We like to think of ourselves as urbane, sophisticated, intelligent. We are not superstitious – we believe in science and technology and the practical applications thereof.

We scoff at our ancient ancestors and all the gods, spirits, and mystical forces they revered and worshiped. We look at the pantheon of Roman, Greek, Norse and other deities and we laugh how we moderns have moved beyond that.

Not really.

Saturn used by many products/companies. Mercury used by many products/companies. Nike (Greek goddess) products. Atlas tires. Thor in the movies. Diablo video game (and hot sauce). Mazda cars (from Ahura Mazda). Ajax (cleaner and programming language). Gemini and Apollo space missions. The Apple logo – a bite missing from the apple in defiance of Yahweh (Jehovah). Cupid is used every Valentine’s Day. Gaia as another name for Earth. The Time Warner logo as the eye of Horus. Starbucks uses a mermaid in its logo. Venus clothing. Pluto – a digital streaming platform. The flower company FTD uses the image of Hermes. Pandora jewelry. Maserati logo. Versace (Medusa). Hermes fashion goods. Subaru. Goodyear uses the flying shoe of Hermes/Mercury in their logo. Mobil oil uses Pegasus, the flying horse.

How about mythological references to old gods in about every Disney movie ever made (just type “myth references in Disney movies” in your Internet browser). Hyperion is a bad company located in the Borderlands! Isis is, well, not good. Midas paints cars. Amazon. Trident (think Poseidon) gum. Neptune tires. Marvel villain Thanos is Thanatos, ancient god of death and destruction.

And, of course we face the old gods every day of the week: Sunday – the Sun’s day – hearkening back to Sun worship since the bad old bestial days. Monday – the Moon’s day. The moon has almost equal time as the Sun. Hey, it’s lunar, from Luna, Roman goddess. Tuesday for Tyr (Mars), the god of war. Wednesday for Woden, better known as Odin, ruler of Asgard (hey, I saw the movie). Thursday for Thor, god of lightning (hey, I saw…). Friday after Freya or Frigg, goddess of love, sex, and apparently violent death. Having barely survived a few vicious Friday nights, I can see this. Saturday is named after Saturn, the father of Zeus.

The name of the months aren’t much better. January, named after the two-faced god Janus. March, named for Mars. May is from Maius and June is from Juno. The ancient gods live! July (Julius Caesar), August (Roman Emperor Augustus). I’m going to stop now.

How about the American military? Trident submarines. Nike missiles. Many ships in the fleet are named after ancient deities (i.e., Castor, Medusa, Triton, Nereus, etc).

Just look around around and you will realize you are surrounded by the old gods. They are immortal!

Gee, Zeus, I want a Mars bar!

Just saying.

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The official publication of the United States Chess Federation (USCF) is Chess Life magazine.

And, they just published a short story that I wrote.

Also, please don’t start a sentence with and…

Anyway, you can read this great short story and also support the USCF, which is a wonderful organization promoting chess and the fine human values associated with playing chess.

You can view the story online:

https://new.uschess.org/news/inside-story-moving-madness-you-read-chess-life-magazine

Either way, please support chess and join the USCF in its mission to spread the importance of this great game/sport/endeavor/contest.

Phoebe and Dee would want you to do it.

DKM

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Generally speaking, I leave Biblical explication to others eminently more qualified.

However, in the process of some research for a book I am laboriously laboring over, I came across something so compelling that I thought you might want to read about it.

This is from Revelations 13:18, of the Christian New Testament:

Here is wisdom — let them who have understanding consider the number of the beast: for it
is the number of humanity; and that number is six hundred threescore and six.

The common belief is that this is a warning.

It is also most assuredly guidance and advice.

But – what about?

Note that the oldest source documents we have for Revelations are in Greek (though some argue Aramaic or Hebrew). We’ll use the Greek version here.

From the passage above, the underlined word “wisdom” in Greek is sophia. We all strive for wisdom, the highest level of human being. The underlined word “understanding” is the Greek word nous, and can be thought of as the higher mind, or where authentic rational thought processes take place. Day-to-day normalized and rational activity occurs at this level. Keep in mind that understanding alone does not lead to wisdom, primarily because of the “beast,” which is ignorance, sensuality, violence, anger and passion without restraint, and that is the lowest level (thērion). Please note that while I use the word “level” here, these are not discrete entities, but locations on a continuum – with no end and no beginning, per se.

The ability to consciously manage all three levels and achieve harmony and synthesis is what yields spiritual enlightenment. However, the attractive and intrusive power of the beast makes this very difficult.

You must appreciate and always remember that we are admonished in the passage that the number of the beast is also the number of a human. The essential Greek concept/word to keep in mind is phrenes or φρένες.

Let’s examine this word φρένες (phrenes) in more detail.

This is a very complex concept from Greek thought, dating back to Homer (circa 750 BCE) and beyond.

The phrenes is that which holds or contains our entire thinking process or continuum, including the potential for wisdom (sophia) and understanding (nous) – but both are engaged in a never-ending “discussion” with the beast (therion). The fundamental reality of the phrenes (without proper instruction, training and guidance) is a human who lives an emotional life without rational thought – it is characterized by irrational action and ignorance. Raw instinct rules, not rational thought.

The potential is there, but it must be cultivated. This is old news — the ancient Egyptian Ptahhotep (think 4000 years ago plus) wrote that, “No person is born wise.”

You could easily argue that the mind of a beast (animal) is – without human understanding and wisdom to guide it – basically the same as the untrained (and unrestrained) phrenes.

Thus the real warning in Revelations is that the doom of life (without sophia and nous) is humanity himself – beware the inner beast living without self-control in complete ignorance of the higher values of life.

It should be of more than passing interest that the letters of the Greek alphabet have numeric equivalents. They are shown in the table below (you can research this for yourself):

Again, here is the Greek word for phrenes – φρένες – and here are its alphanumeric equivalents:

Phi, Rho, Epsilon, Nu, Epsilon, Stigma = (phrenes) =

φ = 500

ρ = 100

έ = 5

ν = 50

έ = 5

ς = 6

Oh, look, the total of the word is 666.

