Brains or Thumbs?

This article is not about texting.

Most anthropologists agree, at least, this is my understanding of that which I learned in school, that despite weak defenses, humans evolved to dominate the world because of big brains; more sophisticated might be a better term, or it might not.

Many animals have bigger brains than we.

It has been shown that animals are capable of language and that their math skills are far superior to ours. Dolphins and gorillas especially, but who knows how many animals can outwit us? IQ tests are said to be unfair because it is difficult to design them without some cultural bias. How different, then, must an animal’s IQ environment be? Street-smarts over book-smarts, one might say. Who’s to say how many species are more cleverer than us?

The problem, perhaps, isn’t one of intelligence but simply communication.

Some would say that the reason we took over was our thumbs (opposable digits.) Thumbs allowed for tool-making which quickly devolved into an arms-race that goes on to this day.

But, other animals have thumbs, too. So, why not them? Maybe they know love.

Maybe they had the good sense to know that ‘less is more.’ They traveled light. They had the power to defend themselves, but they lacked the desire to dominate, to take everything over. They saw that growth (1 of 8 – 09:17) would only lead to their eventual demise. They had the courage to face the world and its dangers, to do things the hard way, without seeking to insulate themselves more and more from the hardships which make life interesting. Are they foolish or wise? Asian cultures consider that animals kept in captivity are ultimately happy, like they won the lottery of life. The western view differs, thinking it cruel to deprive animals of their freedom (to face danger,) although western culture, strangely enough, reflects this way of thinking by isolating itself from the ‘dangerous’ natural world. Is it in our very essence to imprison ourselves and to weaken ourselves to the point of total dependence? Desmond Morris thinks so.

Instead of spending hours growing food we can eat, we now spend hours growing grass which we throw away. That’s a big red flag.

So maybe there is something else which allows us to dominate, another quality which permits us to lord over all we see, to the point of writing it into our gospels. Maybe it’s a moral quality or a primal arrogance, maybe we are just so physically weak that we have become a paranoid species. “Humanity No# 1 !” Discipline through fear seems pretty natural to humans on many levels.

As Gunnery Sergeant Hartman said, “It is a hard heart that kills.” I would distinguish that it is either a hard heart, or an empty stomach. Killing everyday to eat makes one a pacifist by nature. You don’t want to have to kill during your breaks, too. Killing is hard and it’s dangerous. You only do it when absolutely necessary. Does never killing anything besides a mosquito or a spider cause a buildup of whatever it is that got us here, in the first place? Does not killing result in us not being able to control the urge to kill? Do we need to kill? That would explain a lot. Maybe it isn’t the killing we need, maybe it’s the risk of being killed. That would explain extreme sports.

Maybe it was the combination of language, technology, and hubris that got us here. Maybe it was dumb luck. I wonder what animals must think of our stewardship. After seeing an interesting episode of the CBC’s “The Nature of Things,” I thought about [when a translation device is invented] what kind of questions animals will want to ask us. I also wonder about the answers we will have for them. I also wonder if the government will be involved to put the proper ‘spin’ on the first official inter-species communication. Government, industry, the military, and religion will probably all be represented and involved.

It might be good practice for when the aliens arrive. Come to think of it, it’s probably just hubris… and it’s all down-hill from here.

Why Racism Is Like Smoking

My father smoked four packs of cigarettes per day. The first five years of my life were lived in a smoke-filled environment. I was addicted to smoking before I ever became a smoker. Now I smoke socially – very little.

Donald Sterling was raised in a racist environment. So were most of the older rich white men in the USA. Because of social pressures (and common sense,) most are now only ‘social racists’ if at all. They probably wouldn’t deny visible minorities a job in their companies, but they would probably laugh at an off-colour joke at the country club. They might think twice if their daughter were to marry a black man.

I was raised in a household and a school and a town in which racism was never an issue. I had childhood friends of all sorts, and all were welcome in our house. Racism is as foreign to me as smoking is to the vast majority of people who don’t. I’ve told jokes, socially, which could be considered beyond the pale. I’m not trying to defend the practice, but nobody who knows me would consider me a biggot on any level.

The prevailing opinion is that one is either racist or not. This duality is rather ironic. There are many shades in between. Labelling people as racists because of an off-the-cuff remark or a bad joke would be akin to saying someone is an alcoholic for simply having had a drink.

