Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

Were Joseph and Mary Refugees?

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Joseph and Mary

The Huffington Post — Andy Campbell writes: Away in a manger was really, really far away.

As we celebrate Christmas amid the biggest mass migration of people since World War II, it’s worth noting how the plight of refugees fleeing turmoil in the Middle East echoes the holiday’s origins.

While the story of Christmas is one of triumph — of angels and wise men celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ — it’s also about Mary and Joseph’s dangerous journey, some 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to register for a census. In a town too full to house them. With a baby who didn’t exactly have his paperwork in order.

There’s plenty to debate about whether Jesus, Mary and Joseph were actual refugees — but history shows that they certainly followed an arduous path, under government rule, to a place where their child would not be welcome. …

And their hardships were far from over once Jesus was born. King Herod, worried that Jesus threatened his crown, had all of Bethlehem’s children 2 years old and younger slaughtered. Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt, by foot and on a donkey, where they lived in exile for years.

What does it feel like to be forced out of your home under threat of death, travel across nations through unwelcome terrain, only to arrive at your destination feeling helpless, unprotected and vulnerable?

Syrian refugees know, because they’ve made the same journey. (12/26/2015)


Synergic Containment: Protecting Humanity

Friday, December 18th, 2015

Timothy Wilken, MD

Future PositiveTimothy Wilken, MD writes: This is not a criticism of the federal officers who were involved in the adversary containment at the Branch Davidian Church. Clearly the members of that church were heavily armed and dangerous. But as a thought experiment, how would synergic containment work differently than adversary containment? …

Those within the compound would then be ordered to put down their weapons and move out to the perimeter to voluntarily enter into protective custody. Those being contained would have a short time to voluntarily surrender. If there was no response, or a hostile response, the Synergic Containment Force would begin Containment Isolation of  the compound. Once Containment Isolation is implemented, nothing goes in. Access to electricity, television, telephone, water, food and all outside supplies are a privilege to members of community in good standing. That privilege is suspended.

Nothing goes in. Every thing would stop! Then the Containment Force would sit back and wait for them to come out. Any unarmed member of the church could leave anytime by simply presenting to the rescue corridor for safe escort to the perimeter where they could voluntarily enter protective custody. Once out, no one goes back in unless and until Synergic Containment is lifted. The compound would not be stormed or attacked in anyway. No barrage of noise, loud music, or teargas. They would be left to themselves without phones, television, newspapers, mail, electricity, water, etc.etc..

They are not being punished. The benefits of community are being suspended until they cease all adversity. I expect that most of the members would have come out and surrendered. Perhaps not all. Once each day, the containment force would explicitly communicate with the contained adversaries, reminding them that safety, food, water, shelter and medical care wait for them at the perimeter. It would be made clear that to exit the containment zone, they need only put down their weapons and present to the rescue corridor, or perimeter. Any individual–adult or child–that did so would be given protection, water, food, medical care and shelter. (12/18/2015)


Understanding Mechanism and Consequence

Sunday, November 17th, 2013
CommUnity of Minds

First Atomic Bomb Explosion

CommUnity of Minds — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: Human intelligence develops over time and can achieve four levels of understanding. We start with PERCEPTION then develop and sometimes master CONCEPTION, then develop and sometimes master MECHANISM and finally develop and sometimes master CONSEQUENCE. These levels are sequential–CONCEPTION follows and depends on first mastering PERCEPTION, MECHANISM follows and depends on first mastering CONCEPTION, and  finally CONSEQUENCE follows and depends on first mastering MECHANISM.

It is possible for most humans to understand, and then master their intelligence fully. Those who choose to do so, can with practice, develop the ability to access five modes of thinking: Survive, Adapt, Control, Create, and Co-Operate at will. With additional study and contemplation they can gain mastery of the four levels of knowing: PERCEPTION, CONCEPTION, MECHANISM, and CONSEQUENCE.

PERCEPTION is the understanding of space and sameness—spacial integrity— recognizing WHAT is associated with Good Space and WHAT is associated with Bad Space. PERCEPTION is also knowing WHERE to go to enable or avoid a recognized event—knowing WHERE to go to secure Good Space and WHERE to go to avoid Bad Space. PERCEPTION enables the ability of Adaptation.

CONCEPTION is the understanding of time and difference—temporal sequence—local cause and effect, and from that understanding knowing WHEN to act in time to encourage a desired event, or WHEN to act in time to discourage an undesired event from occurring. CONCEPTION enables the ability of Control.

