Maximizing total human potential is my goal.

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Ebola is rearing its very ugly head this month, and the response of humanity has been both glorious and horrifying. The United States government has stepped up quickly and is sending what is hoped will be timely aid, but even this quick response to a remote threat may be too slow because the nature of uninhibited life forms, such as disease, is to grow exponentially. This is just nature doing what it does, but in this situation we humans are the growth medium, and from our point of view this is potential disaster. Perhaps the ancient methods of coping with epidemics will be the only ones that work, and that is simply isolation and exclusion, not permitting any exchange of people or even goods. What is being done at the moment in the infected areas is having three-day curfews in hopes of slowing the spread. Perhaps that will work because this disease develops quickly, but what of the people that are confined in a house with a sick person? This procedure would be nearly condemning them to catching the disease and thus to death. How do you confine people to their homes when people don’t have stored food, and what happens when a large city has its people coming out to their grocery stores and mixing? What if a city catches the disease and the only option is to shut the borders, because letting hundreds of thousands of infected people go streaming into the world would get ugly?

Now for the even uglier part. Some people welcome the culling of humanity back to 10% or less of its current population. A google search came up with Eric R. Pianka, who is a proponent of disease as a functional method of population control, and he is used as the straw man to politicize the arguments into the most extreme forms possible. There is some reason to support any of the arguments, but shoving every idea into absurd ideological boxes makes finding a comfortable solution even more difficult. What happens with this procedure, when applied to Ebola, is that it will function to let nature take its course, because everyone pursues his own course of action, and some of them are deadly. In this case that will be a very nasty one, because containment will prove impossible, with some people supporting and demanding every individual’s right to do as they choose. This comes down to people fleeing the infected areas and there soon develops an even larger area of disease which is even more difficult to contain without even more draconian measures.

“Minimizing the suffering of the innocent” is an overview that takes into account the individual’s rights but balances their rights with the rights of all the other people of the world. And a second ideal goal, “Maximize the total human potential” takes into account people of the future as well as those now living.

It seem likely that human population will drop to a much lower level than it is today, but to maintain a stable human population will require popular laws. Nature will inevitably win, but the most pleasant existence for humanity will be where we behave reasonably toward one another.

Are US magazines in trouble?

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WIRED magazine is growing in heft, at 124 pages. It has ads for high-end watches, cell phones and cars, and perfume, HBO, one cigarette ad, so it is a safe assumption they are doing well. Popular Science’s October 2014 issue is only 92 pages, counting the covers, but what is disturbing is the conflict between the purported useful content and the advertising. In the past PS had an eye for unusual scientific anomalies that sometimes I had missed, but this issue’s presentations were about marginal technical innovations. The article on 10 young innovators was short on the how, what and why they were succeeding at their innovations, and I would have appreciated links to more thorough information.

The weird things in Popular Science were the ads, as most of those pages were devoted to sybaritic pursuits. Pages 2,3 and 4 were ads for Viagra, 11 making sports safer, 14, 15, 16 clot drugs, 19 car ad, 23 electronic cigarettes, 26 fancy cars, 29 car insurance, 31 ceiling fans, 33 e-cigarettes, 35 e-cigarettes, 37 fancy pick-ups, 42 pinch tobacco, 45 a reasonable car, 46-67 articles, 68, 69 tool coupons, 70 understanding stuff classes, 73 spring shoes, 74 class action settlement opportunity, 81 genuine US gold coins, 82 water cures, 83-89 partial pages of similar stuff, 91 cigarettes, 92 phone ad.

It isn’t out of touch with reality claiming these products in Popular Science are of marginal value for living a better life when many of them have legally required warnings that these things are dangerous to your health. WIRED is filled with healthier stuff, but very expensive stuff, and much more profoundly important articles.

Is the quality of advertising a magazine is willing to use a measure of the quality of the material it is willing to publish?

How to cure all human problems.