We all have biases. We might think and have all said that our country is better, our gender is better, our sports team is better, our religious beliefs are better, or our political choices are better for any number of reasons. I find it disingenuous, from a purely philosophical perspective, to label people so quickly and so decisively, especially considering the long-term effects such a moniker can now have, given the pervasiveness of social media. Sadly, our definition of people as we see them (sometimes based only upon a snapshot in time) can over-ride all the good they have done. We are actually depriving ourselves of another acquaintance with much to teach, even if they have some things to learn.

“But it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”

Rachel Dawes – from Batman Begins

I’m not saying that injustices haven’t been committed, I’m not saying that there isn’t a privelege to being a majority (from which I have undoubtedly benefitted,) and I’m not saying that denigration due to skin tone is acceptable. I simply think we should lighten up (figuratively speaking) just a little bit.

 

Is Winning Even Possible?

Can the end be seen; is it visible? Is there a path? Is it even discernible? Sorting the truth from the non-truth, and all the variations therein, seems self-defeating. It seems, most times, that there is no hope. Man has always lived in a condition of servitude, the wealthy have always held power, the ratios haven’t changed.

“So you think we might have put a few people out of business today. That its all for naught. You’ve been doing that everyday for almost forty years Sam. And if this is all for naught then so is everything out there. Its just money; its made up. Pieces of paper with pictures on it so we don’t have to kill each other just to get something to eat. It’s not wrong. And it’s certainly no different today than its ever been. 1637, 1797, 1819, 37, 57, 84, 1901, 07, 29, 1937, 1974, 1987-Jesus, didn’t that fuck me up good-92, 97, 2000 and whatever we want to call this. It’s all just the same thing over and over; we can’t help ourselves. And you and I can’t control it, or stop it, or even slow it. Or even ever-so-slightly alter it. We just react. And we make a lot of money if we get it right. And we get left by the side of the road if we get it wrong. And there have always been and there always will be the same percentage of winners and losers. Happy foxes and sad sacks. Fat cats and starving dogs in this world. Yeah, there may be more of us today than there’s ever been. But the percentages-they stay exactly the same. “

– Jeremy Irons as John Tuld from the movie “Margin Call.”

Let me begin by saying that if there is no solution, nihilism wins, the universe will get colder, and humanity is a temporary condition in a losing proposition. If there is an end goal to our technological progression, if there is a long-term reason for our ingenuity, be it immortality, or time travel, whatever, if there is a summum to our bonum, then we must figure out a way to attain our potential instead of being held back by our own particular ‘destinies.’

Let’s assume, for the benefit of this article, that there is a way for us to beat the system, that we can become emancipated from the continuous drudgery of life as we have come to accept it, and that we can improve the human condition. This is quite an assumption (for many reasons,) but let’s just start from there; it will simplify the discourse.

The one thing which we must consider at this point is that every war ever fought (yes, even the French revolution and the American war of secession) was a contrivance. There is no war possible but a class war, otherwise we are simply fighting to protect the interests of those who hold us in bondage. The struggle for freedom is class-based, and there can be no other way to sovereignty.

“And his hands would plait the priest’s entrails, For want of a rope, to strangle kings.”

“Et ses mains ourdiraient les entrailles du prêtre,
Au défaut d’un cordon pour étrangler les rois.”

Les Éleuthéromanes, in Poésies Diverses (1875) – Denis Diderot

There is a relationship which exists between the crown and the cross. From ancient Egypt to modern England, there has always been an interplay between the divine and the sovereign. To deny the monarchy exclusive access to the divine is an emancipation of our very souls.

For who is there that does not see, to whose benefit it conduceth, to have it believed, that a King hath not his Authority from Christ, unlesse a Bishop crown him?Leviathan (1651) – Thomas Hobbes

If there is to be any freedom, not only the people who control the system, but the very system itself must be brought down, not to be replaced with a surrogate, but with something so completely novel that power itself is seen in its true light. Nationalism, religion, food distribution, inequality, and all the other divisive pillars of what we call civilisation must be re-examined. To be a patriot is to abhor all that is not native to one’s culture. To follow a flag is an exercise of submission. A pledge of allegiance is a denial of equality. Religious sectarianism is nothing more than cultism, no matter how convincing the rhetoric. The golden age of Hegelistic thought must end for there to be any semblance of equality and personal sovereignty.

