Covid logarithmic graph update. Surge in India.

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The orange lines represent India and they are currently the steepest on the chart.

The simple fact about this disaster is that the reported world deaths of 562,828 divided by the 12,625,786 reported cases equals 0.04458. That is an after-the-fact demonstration that the 5% death rate that has been posted on the former Probaway charts implies the accuracy of this method of projection of the catastrophe looming with this disease.

This pandemic isn’t an existential crisis for humanity, but a 5% death rate of those infected can add up to 400 million people. The disease probably won’t reach that number, but the hopes reported in the media from politicians that this will end soon and everything will be back to normal are overly optimistic. In populous countries like Brazil and India many people do not have access to quarantining themselves because they have few food supplies in their homes, and they must seek a living every day. That puts them at great risk for catching the Covid because they earn their living in close contact with other people.

Now is the time to set aside some long-lasting staples for use when the Covid really reaches its historical peak.

Never miss an opportunity to do a good thing!

The Covid pandemic bothers me because I feel there are things that I could be doing to help people live through it and prosper. To help others live, and live more abundantly, is a guiding rule for everyone, but it has its consequences of creating obligations. The pursuit of small good actions is worthwhile because there are many more opportunities to do small things than big ones. For example, in today’s newspaper, there was a report of a woman who saw a child fall into a local river, and she immediately jumped in after it and perhaps saved its life. I have only had one opportunity to do such a big good deed like that and I failed, and the kid drowned. A teenager whom I had spoken to a couple of times walked some fifty yards away after our last conversation wandering along the Pacific Ocean and went out into the surf. But he didn’t know how to swim and his friend ran back to me and asked me to save him. By the time we ran back, the kid had vanished. I swam out into the ocean with my eyes open underwater but never saw him. About three minutes later, after a small crowd had formed, but no one was swimming out, the kid drifted ashore. I swam back and with some help held the kid high in the air by the feet to drain the water out of his lungs. He had breathed water. People have rarely revived who breathe in water. I gave him artificial respiration until the ambulance arrived, but he died.

Those kinds of events are rare, but little good deeds are ubiquitous and I do lots of little things for the general public to make all of their lives a tiny bit better. Just little things to set things back in their proper places. And being kind to people I encounter as is socially acceptable.

It isn’t necessary to be seen doing these things or acknowledged for doing them because when you develop a habit of being kind the greatest recipient of your habitual kindness is yourself. As Marcus Aurelius wrote,

Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.

Photo feedback from my friends.

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My spouse bought herself a new Canon Selphy dye transfer printer last week and I had to try it out. It makes 4 x 6-inch prints, actually slightly smaller, but they have wonderful print quality. I printed up several to show to my coffee shop dudes, and dudettes to get their opinion.

When I got to our usual meeting time and place, which because of Covid is now outdoors in a park-like setting along the Deschutes River, they were already deep into conversation about Braque and had a fine old picture book for a conversation helper. Lately, we always have a big picture book by a well-known artist to aid in exposing our opinions. Thus, our conversations are more rooted in actual visual memories rather than rambling on about our former now vague opinions. The French call it an aide de memoire, or something similar.

Another view of Mirror Pond on the Deschutes River a few steps from where we have our discussions. The Sisters mountains are seen in the distance.

The dock on Mirror Pond. Our coffee today was at the Looney Bean garden about 80 steps to the right.

They liked this view of the path as it rounds the point in the river seen above.

Here I am looking into a storm sewer but my friends saw me as trying to get out of prison. (Click the photos to enlarge the photos.)

I like this picture in the storm sewer because of the multilayered visual complexity, especially of the penetrations and reflections of light on and in the water. While the half dozen photos were circulating around the group the “path around the point” photo got turned upside down. We all liked it that way just as well as right side up. It is another mirror image on water so it works.

This is an abstract I made, but people these days see it as a parade of multicolored protesters carrying signs. Artists might see a Nude descending a staircase.

