Author: C. S. (Page 1 of 7)

The Promise and Failure of Empiricism

The movement toward Empiricism was shaped by the Church’s resistance to reality.  What was no less than a fight between Copernicus/Galileo and the Catholic church made heroes of the former and rightly so.  The promise of the former was that by reason, experimentation, and quantified observation, one could determine the structure of the Universe, independent of an existing religious philosophy.  The push-back from the Church, naturally, was that they had a story and humanity was at the center of that story; if humanity was no longer at the center of the story, the authority of the Catholic Church would be called into question, generally, and internally the de facto intelligence community of the day was none too keen on that. It was not of course that the story of humanity as the center of the universe was truly necessary if not necessarily true.  It was rather that with it came the possible threat to the peace (and yes, the powerful) if their story may be fashioned simply a lie to herd the sheep.

The model of Empiricism was rather promising.  One could determine the nature of the universe by thoughtful interventions, careful observation, and close analysis, and this put the court of appeal for humanity’s understanding of reality in the hands of the truly intelligent rather than a powerful lot more concerned with extending jurisdiction geographically and mentally, to accomplish ‘heaven on earth’.  Aside from the question of whether happiness is an ends rather than a by-product and whether Empiricism has the faintest hope to capture ‘consciousness’ (indeed, a likely prerequisite for a purely ‘Empirical’ ethics and morality altogether), it can no longer be denied that the concerns of the cloister in pre-rennaisance Italy have made their way – for better or worse – to even our public academic institutions where it comes to certain matters of Empirical science which are not allowed to be fully so.

It is not a heavy-handed resistence, as the Church is so depicted by Cervantes, picking through and throwing out books on a shelf while no-one is around to see (as one fellow grad-student once said to me ‘books have legs’); it is rather, an acknowledgment of success is lost in thousands of minor work by others, and an astroid to earth becomes a short shower of pebbles with room between to maintain whatever is required to keep a status considerably like the quo.  No one is awakened, no one is shaken, for from influencer to influencer, the effect is occluded, spun, or (via ad hominem) slandered; and dare I say, oft’times, from our halls, at god’s behest.

A Meditative Practice

I started meditating in earnest in 2010. It was an odd time, looking back, to have started meditating. Things in my life were the best they had been since I was 18, and I felt life finally on a trajectory living up to the promise. In hindsight, when you are stable is the best time to start a practice. Life comes at you fast and hard, and if you have not established a practice in advance, you are unlikely to find that required peace of mind just picking it up when things are grim. I know there are many people who write about Meditation. I have not read but one book from Thit Nat Han and one book from the Dalai Lama. But together with an previous life in prayer – or at least, what I had understood prayer to be – and a good understanding of my needs, I put together a practice of my own.

Sharing your Meditative practice comes with some fear. Afterall, your methods are yours, your space and time are yours, the environment is yours, your mind is yours, and nowhere is this required to be more certain than in Meditation. Yet, it is a service to share, and if it is worth something to someone, it is for the better. I will ask you to decide.

Like most practices, mine starts with my breath. Specifically, I breath through my nose. For reasons perhaps personal or perhaps environmental, I am typically mouth breather. This, I think, likely helps with the effectiveness of my breathing in meditation. It gives my Meditative practice something distinctly recognizable, and when I, as moments arise, feel I am in need of more calm concentration, I can switch to my nasal breathing, and the benefits of my prior efforts kick in, at least to some noticeable percentage.

Like many practices, mine is one of concentration. I close my eyes, but focus my mind on something distinct, related to my breath. I have a mind that is not in need of generating ideas. I have a mind which is in need of organizing them, placing them, rounding them out. I therefore do not take a particular problem, a particular notion, a ‘mantra’ if you will, to my sessions. I don’t need it. I simply focus on something distinct to my breath.