If centralization has not worked under any economic system, perhaps we must go in another direction. If Americanism (disaster capitalism*) has not fulfilled the needs of the populace, there must be another way, and we owe it to ourselves to find it. Whether that way be metallism, anarchy, direct democracy, autonomous collectivism, controlled despotism, or a return to a monarchistic city-state, we must, eventually, find a path which will protect the rights of all, allow co-operation rather than competition, glorify good deeds over good deals, and bring actual meaning to our lives, not just ‘progress’ – whatever that means, ‘growth,’ and personal profit.

[Perhaps, if man were immortal, he would think more of others. He wouldn’t be gone by the time his deeds were known; he would have to live with them forever.]

Would you sell weapons for profit, thus helping your family to buy food? Would you steal rations from dead soldiers to feed your family? Would you kill to protect them? What is evil, then? Evil can be justified as pre-emptive self-defence. If there is no aggression, there is no need to defend. Co-operation, then, is critical to ensure peace, competition will inevitably lead to war. Defence, on the other hand, is essential to a free life. Self-defence is an unalienable right… that doesn’t make it more desirable as a means of communication.

Negotiation always comes from a position of power, authority, or truth. We need not negotiate for that which is already ours.

Can we change the world? We say we always have. But have we really? It’s like painting the walls of a very old house. It’s a change, technically speaking, but the architecture remains in place.


* An example of disaster capitalism:

Derivatives insure crops against failure by multiples of the value of said crop, so a field with one million dollars worth of wheat can be worth two million in insurance if disaster strikes. At the same time, insurance companies in Calgary funded cloud-seeding projects in order to move hailstorms away from the city and down-wind into the farms because it was cheaper to insure failed crops than a parking lot full of SUVs. Not only was it cheaper, the derivatives against the crop hedged for huge profits.) When it is in the best interests of shareholders of a corporation to lay waste to crops (in order to cash in on the derivatives taken against them,) all manner of geo-engineering is undertaken and food-security is lost to the populace. Not only do these companies profit from natural disasters, they are financially motivated to cause them. This is very similar to the scenario which brought Lehman down.

Knowlege vs. Intel’gence

Knowledge from Your Dictionary:

“Knowledge is defined as what is learned, understood or aware of.”

A collection of definitions of ‘knowledge.’

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think
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Intelligence from Wordsmyth:

“-the capacity to learn, reason, and understand
-the demonstration of such capacity”
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A Collection of Definitions of Intelligence.

Knowledge is the awareness of information retained.
Intelligence is the ability to manipulate and use said information.
If knowledge is learning the alphabet and knowing words, intelligence is crafting sentences and communicating efficiently.

“In an organizational context, knowledge is the sum of what is known and resides in the intelligence and the competence of people.”

Intelligence, indeed, has many components, but it can also be seen as a process.

  • attention
  • memory
  • pattern recognition
  • discretion
  • synthesis
  • manipulation
  • usage
  • speed
  • recall
  • interpretation
  • implementation
  • evaluation

Not only is intelligence complex, it is as broad as it is tall.

“E=mc^2” has become something of a badge of intelligence although it displays nothing but information. It was arrived at, however, using nothing but pure intelligence (and lotsa’ chalk.)

“Achieving complex goals in complex environments” B. Goertzel

In AI terms, intelligence means accomplishment of a mission. This implies that success is an integral part of intelligence. Truly, if it didn’t work, it wasn’t an intelligent conclusion to have reached, or supposition to begin with.

The only thing necessary for something which is wrong to be accepted is agreement (faith, consensus, belief.)

“What a misfortune it is that we should thus be compelled to let our boys’ schooling interfere with their education!” Grant Allen

Genius describes one who knows more about a particular subject (or subjects) than almost everybody else in the world, or is seen to. The knowledge behind the intelligence to put it all together is very vertical in nature. It needs to be. Like a focused beam of light, it can reach farther. In this case, a narrower base builds a taller tower. A genius can often experience serious failings in other areas, though. Genius is relative.

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serveimage4
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Wisdom is something else altogether. Wisdom has more to do with judgement.

“Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” -Evan Hardin

So, one could say that wisdom comes from a lack of wisdom.
But that would be stupid.
Stupid does not mean ignorant, in the same way that intelligent does not mean knowledgeable.