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Okay, that’s an extravagant claim, but what I wanted to emphasize is that human problems can be eliminated with human foresight. Human problems are to be contrasted with our inherent animal problems, our pre-human problems. We are going to die, and as unpleasant as that thought may seem at first consideration, it is comforting because it is such a certainty. When we think about any certainties we can relate to them in a different way than all of those other things over which we do have some influence and control. Those things we can influence we should think about, but we need not fret overmuch about those things that are certain. It would seem reasonable to maximize the improvements over our personal situation and our intimate associates and then move on to the grander issues of the day.

By that view we can eliminate most socially imposed worries, and perhaps the easiest ones to ignore are the guilt trips proffered by the world of advertising. You aren’t an inferior human being if you don’t have this week’s Lamborghini, unless of course your name is Lamborghini; and you don’t need to flash your Snickers candy bar, to gain status, unless your name is Snickers. We need only realize the inevitability of the existential issues and make whatever adaptations are necessary, mostly mental acceptance, and then go about making our lives and those around us as pleasant as possible.

Once you clearly realize those things over which you have no influence, you can ignore them and go about enjoying your life, and solving problems that help your friends and family live their lives more abundantly.

Plantar fasciitis is in the news again. Here’s the cure.

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The New York Times reported today on a new cure for plantar fasciitis; that’s the pain in the tendons along the bottom of the foot. It tends to become a chronic and crippling pain that often just gets worse and worse, making an otherwise healthy person into a cripple. The problem with the newly discovered treatment is that there is no description of the reason why it works, and thus it appears the discoverers don’t understand themselves why the treatment works. Their so-called new technique is just a revisit to the old technique of stretching the tendons on the bottom of the foot by placing a book under the ball of the foot and raising yourself to full height a dozen times. An alternate exercise can be done while sitting in a chair by moving your feet directly beneath you and rotating your foot so the toes are stretched upward toward your knees. Each of these exercises will stretch the tendons in a slightly different way, and it takes only a few seconds, so do them both.

The problem with the standard treatments is that they don’t explain what the victim should be trying to do, and because they don’t know they don’t do the exercises quite right. Once you understand what is happening with the tendons themselves the cure becomes easy and obvious, and you are willing to do what needs to be done. Just doing the exercises isn’t enough, because you will probably overdo it or under-do it, and what works is to do it just right. In an eagerness to correct the problem you will probably overdo the exercise and further injure the tendon, and then quit doing the exercise because the pain has gotten worse. Or perhaps you can’t stand any pain and won’t do the exercise enough, and then it doesn’t work. That is the problem, and they never tell you what level of pain you should be enduring, because they don’t know themselves.

Here’s the problem. The tendons are made of living fibrous materials, and a fiber or its attachment to bone or muscle can be injured by over-stretching. When the fiber heals it tends to be slightly shorter, and for tendons that becomes a problem because when the tendon is pulled hard it is these shorter tendons that take the load first. Taking the load first and generally harder they get injured again, and when they heal are slightly shorter again. That is why plantar fasciitis becomes chronic and worsening.

Here’s the cure. Stretch the tendons and their little fibers slowly out to the point of mild tension, hold for a few seconds, stretch a little farther and hold for a few more seconds, do this another time and hold until there is a mild pain and hold that position for a few seconds and release. If it doesn’t stop hurting in one second you stretched it too far, so next time ease off a little. The goal is to stretch, but not to injure, the tendon’s fibers, and you can control this by how hard and how long you stretch them. Do this one minute exercise mildly once an hour for a week, then ease off to a couple of times per day for a month. It may sound like a lot, but it’s only a minute at a time, and this should give you good results.

That’s the mild way to cure plantar fasciitis. See also my – A pain in the foot.

 

Everyone I meet is convinced they are right.

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The population research claims we have a little over seven billion people now living here on planet Earth, and what astonishes me is that everyone I have ever spoken to is convinced they are right about everything. ;-) At least they are right about all those things that require common sense, of which they personally have an abundance, and they know this because their life adjustments fit well with the problems they encounter.