I take a traditional cross-legged position, I straighten my spine as much as I can, and I sit. I do not need candles and incense. I do not need darkness or light. In general, I remove myself from electronics. I turn off the phone and computer. I try to find quiet, but some noise is inevitable, and the more practiced you are, the less important quiet becomes. I rarely have a timer. If you have a timer, make it an alarm to soft and quiet music. I do not use a mat, but you may be better served with a towel or rolled mat under your seat, specifically when you first start, as otherwise, you are likely to need to shift, move, or even stand, as your legs may fall asleep, you may cramp, or your joints and seat may hurt.

As you may guess, Alcohol impairs meditation. Nicotine and Caffeine, in moderation, do not. Some prescription medications make Meditation almost impossible. Others make it easier. You will have to figure these out on your own. There is no specific time of day for me. I am told by medical folks, that time of day doesn’t matter too much. But I like to know how I am, through meditation, shortly after my morning coffee; it can be a good mid-day reset; it can be a good post-work wrap up; it can help you, naturally, also to relax before bed.

It is a common idea that in meditation you should be either swatting away ideas, worries, distractions.. as they come up. It is another common idea that in meditation you are trying to listen to ‘your inner voice’. For my part, these notions don’t help much. What I try to do is, in fact, to clear my mind and concentrate on that distinct point related to my breath. This idea, together with the above, will get some people 80 percent of the way there, over time. What I find, however, is that if you are swatting away things which come up, you are missing valuable information about what is bothering you; and if you are trying to listen to your inner voice, you may simply lose yourself in it.

The trick, for me, is having learned not to ignore what comes up, but to resolve how and why it came to mind. Once I have resolved that, I can move along in peace with my focal point. The trick to this is to ‘catch yourself thinking’; if you catch yourself thinking – and what you are thinking about – then you can start to resolve the emotional, logical, and analogical path back to where the thought you caught, in fact, came from. This will tell you a lot about yourself. This process, however, is extremely delicate: it takes practice to master and it takes a certain ability to see yourself in the third person (and internally), which I don’t know everyone is capable of. Moreover, the practice of reconciling your thoughts may lead beginners to get worked up and move further from focus. For this reason, I do not chastize Meditation instructors if they tell their pupils to just ‘let your thoughts go’, but on the other hand, one is very much missing out if they do not attempt to reconcile the thoughts which come up during meditation, as they are commonly a key to understanding what it currently concerning you – whether you knew it or not.

A pass through this method, for me, will typically result in the ideas, to some extent, relenting. At which time, I am able to focus with little explicit effort. And commonly, at some point in this state, my spine will literally straighten up rather quickly and on it’s own. A few more minutes in this state is the immediate reward of my mental effort and effort to make time for the practice. The residual reward is that I am refreshed and ready for whatever is next in my day. The long term reward is that, because my breath is always with me, I can return to it, with a focal point, for a very brief stint, and take in again some of what I have given to the practice, as the stressful moments arise.

I have called this practice ‘tracing meditation’. It may have a different name for conisseurs of Meditation familiar with the Taxonomy. This name relates directly to the method of reconciling (tracing) the origin of those ideas which you catch. The cognitive benefits, besides stress reduction, are that you become much more fluid in being able to trace what may otherwise seem random products of person to person conversation, back to their real source. A very useful skill when you want to understand who is accountable for what, what presuppositions were made, and who may or may not have made a mistake in judgement.

Sympathy for Stockholm

Once Love is used for a cause, how easy crisis must set in, when there is but trouble’s hints. And how the people, some with initial hopes of enduring love, must fear as it is spun against others for the ephermeral sale. It is, or must be, a torture to all, not just the mark, as for the young woman reared to pretend, must in the end feel the tables to be turned..

For this to work for the handler, they must themselves surely deceive they ‘love’ so that the job get done with trust from their asset, as surely all along their feelings, if their are any, cannot be in the end fulfilled – with practice they know or in youth will find out – as with old age, deceit will surely out perform love, by their own efforts to train. Love is lost in both lives, at least together; for how can either trust after manipulation, even synchronous? Lost in lack of trust, unlike after cholera.