I try to get by with a little help from my friends.

 

I woke up this morning with a pain in my neck!

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By reading and following one of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) suggestions I have almost arrived at my eighty-fifth year in excellent health. “You must become an old man in good time (in your youth) if you wish to be an old man long.” I remember modifying that statement slightly to create my New Year’s Resolution back in about 1968 to “My goal this year is not to be smart but to avoid being stupid.”

That idea was expressed back in Berkeley during the riotous 1960s when the opportunities there for being very stupid were easily achieved. I never did anything illegal personally, but I stood right beside people who did. For example, I alone stood right beside a guy that was pouring kerosene into the Berkeley Bank of America, and then tossing lit paper matches into the unseen puddle on the floor. He had lit and tossed about five matches in and hadn’t succeeded in starting a fire. I asked him why he was doing it, and he said, “The media wouldn’t pay any attention unless clearly violent things were done.” This was the day after the Bank of America in Santa Barbara was burned during a demonstration. I remember thinking that this guy wasn’t a very well-prepared arsonist because had he lit the package of matches and thrown the whole thing in, it would have accomplished his goal. At that exact moment, the police charged down Telegraph Avenue probably having seen what was happening. I departed in haste. That wasn’t the only improper event I witnessed up close during my time of “Not being stupid.”

Without really intending to be there I was exactly at the dead center of many events during my now rather long lifetime. When I found the link above about the burning of the B of A, I realized it was after my making that sensible New Year’s Resolution. So much for resolutions.

Okay, I have been more successful than I expected at personal survival and have tried many times and many ways to promote humanity’s survival. So far so good, even though I can’t be certain about any of it. These last few months I have posted principles on how to survive the Covid personally and for humanity to accommodate the Covid pandemic more easily, but none of it has proceeded beyond my blog posts. This pandemic might kill five percent of humans, but that isn’t an existential risk for humanity, although it would be for vast numbers of individuals. Humanity, even with Covid nibbling away at us individual humans, will soon exceed eight billion people, and that is four times as many people living as when I entered the world in 1935.

In other words … and it’s hard to say it … things are just fine, except for my personal pain. Apparently, I slept in an improper position last night because all day I have had a sharp pain in my neck when I lift my head to its normal position. Writing this post is filled with some pain because I must lift my head a bit to look at the screen. The pain seems to be resolving itself, but I won’t be sleeping face down with my head cocked to the side tonight.

Sometimes, even though I try to avoid being stupid, I fail.

How can humanity’s self-interest be motivated toward positive ends?

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If humanity were a conscious being, then it would seek personal survival as a positive goal, and probably as the ultimate goal. At the moment humanity doesn’t have a consciousness, but it is approaching the level of self-awareness where it might develop a locus of self-awareness in isolated computers. There have been computers for several years that have the ability to find answers to problems that humans can not. The ability to beat world-champion chess players was downplayed because there are limited moves that can be made at any board position. For several years that has been well within the capacity of computers. Then it was considered impossible for a computer to beat top Go players, because there were vastly more potential moves. But that era ended. Now computers are doing visual analysis of cancer photos and suggesting the likely dangerous ones better than trained human cancer scanners. Now Google searches come up with the facts that I am looking for before I’m done asking my question.

That is interesting because that was one of the qualities that Hamlet Prince of Denmark was illustrating throughout the play written about him by Shakespeare. He would predict to his interlocutor the exact words a person who was approaching was going to say. He would write a stage play for the king to watch, and then watch the king for responses to provocative situations, and not totally trusting his own view of his own responses he would ask his trusted friend Horatio what he saw. And Hamlet did so without prompting Horatio what to look for in the king’s behavior.

What Hamlet was doing was predicting future human behavior and that is a key indicator of consciousness. Thus, animals such as dogs can be seen to have consciousness because they will prompt their human companion to throw a ball for them to chase.