Six hundred threescore and six, just as Revelations states it.

What does this mean?

Well, for starters, unless humans strive to achieve understanding and the proper use of their mind, they will never achieve wisdom. Without wisdom we really are doomed as a species.

When you pause to look at the news of today, and what certain political parties are advocating as national/global policy, you begin to see that this warning from Revelations about φρένες or phrenes, is of particular relevance – we are becoming a society that feels but does not think, a society that acts but does not contemplate the meaning and consequence of those actions. We have elevated emotions above rational thought as the measure of intelligence.

This passage from Revelations is about the future of humanity.

When irrational thought and ignorant passion overrule rational discourse, cooperation and compromise, we really are doomed as a nation (and a planet) because the people who believe that way wish only to rule the world for their own benefit and – if understanding and wisdom do not prevail – the values of such people will dominate the mind of humanity.

They may look human, but they are beasts.

If you forget the highest values of human life – if you forgo wisdom – the beast will rule.

Do not permit that to happen.

Think. Will. Become.

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Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
– Mark Twain

You don’t stop laughing because you grow older. You grow older because you stop laughing.
– Maurice Chevalier

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing
your enthusiasm.
–Aldous Huxley

One of the most persistent – and irritating – concepts that permeates our society is that your life is basically over by the time you hit 65.

The fun is over. Just give up the ghost and move on.

Much of the younger generation thinks older people just sit on the couch watching Jimmy Stewart movies and musing, “What a wonderful life I’ve had” as they wither away and wait to die.

Bullsnarf and nonsense.

The people I know say, “What a wonderful life I’m having” and get out to play.

That’s right – play. They suck the marrow out of life, every day.

How, the discerning reader might ask?

Let’s talk tennis first.

Doesn’t matter whether it’s 40 degrees or 90 degrees plus, the seniors I play with (men and women) are out on the court playing some serious tennis.

Come on, some people will ask, how good could the tennis be at that age?

Well, let me point out a critical fact. Most of these fine folks have been playing tennis for over 50 years. Trust me, they know how to move and hit. They understand the geometry of tennis to the point of genius. Angles, spins, lobs, volleys – you better be prepared to see un poquito de todo. For all you non-Texans, that’s “a little bit of everything” and it can be humbling!

It’s not just the privilege of playing with such seniors that is meaningful for me (and I consider it an honor to be counted in their number), but it is their honesty, humility and love for life that washes over me like a cool summer breeze, refreshing and invigorating.

I feel truly alive.

You cannot stop these seniors – men and women – it doesn’t matter about accidents, surgeries, cancer treatments, or any physical ailment they have endured. They are out there giving all they have. They will never willingly surrender. Bastogne and nuts.

How about baseball?

I am not talking softball. I am talking baseball. Cleats, wood bats, fast balls and hard-working umpires.

I play with a truly exceptional and extraordinary group of men, many of whom are age 65 and over. They are just like the tennis players – they don’t reflect on the great life they have had, but on the great life they are having. Despite age and some physical infirmities, they are out there competing, playing hard, succeeding in a very difficult and demanding sport – and all the while loving life and the beauty of being alive.

The pleasure of seeing the happiness in their faces as the game unfolds cannot be explained in mere words – but you can feel the vital energy coursing throughout the dugout.

My tennis and baseball friends do not see age as a problem, but as a challenge, and with a warrior’s attitude they figure out ways to fight through the challenge and succeed.

More importantly, they understand that implicitly at our age it is still important to win – we all want to win – but it is much more important to remember that, “Playing is Winning.”

The courageous and outrageous act of just being out on the court or on the ball field is a victory, a win – a slap in the face to age and death. “I defy you,” is the attitude and I will continue to enjoy my life.

To all the people I play with, and to all the people I compete against, bless you for allowing me to share time and space and the pleasure of playing with and against you.

May we face each other for many, many, years to come.

Oh, and a special shout out to JY for the epic battles we have been fighting for some of those many years…

Plus, a nod of the head for JF for being a great old friend, with no pun intended.

And to MS, who makes me think, and laugh – and sometimes shake my head.

And to EW, RV, DD, PW, DP, MS, KH, BM and so many more that my cortex needs a rest… or maybe a cold brew!

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Francis Barlow (1626? – 1704)

I want to talk about an ancient fable, “The Hare and the Tortoise,” because it is very appropriate for today’s world – both in terms of our personal lives and our business endeavors.

Everyone is hopefully familiar with that ancient tale but – for the sake of universal clarity and a shared starting point – I will provide a brief refresher. Pause for large inhale of air.

The hare is a fast runner. He brags about this speed and teases the tortoise, who is clearly a slow runner. Technically, a non-runner. More of a crawler. The tortoise finally tires of the incessant badgering (bullying, if you will) and challenges the hare to a race. The fox is chosen to select the course. The race begins. The hare (supremely over-confident) loses the race because he takes a nap and awakes too late to beat the tortoise to the finish line.

While this story is attributed to Aesop, the general thematic ideas and concepts no doubt predate him. It is a tale which speaks of the true nature of human being and has origins which are very ancient.

The real meaning of this fable is hidden and not as easy to discern as one might think. What kind of hidden meaning, you might ask? Well, you did just ask.

Fiendishly good question.

The most widely held conclusions about the fable are the expressions, “slow and steady wins the race” and “the race is not always to the swift.” These are the obvious and most easily attainable interpretations.

Fables are devilishly intricate things, as they are always meant to portray the multi-layered complexity of human behavior.

This fable is particularly delightful in that regard.

While his fable – on the surface – does illustrate the general idea that persistence wins out in the end, that theme is NOT the main (hidden) idea.

This fable is a story of our individual human nature, and the internal struggles which must of necessity arise within each of us as we attempt to achieve significant results in our lives (personal or business). That is to say, as we strive to win the race of living. Well, at least run it well. What constitutes “winning” is a subject for another diatribe – right now we will simply talk about this fable.

