A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Participate



Dictionary of New Epigrams


Seeking to live long, and to participate with all that’s around you, is the route to a long and enjoyable life.

Without life there is no opportunity to participate, so strive for longevity.

Without a desire to do something important there is no interest in participating.

When you have the habit of participating everything you encounter becomes meaningful.

Action is always the result of participation in what’s going on around you.

When you are willing and eager, participation is what builds your enthusiasm.

Your participation always enhances the value of what is going on, and what you are doing to make it work.

Even unpleasant things that must be done are better done by doing them with enthusiastic participation.

An illegitimate challenge to our team enflames our enthusiastic participation to combat it.

You have got to participate before you have any chance of success.

To participate gives you great satisfaction when you succeed.

The best way to live is to participate.

Take aim, and targets appear.

To shrink away from participation is to shrink away from life, and to begin dying.

If something is worthy of being done it is worthy of your participation in getting it done.

If we choose not to participate, what we could do never gets done.

Chose not to participate in bad things, but to actively counter them.

Sometimes a clear NO! is active participation. It’s participation in something better.

You can be an active participant, or a passive observer. Guess who has the most interesting life.

Pay close attention so your participation is always just right for the situation.

If you never step forward and participate, you never fail, but you never succeed.

You can never develop your abilities by reading, or watching, but only by participating.

The first step is usually the hardest, so develop the habit of taking the first step whenever there is an opportunity to take a first step.


How to fix your distorted view of history.


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We like to think we understand our world, and I do too, so it came as a shock when I viewed the World Population History web site. By about 1980 I had read Atlas of World Population History by Colin McEvedy, and felt that I had a reasonable understanding of how many people there were at various times and locations, and that’s why viewing World Population History was such a shock. I recommend you go now and click that site. Pick out some places you feel familiar with and watch them grow. I often quote world population when in conversation with friends, and did so today, when some of them were getting morbid about the hunger in the world. But, what hunger is there? During the lifetime of these older folks the population had gone from two billion to seven point four billion, an increase of over three times. That means the planet Earth is now creating three times as much food as when we were born, and if there is any shortage, which there isn’t, then it is because the people have reproduced too frequently.

Yesterday’s post was about The 100 Greatest Atrocities of Human History, and when reading about those tragedies it became apparent that most of them were not in Western societies. That seemed strange because our Western media are  always talking about our tragedies, and because they don’t report those other ones we think things are okay elsewhere. Americans are still worried about terrorism because three people were killed in a pipe-bomb explosion near the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15, 2013. And yet they seem totally oblivious that since WW2 tens of millions died in China under Mao Zedong, and shortly before tens of millions died of famine in India. The ratio here shows that a million of “them” doesn’t create as much angst as one American. It’s not like we knew any of those three Americans, and so why do their deaths bother so many people? The answer is simply it’s the distorted media presentation. Do the ongoing Congo wars mean anything to Americans, even though it is reported that nearly four million people have died there between 1998-2002? If you feel you get an accurate report of what’s happening in the world go to Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century. That will clarify what actually happened and probably gives a better idea of what’s presently happening than the daily news.

Okay, if you clicked those sites you will have a better orientation to what humans have done and are probably still doing today, and what they are going to do for a long time to come. Basically, …

Humans will eat voraciously, reproduce maximally and kill as needed, like every other predatory animal.

The 100 Greatest Atrocities of Human History


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There are many ways to look at human history, and a typical viewpoint is to study wars. It is unquestionably one of the darker aspects of human culture, and yet we must look at it occasionally to maintain our perspective on human life. I have been reading Atrocities: The 100 Deadliest Episodes in Human History, by Matthew White, and he ranks the 100 deadliest intentional events. For each event, he includes number ranks, names of the events, their beginning and ending dates, and a number of deaths.

There are many ways to cut the pie in this complex subject, but White describes his methods, which seem reasonable, and appears to follow his self-identified procedure. Take World War Two, for example − it is such a complex thing as to when it started, when it ended, if it ever had a definite beginning and ending, and there is some question which countries were involved. Were all of the millions of deaths in the Soviet Union from 1930 to 1950 part of the war, or were many of them external to the war and part of Stalin’s plan for communizing his country? Also, in World War One, were the millions of flu deaths, largely spread by the soldiers, to be counted as war deaths? Some clearly were and some clearly were not, but how do you separate them? How to put firm numbers on very fuzzy data is a problem for every number in the book, except page numbers.

