When an unknown opportunity knocks at least open the door.

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When an unknown opportunity knocks at least open the door. The world is still filled with many potential unknowns that are easily discovered. That is clearly a false statement, because no one can never know something that is unknown; however, I would say that nearly every day I discover some little thing that so far as I know no one has ever stated. The assumption is that if I frequently discover new things there must be a multitude of things remaining to be discovered.

This blog has discussed unknown unknowns and how to search for them. It is difficult to suggest what one should do, but it is possible to suggest approaching a potential new idea with the confidence that you can cope with it, and then proceed to work with the new thing with a competent attitude that doing the necessary things will solve the problems, and then try to apply your solution to the problem in a way that will be helpful to other people.

An illustration of the ubiquity of new things remaining to be discovered is a silly thing I did a couple of months ago. Holes were developing in the heels of some recently purchased wool socks. In the past I would have worn them for the rest of the day and then discarded them, but that time I put some duct tape over the still small holes. That worked just fine, but the sticky of the tape protruded through the hole and stuck to my skin. It was a bit uncomfortable, so I stuck some tape on the inside of the sock too, and continued wearing them. They have lasted many times longer from when the hole first appeared than they would have.

When an opportunity presents itself, usually in the form of a problem, spend a moment considering how it might be solved. Attempt to do it, and then publish your results, whether they be good, bad or indifferent.

Speak in complete sentences.

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I have a habit of speaking too briefly and expecting whomever it is that is listening to fill in the missing words. When I listen carefully to other people’s speech patterns it becomes obvious that many people truncate their sentences too. Often this happens when the interlocutor understands what is about to be said, so they mentally complete the sentence, and begin talking themselves. Another accepted form of truncated speech is when people say things like, “Yes,” “No,” “Thank you,” and other such things as if they were complete thoughts. Perhaps by some definitions they are complete sentences, and normally in conversation they are accepted as appropriate statements. My concern is that when these statements are made they are not making a complete enough linkage to the events to which they are supposedly connected.

“Yes, I want some more potatoes.”  “No, I don’t want any more beets.” “Thank you, for the potatoes.” Each of those sentences is more informative than the briefer, “Yes,” “No,” and “Thank you.” Unless the context is well understood by both parties, those statements are meaningless. I am quick to agree that those more complete sentences sound stilted, but they carry a more complete meaning, and everyone concerned knows what is being intended by the words.

 

I am aware.

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What a privilege to be aware of anything, and to be aware that one is aware is astonishing. Consider for a moment the vastness of the universe and the astonishing number of stars. It’s something approximately like ten to the twenty-second-power stars. And now consider how huge our star is compared to our planet Earth, and how minuscule we are compared to our Earth. In the midst of this large universe, that at the moment doesn’t have a discernible consciousness of itself, I and presumably you, too, can be conscious of its existence and of ours too.

Right now I have a diamond-studded ring in front of me, and these tiny stones are considered valuable, and yet in the vastness of the universe these common carbon atoms compressed into crystals must be existent in huge quantities. Self-conscious organic brains must be infinitely more rare, and yet I have that quality at this very moment, and so do you. What an astonishing gift! The Universe didn’t give consciousness to us. Consciousness is just an artifact of the working out of processes that were latent in it from the beginning.

Perhaps only in the last ten thousand years of human development did self-consciousness come into being. That was the contention of the popular book”The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” by Julian Jaynes. In that book, Jaynes explored some potential proofs of that idea, that were not convincing, but just because the proofs were weak doesn’t mean his idea was wrong. It’s is difficult to know what people were thinking about even in books written this year, let alone three thousand years ago. What we think of as our personal thoughts that arise in our mind because we think about them, people in Homeric times apparently considered to be spirits from some other dimension speaking to them.

My thought of the moment is that I am now aware of being aware, but most of the day I am thinking about whatever it is that I am doing. If someone asked me at this instant,  I would be thinking of my fingers tapping the right keys to get the right words onto this screen that are in my mind. While doing that operation I’m only slightly aware of my surroundings, and not really aware of my conscious place in the vastness of the Universe, even though that is what I am writing about. Is my awareness of my thoughts any different from the awareness of my fingers? Not much! In a second I can shift my thoughts from these keys, to out the window, to the vastness of it all, and it all seems to be the same awareness; it’s only the choice of my attention that is different.