The prisoners to the seduction become not the mark as much as the perpetrators, trapped in a future of prospective ‘how could you”s from the asset to the handler and then back as the seeds of visceral distrust are sewn in the training and the acts. Love can be love after sex is just sex, but with the seduction game in between, how can one not come to distrust longer trips to the market and the hint of cologne upon arrival from ‘a hug from family’. It takes an effort on the part of both, but together, knowing the methods, how do they escape them together, happily ever after? An alternate genuine partner is required if one should want to leave the game, and God help them.

And think of a collective shrug on the part of a whole society, so to say, this is simply the resource at our disposal. While those leaders writing the implicit orders go back to their wives and families, of generations, rearing them with sentimentality toward real love, and with the trappings of success, match with the like minded, for what truly matters most in life.. while the participants on the ground are sent in eddies along the streets, searching for what they never knew they lost.

How one must genuinely love, or not at all!

Noah’s Palate

Noah is in negotiations to allow the Himalayan Tiger as a separate Animal after accounts of the Bengal Tiger insisting that they were not different, although targeting the Himalayan tiger for extinction by driving it out of its habitat.

Meanwhile China is claiming that Japan is engineering a real life Pokemon in order to rival in cuteness the Panda. Despite Noah citing the conventions on genetic manipulations, China has noted that this would cause far too many ongoing distractions if paired with traditional anime audio, and have insisted that this should not be taken as just another whale-snake-shark-stingray (which they reiterate, is not in the South Pacific, and they generally know nothing about, and would likely not thrive in a flood anyway.)

Noah has again affirmed that any fully functional ‘printed’ living things would not be allowed on the list after reports of a six year old girl in Essex using her father’s Bio-printer on regular intervals between 11 am and 1 pm while her father napped behind a mirrored wall. The child appeared to be in full control of the growing colony of superior hermaphrodites, which were engineered to allow only one birth, and she noted, barely had a need to talk to each other at all. Her father called the backlash sexist.

In related news, Noah has visibly shrugged upon reports that Siberian Huskies are isolating and then pack hunting ‘Lone’ Wolves, while arguing that they are separate animals from both them and their more refined brethren. Related reports of a naturally occurring Wolf extinction, apparently came as no surprise to the Wolves, as they were unavailable for comment.

Sex Abuse and Schizophrenia

I have had many years to consider the relationship between my diagnosis of Schizophrenia (subsequently changed to a lessor charge) and being sexually molested as a child by those presumably in network with the Catholic Church. Much of my conclusions are related in my memoir ( a memoir) but perhaps more indirectly than should be the case for the gravity of the matter. The problem with firm conclusions, however, revolve around the complexity of the following issues:

1) Schizophrenia is a symptomatic disorder, which is to say that you are given this diagnosis based on symptoms not based on underlying conditions. Symptoms may vary, they need not include ‘hearing voices’, and people may be misdiagnosed, but there is no biological test, because the illness itself is symptomatic.

2) There is not one condition which brings about the symptoms of Schizophrenia; there are multiple potential underlying conditions, ‘a cluster’ (see “Surviving Schizophrenia”); and none of them – even if present and to some degree ‘apparent’ – amount to Schizophrenia, neither on their own nor taken together.

3) Even if being molested as a child did help bring about the symptoms of Schizophrenia – as it can clearly cause, among other things, a persistent fear, which is a close cousin of paranoia – there is no reason to believe the sexual molestation causes the underlying conditions.

The link missing in the explanation is why, or if, those with the underlying conditions are in fact more likely to be abused; or whether that should be dismissed as coincidence. The truth is, I believe, to be found in the nature of the abuse.

In my experience, the sexual molestation was not for anyone’s gratification. It was for control via humiliation. A certain lack of an ability to control a person can be perceived in the basic symptoms of the conditions underlying Schizophrenia itself. This is what I have indicated as the ‘apparent’ nature of the conditions, independent of any symptoms warranting a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, proper. The result is that the abuser can, quite clearly, be seen as punishing the abused for their condition, in order to better control them (by humiliation). And certainly the unspeakable harm done by the abusers can give rise to symptoms (given the conditions) warranting a proper diagnosis of Schizophrenia.

