We lived and lived and nothing happened today.

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A diary-like entry.

I must have been excited today because I talked myself hoarse by 10 AM. The plans for a diet book have been going along nicely, and spinning some new ideas past my friends apparently entertains them enough to maintain their interest. My contention is that the half-trillion-dollar diet industry is fighting a losing battle at present because they are not facing the fundamental issue of why people are getting obese. My little group of four people was surrounded in a public restaurant by eight obese ones. The only person not clearly way overweight was a two-year-old child. That was unusual because looking further out there were only a few more. All the same, it’s an indicator of a worldwide epidemic.

I was sometimes yammering on about my feelings of guilt about not working harder on my diet book. My guilt springs from my knowing I can help a high percentage of the billion people at risk of sickness and early death and I am being dilatory in my progress. My plan was to work on the diet book full-time after finishing the nonsense project of projecting lines all over the Seven Sages of Greece mosaic last week. However, today I did make real progress and I consider the few minutes writing this post to putting those vast numbers of obese people at unnecessary risk.

Other personal news. Last week I had a dental crown put in. It was almost a non-event because there wasn’t any pain and it didn’t take very long. The procedures may have been a bit complicated for the dentist and his assistant but for me, it was a half hour or less of sitting patiently on a couple of occasions while they did their thing. I departed home and returned well within an hour each time and now, supposedly I am a better person. At least I am very marginally a prettier one and I can bite more fiercely.

The home repair after the ponderosa tree falling on our house last month is progressing well, the roof and solar panels are up and functioning and the ceiling guy came by this afternoon to lay out his actions for next week. That will be far more of an event than my getting a dental crown because I will have a guy running around inside my house instead of a crew on the roof and in the back yard.

Life is made more meaningful by a sequence of significant events. Or is it just a bother?

Our disaster isn’t over yet.

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April 7th we had a terrific wind storm here in Bend, Oregon. It was the worst ever according to the old timers. Unfortunately, we were at the center of one of the wind gusts that randomly dipped out of the sky, and a full-grown ponderosa fell on our house. It was deflected by a spruce tree which lost its life while protecting us. It was surprising how lucky we were because the trunk was still some eighteen inches in diameter where it first reached our roof and it lay out over the roof to the very tip of the tree. The top of the tree hit our solar panels and they had to be removed while the roof was being restored. We now have forty-year quality roofing. It feels strange to know the roofing has a much greater life expectancy than I do. Who will live under this roof that I chose to be installed in gray? Hmm. Who lived under it before I chose to live here? On our grand tour of Italy, we lived in Florence for a couple of nights under a roof that was said to be more than a thousand years old. Well, it brings me once again to realize I’m just some wet dirt soon to be dried out and blowing once more in the wind.

At the moment there are some guys out in the back yard replacing the fence. It had been down for the last month. It was downed by another tree, my ponderosa named Larry, that fell across my neighbor’s yard all the way across to two of his neighbors’ fences. Very luckily it didn’t hit any structures. A section of another of our fences was removed so the equipment could get through to yet another neighbor’s home that had been hit by two full-grown ponderosas, one of them chopping her house in two. This beautiful piece of truck-art was sitting in my back yard for several days, not ten steps from where I am presently sitting. They moved it yesterday to a public cul-de-sac about thirty steps further away, where if I turn slightly to my left, I can still see it.

A grappling truck.

Out my window, there was a logger’s grappling hook mounted on a truck.

I watched this nightmare monster do its thing, grabbing and dropping an amazing amount of stuff into a giant wood chipper which with a terrific howl spewed everything– tree, beast and almost a man into a large truck. I could put up a video I made that would scare you and this man’s insurance company, if he has one, into a panic. “Alas, poor YORK, I knew him well. … A man of infinite jest,” Hamlet’s famous quip to the gravedigger. He was a chipper fellow.

A grapple truck with a tree stump

Our artistic grapple truck was moved over the fence.