Are my perceptions any different from the squirrel, or the robin outside my window, or is it only that I have an ability with language and can write about these things? I am aware that I am aware, because of language, and perhaps I am only aware that I am aware because other people have communicated to me that this is a thought worth pursuing. If no one had ever brought up that question, in the random confusion created by the interaction of people arguing about things, perhaps I nor other people would ever be aware of the fact that they can be aware, or become more aware of being aware through contemplation. There doesn’t seem to be any advantage to being aware that I am aware of, like there is an advantage for the robin to be aware that a bit of food is on the ground in front of him. Quite the opposite, my being aware seems to be a use of my time and attention that has no survival value.

No doubt it is counterproductive of my own well-being to spend too much time observing my awareness of my place in the Universe; that activity doesn’t seem to help me to survive and prosper. All the same,

I enjoy the awareness that I am aware of my awareness and of its rareness.

How to save the frogs of the world.

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In the book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert the opening chapter is on the high extinction rate among frogs of the world. The Panamanian Golden Frog, Atelopus zeteki, whose home is in Panama, Central America, is featured. That is because it is being tracked carefully by scientists at El Valle de Anton, lat/lon 8.60668, -80.1252, in an effort to discover what is killing the various frog species. The Golden frog was until recently considered a good luck symbol in Panama, but they are going toward extinction and that’s not good luck. Go to Save the frogs.com

Atelopus zeteki

The Panamanian Yellow Frog – Atelopus zeteki – from Wikipedia

My plan for saving these frogs and possibly many other frogs, and other animals as well,  depends on their natural ability to be frozen and then, when thawed, to return to their normal life. I saw this demonstrated once where two small frogs were dropped into liquid nitrogen, where they instantly froze solid. Then one of them was retrieved from the flask and dropped onto a lab table where it shattered into pieces. The second frog was gently placed in the midst of his companion’s melting remains and allowed to thaw slowly. When that frog reached room temperature he hopped away and resumed normal frog activities.

If a frog were to be placed at The Earth Ark near the top of the Antarctica mountains where it is always below minus 40° C temperature, it may have survived in suspended animation for years. That could be very easily put to an empirical test; perhaps it already has. The ability to be revived from being frozen may vary among frog species, but it may also be available to other species. If some species could be saved in this way they could be stored and be brought back to life in the distant future. This is a technology that can become viable quickly when the various DNA factors become known and then using CRISPR gene manipulation to make the needed changes. When that becomes possible many species could be modified to become freezable and thus revivable when warmed to their normal operating temperature.

The freezing of frogs is a method for saving the frogs and probably some other species from extinction.

 

Epictetus – Enchiridion – A manual of Stoic living. Paragraph 53

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Epictetus (55-135 CE) Enchiridion
A manual for living a contented life
Rendered by Charles Scamahorn (1935- ) 2014

Paragraph 53

Direct me, my self-created spirit-character, to function well within the Universe, of which I am a part. Let my character take me enthusiastically into whatever situations come my way. But what if I do not want to go enthusiastically? Wouldn’t I be compelled by events to go some way, perhaps grudgingly some other way, and then become a victim of external circumstance, and drift into despair? So, I choose to follow the wise ones who themselves are on Nature’s proper paths, and choose to control only that which is within my ability, and be content with the rest. Ultimately the Universe and Time will engulf me, but it will not destroy my essence for it is always with me, here in the eternal now.

COMMENTS

This rendering of Epictetus’ Manual of 53 paragraphs has been loose in following his very old words, but close to my understanding of the original intent of those words. The goal is to set one’s habits into a harmony with the Universe and its Natural Laws, and in so doing reach tranquility within oneself and contentment with the Universe. That has been a grand goal for me, but writing this pamphlet is for you, and it is now you who must choose your own path of habits. Do it now.

Charles LeRoy Scamahorn
Bend, Oregon
March 1, 2015

My controversial jelly bean diet kills desire to continue eating.

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Here is an update on the easiest diet there will ever be. It works because the jelly beans’ intense chemical flavoring overwhelms your taste buds, and then regular food tastes like :(-. This blog has previous posts about this jelly bean method of controlling eating, as well as other diets. That earlier method was to place a jelly bean on your plate for every five pounds you want to lose and then eat them slowly after you finish eating your meal. The intention was to eliminate the desire to continue eating. That works okay, but the overeating might have already occurred. Eating the jelly beans before you start eating is counter-productive because it makes all eating unpleasant, and because I like eating the wonderful meals my spouse prepares for me, that ruined my day. This new method only ruins it a little for a minute or two.

Here’s how to stop eating when you reach the point that you have decided is right for you. For each five pounds you wish to lose, place a jelly bean on your plate. I use Jelly Belly® brand jellybeans because they have wonderfully intense flavors.