Okay, so each of this multitude of people has adapted to their personal environment, and therefore it makes sense for their statements about their local environment to fit quite well and be meaningful. The problem seems to be with the periphery of their experience, where they are compelled to have some relationship with the vast unknown and the unknowable, and sometimes stuff that is well known to others. There is a vast amount of scientific information that has been carefully studied and is known with great certainty, in the scientifically challengeable definition of certainty, that many people utterly reject.

This unknowable other place is where the idea of spiritual beings seems to become infinitely important, and testable reality becomes meaningless. Just because something is unknowable doesn’t mean that it makes sense to generate total nonsense and then base your real-world life upon those speculations. Even though they are unfounded in any kind of testable physical reality these ideas double back and influence ordinary reality in generally counterproductive ways. If a standard classic Roman style of Stoicism was upgraded to better fit modern knowledge and lifestyle it would probably become popular. Many people are dropping away from standard religions because they have a component of obvious nonsense; for example, a common falsity is making claims about their revealed knowledge of what happens after death, of which they can know nothing. Of course there is an abundance of other things of which they can have no knowledge but about which they commonly make proclamations.

Stoicism makes no fantastic claims and strives for acceptance of inevitable things like death. The attention is placed on learning how to conduct one’s life to the healthy benefit of oneself and others. When a person abandons thoughts of how to get into some other place their lives become more pleasant, and when the other place is an impossible one to attain, and they abandon their hallucinations they can live significantly more comfortable lives. Of course there are presently huge industries of advertising and religion that are making huge sums of money saying the opposite, and who are offering an abundance of reasons your life is miserable because you don’t have their product. Of course when you buy into their spiel you have even less money, time, energy and sanity.

It’s the present seven billion unique human labile relationships with the unknown that come into conflict with one another, and there is no resolution because there is no reality to be tested. As I said at the top, everyone knows they are right on fundamental issues, so if you have read this far you probably agree, and didn’t need to read this blat in the first place.

The EarthArk Project made even easier.

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This plan to save humanity from its own depredations began as the Life Haven Project. It is designed as a survival community based as far from civilization and bomb targets as possible. The easiest to do would be the Chatham Islands -44.2948, -176.2298 off the east coast of New Zealand, but still a temperate climate. The entire South Island of New Zealand is a natural Life Haven, and with a major war will be as likely as anywhere on Earth to offer reasonable survivability. There are several other sites designed for this use but they are too big for me to do in the present psychological setting of the world. The plan was to build a community of one hundred families from as diverse a genetic heritage as possible and rotate new families through the community after a year or two. Humanity could be reconstructed from these few families.

An easier problem is to save as much of the world’s species of plants and soil samples with other life microbial forms as possible. That developed over the years from a complex problem, to a simpler one to accomplish that I have named The EarthArk Project. There is a need to collect samples from every square kilometer on Earth and send these samples to the mountains of Antarctica where they will remain at minus 40° C for thousands of years. At any later time these samples could be recovered and used to restore many of the living things collected from any given site. It creates an essential ecology for the other animals that depend upon them.

At present this is simply accomplished by my printing an envelope with instructions on the outside and sending these envelopes to locations throughout the world. The local individuals who receive them are instructed to distribute the envelopes to local travelers and to collect seed and soil samples. Once there is material in the envelope, put it into a mail box. The envelope would be sent to The Earth Station located atop a mountain in Antarctica for preservation. Thousands of envelopes could be made for a reasonable cost and distributed. Their first stop would be in Christchurch airport New Zealand, -43.488, 172.540, where they would enter a refrigerated shipping container. When the container was full it would be flown to McMurdo Station Antarctica, and from there flown or trucked to an exposed mountaintop such as -85.46, 172.65.

The task at present is to purchase a shipping container, preferably one that can be refrigerated, in Christchurch to receive The Earth Ark envelopes.

The dark side of Darwinism is the death of living things.