Aesop existed circa 620 to 554 BCE – that’s over 2500 years ago for those of us (including me) not good with math. Even back then, however, there was a recognition that humans possessed differing levels of awareness.

Pythagoras, a contemporary to Aesop, believed that humans found at the Olympic Games could be classified into three categories or types – the lowest type were those who were seekers of pleasure and fame, the competitors. The next highest type were those who sought to benefit from buying and selling of goods, and the highest type were the lovers of wisdom, who merely came to observe the games.

Siddhartha Gautama would have been an approximate contemporary to Aesop, as he lived from 563 to 483 BCE. His ideas of the “threefold training” and the division of human being into Mind, Virtue, and Wisdom are compatible to those of Pythagoras.

Even older traditions were developed in Vedic (Indian) thought, such as Chapter 14 of the Bhagavad Gita, where the discussion concerns the “The Three Qualities of Material Nature” – which are ignorance, passion, and goodness.

Let’s chat a little about physiology. If you examine the ontogenetic (about origin and development) unfolding of our neurological system during fetal development, the human brain is clearly delineated into three distinct sections (Rhombencephalon, Mesencephalon, Telencephalon) – for the sake of illustrative brevity and as a simple tool for reference, we will loosely label these the reptilian (physical), mammalian (social), and distinctly human (rational/intellectual) sections of the threefold neurological continuum. Thank you Paul.

Our human mental structure is, thus, a threefold continuum (not discrete levels), and most of us exist within the realm of one of the triune parts of this continuum – it is the rare individual who can synthesize all three levels and emerge as an integrated and spiritual human. Such enlightenment and growth is, nonetheless, the real goal of living.

While a more scientific rendition of this is called for (and I am laboring on it), you must – for this particular exposition – grant me the boon of accepting this structure as valid. Besides, using all those big words gives me a headache.

Integrating all aspects of your true human being to achieve success is the fable’s real meaning.

Let me explain further.

The hare is that part of our human nature which is the lowest. It is pure physicality. The only thoughts at this level are survival and reproduction. The hare is the perfect symbol, as the reproductive capacities of that creature are legendary; and its speed permits it to survive in the wild. But the hare has no other attribute worthy of consideration – the only thing it (he) can do is boast about the one thing he can do well (speed of foot) – and this is not even a learned trait, it is a genetic trait. We won’t mention breeding prowess, but that is also innate and not acquired.

However (and this is a key concept) even the genetic trait of speed is only of value if it is properly used. This is true of any genetic or innate ability an individual may have.

Moving on, it is no accident in the fable that the fox selects the course where the race will be run.

The fox has – symbolically – always represented social cunning and clever thinking skills in any situation where others are encountered.

If we regard the fox as the social part of our own human nature, it is that aspect which must select the course upon which we are to race with our own lives – and here the story gets a little more complex.

If we are rely solely on our genetic or innate abilities alone (without contemplative introspection), we would always pick a course that suited our lowest nature, and such a decision – though the easiest by way of effort – would represent a minimal accomplishment. In the fable the hare was always teasing the tortoise about its lack of speed and let’s be honest here, only someone of low intelligence and minimal skills would belabor the obvious – what possible accomplishment is it for a hare to beat a tortoise anyway? The hare will win that race every time, without a doubt. It is no achievement at all to beat a freaking tortoise in a race.

The hare lost because he did not apply his genetic gift of speed in an appropriate manner – it is the natural inclination of humans to misuse their innate abilities though idleness and indolence. This happens if you allow the hare-aspect of your human nature to predominate as you focus on those things which satisfy your physical nature only. You know, like napping your way through life.

The tortoise-aspect represents our wisdom and adaptability – it must not only subtly guide the fox-aspect in selecting a course most well-suited to our individual nature, but make the hare-aspect of our human being apply itself to achieving meaningful results. The hare-aspect represents our raw abilities, and the tortoise-aspect is the will and perseverance that puts those raw abilities to use in a manner that the fox-aspect helps devise within the world of our social reality. Harmony lies in internal mental cooperation between those three aspects.

However, even here the road is fraught with danger, for just as a heavy reliance on the hare-aspect will lead to bad results, a heavy reliance on the fox-aspect will lead to a result that is beneficial to the self, but without regard to the possibly negative impact on others. It is only the guiding hand of the tortoise-aspect – the thoughtful and self-conscious “application” of will in reality, with an understanding of how all humans are linked – that helps the fox-aspect select the proper course upon which the hare-aspect (now being forced to actually apply itself) can unify with the other parts of human nature to achieve success.

And there you have it.

My hare nature wants go out clubbing, my fox nature wants to update all my social media sites, and my tortoise nature is thinking about what post to write next.

Maybe best just to take a nap.

Sigh.

— E

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Well, I built a crossword puzzle where the main theme is tennis.

It is online and to solve this puzzle you will probably need to be able to search the Internet for clues because on occasion I may have used some rather arcane references. Adds to the challenge, okay?

Anyway, you can use the link below and work it all out. If you have feedback, as in “Hey, this is really good,” or “Hey, this really stinks,” email to [email protected].

https://mycrosswordmaker.com/1215977

NEXT –>

Finally, some good advice to all tennis players:

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At every level of any business organization you will encounter people who believe in perfection, and will often transfer that misguided notion to anyone unfortunate enough to work under them.

Why, you might be wanting to ask me (perhaps with a smack to my head) would I consider the quest for perfection in a business environment to be misguided?

Well, for starters, we live in a perfectly unperfect world. I just made every perfectionist linguist in the multiverse squall in horror as they prat on about “unperfect” not being a word – and yet it succeeded perfectly in conveying the idea of imperfection.

We live in a world ruled by an acceptable margin of error.

Bah, you say, give me some examples.

No problemo.