Three jelly beans with lunch

Here is a picture of my lunch today with three jelly beans at the top of the plate.

We had an Indian-style lunch today, but with a jelly bean for each of the five pounds I could lose. Actually, a BMI of 27 at my age might be near ideal for me, but this is an illustration of the jelly bean diet. In this case there are three beans, so visually divide the servings into three separate portions, and begin eating by consuming one of the three. You can mix these any way you choose, but after eating one-third of the total meal, pause and eat one of the jelly beans. Chew it slowly and savor it in your mouth. Take at least half a minute doing this. Then eat another third of the original meal, and then chew another jelly bean, and then finish the whole plate of food and chew up the last jelly bean. That’s the whole diet. Quite easy, isn’t it? But here is why this super simple diet will work. After eating those three jelly beans any dessert will taste mediocre, and you won’t want to eat it. After doing this diet a few times you will be conditioned to not even want a dessert. Also, after the first of the three jelly beans the remaining portions won’t taste as good, so you will find it easier to stop eating sooner. The first third still tastes as good as ever, so it isn’t impossible to start this diet. It doesn’t take any will power at all, only putting the jelly beans on the plate, and you can get your spouse to do that when the plate is being dished up.

I find after doing many diets that I have gotten bored with any and all of them; so I have learned to only follow a diet for two weeks and then coast two weeks until I start another diet, or other habit at the dinner table. After a few years I’ve done lots of diets, and it has been entertaining, but they all take some mental effort to maintain for long. I have made it into a game so it’s been easier and more fun.

Get enough jelly beans for two weeks and put some at your eating table, and some in a package in your pocket, and never eat anything without eating a jelly bean half way through. If it’s a questionable snack you are having, chew one just before you begin. That won’t keep you from eating it, but you will lose the lust for the snack after a couple of weeks.

The three jelly bean diet has been the easiest diet I’ve created, so far.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert – book review

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Were all going to die; and as grim as that sounds, all of our living species are going to more than die, they are going to go extinct. In the very long run that is a simple fact, but many species are going extinct TODAY, and our species is the one killing them. We Homo sapiens as a group have a hundred-thousand-year history of driving other species into oblivion. Whenever we come into a new habitat things happen fast, very fast in the geological sense, and that geological record has consistently revealed in the fossil record that we are the perpetrators of extinctions.

It’s been sixty-six million years since an asteroid struck Chicxulub, Mexico, and brought the age of the dinosaurs to an abrupt end. That is called the fifth extinction. That event made a temporary ecological space for the survivors to expand into, and some of the rat-size mammals were our ancestors. The five major extinction events in Earth’s four plus billion year history, since life permanently established itself, were all caused by mega geological events. This sixth extinction now in progress is being caused by those cute little rats grown up into us. We are a super successful one-time-use fossil-fuel-based species that is unsustainable. We currently have a population a hundred times greater than that of the early Roman agriculture period, that was permanently sustainable.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert takes us visiting some of the scientists working in remote places in the world who are documenting the progress of this sixth extinction. One of these visits was to One Tree Island where researchers are monitoring the death of the world’s greatest reef system. You can see their camp in the Google Earth photo below.

One Tree Island in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia lat/lon -23.508, 152.091

One Tree Island near the southern end of the 1000 mile long Great Barrier Reef, Australia lat/lon -23.508, 152.091

Kolbert travels to many places where research is being conducted. There are only twenty species of trees in all of the huge country of Canada, but in the tiny tropical country of Belize there are over seven hundred species of trees. The tropics are way more diverse than the temperate areas and the arctic regions. With climate change it will be the tropics where the greatest species extinction will take place, but at the moment it is the polar bears that get the news coverage. Cute furry things that are easily viewed always get people’s attention, but it’s the nearly invisible biota in the thick tropical forests that are in the process of going extinct. That is because the tropics have few extremes of temperature and over geological time species tend to fill ever narrower niches, thus with what seems to us to be a minor change, those tropically adapted species are stressed beyond their ability to cope.

The impressive thing about humanity creating this world-wide sixth extinction is that, “we are doing it without even trying.”