MECHANISM is the understanding of HOW things work together—what events and actions are necessary to produce a desired resultant—knowing how PERCEPTION and CONCEPTION relate to each other. MECHANISM enables the ability of Creation.

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the understanding of the potential risks and benefits of our actions and their effects on our selves and upon others. CONSEQUENCE enables the ability of Co-Operation.

Let me provide one example of these four levels of knowing, and how they might apply to one problem currently threatening our civilization. As Albert Einstein warned us over sixty-six years ago: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

Einstein had discovered one of Nature’s MECHANISMS: E=mc2

The scientists and technicians working at the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico used their KnowHow to weaponize this MECHANISM of Nature with the creation of nuclear bombs.

Now let us examine the threat of nuclear weapons from the perspective of our four levels of human knowing.

PERCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to adapt to a nuclear event — to know what is associated with a nuclear blast, and to know where to go to escape from the blast of a nuclear weapon. Where is Good Space? Where can I go to avoid Bad Space?

CONCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to control a nuclear event — to know when to act to either detonate, or deactivate a nuclear weapon. What is the proper sequence of actions to control the process? And, when do I enter the activation code? Or, when do I enter the deactivation code?

MECHANISM is the level of knowing necessary to create a nuclear event — to know how reality allows the forces of nature to interact and result in a nuclear explosion — E=mc2. And, it also is the level of understanding necessary to invent and manufacture the technology of a nuclear weapon — the Manhattan Project. How do I design a nuclear device?

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the level of knowing necessary in order to co-Operate — to know why we should never have created nuclear weapons in the first place. Why are we creating these devices? What will be the consequence of their existence? (11/17/2013)


World Peace and Other Infinite Possibilities

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

John HunterFuture Positive— Karyn M. Peterson interviews Educator, John Hunter. At the start of a national tour to promote his new book about his experiences teaching the game, World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements (Houghton Harcourt, 2013), Hunter addressed the crowd at SLJ’s recent Public Library Leadership Think Tank, then sat down to speak to us about unlocking kids’ infinite potential, his faith in kids to improve our world, and how he daily inspires (and is inspired by) his students.

At our Think Tank, you spoke about the lasting impact of even the smallest gestures. Can you tell us more about this concept?

We are completely interdependent; this is what I’ve come to understand and see. Everything I do is important to someone in that room or someone connected to them. So I’m obligated to do the best that I possibly can every moment. I constantly have to work at that every day so that I can be less of a barrier or an obstacle to their learning. My students have come back over decades now to let me know the range and effect of gestures I’ve made, of words I’ve said, of things we’ve done. And I’m sure every teacher has instances like this. So this circle of influence that you might have can be so broad. …

Did you always want to be a teacher?

Really, in some ways I’m an introvert who just happens to appear to be an extrovert. There was a moment in Japan—I’m sitting in this 500-year-old cypress wood meditation hall on a bamboo-covered mountainside near the Sea of Japan—and I thought, ‘You know, this is where I should be. I really don’t need to go anywhere else.’ But I had obligations; I had things to do in the world. Had I not been a teacher, I was very inclined to find a place like that and simply go into meditation.

So how do you summon your inner extrovert? Or embrace it?

The foundation was of course, I had a very happy life. My parents were both very sweet and loving, so it was a very quiet family life. And that calm safety that we had in the home made a comfort in the world. And so going out into it, I didn’t feel defensive or afraid.

How that transformed to be more of a performance art, like teaching? Well, it was called for. In a classroom…[you] really bring every tool that you have to the situation. You adapt and become whatever creature you must. You’re an academic and social amphibian; you grow gills when you have to and you drop fins when you have to, to help children be what they need to be.  And playing in a band doesn’t hurt either! I had a studio practice for about 20 years, sound design, ambient music, Waveform Records. It’s still something I do in what little spare time I have.

Do you bring music into the classroom as well?

Absolutely! Some children like it to be quiet, so we’re quiet sometimes, but there may be some Miles Davis in the background, “Sketches of Spain,” something very open and spacious.

I take the children through different modalities of thinking using Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, [with] eight different pieces of music, all within the space of an hour. It’s astounding what they do in that time [and] music is the springboard for that. I want them to have an expanded world, so I’m playing Indonesian gamelan or opera arias or glitchcore from Vladislav Delay, this Finnish DJ—something they’re not going to run into on the radio or around the house.

