Thursday, November 7, 2013

Clay Dreams Dust

A pot
wanting a potter 

is not a potter 
wanting a pot.

We find self
seeing a pot 

wonder and wish
for a potter.

In the wishing, 
we dream 
feel joy
in clay's moment.

The knowing
assumes correlation
the dream
desires cause.

Our desire
controls mind
experience becomes
the dreaming.

Dreaming wishes
wishes dreaming;
circular thought's
temporal trap.

The pot is
The pot is not
The pot idea itself
A dream of what is

Mistaking dreams
for reality
the dreamer
stays trapped. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Eden's Economy

Let us pretend.  Let us pretend about an ideal economic utopia. 
What kind of people would we wish to be?  What would be our means of organization?  How would choices about resources be made?

A Thought Experiment

Imagine some future world where we have built robots.  

Lots of robots.  
Robots that act cleverly.   
Robots that crunch enormous amounts of data but do not think.  
Robots that can solve problems. 

Robots clever enough can build other robots.  
Robots clever enough to design other robots to do things.  
Robots clever enough to gather resources.  
Robots clever enough to transform those resources into goods and services.  

In this thought experiment, robots would do all the work.  
A human would never need labor except when she desired.
Every human want could be met.
Most human desires could be served.

In such a world, our desires would be limited only by the amount of resources available.

Economic Utopia

In such a Utopia words like "profit", "inflation", "wages", "debt", and even "money" would have no meaning. 
In such a utopia hard work doesn't mean much, as human labor would be unneeded. 
In such a system education would not be needed.
Some could say that the mythical Eden might have been like our imaginary economic utopia.   

Finite Resources

The only limits to our needs and desires would be resources.
The planet is only so big, the solar system has only such much matter and energy.
Like all eco-systems, eventually people and their desires would overwhelm the energy and material available.
Some kind of decisions would need be made to who gets the energy, who gets the material, how the resource is distributed.

Distribution Dilemma

So how then would we distribute the finite resources?  
What moral value system would we use to determine who gets goods and services? 
How shall we balance between need and desire?
What limits shall we place on humans?

If hard work has no meaning, what reason could be used determines who gets medicine?
If education is irrelevant, what reason could be used to determines who gets food?
Is how beautiful a person is the right way to divide resources?
Is how strong or fast or agile a person is the right way to decide who gets what?

What moral value system shall we use to achieve a just distribution?
What basis shall we use to determine what a "good life" is and reward it?

Economy Morality

While this thought experiment could probably never happen, it does illustrate what I think is a fundamental problem with many economic theories.

We, as human beings, seek each to have a "good life".  
Each of us may view what a "good life" is differently. 

Economics systems are only tools used by humankind to allow its individuals to seek "good lives".

Concepts about hard work, education, beauty, or strength are arbitrary ways to distribute resources, they are not necessarily the most moral means of distribution.

What ever economic system we seek, we should first and foremost have a moral code that values humans above all else.

The value of each human being ought outweigh the circumstance of their birth.
The value of each human being ought outweigh their beauty, strength, or lack of opportunity.
No system of economics which does not place morality at its core will serve its participants well.

It is in the best interest of the entire population of humankind to ensure a distribution of resources that works for the majority of the population.

Dismal Reality

To date, no one has come up with a moral economic system that actually works.  
Instead we trend between the extremes of "I got mine" or "Everybody gets the same".  
Both of these polar opposites are only vague approximations of moral distribution of resources.

I do not know the answer to how a moral economy could be achieved.

Capitalism, socialism, communism,laissez-faire, and objectivism all are only poor attempts at a moral economics.

Although many pretend; no one, in fact, seems to know the answer to this ancient puzzle of Eden.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Values Healthcare

Self reliance.  No cheating.  Free markets. These are core values most of us share.  
We need a health care system that works this way.
We have it right in front of us if we only reach out and take it.

Self Reliance

Everyone should take care of themselves. 
Self respect comes from self reliance.  
Self control comes from self respect.  
Each of should responsible for our own health care. 

No Cheating

People who don’t have insurance are stealing health care from those who do.  

Freeloaders without insurance are mooching on us in the emergency room.  
Everyone needs insurance to pay their fair share. 