Epictetus – Enchiridion – A manual of Stoic living. Paragraph 52

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Epictetus (55-135 CE) Enchiridion
A manual for living a contented life
Rendered by Charles Scamahorn (1935- ) 2014

Paragraph 52

“You must never lie!” That is a core principle of philosophy based on theorems. We derive this from demonstrations of the theorems that one ought not to lie. But “What are the origins of the principle we ought not to lie?”  “What are the origins of that theorem?” and “What are the origins of a need for demonstrations?” These questions devolve endlessly into variations of “What is demonstration, consequence, contradiction, truth, and falsehood?” Each of these topics is linked to the others and can never be wholly separated, but the quest is worthless if we do not obey the first one, and lie. Therefore, “I must never lie!” We may spend our time and energy arguing the myriad of other topics, and even analyze lying itself; and truth may ultimately be impossible to define precisely, but “We must never lie” or everything becomes meaningless.

COMMENTS

That “I must never lie!” is absolutely necessary if I am ever to be attuned to the Universe I live within. Lying is thought to be an external act that somehow benefits the teller of the lie, but actions form habits, and the habits cycle endlessly back on their creator. Thus, it is within ourselves that lies will corrode away the possibility of ever finding tranquility and contentment. It is easier to observe ourselves lying to other people than to ourselves; therefore we must prevent lying where we can see it, before it infects our own habits, and then becomes impossible to root out of our own being. Lying to ourselves is certain to lead us unto a life of mental corruption and eventually despair.

The Tao Teh Ching – #11 – Revealed by Lao Tzu – Rendered by Charles Scamahorn

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11

Thirty spokes may be united at the nave of a wheel, yet
From the void within arises the utility of the wheel.

Clay may be molded into a cup, yet –
From the void within arises the utility of the cup.

Doors and windows may be built into a house, yet
From the void within arises the utility of the house.

There may be profit in the existence of things, yet –
We are served by the void within things.

12

A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Lies

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A Dictionary of New Epigrams

LIES

 

A lie is a verisimilitude of truth; or perhaps occasionally a terminological inexactitude.

Never, never, never lie, except to prevent the suffering of others, when you are willing for the lie to be exposed at a proper time and take full responsibility for the resulting actions.

To lie is to intentionally cause a person to believe something that isn’t true; thus to create a false belief by withholding information by intentional silence is to lie.

To lie is to pull a chain of lies into existence; a lie pulls a whole false world into existence.

A world with an imbedded lie will have unnecessary pains, because of the distortions the lie generates.

To lie to another convincingly trains one’s own self to lie to one’s self, and thus to voluntarily ruin one’s own character.

Should we feel pity for those who lie to us, when it is their intent to cheat us in some way?

In the past the King’s jesters were the only ones who were permitted to speak the truth; these days we call them standup comics. Everyone else is expected to lie, to promote their own self-interest.

Everyone can wheedle out some speck of truth from a lie, because words inevitably have soft boundaries, and a string of words can mean many things, some of which are inevitably true.

A man of good character chooses never to lie, because it would diminish him in his own self-worth, and that would hurt him more than suffering some loss of public status.

One white lie can discolor a lifetime of honest truth.

Lies can appear beautiful and exciting because there is no limit to their hopeful fantasies, and simple truth is generally plain, honest, boring and often grim.

Lying is easy, but telling the truth difficult because it involves the entire world; it’s like every speck of matter influences the Universe with its gravity.

Lying to others creates the habit of lying to one’s self, and that habit feeds back many times over, and that can’t help but lead to a distorted life.

There is no law against lying, and the Law of Karmic return demonstrates that truth.

John Gay wrote in The Beggar’s Opera, “Men were born to lie, and women to believe them,” and, no doubt, the vice versa is equally true; a marriage founded on lies will generate unnecessary stress that will never end.

Liars love lies and sadly that’s the reason TV, movies and celebrities are so popular.

We employ brilliant, creative people and give them a platform upon which to speak, and what do they do, they broadcast flagrant lies to drown out the quiet voice of truth.

We have the right to stand in Times Square in New York City, and amid the noise, speak the truth to the random passers-by.

When an unpleasant fact is accepted as true and integrated into one’s life everything behaves more consistently and life becomes easier.

When one is adapted to truth-filled reality there is nothing to be gained by accepting the fantastic lies that propel much of humanity.

Everyone claims to hate those who lie, and yet when the sophisticated liar puts on a friendly face and starts telling hope-filled nonsense stories he instantly has followers.

It is impossible to tell a perfect lie, that is, a lie that is false in every detail.

We all believe we see the lies our society immerses us within, because the lie we tell ourselves is that we see those external lies and so we are freed from them. If only it were so.

Does Satan tell the truth after he has laid his hand on a Bible?

A fine lie stands on its own two legs; it doesn’t need support.

Are we lying to ourselves when we claim to be seeking tranquility and contentment?

 

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