And the library was fundamental in that, too! In the Richmond Public Library when I was a young man, I would go and check out  records. I listened to Turkish music, to music from the bauls of India. That library was instrumental in my becoming who I was musically.

How has your teaching shaped your vision of the future?

I’m completely optimistic. There is no doubt in my mind that high school students can save this planet completely, in every way. No doubt. They’re relentlessly compassionate. The more we empower those young people to be in charge…the better off we’ll be.

Is compassion the most important legacy of your World Peace game?

How else can we be if we’re going to survive? It’s our fundamental as human beings…preemptively going at things with kindness gives a little bit of ease to every difficult situation we face. (06/03/2013)


Helping Ourselves

Sunday, April 21st, 2013 Gifting Earth — Timothy Wilken writes: Dearest Community, I want to share a powerful new tool for co-operation with you.

This tool is a gift from me to you — a gift from me to every member of my human family. It is available as a free online website that enables a community of users to easily help and be helped through the gifting and sharing of: Goods, Services, Knowledge and Compassion.

I want to thank all of you that have joined us. If you haven’t joined yet, it’s really easy, just click on the New Account link at the top of every page on TGE. Then you can begin to help others by gifting and sharing, and others can begin to help you by gifting and sharing.

Why The Gifting Earth?

We humans are really one people. We share one earth — breathe one air — drink one water.

The impact of our human oneness means that we are an interdependent species — sometimes I will need your help, and sometimes you will need mine.

We are at our best when we work together and trust each other.

How does it work?

The Gifting Earth is based on one rule: Be Love.

If you choose to Be Love then you can only Do Good, and if you only Do Good, you will discover that your community so values you that it will insure that you Have Everything you need and want.

What is it?

Imagine a world where Co-Operation has displaced Market — a world where GIFTors and GIFTees have displaced sellers and buyers.

In your role as a GIFTor, you will help others within the community. In your role as a GIFTee, you will be helped by other members within the community.

So Be Love, Do Good, and Have Everything.

When humans work together, we can solve the most difficult of problems, and really make the world a much better place for all of us. As John Lennon once wrote:

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world …

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

Someday is here! See the Video and then join us at The Gifting Earth! You are welcome to share this message with anyone you like. The more of us gifting and sharing, the better our world can be! (04/21/2013)


The Art of Asking

Saturday, March 16th, 2013


Storing Sonnets on DNA?

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

NPR  — English critic Samuel Johnson once said of William Shakespeare “that his drama is the mirror of life.” Now the Bard’s words have been translated into life’s most basic language. British scientists have stored all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets on tiny stretches of DNA.

It all started with two men in a pub. Ewan Birney and Nick Goldman, both scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute, were drinking beer and discussing a problem.

Their institute manages a huge database of genetic information: thousands and thousands of genes from humans and corn and pufferfish. That data — and all the hard drives and the electricity used to power them — is getting pretty expensive.”The data we’re being asked to be guardians of is growing exponentially,” Goldman says. “But our budgets are not growing exponentially.”

It’s a problem faced by many large companies with expanding archives. Luckily, the solution was right in front of the researchers — they worked with it every day. “We realized that DNA itself is a really efficient way of storing information,” Goldman says.

DNA is nature’s hard drive, a permanent record of genetic information written in a chemical language. There are just four letters in DNA’s alphabet — the four nucleotides commonly abbreviated as A, C, G and T.

When these letters are arranged in different ways, they spell out different instructions for our cells. Some 3 billion of those letters make up the human genome — the entire instruction manual for our existence. And all that information is stuffed into each cell in our bodies. DNA is millions of times more compact than the hard drive in your computer.

The challenge before Goldman and his colleagues was to make DNA store a digital file instead of genetic information. “So over a second beer, we started to write on napkins and sketch out some details of how that might be made to work,” Goldman says.

They started with a text file of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. In the computer’s most basic language, it existed as a series of zeroes and ones. With a simple cipher, the scientists translated these zeroes and ones into the letters of DNA.