In the photo above four close-by full-grown ponderosa trees are missing. They blew down in the windstorm last month. To the right side, we see the remains of the stump of the one that fell through the roof of the house with the tarp on the left. A few feet beyond the white house between the truck and the stump the hundred-year-old ponderosa fell to the left upon our house. Part of our roof is the white ^ behind the truck. A third tree, our tree Larry, was over the fence just to the right of the ruined house; it fell across to the left but only damaged fences. A fourth tree was just behind the tarp over the ruined house. It fell to our left outside of this picture hitting only a fence. All of those giant trees were within striking distance of where I now sit writing this post. Another tree went down across the street just beyond the white house but did no damage.

It was like a tornado of wind gusts hit our house and left destruction all around. The thirty-gallon electrical transformer that exploded was replaced the first day. The hazmat team was there cleaning up the amazing amount of splattered oil within an hour. The new transformer is directly above the left side of the white house, and barely visible just below the horizontal Y in the tree.

We now have a forty-year quality roof, but the interior ceiling in three rooms won’t be done until next week. You can’t do the ceiling until you have a roof, and you can’t put up the removed solar panels either until you have a roof. You can’t paint the ceiling until the sheetrock is up, you can’t clean up until the painters have painted the textured sheetrock and departed. You can’t consider this mess cleaned up until everyone is gone and all the many bills have been paid.

Our disaster isn’t over yet and abnormal seems to have become normal.

Today I showed off some mockups for the LOL diet.

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Today I showed a couple of my retired professional friends my current mockups of my LOL diet tchotchkes. One friend was a successful owner of a company whose products you would recognize, and the other a successful professional artist of things you have seen. There was lots of praise at first for the presentation quality, and we talked about the various aspects for two hours, and the upshot was that some of the things that seemed good at first got a little weak after sustained viewing.

The starkness of some of the black and white presentations need to be softened with some colors, probably pastel colors. Also, it was generally agreed that some of the presentations needed pictures of things that should be eaten. It was agreed that everything should be positive in what was out there for purchase and that any negative comments about other diet plans should be put into “campaign” literature.

One complaint I didn’t expect was a challenge to the name “Laugh Out Loud diet”. It was claimed that it has an underlying negative feeling and hostility. It also has a undertone of demanding that we comply with an implied command, that we should laugh at some hidden thing about diets or dieters or fat people. Perhaps Lots of Love diet would be better, or just LOL diet, which would imply lots of love.

These are not trivial thoughts because this method of coping with obesity and the health issues that derive from eating problems of a billion people must have the best possible presentation. Without a fantastic presentation, this whole concept will wither and die. It needs to be attention-getting, and interest-holding, and functionally valid to be successful. There are deeply entrenched people making literally trillions of dollars off the ill health created by the sale of things that cause the problems. There is big money to be made by the sales of sugar, salt, grease and booze.

If the LOL diet doesn’t grab attention it will die. If it doesn’t maintain interest, it will die. If it isn’t functionally effective for a substantial number of people, it will die.

If we don’t get the LOL diet right from the beginning, it will die.

A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Awakening

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A Dictionary of New Epigrams

Awakening

Awakening is the first action of doing.

To awaken is to begin doing something purposeful.

To look, to see, to perceive; to listen, to hear, to comprehend; to touch, to feel, to know; these are the steps of awakening.

To awaken is to open oneself to live all of the words in the thesaurus and their combinations.

You are awake if you are paying attention to the events of your living moment.

To drift in daydreams is to be voluntarily swirling about in purposelessness and oblivion.

When I drift into dreams it feels like a concentration of my essential being.

As a man pontificates about the truth he shrivels as a knower of his moment.

Actions speak the truth of an awakening and words conceal it.

A full life is a flow of awakenings to purposeful actions.

Words are a thin projection of a visible film upon a solid reality that soon evaporates.

An enlightened person works with the world that exists and brings it to one that might be better.

Is anyone awake? Or are we just pretending to be awake?

We awaken to our new reality every moment and yet there is a tremendous inertia compelling our old reality to dominate everything we do.

My path is seeking new vistas and organizing what is already there into comprehensible patterns.

It is possible to evolve into a new reality when one perceives a formerly invisible goal.

You may awaken from sorrow or joy, from happiness or despair; you may grasp at beauty or ugliness and it is always you who is doing it. Awake to the best life available.