Let’s look at any round table found in a business – probably in the break or lunch room. What is the circumference of that table? I do not want a guess, I want good mathematics. Fine, you might grumble, breaking out your smartphone and researching circumference where you will find a simple formula — oddly enough, just like the one below:

C = π(d) (circumference equals the value of pi times diameter).

We can measure the diameter of the table and get an accurate number. Let’s say 4 feet. We are now at the stage of using the equation as C = 3.1459 times 4.

This yields a usable number for the circumference that works in most human situations.

But it is reliably not perfect. How can it be – the value of pi is not a definitive number. The value of pi never ends. Therefore, the circumference is not perfect and to say you have in your possession a “perfect” circle is horse dookey. Pretty sure that’s not a word either…

Moving on. How about this example? You are in the break room sitting at an unperfect round table. You are sitting with two of your associates. You have an apple and want to distribute the apple equally to yourself and your two associates. They each get a third. 33.33% Well, actually 33.333333… percent. Adding the three pieces together yields 99.9999… percent. Where the H-E-double toothpicks does the rest of the apple go?

Think GPS. Yeah, it’s accurate. To within 12 to 45 feet. Not bad for the city, but maybe a tad iffy on the rim of the Grand Canyon…

An acceptable margin of error is inherent in human life. The truly successful business person (at any level of a company) understands this and their value to themselves and the company is in being able to identify, establish and maintain that acceptable margin of error.

Striving for perfection is, therefore, fruitless, pointless, counter-intuitive and – ultimately – will lead to disaster because an acceptable margin of error must be properly acknowledged and built into the company structure.

The key, then, is not trying to achieve perfection, but grasping what the upward and downward limits are on that perfection as an expression of human effort.

Thus ends this perfectly acceptable rant on the topic.

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We should all be familiar with the succinct and profound military attack plan best expressed as “divide and conquer.” The phrase is often attributed to Julius Caesar (100 to 44 BCE) — “Divide et impera” if my Latin serves me correctly. Okay, fine, I looked it up…

“Divide and conquer” is a simple and robustly elegant strategy which is designed to splinter one’s opponent into smaller and more manageable groups incapable of uniting to deal cohesively with a common enemy.

Disorganized and isolated groups subject to such a strategy languish in malaise incapable of any unified effort.

There are many organizations in America that directly benefit from the disarray and chaos engendered by heightened racial tensions. It contributes significantly to their financial success and political power to stoke the flames of racism and — if no racism can be found — to locate kindling and build their own fire.

Usually the latter.

I would like for you to examine your own life for just a moment. Slow down and think about this — we are constantly “informed” that all of us hate people on the basis of the COLOR of their skin. We are repeatedly told by those organizations referenced above that we are all racists.

Ask yourself this — when was the last time that you personally expressed your own bigotry, felt it from others, or directly witnessed others committing wanton acts of authentic racism? Not just an act of violence where, by coincidence, someone was one color and someone was another color. Not something “manufactured” to support a narrative. I mean an authentic act of pure racial hatred and bigotry.

Judging from my own experiences, the answer is not very often. Maybe never (except through the digital ether). In truth, you have really got to be kidding me — how on earth have any of us been sucked into buying this line of carnival crap about race? Do we honestly dislike people because of the EXTERNAL color of their skin? If this is true, then why not hate people on the basis of the color of their shirt, the size of their shoes, or how they comb their hair?

We are letting the race hate-mongers and corrupt politicians control our minds. They are manipulating the electromagnetic (EM) waves — any digital signals containing data — in order to divide black, brown, white, yellow and whatever color you want to add to the mix.

Separate and equal in chaos — and useless to face the true enemy.

It is absolutely NOT the skin color of a person — not some mere external variable like that — that leads us to dislike someone. It is what lurks inside the other person that repels and irritates us. It is their behavior as a direct expression of what is inside that disturbs us.

What we truly hate is our animal nature. The beast within us all.

We have been battling for tens of thousands of years to be human – and to become more than human – and what we hate and fear are humans who are NOT truly human because they act like animals – in point of fact, they ARE animals.

And these non-humans can be any color. All colors. Color does not distinguish when it comes to bestiality.

The legends of vampires, werewolves, zombies and such are — of course — pure nonsense, but they do illustrate a simple and completely undeniable TRUTH — we fear, loathe, and hate our unrestrained animal nature. We hate those who are out of control and use no rational thought to guide their actions.

Such creatures are not human. Yes, they look human – but they have no soul. We are born with the ability to have a soul, but it is created over a lifetime of work and effort. Intentional awareness and conscious effort.

When heinous acts are committed by such non-human humans — be they white, brown, black, yellow, red, or purple — we face the horrible truth of our unconscious animal side. True humans do, indeed, hate and abhor the sad sight of that. It is reminder that the divide between civilization and barbarism is narrow indeed.

However — that is not racism – it has nothing to do with race, but only with cultural values in disarray – values that glorify sex, violence, drugs, and hate. Values with no genuine moral or ethical basis.

Failure to embrace a culture that values such important things as hard work, dedication, sacrifice, virtue, honesty, family, and self-responsibility leads to a stagnation and rot. A culture may deny the truth of religion, but it cannot deny the value of religion – when it does, a lack of morality and ethics leads to anarchy and chaos.

And it affects all humans, of any race.

Trying to uphold the highest standards of human conduct with true morality and ethics – and expecting others to do the same – is NOT racism.

It’s called being a conscious human being.

If you call it racism – what is it you are really hiding? What are you really seeking?

Manipulating emotions and manufacturing hate for personal or political gain is evil.

Period. End. Of. Story.

Enoch. October 2021.

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After a long day at work I settled into my favorite chair, relishing the solitary adult beverage I normally permit myself, and sat scanning through the news on my digital device of choice, looking desperately for something which, upon reading, wouldn’t prompt me to run screaming into the night and calling for my binky – I failed with great misery.

Staring up at me from the pixilated depths of digital chaos was erstwhile tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, speaking out about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI).

What – the attentive reader may wrathfully ask – is “inappropriate usage?”