And then they did the same for the rest of Shakespeare’s sonnets, an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and a picture of their office. They sent that code off to Agilent Technologies, a biotech company. Agilent synthesized the DNA and mailed it back to Goldman. (01/27/13)


In Plain Sight: A Debt Solution for the People

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Common Dreams — Ellen Brown writes: The Trillion Dollar Coin: Far from being a gimmick, having the U.S. Treasury mint high-denomination coins is a solution that cuts to the root of America’s financial problems. And Benjamin Franklin would have liked it, too. …

We have forgotten the role that money issued directly by the government has played in our history. The American colonists did not think it was silly when they escaped a grinding debt to British bankers and a chronically short money supply by printing their own paper scrip, an innovative solution that allowed the colonies to thrive.

Many people believe that the U.S. government creates its own money. This is not true. Today, the Federal Reserve creates trillions of dollars on its books and lends them at near-zero interest to private banks, which then lend them back to the government and the people at market rates. We have been brainwashed into thinking that it makes more sense to do this than for the government to simply create the money itself, debt- and interest-free.

In fact, the trillion dollar coin represents one of the most important principles of popular prosperity ever conceived: nations should be free to create their own money without incurring debt. Some of our greatest leaders, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln, promoted this essential strategy. They realized that the freedom to print money offers a way to break the shackles of debt and free the nation to realize its full potential. …

Everyone knows that Benjamin Franklin played an important role in the founding of the United States. Fewer know his views on the printing of money. “Experience, more prevalent than all the logic in the World,” he wrote, “has fully convinced us all, that [paper money] has been, and is now of the greatest advantages to the country.”

When the British forbade new issues of paper scrip by the colonial governments, Franklin went to London and argued that issuing their own money was responsible for the colonies’ prosperity.

The response of the king, leaned on by the Bank of England, was to ban all issues of paper scrip. Without their paper money, the money supply collapsed, and the economy sank into a deep recession. The colonists then rebelled. They won the revolution, but the bankers retained the power to create money by setting up a banking system like that dominated by the Bank of England.

Fourscore and six years later, in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln boldly took back the power to create money during the Civil War. To avoid exorbitant interest rates of 24 to 36 percent, he decided to print money directly from the U.S. Treasury as U.S. Notes or “greenbacks.” The issuance of $450 million in greenbacks was the key to funding not only the North’s victory in the war but an array of pivotal infrastructure projects, including a transcontinental railway system. (01/20/13)


The Recreation

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

File:Creación de Adán.jpgCommUnity of Minds — Don Halcom writes: In the next sixty years the entire world will be forced to re-create itself. This is not a prophecy of doom but a fact.  The single event that will require this re-creation is the exhaustion of fossil fuels. The world consumption of energy per capita grows faster, with respect to time, than the population growth. This predicts the exhaustion of fossil fuels sooner than the optimists calculate.

The entire infrastructure created by the exploitation of fossil fuels will have to be replaced by a new one. Literally everything will need to be changed. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the houses we live in, the lights we use, the heat we need, the transportation we use, the roads we use, the medicines we need, the energy we use — everything about the infrastructure will have to be re-created.  We are that dependent upon fossil fuels.

The desperation of this event cannot be minimized. Politicians, economists, businessmen, philosophies, governments, armies or the clergy will not solve this problem. Only one institution has any chance of performing this re-creation and that is science. Without science, all the other institutions are useless for this task.

Science and the exploitation of fossil fuels created our current infrastructure. Science and something new will have to re-create a new infrastructure. Any other path will only lead to a total collapse of modern civilization. If you believe that this is an exaggeration, then you are part of a group that does not understand the current world we live in. It is very easy to take our surroundings for granted and assume they will always be the same. The existential event that is about to confront mankind will swamp any other disaster in the history of the world. If you do not believe me just hide and watch it happen. If you do believe me then get involved with the re-creation. Procrastination will only lead to a condition that will not allow the re-creation to occur in a peaceful manner. We must have sufficient motive, resources and time to accomplish the re-creation. It is a problem of bootstrapping ourselves to a new world. …

The most important conclusion is that massive energy consumption is the creator of population growth. We cannot support 7 billion people (or more) without the use of fossil fuels energy. There is only a finite amount of sunshine and land to create the future energy requirements.

We must reduce our current crude oil energy equivalent consumption by an estimated 80%. About 20% of our current crude oil energy consumption should support a world population of about 1 billion with a life style similar to our current system.

Here is the most difficult part to execute; we must initiate controlled population reduction in a planned way over about the next sixty year from about 7 billion to about 1 billion. Population should stabilize at about 1 billion. Our grand children demand it. Religion will be the major obstacle here. In my opinion, wars are not ethical solutions.