Of course, if the connection between Schizophrenia and a history of being abused holds true generally (albeit probablistically and statistically), it creates further problems for those with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia. First, there are studies linking a history of having been abused to being abusers. If authorities take these studies at their word, they could place those with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia under greater suspicion than they already are. Meanwhile, those who sought to humiliate their victims with abuse when they were young are more than happy to raise suspicion against their victims (and deflect blame from themselves) by calling them abusers (not to mention ‘Schiz’) in what can amount to a persecution within a community at a later time in life. Management of this burden, while overcoming economic hardship due to the shadow cast by stigma, can lead to homelessness or suicide. These are extremely weighty matters for a community as well as those who are or have been diagnosed with Schizophrenia and/or have been abused, and it is important to consider the degree of validity in the connections involved.

First, not all those diagnosed with Schizophrenia were sexually molested; the rate at which this is the case is unknown and the connection not generally established. The studies on the probability of the abused becoming abusers principally give the percentages of those who have been found guilty of abuse who were also abused as children; and it should not be forgotten that the probability that one was abused given one is an abuser is not the same as the probability that one is an abuser given that one was abused. Furthermore, if the data on whether an abuser was abused is collected by asking the abuser if they were abused, one can expect that these numbers would be inflated by a propensity to deflect blame. Finally, the propensity of abused to become abusers depends to a great extent on, among other matters, the stability of the home and family they grew up in. All of this makes it very strictly a mistake to fear or raise suspicion against anyone who was abused or has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, on this basis alone or rumor alike (not to mention the possible fabrication of corroborating evidence); and puts a responsibility on society to intervene in those situations where suspicion against a child, later in life, might be due, if nothing is done today.

The most important thing for our society to realize is that in the middle of all of this, there is a person. They are not some preprogrammed automaton simply programmed by competing forces forever incapable of acting according to their will, but a thinking, living human being who can make choices to be a good citizen and decide their role in serving their community. If they are ostracized, they are not given that chance.

Public ‘Use’ and Public ‘Interest’

There can be little mistake that current law prohibits the diversion of water to the ‘straddling community’ of the proposed Foxconn site, for the fact that five plus million of that request is squarely for private use by Foxconn, and therefore not public (Statue 281.346).  People who argue to the contrary are conflating public use with what they deem to be in the public interest. 

There is some claim in this matter that the diversion is in the regional public interest.  In fact, I would be optimistic about the near-term prospect of public improvement.  But the public use requirement is a far-sighted clause and overturning the clause in this case quite clearly sets a precedent whereby non-straddling communities (at a minimum straddling counties like Waukesha) can make a claim to water diversions for the sake of industry.  That, it must be clear, is where this is eventually headed, should we allow for non-public use in this case.

What difference does it make?

The diversion is 1/300th of the current Chicago consumptive diversion, it is therefore very hard to see how this doesn’t amount to a drop in the bucket, which ties Wisconsin’s hands when trying to be competitive with neighboring Great Lakes states.  But overcoming the ‘but what about them’ mentality is what The Council is supposed to achieve.  By bypassing the recommendations and ratification of The Council (who did ratify the Waukesha diversion), we may be stepping backwards, and again into a sibling rivalry mentality. Keeping us out of a competition that is detrimental to our Great Lakes is in large part the purpose of the Council.  What do they have to say?

The future we don’t want

The visionary fear is of a day when any and all great lakes states are diverting great lakes water everywhere for the sake of industry, and even if that water is returned to the basin – as it should be – it is in a polluted state, making a great dumping ground of our lakes.  It is important that pollutants meet current regulations, but there is always something more, something else, something complex we cannot account for, which we know is inevitably coming – even if we know not what.  The next invasive species introduced through ballast water with increased shipping would seem inevitable (Egan, 2017).  Will nanoparticles’ effect on ecology be an Ice-9 we learn about too late?  Who knows?  But we cannot engineer our way out of every scenario and take them one at a time as they arise; given the pace of innovation it is best not to introduce new problems in the first place.  This starts by limiting pollution to entities resident to the Great Lakes basin.