Well, let’s take a look at AI and how it is currently used – and how it might be used in the very near future.

Any human activity that is augmented by software or hardware is, technically speaking, interacting with AI. The thermostat that you set at 72 degrees and shuts off when the room cools down to that temperature is an AI. It has intelligence because it has been programmed to shut off when it senses an ambient air temp of 72, and it is not human (it is artificial).

Now, granted, it is a very, very, dumb AI and if you asked it to solve “1 + 1” you will have many electric bills to pay before you ever get an answer.

That little notice that appears on your car’s display that says your right front tire is under-inflated? AI.

The text message your security system sends you that the back door was opened at 2:12 a.m., by your now grounded daughter? AI.

Stop for a moment to think about all the messages you receive (digital display on some device, email, text message or other) that entails an AI or other automated system passing sensory data (often interpreted) forward to you.

It will be more than you think, until you think about it.

There is nothing wrong with this because the AI is in passive mode – simply gathering facts. No danger of Alexa or Siri ordering a pizza without being told to do so.

The next advance is to program the AI in such a way that not only does it gather data (either directly through sensory input, or indirectly by humans inputting the data), compares it against norms and standards as it ‘interprets’ the data and offers recommendations. As I write this diatribe, all those recommendations are still based on a wide range of algorithmic possibilities all created by humans – the AI simply processes the data faster and can assess more of those recommendations in various scenarios than humans.

Oh, and we have a great big argument brewing about what are those ‘norms and standards’ the AI uses for reference, and who is responsible for establishing those values. Trust me when I say it is done by humans and not AI.

No matter what you want to think – though – the AI still makes recommendations of future action that are wholly based on a range of options preset by the human programmers.

Not only that, but AIs generally are not permitted (by any human that has half a brain) to make decisions that involve action unless that action has already been planned and reviewed by humans as well. Letting an AI auto-shutdown a dangerous problem in a nuclear plant is still based on human decision-making scenarios pre-programmed into the system.

The great risk in AI is when – at some point in the future – AI use is widespread and not under the careful and constant supervision of intelligent and discerning humans. The great risk is when humans abdicate responsibility and allow AI not only to gather, interpret and make decisions based on known options, but also permit AI to make decisions which may not be found on the preset and human-programmed decision tree.

In humans we like to call this “thinking outside the box,” but in AI this could be catastrophic since the ripple-down effect on humans cannot – despite the processing power of AI – be adequately calculated.

The Utopian vision of an AI is basically one in which the AI operates and thinks just like a very smart human – just faster, bigger, better, stronger and all that. However, obviously that is not enough because you cannot rely on an AI which makes decisions solely based on the logic and reason of advanced programming. Hey – I think that was a Star Trek episode!

Anyway, in other words, we are creatures of body, mind, and soul – humans have emotions, passions, as well as ethics and morality. Unless you can teach that to an AI, you will have AI-rendered decisions and actions that are only based on the best possible outcome – and the best possible AI outcome may not necessarily be the best possible human outcome.

Humans, generally speaking and referencing them as an overall species, are not very intelligent. Truth be told, humans have made incredible progress since our cave-dwelling days by simply being average – and by letting a small percentage of gifted humans guide and direct human affairs.

When the AI genie is let out of the bottle, we run the risk that human reliance on this form of intelligence will not only create a dangerous dependency, but also allow average humans to control technologies that are way beyond their comprehension and understanding.

Worse than that, I can easily imagine those average humans – fully cognizant of their average nature – granting the right of control of the AIs over to humans supposedly “gifted” enough to understand the technology, trusting such people to always make decisions about the AIs that will benefit everyone equally.

What could possibly go wrong with that scenario?

The truth is, Elon Musk (and others) rightfully do not trust that average people can control the technology, nor (in his heart of hearts I believe) does he trust his fellow intelligent techies either. Getting humans to do the right thing is a job than even an AI would have trouble in executing.

I think using the word “executing” in the same sentence as “AI” is probably one of the things bugging Mr. Musk.

AIs are coming (are here), and we need standards of performance and structure. If the AIs will eventually be able to do all the things that the techies now wax prosaic about, then we are creating beings that will be godlike.

Anyone who studied Greek mythology knows how irrational and petty the gods actually were, and being a god does not of necessity mean you act like a god.

Anyway, I have to go now because I just got a text message from my pharmacy, an email from my refrigerator (out of milk), apparently my car just auto-subscribed to some kind of music service and my robotic vacuum just ate my wife’s favorite rug.

AI, AI, it’s off to work we go.

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With all the craziness going on in American society, it’s no wonder my mind did a Dobie Gray and drifted away into thoughts about violence and mayhem. Not writing it down is just killing me…

Hah.

It made me ponder our culture and the daily exposure to violent things.

Here goes something (or nothing):

Axe (deodorant)

Badass (TV series)

Bang (energy drink, game, slang for sex)

Bash (Unix shell and command language)

Belt (for pants or alcohol)

Batter (as in baseball and pancakes)

Blade (movie/comic book character)

Blast (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool)

Boom (comic book explosion, airplane, studio)

Burst (mobile video service)

Chop (stolen cars, steaks)

Chopped (a TV show)

Crack (cocaine and other things)

Crush (soft drink)

Cutter (bug spray)

Dagger (kayaks)

Destroyer (a Navy ship, rock band and comic book character)

Edge (shaving gel)

Eviscerate (Heroes of Warcraft spell)

Gash (slang term for female genitalia)

Hack (think computer)

Hammer (useful tool, fictional detective)

Hurt (awesome Trent Reznor song sung by Johnny Cash)

Impale (online game)

Impaler (Vlad)

Lance (national brand of baked goods)

Mace (the spray)

Maim (musical band)

Mangle (weird toy, laundry device)

Mangler (movie, software name)

Maul (Useful tool, sci-fi character)

Megadeth (heavy metal band)

OG (original gangster)

Pound (British money)

Pummel (online game, album title)

Ravage (wine)