About 12% of the earth’s agricultural land could be devoted to BioDiesel production. This is about four times the current land used for cooking oils. Remember that at least 60% of the earth’s agricultural land is required to maintain the current status quo of crude oil based energy equivalence. I did not include coal and natural gas in these calculations which will also become exhausted in the future. To replace the latter two will require even more agricultural land. The game only gets more intractable. We will have to determine the plants we want to use to replace the coal and natural gas. Got any good ideas? I will guarantee that no “computer” scientist or economist or banker or politician or stock market analyst or pure mathematician or justice of the Supreme Court will solve these problems.

Diesel engines and jet turbines will be the only engines in the future. Electric motors/generators will also be used.

We are no longer going to have the energy resources to employ all of our current working population when fossil fuels become extinct. We are already seeing hints of this. All of the infrastructure will be smaller as well as the goods for sale from such a system. All of economics is the result of the real physics of the planet and not the reverse. We can only use what we are given.

Failure to abide by the above suggestions will result in the ugliest set of wars we can imagine and will kill most of our grand children in a short period of time. Stupidity is not an excuse.

I apologize for presenting such a dark calamity but it is better to know about it now than to wake up one morning and find WWIII erupting outside our windows. It will happen if we do not wisely execute the transformation of our existing infrastructure and that begins now, not 50 years from now. Time and resources are the enemies.

I fully realize that our current ways of thinking and living are opposed to this transformation ever occurring. We do not live on a planet chocked full of infinite resources. I repeat; stupidity is not an excuse. Our current crop of politicians and economist may, in fact, be that stupid. Infinite growth requires infinite resources which do not exist on this planet. If your daddy told you that this is not true, then your daddy was wrong. Do your own thinking. Make it scientific thinking this time and not just another fairy tale about the princess and the knight in shining armor living happily ever after. We cannot have everything, we only imagine we can. This is dangerous thinking. The world is changing too rapidly to day dream about the good old days. Make our dreams about tomorrow realistic. Please help modulate our lusts. (01/09/2013)


State of the Species

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Charles C. MannCommUnity of MindsToday’s article, posted here the day before we American’s attempt to choose the least incompetent government for our near future, shifts our attention to a much bigger question. What is the state of of our present human species?

Charles C. Mann writes: THE PROBLEM WITH environmentalists, Lynn Margulis used to say, is that they think conservation has something to do with biological reality. A researcher who specialized in cells and microorganisms, Margulis was one of the most important biologists in the last half century—she literally helped to reorder the tree of life, convincing her colleagues that it did not consist of two kingdoms (plants and animals), but five or even six (plants, animals, fungi, protists, and two types of bacteria).

Until Margulis’s death last year, she lived in my town, and I would bump into her on the street from time to time. She knew I was interested in ecology, and she liked to needle me. Hey, Charles, she would call out, are you still all worked up about protecting endangered species?

Margulis was no apologist for unthinking destruction. Still, she couldn’t help regarding conservationists’ preoccupation with the fate of birds, mammals, and plants as evidence of their ignorance about the greatest source of evolutionary creativity: the microworld of bacteria, fungi, and protists. More than 90 percent of the living matter on earth consists of microorganisms and viruses, she liked to point out. Heck, the number of bacterial cells in our body is ten times more than the number of human cells!

Bacteria and protists can do things undreamed of by clumsy mammals like us: form giant supercolonies, reproduce either asexually or by swapping genes with others, routinely incorporate DNA from entirely unrelated species, merge into symbiotic beings—the list is as endless as it is amazing. Microorganisms have changed the face of the earth, crumbling stone and even giving rise to the oxygen we breathe. Compared to this power and diversity, Margulis liked to tell me, pandas and polar bears were biological epiphenomena—interesting and fun, perhaps, but not actually significant.

Does that apply to human beings, too? I once asked her, feeling like someone whining to Copernicus about why he couldn’t move the earth a little closer to the center of the universe. Aren’t we special at all?

This was just chitchat on the street, so I didn’t write anything down. But as I recall it, she answered that Homo sapiens actually might be interesting—for a mammal, anyway. For one thing, she said, we’re unusually successful.

Seeing my face brighten, she added: Of course, the fate of every successful species is to wipe itself out. (11-05-12)