Ignorant simply means not knowing. Everyone has a similar capacity to learn, it is simply that we are not all interested by the same things, and so if I am ignorant in your particular field of expertise, you view me as a moron; but you are equally ignorant in my field, and so who is stupid? Both of us? Neither? Remember that we all think we are good drivers yet we think most others are not.

And then there’s just looking smart.

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dilbert

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Dumb – not being able to say and having nothing good to say are seen as equivalent… but that is another subject, altogether.

Divisiveness

Everything in life which has been given importance works to divide us.

Capitalism leads to competition, it divides us into competing groups (corporations) or competitive entrepreneurs, who must each compete with each other by increasing service while decreasing cost. It is conflict which drives each market, sector, and industry. We must even compete for our jobs. We must all be better by working more and getting less value for our own time, and all for the greater good of society. Time is, after all, the only thing with which we are all born. Time is the ultimate non-renewable resource. Good is also a relative term. The more time we spend working for the good of our family, the less time we have to spend at home to raise our families properly. Since we cannot do it ourselves, the state must do it for us. Through babysitters, day-care workers, teachers, tutors, coaches, mentors, religious leaders, and nannies do we educate our children by using their morals, values, ethics, and philosophies as proxy to our own. Is this actually good? Does this lead to the betterment of society or simply a ‘lowest common-denominator’ way of looking at education. Does this improve the independance, empowerment, and decision-making ability of our kids or does it hinder their development? Increased competition has led to both parents being away from their children just to maintain the same level of comfort our parents enjoyed. We also have less time for our friends, of which we have more now. Can this be considered inflationary economics vis-a-vis relationships and familial life?

Thanks to the hightened sense of capitalistic values (or the negative view on communistic ones,) committee work is sneered at. A committee is considered to result in the lowest common denominator of the decision process instead of leading to a greater coverage of the areas involved. Ayn Rand had much to say on this subject. Capitalism has always been pitted against communism (democracy and socialism are terms of governance) as if there were no alternatives other than those two, as either can lead to fascism (which is a state solution to competition as it eliminates all forms of conflict through authoritarian rule, much like Monarchy.)

Democracy, which has become synonymous with capitalism in the west, also leads to factions: there’s the right and the left, the red and the blue, the Republicans and the Democrats, all very Jungian. Factions of factions are also present and evolving; centrist (fence-sitting,) center-right, center-left, and all the attendant sub-categories lead to more and more levels upon which to disagree. Whether you’re an elephant or a donkey, it’s always a fight against the other team (or combination of other teams) instead of working together to find common solutions.

Religious sects are a perfect example of this be they Catholics versus Protestants, Sunni versus Shia, Reform and Orthodox Judaism, or Hinduism, which is a veritable cacaphony of conflicting ideologies.

Sports, either individual or team, also bring the dualistic paradigm into sharp focus. Even reality shows are a competition. Sure, the teams must work together at times, but the end result is always the elimination of certain members such that in the end, there can be only one, the so-called winner. Victorious and alone, like the Highlander, confined to a life of solitude. This is better?

Sex is the ultimate competition. Whose genes will be passed on? What is the goal here, to solely populate the earth with one gene pool? This is surely not better. We all compete for the best mate but then lose interest after a decade or so only to start competing again, but this time with lesser resources. This has less to do with progeny than with ego, though. But ego has led to many people bringing competition in this market to the level of changing themselves physically, often with terrible consequences. Is fake ‘perfect’ better than real unique?

Everything, it would seem, is a war now. The war on terror, the war on drugs, the battle for the environment, it would seem as though the competition has been brought to its ultimate level in all aspects of our lives. Advertising displays this violent mentality better still – “We must beat the competition to bring you the best.” Wouldn’t working with the competition bring about a better deal in the end?

A good example of this is the automotive industry. It can be argued that without cars, there would be no pollution, no oil dependancy, no wars, and a lot less stress. This may be stretching things somewhat, but a case could be made. The point is that public transport would be at a far higher level than it is at today because if all those companies that try to build a ‘better’ car would have worked together and pooled their resources from the start, we’d be able to go anywhere in the world in an hour, and for a pittance. The basic structure of our thinking which has produced this economy that glorifies our duality and competitive ‘nature’ is at fault.