Awake to the best life available to you.

Intuition Pumps by Daniel C. Dennett – book review

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Daniel C. Dennett is probably known to every thinking person on Earth, or at the very least I would say he should be known to every intelligent person. This book has been on my shelf for a long time and is that type that is so styled that one can put it down without guilt. There are seventy-seven fairly independent essays and I’ve read most of them. Probably the ones Dennett likes the most are the ones I’ve skipped, but he did me the favor of putting them in the appendix. Near the end, chapter 74, “A Faustian Bargain,” is short and easy to review and gives the flavor of his professional problem-solving.

Which would you choose?

(A) You solve the major philosophical problem of your choice so conclusively that there is nothing left to say (thanks to you, part of the field closes down forever, and you get a footnote in history).

(B) You write a book of such tantalizing perplexity and controversy that it stays on the required reading list for centuries to come.

Think about it for a minute.

Generally speaking, scientists choose A, while philosophers and humanities types choose B. The reason is that scientists are seeking satisfying proofs that their ideas represent testable reality beyond reasonable doubt. The humanities folks are presenting their view of complex reality and offering possibilities for how a human being might respond to that conception. The philosophers are much tighter in their efforts to define and represent abstract realities and they are not likely to find a counterpart in physical reality, but their ideas do impact human abstract reality in a consistent and observable way. The philosophers would like to tie things together into clearly defined domains of truth in their terms but realize that it is impossible in fact to do it. The humanities practitioners are creators of fact and are god-like in their powers to create and don’t really care to box it. At least they don’t want to box it into a generalized truth; they want their truths to be specific to their unique creations. Perhaps a god would feel that way too.

If you like that kind of rambling you will enjoy Intuition Pumps.

Clockwork Purple – Hurrah for Horemheb!

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Clockwork Purple prompt of May 8, 2017, 10 AM

The Secret Places of the Lion by George Hunt Williamson

page 105, line 9 – prompt – 45 minutes –


“If we must have a ‘Pharaoh of the Oppression,’ it would be Horemheb, for he persecuted his own people as much as the Hebrews.”

I don’t need no stinking pharaoh ruling over me. No oppression either. Horemheb got civilization off to a really bad start with all of that stacking up of stones into a gigantic pyramid to please his egotistical maniacal monstrous hallucinations. He gave human individuals, and humanity in general, a taste for brutal submission to an idea which even nowadays, some four thousand years later we haven’t gotten over. Some of us have dedicated our lives to trying to solve this problem, that of liberating our human minds from the oppression of a supposedly greater being than our own mind telling us what is good for us, and what we should think and what we should do.

As I write these thoughts on our Western traditions of submission to powerful human-like figures telling us what to do, I realized it was ever thus with all civilizations. It appears they all got their start with piling up various pieces of Mother Earth. It was a totally separate society in Japan that made the Key Hole pyramids, erected to please some sort of deity, but that effort had to be driven by some egomaniac human being with despotic fantasies. Horemheb wasn’t unique in his oppressions.

Just north of modern Mexico City there are some magnificent pyramids. I’ve been inside of Teotihuacan’s enormous Pyramid of the Sun, and a hundred miles to the east of there are reported to be the biggest pyramids in the world still buried under a thousand years of overgrowth. None of these pyramids were built by the gods, or the rulers; they were built by myriads of now unknown people somehow being compelled by their overlords to make big piles of stones and dirt.

Even in remote South America, which was until recently the most remote place from human origins, there are the Moche pyramids, some of them still buried but now being exhumed for the tourist trade.

It seems everywhere I cast my thoughts to the beginnings of history and of civilizations there is someone, somehow, compelling multitudes of people to pile up rocks and dirt and do other absurd stuff.

Even here in the United States we seem to have this strange need to pile something up toward the heavens. What rational need is there to organize millions of people to put a man on the Moon to take a few steps and collect a few rocks and bring home some dirt?

Our mind-manipulating leaders have sent us ordinary people on wild goose chases from the beginning of history. It appears we humans have a genetically built-in need to strive for something preposterous. All it needs to get this crazy DNA thing going is an idea that touches the human stupid button.