One of my personal problems was trying to put some perspective on the weighting of the millions of deaths. White solves this problem by claiming all human lives are equal, and therefore he bases his decision points on body counts, which of course gets tricky when counting non-combat deaths such as massive starvation of civilians uninvolved in combat. His methods are fair and reasonable, but you must be aware of the necessary biases. Definitional bias becomes very important, because the world population has gone from .15 billion in 500 BCE, to 7.40 billion at present. That means the body count must now be fifty times greater to have the same impact on world society as it would have had in ancient times. In an effort to make this clear I created the chart below.

Historical war deaths logarithmic chart  with named list of atrocities.

A history of major war deaths shown on a logarithmic chart. Click BIG

One of the considerations made obvious is that #2 rated Chinggis Khan killed approximately ten percent of all humanity, whereas #1, World War Two, killed more people, but only killed about three percent of current humanity. When looking across the chart there are about five other events which were more deadly to humanity than WWII: #5 The fall of the Ming Dynasty, #9 Timur the grandson of Chinggis Khan, #13 The An Lushan Rebellion, #19 The Fall of the Western Roman Empire, #14 The Xin dynasty. The numbers are greater in China because there were more people living there.

Our modern press has made Saddam Hussein to be one of the greatest monsters of all time, but we must look at the extreme lower right of each chart to see that as bad as he was, he is the least deadly on the charts, both in total numbers of victims, and in terms of impact on humanity. I did not start out to make that point, but it becomes obvious when looking at this chart.

There are lots of events listed in the 1900s, but the last fifty years has been remarkable for the paucity of major wars, but the great number of smaller ones may be due to better reporting. There may have been many more small wars in the past, but without a good written record we don’t even know of them, let alone how many people were killed.

Modern humanity is doing just fine when compared to our past.

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) logarithmic chart update – 07 February 2016


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[Click here] for all of Probaway’s EBOLA posts arranged by date. The recent posts will be at the top, but there is good information covered earlier and not repeated.

Ebola outbreak ends, almost.

This logarithmic chart updates the cases and deaths from the West Africa Ebola outbreak to February 3, 2016, and compares them to major historical wars and epidemics. – Click for bigger image.


The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is almost over, and has been declared over in some areas by the current World Health Organization (WHO) situation report. Unfortunately, when inspecting deceased people who didn’t enter a hospital, and weren’t tested for Ebola, there is the possibility that they died of the disease. This happened this month when a twenty-two-year-old woman died on 12 January at her family home in the town of Magburaka, Tonkolili district of Sierra Leone, and received an unsafe burial. There had been over 150 contacts with her before and after she died. Those most at risk have voluntarily entered an isolation hospital for twenty-one days, which is considered the maximum incubation period for Ebola. They will probably be given the vaccines and other experimental drugs that have been developed specifically for fighting Ebola, and the secondary contacts will be given the vaccines.

Diseases are not over until every virus is gone, but it is impossible to find and eliminate them because they can live permanently in unknown wild animals without killing them. Also, these living things can evolve into human diseases from otherwise benign things.

We live in a dynamic and chaotic situation where every living thing is seeking food, and every other living thing is potentially a source of food, including YOU.

World population passes 7.4 billion humans.


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We all like to think the world population explosion is under control, and that various things like educating women will solve the problem. I am optimistic about our current population because our technology has been making it possible to support even more people. It appears likely that there will be plenty of food to supply us for this next year.

We are tremendously dependent upon stored energy in the form of coal and oil to supply our farms and economic system with the power to make the food crops grow, and to transport this food to us. However, the price of these stored energy items has been dropping these last few months, and that should mean more abundant food and lower food prices. All of this bounty permits us to eat better and grow healthier, and for us to create more babies. Those extra people will consume more food, but we now have it.

There is a new genetic technique called CRISPR that is proving its ability to modify DNA in ways that will permit much more food to be created with less energy input, and less water. That bodes well for an increase in population for perhaps another ten or twenty years. At some point, with exponentially increasing population, the trend must come into balance with a food supply that is no longer increasing. Fortunately that time is not now, but when that time comes we must act appropriately.

The human population at 06 February 2016 9:30 PM PST

The human population at 06 February 2016 9:30 PM PST

For your comparison here is the up-to-the-second current world population from World of Meters.

Life is wonderful now because the Earth is supporting 7.4 billion people.

Teach what you most need to learn to do and sell it.


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When we set out on a new task there are things we need to know to bring that enterprise to a successful conclusion. It is therefore necessary to list the various skills you will need, and to learn and practice them beforehand. One of the proofs that you have attained sufficient skill to do a certain thing is to sell it for some amount of money. It doesn’t matter how much money, because the idea is that someone, anyone, is willing to give you something they value for your product.

