“Lasting happiness comes only from serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 390). HarperCollins.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Complaining about the weather in California is like someone who makes $250,000 a year telling you how hard it is to make ends meet. I understand what they mean but have a hard time sympathizing.
For about a ten days or so here in the Golden Hills of El Dorado the skies have been mostly overcast with a light rain now and then punctuated by the light show that accompanies wonderfully loud thunderstorms. Because I still fear the thunder, I pull the sheets up about my ears.
One day, the internet router stopped working leaving me unable to access Facebook, HRM could not get into YouTube and Dick well… whatever. We desperately searched for the cause — unsuccessfully. It reminded me of many years ago running around the house with the Rabbit Ears, trying to clear the dreaded snow from the television screen so that I could watch Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.
Anyway, I ended up calling India or someplace like that where someone who I could barely understand re-booted the router and tried to sell me an application that he promised would allow me to fix it on my own in the future.
My plans for the summer continue to be unresolved. So far all that is settled is that I will leave on June 4 for Mendocino, then depart for Milan on the June 9. After that who knows. Sometime at the end of June or even early July, I will travel to Thailand and stay there for one or two months.
Jason and I are looking to buy a home in the Sabina area of Italy. This is the one we seem to have settled on. It has two bedrooms and comes with 57 producing commercial olive trees
I have been reconsidering the presidential primary elections now that the number of candidates has been reduced to two and one-half. I used to think this year’s primary process was absurd and have written some snarky pieces about them here and elsewhere. The ridiculous behavior of many of the candidates and the vicious conduct of many of their supporters have turned the process of electing a President into an embarrassment for the electorate as the candidates and their groupies descend from schoolboy taunts to vicious and misleading attacks. Nevertheless, I suspect, something has emerged that transcends the words and policies of the candidates. Something that may be more revolutionary.
With Trump, what separated him from his primary opponents seems to be his appeal to the white male working class, frustrated at the bleakness of their lives. He promises them, at least, the comfort of symbols — pride, flag, country and a God of sorts. On the other side, Sanders has also attracted in great numbers the young white males, in his case from the intellectual elite and middle classes. White males, no longer the dominant voting block, have become a swing group. Still powerful because their interests or fantasies are reflected in the bias of the media to a far greater extent than the interests or fantasies of any other segment of the electorate — women, the young, the old, other defined minorities and so on.
In the middle, Clinton seems the favorite of women and most of those groups deemed non-white. All three candidates have focused their policies and appeals primarily on those groups who see in them the solution to their concerns about our society and their role in it. In other words, on one side there are the concerns and interests of women and the non-white minorities and on the other the white males divided into two groups by ideology and social standing.
The hatred of white males toward Clinton is unprecedented. Those supporting Trump and Sanders seem to be saying that somewhere there may a woman who could be acceptable to us but just not this one, even if most women disagree.
This Presidential election seems to be more or less a replay of the last two, except where the liberal white males joined in with minority voters and women to enable a black man to win they now are adrift and threaten not to vote if their choice is not nominated. Since American elections are decided not by who votes but who does not vote, these voters threaten to sit the election out to throw away their votes thereby effectively joining forces with those white males energized to vote for the candidate of the party they usually oppose.
Trump has no real policies to better the lives of his supporters. He does, however, assure them a balm to their fears and a slice of pride. Bernie, on the other hand, promises an updated traditional New Deal type Democratic solution to certain long-simmering economic problems. He is not particularly focused on the social issues faced by minorities and women.
Clinton, unlike the other two candidates who concentrate on a few hot-button issues that appeal to their primarily white male supporters, understands the job of a President encompasses much more than a simplistic appeal to the concerns of their primary support groups (e.g., Targeting Immigrants and Muslims or wall street and the rich). Nevertheless, she has her own support groups, women, non-white minorities and children on whom she focusses her attention. And that is her revolution.
It is not whether she is acceptable to white males (or males in general) because she speaks out on issues they believe important (like for example, Warren does about Wall Street or say Bachman on immigrants) that matters, but her concentration on female empowerment, something most men either fear or do not understand. It is not enough, for example, to restore Glass-Steagall to law and leave the male hierarchy intact in order to ameliorate the discomfort both the Trump and Sanders supporters have with Wall Street’s domination of the economy and the political process. Her revolution is her determination that the board rooms should also be dominated by women and minorities (preferably female minorities) and the hedge funds be run by women managers. Take a look at her proposal for the Federal Reserve. It calls not simply for the removal of the bankers on the boards, a proposal on which both she and Bernie agree, but their replacement by women and minorities so that the board looks and acts more like America. This is the revolution.
These have always been a central theme of Clinton’s policies ever since she first stepped into the public arena. If she is successful, it promises to become the major and most lasting revolution of the millennium.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
While trolling through back issues of T&T, I came across a report of the following conversation I had with HRM in 2012 as we were driving back from the Bay Area after some medical tests:
“During the drive, I explained to Hayden that he had to make sure I did not fall asleep due to any residual effects of the anesthesia. So we played ‘What am I thinking.’ A game I learned from the Dalls as something they used on long drives to divert their children. At one point, during a lull in the game I mentioned to H. that talking was a good thing to do to keep me awake.
