. We need "points of stability" to build our lives and cultures upon. If we saw everything as flux and relative, we wouldn't be able to muster the will to accomplish anything.

There is, though, a two-fold problem stemming from such a mindset:

1) We don't appreciate the blessings we have. We're inclined to believe that not only we rightfully deserve them, but also that they'll last forever.

2) We extend our personal reality, by assumption, to everyone, everywhere.

Everything we have, whether it's God-give, like the natural resources, or the product of someone's toil and/or chance, is not invulnerable to change.
If nothing else, it's a possible victim of Entropy. That is why all our assets need to be regarded with great respect and prudence, lest we lose them.

The diversity of our little planet, both culturally and materially, is so vast that one's "essential" or "common practice" may be another's luxury or "unthinkable", even within the confines of the same family!
When we take things for granted, when we are so sure about reality, we are in danger of forgetting that simple fact of diverstiy and plurality and establish our impression, our truth as THE truth, the only way to see things.
That may ultimately lead us to closing our minds and hearts to other people (and their view of reality) and becoming intolerant to anything different than us.

They say: "a rolling stone gathers no moss". Relating that to the present subject, I'd say that taking things for granted creates stagnation of the mind and the soul. Therefore, action against such stagnation is necessary.

No hope, unless it's action.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This shit about the glass...

The glass is neither half-full, nor half-empty. The glass is half and half a glass is an unstable (and, in a perfect world, unnatural) state. The glass' purpose is being full and that condition should be a constant goal.

Otherwise, let the glass be empty altogether and abandon it to uselessness...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

There is no hope, unless it is action, part 1: Happenstance

Anyone who thinks he (that is, “or she”) is in charge of his life, he is gravely mistaken. The factors that play an important role in our lives and are beyond our control are so numerous and influential that we seem like shipwrecked castaways against a wrathful ocean.

Of course, there are islands of cause and effect, but on the whole, we are at the hands (in the greatest proportion) of happenstance.

There is no doubt that everyone’s life would be completely different if something (big or small) had happened to him in some other way than it did.

If there is something to learn from this, that’s:

1) We are NOT Gods. Our accomplishments are due to our good luck* more than we’d like. The same is similarly true for our mis-fortunes.

2) We are not Gods. Our hardest effort is not enough if we don’t have adequate luck on our side.

[*Luck, Destiny, Fate, Statistical Behaviour, all these are words to describe factors that influence our lives and are beyond our (direct) control]

3) To achieve anything, the minimum effort necessary is inversely proportional to the size of the opportunity given. That is, great happenstance gives room for little effort and vice versa.

4) We need to appreciate our current position. Things could always be worse, so we need to enjoy the place we are. Also, things could always be better, so we should keep striving for improvement.

5) We need to be prepared for the best or worst. Anything is possible, which means that gaining or losing everything is a breath away.

What we do have control over (though not total, but we’ll talk about that another time) is our choices.
Barring the most extreme of situations, there is always a choice, a path to take or not and that is our best (and only) weapon against the chaos of happenstance.

No hope, unless it’s action.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

There is no hope, unless it is action, an intro

Most of us don’t realize how lucky we are.
Happenstance plays a defining role in our lives and we’re not even aware of it. Just imagine yourselves having been born to a poorer family; in a poorer country, or in a country at war. Imagine a life in which your greatest accomplishment would be daily survival.

We dismiss our underprivileged brothers and sisters as simply “unfortunate”, or, even worse, as “under-accomplishers”, not having tried enough. Or having made the wrong choices, as if we are infallible.

Humanity’s greatest flaw is that we take for granted things that aren’t.
NOTHING is granted. Not our wealth, not our good fortune, not our health.

Roughly, 80% of the planet’s population manages with only the 20% of the world’s wealth.
Every 3 seconds a child dies of malnutrition.

What makes you think we deserve better?

Our actions change the climate, turning this jewel of a planet into a hostile wasteland. We’re diminishing the natural resources. We cut down rainforests, effectively reducing the oxygen available for breathing.

The thing about Mankind is that you can either be a part of the solution or a part of the problem.
Inaction is NOT non-participation.

No hope, unless it’s action.

EVERYTHING happens here