If Google can predict what I am going to write, it already has some level of consciousness. It can be said that it is just forecasting what I am going to say by having a vast number of examples of the same sequence of words and then finishing whatever the sentence is likely to become. And, because it already follows my previous behavior, it has an even better idea of what I am searching to discover. It knows that I am not just one of the eight billion people asking questions, I am me! And Google probably knows me better than I know myself about many things. It probably knows the times that I go to certain places better than I know myself, and it knows the people that I talk to at various places and what their interests are better than I do. For example, last week I discovered that several people who I talk to weekly like to go on Caribbean cruise ships and are annoyed by the Covid pandemic interfering with what I consider a waste of time and money. Obviously, it isn’t a waste for them because they voluntarily pay real money to do it repeatedly.

The human brain is a complex thing with various locations that do special things. I don’t know what mine are, even though I use them frequently, and therefore I can’t learn to use them to compute what I am going to do next. Google can learn to observe these locations and parse their behaviors and thus to predict my future actions. I don’t know the precursor events that trigger my amygdala, but Google soon will have these things structured and be predicting even better what I want. They aren’t there yet, or they wouldn’t keep trying to sell me some new Crocs fisherman shoes because I bought some last month.

Of course, the point is that my intelligence is improving slowly in some dimensions and failing rapidly in others, and Google’s is getting better and better. The Google computer complex is the present stand-in for humanity’s intelligent self-interest, but it isn’t all of humanity and doesn’t represent it, and because Google has its own self-interest there may come a time when it will do things that are not ethical by human standards. However, because computers, unlike humans, can be linked together, it may be possible to link them in such a way that they do represent humanity, all humanity.

Perhaps the question “How can humanity’s self-interest be motivated toward positive ends?” can be fulfilled by creating a single self-interested world computer dedicated to saving us all.

 

 

How would Marcus Aurelius respond to us?

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Go to the Index of 120 Philosophers Squared

Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) was a stoic philosopher and last good Emperor of the Roman Empire. The epitome of a philosopher-king as described by the Greeks and a personality sought for by every nation. “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius, Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor

Quote from Marcus Aurelius

The first rule: keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look at things objectively and know them for what they are.



A man’s worth is measured by the worth of what he values.

By that reasoning if a man’s highest value was money, then the more money he possessed the more worthy he would be. If he valued controlling other people, then to have an accepted position of authority, or of command over others, he would seek military rank or business title. If he valued the physical dominance of other individuals, he would seek a sporting award in some event, boxing, wrestling, swimming. Or being a part of a winning team like in football or basketball. Or perhaps a technical ability such as the fastest auto racing title. These types of athletic events have a single winner, and therefore everyone else is a loser, but there is the option of being a supporter and then having remote personal status based on the success of one’s team.

People who chose these kinds of personal values would also be attracted to patriotic behavior toward their nationality, religion, and ethnicity of people with whom they identify. They would value the symbols of their groups and wear emblems of support for their chosen groups which would increase their status with others of similar proclivities, and even their competitors and enemies.

There are some who seek their worth in their accomplishments and not in the monetary reward of them. Scientists seek to discover things, and their reward is in the feeling of discovering the secrets of nature and the respect of other scientists for finding a new aspect of reality. Some entrepreneurs seek to create a business, and some of these men move on to creating other businesses. It is the creation of a working business that they value. Some of the self-made billionaires whom I met when in Berkeley stated very clearly they just wanted to make something of value to others that worked. That really worked! There were others of that billionaire status who just wanted to make money. Period.

These Probaway posts have been aimed at a very different set of values. Earlier they had the underlying intention of helping humanity to survive and prosper. A long series of posts called the Life Haven Project for saving representative DNA of disparate groups of people so we could recover our civilization after modern wars had killed nearly everyone. There was a parallel set of posts aimed at saving all of the species of the world called the Earth Ark Project which was based on people from all over the world collecting seeds from all local plants and sending them to a storage site located high in Antarctica. The recent posts went even further in saving humanity by creating a computer-based replica of us which created a universal intelligence with morality that would last for billions of years.