I have observed many times people of modest ability with a not particularly interesting product pursue this obvious course and go from being a starving student to becoming a person of worldwide importance. The key is to get the thing out there and sell it for money. Some people who followed this plan started in college, and some even before high school. Ray Kurzweil is a good example. He pursued his goal of being an inventor from the age of five, and he is now at Google. He was hired by Larry Page when he and Kurzweil agreed on a one-sentence job description: “to bring natural language understanding to Google”.

Any brilliant person can succeed if they get started early in life.

How to think better.


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Perhaps the most important two words I heard today, this month, this year was — to think better we need a clean signal. Our brain can’t hope to function well if it doesn’t get a clean signal from its environment. And, what does the brain’s environment consist of, you may ask. First it must have a comfortable, warm environment with fresh, healthy blood free of contaminating chemicals, and without that there is no hope of it producing results that will optimize its being’s relationship with the world it is immersed within. Thus, we must prevent physical trauma and chemical toxins from entering our bodies, and if they do we must clear away the harm as quickly as possible. Furthermore, when contaminants are in our bodies we should refrain from making important decisions, or otherwise put ourselves in situations where physical danger is likely.

A second essential for a brain to function well is for it to get clean signals from its environment; that is, from a healthy body, and from a relationship with the world around that is honest and accurate. This creates a real problem in the modern world because there are entire industries dedicated to providing us with distorted information. It is called benign names like advertising, politics, education, entertainment, drugs, and religion. We are told that consuming these sources of information is for our own personal benefit. Of course, behind each of these mountains of information is an organization that is benefiting economically from your buying their products.

Okay, this is a bit much, but to live in our modern society we must confront all these sources of spun information every day and fend them off, and that takes personal energy. It is energy that could be put to better use, if we knew what a better use consisted of.

I’ve been pursuing the idea that life consists of solving problems, that a life that doesn’t have any problems is boring and soon depressing. Our task is to find problems that are big enough to be interesting to us, but of such a quality that we can solve parts of them on a daily basis. We feel good when we are successful. The best kinds of problems are ones that help others as well as ourselves live more satisfying lives. Generally that means building things together that help us all live better lives.

Thinking better means to help our minds to help everyone participate more fully in our world, and to do that requires clean signals from our world.

Argus Dome deep-space refrigerator


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When it comes to storing things for a very long time, generally speaking, the colder the better. At a temperature below —40° F. or C, there is a minimal amount of biological activity. Also, a few humans have chosen to have their bodies deep frozen immediately upon being declared legally dead in the hope of being resurrected at some future time when their cause of death can be reversed. The problem of course is how to maintain a super-cold temperature reliably for hundreds of years in a temperate climate.

I have an answer for the problem of keeping seeds at the EarthArk, and animal bodies too, super cold even for thousands of years without having a perfectly operating technical society to maintain them. We could call it a deep-space refrigerator. Deep space is very cold and NASA has already considered having a capsule placed on the Moon deep in a polar crater where the sun never shines, where it would reach a very low temperature. Of course, it might cost billions of dollars to get a small capsule to that location, and additional billions to get it back to Earth. The chance of a catastrophic loss for this round-trip operation is high. Fortunately there is a cheap and safe way to create a super-cold refrigerator that would keep materials very cold for thousands of years for very little money.

At the top of Antarctica there is an area called Argus Dome at Lat/Long -80.367 77.352, where the altitude is over 13,000 feet and the sub-surface temperature is about —55° F. In addition to that low temperature, I have a plan where a container buried there could be made even colder. The project would be to build a large container which is exposed to the —100° F. winter temperatures and sealed closed during the summer months. That simple procedure would lower the year-around temperature to something approaching the winter cold. But, much lower temperatures could be achieved by visually exposing a black surface to deep space for the four Antarctic winter months. If this large container were insulated from the world for the rest of the year, the cold temperature achieved in winter would be maintained. A thick wall and floor of high quality insulation would protect a large heavy object from warming. The insulation is aided by the low air density at the high altitude. Much lower temperatures could be achieved in this refrigerator by exposing a black surface to visual deep space, which is only a few degrees above absolute zero temperatures. The black surface in the container would radiate infrared light into deep space and cool the contents of the container.

Once a year as winter approached the top door would be opened to let infrared light out, and once a year as spring approached the top door would be closed to keep the contents cooled. This closed door would be highly insulated too. An alternate way to transfer heat to the storage area would be to have it totally encapsulated and an external horizontal black radiator elevated to where the snow would be easily blown off, and a solid copper shaft to connecting the two to conduct the cold from the collector into the storage container, which could be protected from the weather by being buried. The collector panel would be fully insulated too, and the portion visually exposed to deep space would be covered with multiply insulated and appropriately transparent glass. If the conductor rods were designed to expand and disconnect whenever the container temperature was colder than the conducting rod temperature, this system would be totally passive.