Rent (something I’m late with on occasion)

Rip (pull songs from a CD or other source)

Ripped (weightlifting supplement)

Ripper (British slasher and tennis shot)

Sabre (tech company)

Scar (film character, actress nickname)

Shatter (high-potency marijuana)

Shredder (comic book character)

Slam (magazine, ball dunk, big hit in baseball)

Slash (Guns N’ Roses singer)

Slayer (heavy metal band)

Slice (soft drink and tennis shot)

Smack (heroin)

Smash (TV series and tennis shot)

Snuff (smokeless tobaccov

Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer character and volleyball shot)

Stab (surfing magazine and tennis shot)

Stiletto (a shoe, a tool company)

Stomp (musical group)

Whip (cool or otherwise)

Wreck (as in Wreck It Ralph kid’s movie)

If you have an item for the list, drop me a line at:

enoch@debrisfromthewreckage dot com

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Transcript of remarks made by Dr. Juan Masterson, First Director for the National Institute for Neuro-Rehabilitation (NINR), delivered at the inaugural meeting of the Global Consortium for the Benefit of Humanity.

Let me start my expressing my honor at being asked to make the keynote address at this first of many meetings involving concerned leaders from around the world. I know all of you are most anxious to hear of the progress we have made at NINR.

I trust I will not disappoint. {Polite applause.}

When I was appointed as First Director to run the newly established National Institute of Neuro-Rehabilitation, the Supreme Guardian of the People gave me a mandate to cope with a rising tide of aberrant behavior in our society, especially as it related to the administration of the People’s State. The urban slang term, “Thought Police” is often applied to us, but we do not care what you think. We do not care what you say to your life partner. We only care when your aberrant thoughts leave your head and are published on the Network or spoken in public, and thus become an aberrant reality. {Murmurs of agreement from assemblage.}

The cohesive, coherent and harmonizing influence of the all-embracing State is what melds our great society together into a wonderful whole, and aberrant reality has no place in such a society. {Loud applause.}

The State cannot create harmony and peace when it is constantly being criticized. Those among us who cannot contain their aberrant thoughts within themselves must be rehabilitated. {Louder applause.}

It has been a long and difficult process to arrive at the proper form of treatment, and it critical to your appreciation of the situation to understand that our primary focus is rehabilitation and not punishment, even though in some extreme cases the latter course of action must be the one selected.

As many of you will recall, the first attempts at neuro-rehab were through neurological cleansing. It was theorized that draining the brain chemistry and then replenishing it with new fluids would erase improper memories and change disruptive thought pathways. Sadly, this approach only turned the subjects into illiterate and babbling specimens whose infantile brains left them without even the most rudimentary skills. The program was terminated, along with many of the unfortunate subjects. {Some nervous audience laughter.}

The next treatment protocol to gain favor was neurological reformatting. The hypothesis was that constant exposure to proper State-approved educational and entertainment content along with reinforced non-aberrant behavior through a program of social rewards, combined with a regimen of appropriate drugs, would change the brain chemistry and establish new pathways of thought.

One of the primary factors for this hypothesis gaining credibility was that memories are media events. That is to say, they are sensory events triggered by some form of media (i.e., primarily by electromagnetic wave manipulation of light and sound). Control the media and thus dictate the memory. {Murmurs of audience agreement.}

To our delight, this method of neurological rehabilitation provided startling results. Subjects were able, after several months of continual exposure to controlled media events, to be rehabilitated in whatever fashion the treatment protocol proscribed.

It was a huge success. {Muted applause from the audience.}

Well, as we now know, not really. It was a huge success in a controlled environment where the subjects had no access to other media that contraindicated or contradicted our message.

This unfortunate outcome was only discerned after a number of subjects – marked as fully rehabilitated – were released back into society and were then somehow exposed to unauthorized media messaging which began to erode our successful neurological reformatting accomplished with State-mandated media messaging.

The initial conclusion was that neurological reformatting had limited applications within closed or semi-closed and controlled environments, assuming such environments could be constructed or maintained. Since that last factor is difficult to assure, we were considering abandoning the concept of neurological reformatting.

I am extremely pleased to report that the research team I led provided the breakthrough needed to make neurological reformatting a permanent treatment protocol for aberrant behavior. {Very loud and prolonged applause.}

It was simply a matter of controlling neurotransmitters.

As you are well aware, there are a number of active chemicals in the brain that assist in neurological functionality. Some are important, but only a few are critical.

Here is a somewhat over-simplified, but useful outline:

Dopamine can be regarded as the primary modulating agent for physical endurance; serotonin can be considered the primary agent of psychological well-being, and norepinephrine is the main modulating element of focused thinking and mental clarity.

My foundational hypothesis was that if we could suppress norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline (NA) or noradrenalin) in the brain after neurological reformatting, the subjects would not relapse into aberrant behavior such as criticizing the Supreme Guardian of the People’s State or other important functionaries. {Agitated murmurs of agreement from audience.}

To our amazement – in rehabilitated subjects who underwent additional treatment with our new chemical supplement – there was no reversal of our induced change in neuro-pathways, even when shown strong anti-State media messaging. {Sounds of astonishment from audience.}

There was a small downside, as all subjects experienced a significant decline in cognitive ability due to the suppression of norepinephrine. Testing revealed a loss of approximately 30 plus basis points on generalized intelligence tests. Since most of our subjects had average intelligence quotients of around 100, the net result was less than average, though fully functioning, intellects around 70 to 75. {Agitated conversation among audience members.}

When I shared these preliminary results with the Supreme Guardian of the People’s State, I was concerned he would find the declines in IQ unacceptable, but then he explained to me that it was actually a perfectly acceptable outcome.

Here is how our magnificent Supreme Guardian graciously explained it to me. {Hushed silence.}

Our great State-controlled industries utilize automation and robotics to produce all the goods required for our society to thrive and prosper. A minimal number of people are required to maintain the equipment, and they are all gifted individuals specially educated and trained for the task.