‘In that case, there is something you should know about me. I am really an alien from Cluton sent here by my parents. That is why I act like I do. I have three hearts and five stomachs one of which is dedicated exclusively to digesting fish smoothies. I also have three butts one of which I lost during the Butt Wars which we lost and is why my parents sent me here to earth. I am filled with ‘joy bubbles’ which allow me to float in air or water if I want. You should also know that music makes me crazy.’
With that, he turned on the radio to a music station and acted…well crazy until finally and thankfully he shut the radio off.
A few days later I learned about a television show, Marvin Marvin, about a boy also from Cluton who lives with an American family. Hayden tells me Marvin is his best friend and they arrived from Cluton together.
Hayden made me promise I would tell no one of his confession because if they learned he was an alien they would send him back to Cluton. I figured that the well-known discretion exhibited by readers of ‘This and that…’ would permit them to fall within the class of no one.”
“Today, the earth’s continents are home to billions of Sapiens. If you took all these people and put them on a large set of scales, their combined mass would be about 300 million tons. If you then took all our domesticated farmyard animals – cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens – and placed them on an even larger set of scales, their mass would amount to about 700 million tons. In contrast, the combined mass of all surviving large wild animals – from porcupines and penguins to elephants and whales – is less than 100 million tons. Our children’s books, our iconography, and our TV screens are still full of giraffes, wolves and chimpanzees, but the real world has very few of them left. There are about 80,000 giraffes in the world, compared to 1.5 billion cattle; only 200,000 wolves, compared to 400 million domesticated dogs; only 250,000 chimpanzees – in contrast to billions of humans. Humankind really has taken over the world.”
Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (p. 350). HarperCollins.
A. Simple Psychology: Dunning—Kruger Effect.
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer an illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.
In my experience, the D—K effect among highly skilled individuals is their mistaken assessment of their ability to explain what they do to themselves as well as to the so-called relatively unskilled.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
For at least 10,000 years or so virtually every political system, economic system and religion has been designed by men for men. There is no natural or divine law that requires any of these structures to be designed in the way that they have been. During those same 10,000 years, every justification of those structures has been developed by men to benefit men.
C. Today’s Poem:
Sculpture of the poet Taliesin on permanent loan to the Order of Sancta Sophia, Pennal.
“I have been many things,
Before becoming as I am.
I have been a narrow multi-colored sword.
I have been a tear in the air.
I have lived as the faintest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
A book among words.”*
Taliesin, 500 ACE
(*My revisions to translation).
The Birth of Taliesin:
Ceridwen and Gwion Bach by Tim Rossiter.
“The magical story of Taliesin (t-ah l-ee eh-sin) – Hanes Taliesin – begins with the goddess Ceridwen (KEH-rihd-wehn) stirring her Cauldron over her cooking fire. Ceridwen is the triple-goddess in her form as elder or ‘crone’. Her Cauldron is the source of everything, for she is God in the aspect of Creator. At this point, the Cauldron is the source of poetic inspiration (awen in Welsh) and of all wisdom and knowledge. She has her son Gwion Bach (which might be translated “Little Man-ling”) stir and watch the pot. Accidentally, three drops fall from the Cauldron onto Gwion’s thumb, and he sucks his thumb. With this act he becomes filled with all knowledge – and, seeing danger ahead for himself, scurries.
There follows a magic hunt, in which Ceridwen chases Gwion, Gwion shape-shifts into a hare, then an otter, then a bird, and Ceridwen shape-shifts in pursuit. Gwion then becomes an ear of grain and Ceridwen turns herself into a hen and eats him. The symbolic meaning is fairly transparent: Gwion, the archetypal Human Person, acquiring a little wisdom, flees from fire (the cauldron) via earth (hare), water (otter) and air (bird), all of them changing forms within the great cosmic delusion of Creation (hence, “shape shifting”); but the Divine Mother is in constant pursuit, ever coaxing Her child back to Herself. Eventually, the Human becomes totally humble, submitting himself to a state of being (one grain) in which he can be wholly absorbed into the Divine Consciousness…….
…..and, as often happens in a story when grain is a symbol, he is reborn. The Hanes Taliesin tells us that Gwion now spends nine months in the womb of Ceridwen and is then reborn as Taliesin. Ceridwen wills neither to keep him nor to kill him, so she leaves him in a basket by Gwyddno’s royal salmon weir. There he is found by Prince Elffin, son of King Gwyddno Garanhir of Ceredigion.
Elffin is frustrated. He was there, allowed to fish for salmon for the first time in his life, and instead of catching any he caught this darned baby. The baby Taliesin immediately sings Elffin a poem, in which he proclaims himself “loquacious though not yet able to speak” (reminiscent of Krishna’s comparably surprising day-of-birth speech to his father), informs him “I was once little Gwion Bach but now I am Taliesin”, and promises the young prince that he will one day be worth more to him than even as inconceivably big a day’s catch as three hundred salmon.”
“Is it possible that the relationship between humanity and evil is similar to the relationship between the ocean and an iceberg floating on its surface? Both the ocean and the iceberg are made of the same material. That the iceberg seems separate is only because it is in a different form. In reality, it is but a part of the vast ocean.… It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race.”
Liu, Cixin. The Three-Body Problem (p. 28). Tom Doherty Associates.