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Earlier I was talking with some people about Darwin’s famous line, “Survival of the Fittest,” actually created by his bulldog Huxley, but the phrase wasn’t the issue, it was the personal threat. The problem for most people is that they realize they are not perfect specimens of the human species. It seems everyone I encounter, when I talk to them for very long, mentions their problems, and usually their problems are severe. It is strange, because nearly everyone that comes walking down the street looks healthy and sane, and yet it isn’t so. It isn’t that they are faking anything, it is just that a person who is reasonably dressed and walking normally appears to be holding their lives together and progressing reasonably well. These folks might even say to a Pew research questionnaire that they are in good health and quite happy, even though they are seriously overweight, have a heart condition, aggravated by diabetes and attempted suicide a couple of months ago… but now they are great.

College students have some similar statistics that can be applied to them, that are shocking – 75% graduate with debt, and the average debt is $35,000 and non-voidable. These are the young adults on the supposed path to a successful economic life. These are the Darwinian winners. Hm?

More debt for college than for cars or credit cards

College loan debt puts middle class grads deep into debt. Graph from Bloomberg.com

The conversation I mentioned earlier was hostile toward Darwin because it seemed he was promoting the elimination of humans who were not perfect. But that wasn’t true. In fact Darwin spoke piteously about the squandering of life by nature, where few perfectly healthy examples of any species ever lives to anything near their potential life expectancy. There is a strange distortion of perception with my conversational companions, because a girl born in America today can expect to go through all the dangers of life and still achieve eighty percent of her maximum plausible life expectancy of one hundred years; and yet there is currently a hue and cry about how dangerous our lives are and how the government should be taking much better care of us. I don’t think most people realize just how dangerous and unforgiving nature really is to its creatures.

Darwin was himself physically and emotionally sick most of his adult life and didn’t even attend the original reading of his own evolution paper to the Geological Society of London, along with Wallace’s paper. He stayed home because his daughter was dying of scarlet fever. Darwin was often emotionally devastated by local sickness and death. What modern sickly Americans may be dreading is the realization that a hundred years of increasingly effective medicine has permitted a degradation of the DNA that was bequeathed to them. Counterproductive genes have been bred into our gene pool by five generations of parents who would have died in earlier times because of poor health. Diabetes is a common modern threat that wouldn’t last long in the wild. In wild societies many children don’t reach reproductive age, and the natural selection process eliminates those least able to function in their local situation, and even the healthiest are challenged.

Modern medicine is both saving humanity in the short run and condemning it in a longer run. Only five generations of modern medicine are probably already having measurable deleterious effects. I don’t like what’s happening, but I do support every single person and the whole of humanity to achieve the greatest abundance of life they can attain. That’s my life goal, at present. Relative to the gene problem I support modern science and the search for ways to correct these genetic problems. It appears it may be successful, and these problems can be eliminated in a socially more responsible way than is available at present.

2500 of Probaway’s condensed thoughts are now available.

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Hurrah! Yikes!! Gasp!!! Gag!!!! As of a few minutes ago there are fixed links at the top of this blog to every one of the 2500 Probaway daily posts. Each of those CONDENSED DAILY THOUGHTS is two lines long, and they are rather short lines too. Choosing that tight format cuts through the meat, cuts on through the bone and gets to the pithy marrow.

For example, taking the 128 philosophers from the Philosophers Squared series, and squeezing the juice from their marrow was pitiless and painful. Socrates had more to say than pay the physician his chicken for this dose of deadly poison – it’s working.

My personal spin on the ideas is, The examined life that doesn’t result in a change of personal behavior wasn’t worth the effort of examining. And yet, this seems a questionable way of “playing chicken” when the success in changing personal behavior is accepting a voluntary execution forced on one by locally acknowledged fools. Both Socrates and Jesus chose that route.

If you succeed in reading those 2500 condensed thoughts I congratulate you, but I would suggest that now is the time take a step up the maturity scale. That will do you more good and help you to become more contented with the world and your life.