Is it in our nature to compete or is it more akin to humanity to work together? Different societies will have differing views on this, but beneath all that, beneath the modern constructs and psychological affectations, have societies and whole civilizations not arisen by working together? Is that not what is meant by community?

The truth of the matter is that we have been influenced, to a great extent, by those who would have us working more such that they may work less. They don’t want us working together, that’s how revolutions happen. They want us focused on bringing each other down so that we cannot climb upon our brothers’ and sisters’ shoulders for a glimpse at our own emancipation. The lazy rise to the top in our society, not the hard-working. It is always through top-down pressure that terms like team-player, overtime, austerity, trickle-down, and company-man find favour. We have been conditioned to think like those we wish to emulate. We have forgotten, it would seem, that it does tend to be lonely at the top. When team-work is given the true status it deserves, it can get to be quite dangerous there, as well.

 

 

 

Knowledge Is Power

ipsa scientia potestas est”

Meditationes Sacrae (1597) – Sir Francis Bacon

Physics tells us that power equals work over time (P=W/t.) If knowledge is power and time is money, we can substitute: knowledge equals work over money. Therefore, the ratio between knowledge and money is inversely proportional. Ergo, the more money you make, the less you probably know; or conversely, the more you know, the less you are likely to make.

Possibly also, the more money one has, the less one needs to know.

High-paying jobs are usually very pointed, very specific as far as knowledge goes. In this case, a broader base does not a taller tower make. More like a laser beam, a narrow base creates a more focused and distant reach.

This is why schooling equals ‘success’ and education equals freedom.

Furthermore, work is defined as force times distance (W=F*d.) Work, therefore, requires exertion and movement.

Work is also the product of power and time (or knowledge and money,) but since they are inversely proportional, it is a zero-sum. In other words, all work is equal in value, unless it requires no exertion, in which case it isn’t work at all.

A telling point is that the combination of knowledge and money portends force at a distance.

So the next time someone with soft hands tells you they’ve worked hard to get where they are, or that they’ve earned everything they’ve gotten through being smart, either they don’t understand the facts, or they’re lying. Maybe both.

This isn’t just an opinion; it’s math, it’s physics, it’s science!

It Ain’t DAT…

It’s DEY.

Nobody knows when to use WHOM. I get that. It’s at a higher level of linguistic complexity than is ordinarily encountered… fine.

The problem is, nobody knows how to use WHO any more, either.

WHO is used to indicate a human being; THAT is used to indicate a thing such as an object, an institution, a concept, a body etc.

“The home THAT I lived in.”

“The dog THAT ate my homework.”

“The company THAT hired me to work on THAT machine.”

“The person WHO helped me.”

“The woman WHO gave birth.”

“The man WHO corrected my syntax, and in so doing, improved my grammar.”

More and more …and I’ve been hearing this since I can remember… people: reporters; pundits; news anchors; professors; translators; lawyers; poets; priests; and politicians, WHO all have words to thank for their positions (-Sting,) have been making THAT very mistake during public announcements, pronouncements, disclosures, and discourse.

“The woman THAT… ”

“The guy THAT… ”

I’ve even heard, “The dog WHO… ” but that was unique.

Much more prevalent, and worse yet, “The company WHO hired a thousand people THAT all applied for a job” or something similar is rather common nowadays.

WHO is only ever used to distinguish a corporation, and never to describe an individual… anymore. A man, a woman, a child, a grandmother is reduced to a thing, a commodity perhaps. Corp-or-ations (em-body-ments) are promoted to the noble rank; as though a company had a soul. It is a pleasant construct, but one based primarily on techniques of motivation found throughout the subject of organizational behaviour. Even if a company could be said to have a soul, it should surely not supercede the soul of a man, woman, or a child; should it?

Let’s get back to the habit, as it has always existed, of showing ourselves and each other… a little respect (-AF.) Let’s call each other WHO, and leave THAT for the heartless legal fictions THAT make up this power structure, this architecture, this, this, netherworld we survive in. Commerce is akin to magic, to dark matter. Commerce is the anything machine of the world. Therefore, as a machine, it should be put in its place beneath us, it should show deference, and it should be represented by THAT.

“WHO are you?”

“Are you THAT man?”

“…THAT man WHO did THAT thing?”

“THAT was me.”

“I’m THAT man, THAT man WHO did THAT thing.”