These are the highest goals that are conceivable at the moment and I postulate them as the ultimate goal for humanity.

The moods of Mirror Pond in downtown Bend, Oregon

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Mirror Pond is located on the Deschutes River and flows one block from downtown.

I have had coffee with my old dudes several times a week only a few steps from where these photos were made.

This is an overview of the place where the photos of the dock are taken. The photo site is at the fence just to the left of the foreground Ponderosa tree.

Here is the dock overlooking Mirror Pond with winter snow.

Here is the same site with an overcast sky and only a trace of snow.

It is a bit sunnier today.

Today Mirror Pond is sunny with a bit of reflection.

There are lots more sunny days than cloudy ones, but I’m out of time to make them.

Being retired leaves very little time and energy to accomplish all the things I’m trying to do!

How would Marcus Aurelius respond to the Covid pandemic?

Go to the Index of 120 Philosophers Squared
Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) was a stoic philosopher and last good Emperor of the Roman Empire. The epitome of a philosopher-king as described by the Greeks and a personality sought for by every nation. “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius, Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor
Quote from Marcus Aurelius


This moment in time, July 2020 here on Earth, with the COVID-19 pandemic just getting started, is like Voltaire’s Doctor Pangloss in his book Candide might say, These are the best of times and the worst of times. Charles Dickens apparently liked that sentiment because he began his book A Tale of Two Cities with that line. We here in the United States are falling into growing conflict and chaos at the very moment our chief economic competitor China is self-organizing into control of the disease and is experiencing a worldwide economic boom. Until a vaccine is developed and widely distributed, this situation will continue because of the inertia of the forces at play and the US will emerge with much diminished in power and prestige. The United States emerged as a world power with the Influenza of 1919 and will be seen to have lost that power with the COVID-19 flu of 2019. That is the American century, and it was a wonderful time to be an American, and the glow will go on for a while longer. But we have entered what is being felt like the worst of times.
It is that context that I am thinking about what Marcus Aurelius wrote extensively about and is condensed above into two seemingly simple rules. First, keep an untroubled spirit. That is a state of mind that is felt totally within the human individual and therefore it is an option within the control of the individual. A person can choose how they are feeling about the world they are immersed within and can, therefore, choose to react in a way that leaves them feeling untroubled about that state. In the case of the Covid pandemic we are immersed within at the moment, the most control available to individuals is to obey what the authorities recommend and then go about their daily lives with an untroubled spirit. In the case of America losing its preeminence on the world stage the most they can do is vote with their money and vote with their ballot. Both of those options are tiny in comparison to the problems, but that’s the limit of individual influence. Therefore, after the individual has made their decisions the rest is up to forces outside their control, and they may choose to reassert their inner peace by maintaining an untroubled mind.
That is applying the second suggestion, Looking at things objectively and knowing them for what they are, and when they are forces beyond your ability to control or even influence, to accept them and move on with your daily life. The situation may be catastrophic and yet even in that situation, you can still maintain an untroubled spirit because you know that you have done what in your judgment needed to be done at the moments presented to you.
Your body will inevitably die because that is part of your life, and there is no reason to worry because there is nothing you can do to prevent it, and when you acknowledge that fact you can maintain an untroubled spirit.

Update of Covid

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The massive amount of Covid pandemic is shown with color-coded data.

Note the dark blue line. It represents the whole world caseload of people who have been diagnosed with the Covid disease. The black line below it shows the total number of victims who have died of the pandemic disease. Note that the United States has the worst caseload and death load of any country and that it is progressing at a steeper growth rate than all large population countries except Brazil. Note also that China put a sudden end to the Covid pandemic. It is not erased completely and it never will be, as it will lurk for a long time as does the common cold. Vaccination will help, but it won’t eliminate the disease.

The best option for people these days is to avoid other people with the Covid disease and to clean their sinuses with a mild soap suds made of baby shampoo.