Things are good and people strive for their top values.

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The world has been kind to people here in Bend for the last several years. There had been a serious economic slump in 2008 that bottomed for the housing market in early 2011, but since then living here has been good for most people. There have been considerable upgrades in the quality of parks and recreation, and everyone has had the time and money to enjoy themselves.

It seems everyone has some sort of physical activity they participate in fully, such as serious hiking, biking, skiing, paddle-boarding. Nearly every local vehicle has a towing ball and roof racks for extended stays out in the local nature, and there are plenty of pickups and full size campers. For me my backyard has Ponderosa pine trees, and a garden, and it seems like lovely wilderness to me and Debbie. It is only an hour walk to the top of Pilot Butte, and it is pleasant getting out into nature, and we get back before I get too tired.

I have always enjoyed conversation, and so almost every day I have some scheduled event, and some days several events. It’s sort of like going from class to class in school, but more fun, and less stress, and it helps me to explore my problems and humanity’s.

Because the current economic environment is so benign the people fit onto the Paths to Maturity Chart near the top. It seems that nearly everyone should be living in the Ego Expansion part of the chart. And so it seems to be with those I am thinking of at the moment. I know some older people who are clearly living the Adolescent Idealist life, fulfilling that type of outdoor living to the maximum, and enjoying it thoroughly.

Paths to human maturity

Paths to human maturity.

I also know people who are clearly in the fully mature area of the chart and are into altruistic giving to achieve common goals. It is so strange seeing these various people working together in the same place at the same time on common problems, and all of them are having a good time. Each person is just doing their thing, and I doubt if they are aware they are on different places on this chart of maturity.

There are some people who are having difficult times, although these are totally unrelated to overall economic security. More like health problems, and complex social problems that have no real solution. That has happened visibly, and when it does, these individuals have clearly dropped into the Ego Defense mode of relating, but also clearly staying within their maturity level. Mature people when they have problems become Strugglers and those into Adolescent lifestyles become Ambulators, warping their feelings of self-worth and projecting personal problems onto others.

The Maturity Chart does point the way for people to grow in maturity and thus to cope better with themselves and with the world.

Action is driven by thoughts, and better thoughts bring better action.

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The world is loaded with problems, and some of them impact us directly, while others are remote, but well promoted by the media. It would seem reasonable that every individual would consider where they want to exert their energy, and that would be where there will be some discernible effects. The effects created on a local level don’t have the grandeur that participating in world affairs offers, nor is there the social support of large numbers of people participating in world affairs. These are decisions that every individual must make for themselves, or perhaps what happens with most people, just go along with one’s social group, and fill a niche imposed from outside.

A more energy-consuming path would be for an individual to collect sufficient information on the problems that they could relate to, so they can make a well-balanced choice. Once they have made a choice, to then go more deeply into the factors that make the problem important to them, and then to apply their energy to solving it in some meaningful way. It is important to make some attempt at actually coping with the problem and trying to sell one’s solution to the public, because this first attempt sharpens the details that need to be coped with. Once those are discerned it comes time to dig in and study with passion for a while, and,  depending on the situation, try to limit this to gaining all the data and abilities needed for successful accomplishment. Find what is needed and study that, but then one must ask, how much do you need to know? The answer is highly variable, but a good guess would be to know with certainty what you must know, and know with certainty that you have gathered enough information to know you are doing the right thing, and then do it.

The whole reason for these background preparations is so that you may succeed with your actions. Be prepared to act decisively when each of the moments for action arrive. Preparations that go beyond that needed for a high degree of probable success are counterproductive, because the window for effective action is a small one. Make the preparations as thoroughly and as quickly as possible but be aware that once the actions are in play things will change, and your preparations won’t be perfect, but they will be useful, with some doable alterations, to completing the goals. Be prepared, but when prepared boldly move forward with confidence. If you know your preparations are adequate you will succeed.

Action is driven by thoughts, and better thoughts bring better action.

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