Horemheb was one of the first, but we presently have new masters of the absurd running our American government and our minds. It appears that other people of other countries of our current world have the same need because they are choosing people for their leaders who have the need to oppress them with idiotic ideas.

If we must have a “Pharaoh of the Oppression,” it appears we have elected the perfect man. He is famous for his great wall of a “pyramid” that is now being stretched out over a thousand miles of desert. For the present moment, he is just building his Great Wall but what’s next? It’s like the Great Wall of China, which was a vast collection of stones strung out to promote and protect some maniac’s ego. Why don’t the slaves just ignore the ones who get these stupid things started? The not so obvious answer is … because it is built into the human DNA to want an unreachable goal to strive for. To struggle as a group, as a whole society, as a whole civilization for something so unattainable in reality, that a physical symbol is postulated by the god-like leader that organizes everyone to submit. An idea that is so compelling that it becomes okay, even the law of the land, to compel everyone to … SUBMIT.

If we must have a “Pharaoh of the Oppression,” it would be Horemheb, for he persecuted his own people as much as the Hebrews. And now it is not only the Hebrews and his own people being compelled to submit, it is everyone on planet Earth, and everyone that will come into existence forever more who will be persecuted. The new super-duper-computers and their webs and links to our minds will see to that.

Hurrah for Horemheb! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

A Most Improbable Journey by Walter Alvarez – book review

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Back when I lived in Berkeley there were many opportunities to hear important scientists give lectures. Some of the best lectures were by Walter Alvarez and the beauty of living in Berkeley is you occasionally get to meet famous scientists personally. I took advantage of that opportunity several times with Walter in the typical after lecture queue. We all are in awe of his discovery of the Chicxulube crater and his considerable number of proofs that that event some sixty-six million years ago led to the demise of the dinosaurs and permitted the rise of mammals and us humans. Without the event that he exposed I wouldn’t be writing this post and you wouldn’t be reading it.

A Most Improbable Journey by Walter Alvarez is a book for the general public. It covers Big History, all the way from giving us the numbers of how very big our Universe of a home really is, to us. There are roughly a hundred billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy times a hundred billion galaxies, or roughly a number one with twenty-two zeros number of stars. And, as you may have noticed from the published deep space photos taken back toward Earth from afar by space probes, Earth is a tiny place even in the Solar system. This book is about the history of the Universe and how this tiny thing we call our home came to be.

The pages on how common sand came into being were eerie because that common element silicon required a history of repeated concentrating events before it could come onto the beaches and sand dunes that seem so common to us. The book makes many obscure things clear and even obvious. When spoken by a man who knows what he is talking about, many things become easy for an ordinary person to understand.

Everyone, even experts, should read “A Most Improbable Journey” because it demonstrates how to make difficult subjects comprehensible.

The Great Questions of Tomorrow by David Rothkopf – review

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This is a book about the great movements facing our world civilization. Reading this book is like standing on a hillside during the great 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and watching the tsunami coming ashore. It is about those events that are clearly coming and that will destroy much of what we formerly valued but will probably leave even greater things for the survivors.

The Great Questions of Tomorrow by David Rothkopf is a book for courageous people who are not afraid to look at dismal things and see opportunities rather than mourn over the destruction. It was written by the editor and CEO of Foreign Policy magazine and is as authoritative a description of modern political realities as you are likely to read. Rothkopf comes to us with his political leanings but he does write with a decades-long Washington insider’s authority.

Assuming that you are not in an actual war zone during a battle the future is still going to be very disruptive. The causes are obvious and we must face them and be willing to adapt quickly. If we can do that and avoid being crushed by a giant Monty Python-like foot, things will be wonderful. If we cling to our past and refuse to face our new realities and adapt to them, we will suffer. That’s Rothkopf’s message. However, when it comes to the specifics of how to adapt, the book offers only generalities.

Some simple questions every eighteen-year-old must ask themselves: Is it better to get a college education or stay out of debt? What is an occupation that will offer the greatest long-term benefits and security? Should I go into debt buying a home? If I can’t get into an Ivy League university should I go into debt to get a local Junior College degree? Those are the questions facing a young person today.