Since all goods and services are provided free of charge and there is no private property, the opportunity to eliminate uncertainty caused by the dissonance and discord of those who criticize the State cannot be dismissed simply because of treatment results which are not life-threatening.

The sacrifice of a few to further the success of the collective is much more important. {Very loud applause.}

It is dangerous anyway, the Supreme Guardian commented to me, if our Great Society has too many intelligent people. Such people (even after traditional neurological reformatting) are much more difficult to influence and control, as my original research at NINR clearly proved. My new supplement treatment meant such people could now be rendered incompetent and non-threatening on a permanent basis.

Besides, the Supreme Guardian laughed, minimizing the number of intelligent people in society assures that the elite who comprise the structural bureaucracy of the People’s State can continue to rule for the benefit of all. Those elite work hard and deserve better living conditions, additional fringe benefits and superior luxuries. Continual criticism of the State, regardless of its validity, will not be tolerated. It interferes with our ability to enjoy those conditions as we effectively rule the State. {Loud applause from the elite audience.}

I want to repeat what the Supreme Guardian said – “Continual criticism of the State, regardless of its validity, will not be tolerated.” {Smattering of confused applause.}

“Regardless of its validity. Regardless of its validity.” {A few angry shouts from the audience.}

I cannot permit neurological reformatting to become permanent and lower the intelligence of human beings. I have posted on the Network the formula for a chemical treatment that will completely neutralize the chemical supplement we developed to suppress norepinephrine. {Loud boos and hisses; audience standing, throwing items at the podium. Men in uniforms start to run in from the left and right of the stage.}

A State that cannot tolerate legitimate criticism does not deserve to survive.

{Speaker offers no resistance as he is subdued and led off the stage.}

Transcript ends here.

Authentic resistance does not.

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Life is a wreck, a crash, an accident in process.

At the end of the working (or even non-working) day all of us would love to know that our books are balanced, that the sun will set (and rise) as it always has – and that all is well in our Voltairian best-of-all-possible worlds. Dr. Pangloss is an eternal optimist.

He’s French, so he has to be.

Humanity has risen to the top of the food chain – apparently – because it has elevated the art of self- and other-deception as the most important skill for survival and success. We want to be deceived (Mundus Vult Decipi, as they say in Latin) and many people will be quite happy to deceive you.

Hey, they are only trying to help you.

Meh.

What was once simply one among many traits of the overall adaptive strategies humans employ to survive, self- and other-deception is now the fundamental “truth” of human existence. Lies bring power. The bigger, the better. Truth is relative you are told.

Horse hockey – Truth is not relative.

Many adaptive strategies embrace deception and lying, confirming the erroneous belief (IMHO) that only a truly clever person could achieve success with such techniques. Sophistry is the use of fallacious reasoning, tricks of speech, and errors of logic to confuse, confound, and win arguments.

Politicians are, almost without exception, practiced Sophists. Just follow the news to confirm this for yourself.


You cannot escape the debacle of the smashing conclusion of the crash which is your life. That is to say, the crash which always ends in the demise of the driver.


However, the extent to which you enjoy your life and derive pleasure from it (while the wreck is happening) is directly and inextricably correlated to how well you manage and control the ongoing wreck that is an individual life.


Of course, as with anything in the “real” world — you are subject to the vagaries and variables which swirl around all of us like some noxious cloud that repeated waving of the hands fails to dissipate.


One such irritating variable — the wreck of our lives is always controlled by other people long before the “wheel” is ever handed over to us.

So, this means that not only must we learn to manage the crash on our own, but we must recover from the often poor handling of the previous driver, be they mother, father, friend, State, or other.


If we are fortunate, the crash was skillfully managed by the previous controller and when we are handed “the wheel” we can maintain a modicum of direction. Scalar and vector.


I must state, though, that words like “controller” and “control” simply do not convey the exact nature of what I want to say. The trick is to slow down the crash, reduce the rate of speed — if you will — so that while you, the controller (within your frame of reference) are living and enjoying every moment, the accident is happening so slowly around you you don’t even notice.


The last thing you want to do is to become so enamored with the crash’s net result that you initiate behavior to precipitate or accelerate the end or – worse – forget to enjoy the very act of driving (living).


It’s rather like watching a basketball game and some player is making every shot he or she takes. The announcer makes a remarkably astute commentary about it by saying, “That player is unconscious!”

Zen me.


In truth, the best results in life are often achieved if we don’t think about it too much. Sometimes, the more you fight for control, the worse the crash becomes. Often it is best to simply drive “into” the crash and not work against it.


However – this is critical – this does not mean ignorance is bliss and that we should relinquish our free will and let the State or any external entity drive and control our lives.


Self-determination is the key to happiness. Pay attention or you will pay a stiff price indeed – lost freedom and a vanished individuality.


Focus on the moment with an eye to achieving specific realist goals and the crash is relegated to the background, the periphery of reality.

Unless you allow the State or an external entity to be in charge. That is most definitely a DUIO violation – “Driving Under the Influence of Others.”


If you are going to have to endure the final wreck yourself (which you most assuredly will), then you ought to be the one driving – all the time. Don’t fight the crash – embrace it.


Who knows – you might even be able to drive around it. Maybe put it on auto-pilot and embrace the joy of everyday living. Get out and walk.


Perhaps an actual crash is not the end.

The Universe is full of strange things.


As for me, I’m walking right now, but I might break into a trot…

Enoch

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Most people love cats or dogs. Maybe birds.

Shoot, even reptiles. Snakes. Hamsters. Gerbils. (Seriously, gerbils?)

I love the dung beetle.

I know, it just seems so wrong. I think the immediate response of most people has to be “huh,” or some more colorful derivation thereof.

A great many people simply stare at me blank-faced and ask, “why?”

Good question.

Let me slip on my pointy pontificating hat and ponder an appropriate reply.

I would ask that you pause for just a wavering moment and carefully contemplate what the dung beetle accomplishes.