My recommendation is that this diversion not be accepted without guidance and ratification from The Council, but that The Council should not ratify it, because it is not for public use.  Noting premature investment in the project site, all or part of the offer should be made to, e.g. rebid for Amazon HQ2, who should be happy to add Environmental Steward to their portfolio – and therefore may make an exception- even if this premature investment in the site seems to be irresponsible.

Of Gun Violence and the Mentally Ill

Calling the perpetrator of a mass shooting ‘mentally ill’ is another way of saying ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’.  It is clear that anyone who comes to the point of killing dozens of innocents is by everyone’s lights, not right.  But calling them ‘mentally ill’ and simply ‘mentally ill’ does not go far enough.  The vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent.  Even fewer are in any way ‘deranged’.  A tendency towards violence may itself mean that a person is among the mentally ill, but that does not mean that the mentally ill are violent – much less deranged.

As someone who suffers from mental illness, it can be very difficult to determine what can be done to change the stigma but to go on living an honest life, while standing up for your rights and against the stigma.  But if there is any right that the mentally ill can concede, it is the infringement on their right to bear arms, in the name of peace. This may seem like a hopelessly paradoxical position to some who, under feelings of persecution or duress, believe that they are the ones that need protection more than anyone.  But a certain faith and intelligence must go far enough to overcome the fear and feeling of injustice.

Automatic weapons have no place among our citizenry.  They make violence too easy at critical moments and for anyone.  But those with mental illness can go further and be willing to give up firearms entirely, finding other, honest and non-violent ways to protect themselves.  In exchange, they should ask, as I have advocated previously, that there be a taxation on the sale and transfer of firearms, which goes to fund mental health care in our communities.  That seems the least society can do.

Saving American Cold War Gains

Trump is an old man.  He is no stranger to the history of the cold war.  He is also no stranger to America’s continued efforts to maintain its standing in the world against some of its historic enemies.  Yet with every move he makes, America loses ground in Europe against our two most feared rivals: Russian Intelligence and Islamic Terrorism.  And a single failure in judgment could set American back fifty years, at home and abroad.

If there is a question of motive as to why Trump was propped up by connections in Russia during the election, you have to look no further than Europe.  With the Muslim immigration into Europe – some of whom have a propensity for violence and distaste, if not hatred, toward America – there is the making of an Anti-American army on the continent.  And there could be no better Emmanuel Goldstein for Big Brother to lambaste in order to drum up hate for, than our current president.  Making Americans and American affiliations heightened targets of terrorism.  The result is the capacity for the Kremlin to create further distance between America and a European citizenry hostage to random acts of violence, explicated as Anti-American sentiment – true or false.  The perceptions are as important as the reality.  Should a people, not knowing otherwise what they can do to protect themselves from violence, decide that they can at least disassociate, just in case, then they may – provided they do not see it for what it is.

The Kremlin wants, and at all cost, for Europe and the world not to see it for what it is, and America cannot dawdle bringing it to light.

Should the Europeans see this presidency for what it is – an attempt to prop up a (notably non-Jewish, though not anti-Jewish) Goldstein in order to win hate against America – they are integral enough not to collapse under the weight of pressure from anti-American sentiment.  Should the means and methods by which Trump came into power remain even too slowly dragged into the public consciousness, a single misstep can destroy American objectives for years to come in the meantime.  This may well be the intended purpose of this presidency itself.  And with it the Kremlin gains what Authoritarians always desire most, control.

The best hope is for the FBI to move swiftly with their investigations – something that Trump is now fighting with the release, and threat of release, of previously classified intelligence documents.  But the best case scenario is admitting we have been had by the Kremlin, so in any case, America will have to realize it has some fighting to do, but at least we stem the tide of tyranny.

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