Using my analogy of the great Tōhoku earthquake tsunami, “which way I should run to avoid destruction?” Just saying “don’t panic but adapt quickly” doesn’t help much. I like Nassim Taleb‘s book Antifragile because it gives practical advice within his general theory of how to construct one’s life with a structure that will permit probable survival and success no matter what happens.

The Great Question of Tomorrow is … How to survive and prosper in chaos.

The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman

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I’ve been exposed to so much overly positive thinking lately that I’ve surfeited of it, and super-positive nonsense has become as cloying to me as trying to eat a whole jar of honey.

Shakespeare – HENRY IV PART 1 – Act 3, scene 2

They surfeited with honey and began
To loathe the taste of sweetness, whereof a little
More than a little is by much too much.

 

Last week one of my conversation groups had The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman for its discussion. There were many things in this book that are worthwhile but it takes the judgment of King Solomon to ferret them out. An abundance of the revealed good sense was standard self-help rhetoric, but some of the new material was based on his own research and analysis.
Wiseman bases his new ideas on some small questionnaires handed out to some preselected groups. A few questions about how lucky you feel broken into three levels of agreement with the questions. Upon the questionable results of this questionable procedure, he builds what felt to me like a house-of-cards theory to use for the reader to build a whole life upon. Let me skip to the summary of the Four Principles.

#1 Maximize your chance opportunities. – That’s reasonable because if you don’t put yourself into situations where possibilities arise and watch for good ones they aren’t likely to find you. Therefore I would say, network with people who are likely to be searching for the things you want to discover. Einstein wasn’t a loner; he was close friends with the top physicists in the world. Likewise with Picasso, Shakespeare, Jefferson, etc..
#2 Listen to your lucky hunches. – This sounds like it might be a good idea, but it takes a person with good sense and some accurate information to make their hunches work. So that idea given to most of the readers would be counterproductive.
#3 Expect good fortune. – This is Pollyanna nonsense if it isn’t based on some solid reality and experience. He didn’t use this quote, but I like, “The harder I work the luckier I get.”
#4 Turn your bad luck into good. – That is a wonderful idea if you have the resources and wisdom to do it. But, those resources aren’t created by following # 2 or #3. Keeping a positive attitude without constructive success is difficult, and if one’s actions are based on nonsense the successes are going to be rare. Not to dwell on your misfortunes makes some sense especially if you follow the last line in the book – sans the part called schooling. Take constructive steps to prevent more bad luck. That is a great idea and obvious and makes the whole book meaningful and worthwhile if you can do it. One of my New Year’s Resolutions back in the 60s was
“My goal this year is not to be smart but to avoid being stupid.”

I need help!

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I have decided to write a short book for the Laugh Out Loud diet. The problem becomes that it is necessary to create more than a book to make this non-diet idea work. It needs a whole new industry to promote it if it is going to be successful. And I want it to be super successful because literally billions of people’s lives are at stake. My desire sounds outrageous; after all, I am just one person, but there are approximately a billion people currently reported to be seriously overweight, and their condition brings them health problems and an early death. If I can do something to prevent those people’s deaths it is imperative that I do so. Right? Most people would simply sluff it off and say, “Why bother. It’s their personal problem. Forget it.” I’m accused of being arrogant for even thinking I can do something.

I believe the current diet industry, which is reportedly consuming a half trillion (five hundred billion) dollars per year is a failure because if there was a diet that worked everyone would soon know about it and do it. And yet, it seems those figures must be wrong because it would mean every person was spending a hundred dollars a year on a diet plan. Whatever the spending on diets is, it must be dwarfed by the amount spent on medical bills and lost wages because of the failure of the diet plans and the resulting obesity epidemic.

It isn’t because those people want to fail. I can’t imagine people squandering half a trillion dollars per year doing something they don’t like to do so they will fail. Can you? I don’t know, maybe you can. The problem is that the diet plans that exist are asking people to do things they can’t do and then blaming them for not doing the impossible. The promoters then think and say things like, “It’s your own fault you’re so fat and ugly!” “Obviously, you should eat less and exercise more.”

The Laugh Out Loud diet is laughing at the diet industry’s failure.