It takes what we regard as an absolutely repugnant by-product of living (e.g., scat, poop, excrement, dung, fecal matter, sh*t) and instead of stepping gingerly around it and moving on, the dung beetle labors feverishly to accumulate, organize into a spherical shape and then roll the “fruits of its labor” back to his or her abode.

Where the dung beetle uses said ball of smelly goo to feed and raise its young. Thereby allowing the lowly dung beetle to replicate, survive, and subdue its world.

The dung beetle is an awesome role model for any human.

Here’s why –>

Think about how much crap all of us deal with on a daily basis.

And lately, it’s quite a bit.

It might come from our boss, from our clients, from our co-workers, from our spouse, from our friends, from our relatives, from Internet social media, from mainstream media, from non-mainstream media, from the government – basically from a wide and seemingly endless list of sources.

Sigh.

Generally, from the Cosmos as a hole. I mean, a whole.

In fact, someone, somewhere, at one time or the other went full frontal dung beetle and made a lot of money with a simple bumper sticker that merely states the dung beetle motto – “Sh*t Happens.” For the sake of a more genteel discussion, we will use the less offensive term “poo” so as not to offend the Internet’s automated word censors.

Having reflected on the success of the dung beetle, I am immensely happy that poo happens.

Poo gives us opportunities – in life for sure, but especially in business. It doesn’t matter whether you own a business or work for someone else. The poo that you see on a daily basis is your opportunity to make yourself useful and valuable, because you can locate the seemingly foul poo, step right in it, organize it, shape it into a nice little ball, and roll it away for a useful purpose.

Best of all – you can actually get paid for messing around with poo and making something valuable from it because most people just complain and run down the hallway crying about the horrible poo.

Dang it, why does my spell-checker keep flagging poo?

Anyway. the next time poo happens to you – regardless of the source – make a careful evaluation of how you can turn a disgusting by-product of business existence into something useful and valuable.

The ensuing success may just surprise the poo out of you.

–E

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I play baseball. Amateur (i.e., unpaid). Fast pitch. I know, it’s nuts, but there you have it.

Anyway, I’m heading out to the game and it’s across town. I’m on the highway (The Loop) and proceeding at terminal speed, which is 65 in this case.

Hang on, maybe “terminal” and “speed” should not be used in the same sentence, especially the way most people drive.

The highway is crowded because — well — it’s always crowded. People are driving 65 and 65 plus. Mostly plus, truth be told.

I begin thinking. A dangerous habit I fell into many years ago and from which extraction seems impossible. Like a tooth in the back of my head. Sorry.

I’m wondering how in the name of Vishnu, G_d, Allah, Zeus or any other deity you care to conjure does this highway driving thing even work?! It seems like it is a catastrophic event awaiting activation.

I mean – stop to ponder the situation for just a cold, clinical, detached moment – you have whizzing and hurling hunks of metal weighing close to two tons — or more — flashing by on all sides — doing the whizzing and hurtling at a startling (if you stop to ponder it) at a close proximity of around 5 to 6 feet or so.

And the only thing separating their car from careening madly into yours is a line.

A line PAINTED on the freaking pavement.

This whole damn highway thing ONLY works if everyone honors the lines. Sure, it’s only paint, but it might as well be invisible because it only functions if everyone believes in it.

Trusts it, endorses it. Has faith in it.

The only way such high-speed driving functions smoothly is the absolute belief of all the drivers that the lines will be honored. Each driver must trust the other.

Governments should work the same way. Well, they are supposed to…

The invisible lines for our society – for those of us living in America—should be the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Just like that simple paint on the highway, those documents are only printed (written) words on pieces of paper. They have no magical reality beyond what people grant to them. And — yet — by entrusting our faith in those words, a great country was born.

What happens – however – when certain groups of people decide NOT to honor the lines?

Imagine the utter chaos that would ensue on the highway if there were drivers that ignored the lines and steered their vehicle anyway they wanted, without regard for others. The only choice in direction such drivers cared would be their own — your choices would be rendered meaningless and ignored. It would be very bad. Catastrophic indeed.

Imagine any group or organization that ignores the lines and steers in any fashion it wants to without regard for anyone’s choice — then you have a much worse form of chaos.

That is because the vast majority of citizens are still using those aforementioned lines as guidance – they are honoring the invisible lines — the words of those documents — the ones that link us as Americans. When they see any group or organization driving haphazardly – without using the lines – there is confusion, anger, dismay.

If someone ignores the painted lines on the highway, there are consequences. There are law enforcement agencies who will pull your car over and stop you. Or, you may die in a fiery crash. Despite what some political groups would have you believe, bad choices must yield bad consequences. There is a price to pay for bad decisions — you cannot be constantly bailed out.

It’s called responsibility, integrity, honor.

Who is going to pull the group or organization over and stop them before they crash into citizens still honoring the invisible lines of American society? Who guards the guardians, as it were?

American functions as a cohesive society because we have a belief in ourselves and others. We trust each other in societal interactions, just as drivers trust each other on the highway. Even an atheist has to have faith in the invisible lines that provide guidance for the conduct of American affairs. When that belief falters because our leaders ignore the lines or try to redraw the lines without our consent, then we have a chaos that is not easily mended.

Without belief and faith there is no positive human action because individuals give way to despair and resignation.

Perhaps this is what certain political groups desire. Citizens despair and resign. They stop driving. The roads are clear. Certain groups or organizations can then drive anyway they want, using any lines they desire. That is true tyranny.

The belief that the lines formed by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights is the fundamental truth of America is critical to our continued success as a nation.

If that belief is lost, then America is lost. This is a nation built on belief in self — and others. Mistrust, retribution, dictatorship, and fear is not what we want.

If you put your faith in something and say, “I believe,” then make absolutely sure it is a belief in the right thing. Not the lies that is often held out as truth by any group, individual or organization that lusts only for power and control.

Honor the invisible lines which hold us together, or suffer the tyranny of others who have no such belief.

See you on the highway!

–E

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