Once in place the EarthArk temperatures can be maintained at —100° F. for thousands of years without any human maintenance. 


We are the chosen ones. We chose ourselves.


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Today there was a great discussion that began with the question, “What does it mean to live from the heart?” Soon it came the idea that we should act as little children, but that was instantly challenged because children live so much in the moment that they don’t regulate their outward expressions and they hurt other people. The idea evolved that we should live in the moment, as children do, but that wasn’t quite right either, because with a little forethought we could change our moment in such a way as to make our future moments much better, better for those around us and better for ourselves. There was a general consensus that we are responsible for our personal actions, and that we should act with loving kindness toward our fellow man. That meant to approach even dangerous people with love and acceptance. That was stated, but there wasn’t much of a clue how we could do that in practice. I mentioned my method of looking down at the dangerous person’s shoes, smiling at their absurd uniqueness, and then looking up at the person with a loving and warm, flexible state of mind.

Another way to approach difficult situations was to begin with a “What if the situation was perfect? What would we do then?” With that frame of mind we can be more open to new ideas, and a possibility of developing some good things out of the present moment. The basis of that line of thinking was to get out of beginning with a negative judgment of the approaching situation. Some were looking exclusively for the good things that may come out of a situation and ignoring the bad ones. That didn’t sit right with some of us, because simply ignoring bad things doesn’t necessarily prevent them from wreaking misery.

We discussed what the basic idea of love could be, and were liking the statements around … love is a level of communication that is based on a positive feeling interacting between beings. Someone’s child had had a tantrum and went away for a while, and when they came back they said, “I love you, and thank you for loving me.” We all welled up at that statement, and remembered that out of the mouths of babes comes profundities. An adult filters their behavior, out of respect for the other person, but a child often simply states their feelings of the moment, regardless of the effect.

One idea that floated by was, “The Universe thinks more highly of me than I can think of myself.” That was a strange statement, because it is generally thought by humans that the Universe doesn’t think at all, let alone make moral judgments of various people’s value. The Universe is a system that behaves with nearly perfect  predictability, in the near future, but it doesn’t think, and thinking is dangerous because one can never predict where thought will take a person. Thoughts are unknown, and unknowable until there are actions, and the actions made by a person are a better indicator of what they think than are their words.

We live in a great game, evolved by the complex forces of nature, and by my understanding of it we have no choice but to participate. Therefore,

Pay attention to your local environment and participate.

What to do when you come to a fork in the road


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There are options all the time, and there is the standard conundrum supposedly reserved for the likes of Buridan’s ass. He was the foolish donkey in Aesop’s Fables who got stuck halfway between eating one pile of hay or another one the same distance to his other side. A much wiser man was baseball coach Yogi Berra  who opined that when you come to a decision, make it, or “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

I’ve noticed that when I come to a fork in the road there is an abundance of options, and a lot of Americans seem to have made their decision based, somewhat arbitrarily it seems to me, to go right or to go left no matter what the consequences. Another option is to follow in the tradition of the Classic Greeks, and when faced with an impossible decision ask the Delphi Oracle, and do exactly as they instruct, because the Gods have spoken to you, and no matter what the trials on the chosen trail, you must persevere. Some people may toss a coin when faced with that type of arbitrary decision, but that seems very weak, compared to the Gods speaking their commands, and likely to lead to returning to the junction when the going gets tough. Some people, I think it’s the Marines, claim the tough get going when the going gets tough. Returning to the decision point just leaves you tired and with less energy to pursue the other route.

There are of course other obvious options that generally are not spoken of in that postulated predicament; and one is you can simply turn around and go back to where you came from. Another option is to just wait there until something happens, like someone coming along one of the roads whom can tell you what they know of the different roads.

Commonly at the junction of roads there will be a town with a lot of interesting things to do, and you might just decide to stay there forever. Why bother with going anywhere? Just participate in the life that’s available where you are at. That is like my quip, “When you come to a fork in the road, pick it up; it might soon be valuable to you.” Also, if there isn’t a town at the junction, perhaps there should be, and by staying there you could found a town and name it after yourself, and have your name on the map. Probaway, Oregon, sounds as good to me as Grand Junction, Colorado, or Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Someone must have come to a fork in the road and not been able to decide, so Truth or Consequences it was, and they just couldn’t go any further. They could have named it Buridan.

Should two courses be judged equal, then the will cannot break the deadlock, all it can do is to suspend judgement until the circumstances change, and the right course of action is clear. — Jean Buridan, 1340

Of course if we were not on a road, but on a trail, I would recommend the A trail, and avoid the B trail.


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