Free Markets

Health care should be in a marketplace.  
A market where buyers and sellers can meet and do business.  
We need a market square where each of us can go to buy and sell health services.  
It should be fair and have open competition between businesses out in the plain site of all.
Free markets are not socialism or communism.  Calling a free health care market a "socialist takeover" is factually wrong.

Policing Required

Some people won’t pay for insurance unless some one else forces them.  
Someone must have the authority to intervene and stop this theft.  
We need a force that will police people to ensure they insure.  
We use government to do police work.  
Government should police healthcare too.

Where Can We Find This?

It is the basis of the Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld as law by the supreme court.

It is that law that we have come to call “ObamaCare”.

Self reliance.
No cheating.
Free markets.

These are value based conservative principals.

This is the core of "ObamaCare".

Ruin Our Country?  

Why do so many hate ObamaCare?  

How many would hate it still if it was called “RomneyCare”?

Taxed Enough Already?  Shutting down the government doesn't change health care.  Shutting down the government stops government spending.  Stopping government spending is about reducing the size of government.

Our current budget fight is about debt and taxes and freedom.  The decisions we make on health care should not be cornerstone of our budget fight. 

Playing with citizen’s health care as a political tool to win a budget fight is cynical and dangerous. 

The dislike for Obama is part of what is happening.  He is a black city democrat, a difficult pill for white rural republicans to swallow. 

Many do not like Obama and are searching for reasons to show why.  For five years there has been a general hope by some that Obama would fail.  Every opportunity for failure is explored in detail by TV, blog, and radio personalities. 

Dislike of Obama is not a wise reason to stop health care reform. 

Trashing the Affordable Care Act means we stay with the broken, un-policed, wealth destroying system we have now.  Does anyone seriously think this is a good idea? We as citizens must use our government to ensure our freedoms.  Some type of health care reform is required. 

Don’t Buy New, Fix It Up!

Health care’s runaway costs are a huge drag on our economy.  Allowing the current system to continue on will force more people into emergency rooms with responsible people footing the whole bill of the freeloaders.

Starting over from scratch with new senate and house bills would put a solution to our health care crisis out a decade or more.

Does the act have some problems?  Absolutely.  They can be fixed.  That is what we elect our lawmakers for; to keep markets free, to police bad people, and to enable self reliance.  These things keep us free.

Making laws is messy, difficult and even sometimes disgusting. If you stick with it good things can come at the end of your labor.  Throwing away the work done so far would be lazy and foolish. 

A Conservative Response to Liberals

Mitt Romney’s state governmental health care system in Massachusetts is an example Reagan’s “laboratory of the states” in action. 

Governor Romney’s plan is the basis for the Affordable Care Act.  His law was a conservative response in a liberal state that DID NOT PLEASE ANYONE when it passed. 

As time went by, modifications where made to the law and their state government system created a law that worked. 

It can take a couple of years of back and forth modifications, but elected government lawmakers CAN get it done.

That’s shocking let’s repeat it.

A Conservative law got passed.  Liberals modified it.  The law worked for the good of its citizens.

The opposite can happen too.  Liberals can pass a law that Conservatives modify that do good for citizens.

Drama For Obama

Hate for Obama has co-joined with a fight cutting spending to result in even good ideas being trashed.  Our anger and frustration is muddling our collective view of who we are and who we can become.

Is dislike for Obama worth trashing our country for?
Is the budget battle so important that we should not do basic policing functions?
Where have the rational adults gone?  
Where are the mature reasoned responses among our leaders? 
Our government has become a soap opera of political entertainment.

Some how we need to move beyond the fear, anger, hate, anxiety.  
We need to stop the artificial drama and move on.
We need to find our core values:

Self reliance.
No cheating.
Free markets.

And make it so.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly

Mr. O'Reilly,

The O'Reilly Factor has been watched by me and mine for many years.  Gradually bad manners and uncivil discourse have become more common on the show.  These actions are hurting the body politic.

Ratings are important for the business of op-ed journalism.  Disagreement, drama, and theatrics are tools to maintain a viewership's attention.  Such actions get ratings, but easily become abuse.  There is a trend on The O'Reilly Factor towards disrespect for both people and truth.  Each time these tactics are used, a deeper wedge is driven between our citizens.  The public discourse is dragged down and our ability to work together harmed.  

Can not The O'Reilly Factor's causes be better served by other tactics?

Please stop calling people names. Robert Reich is not a "communist", liberals are not all "pin heads",  David Silverman is not a "fascist", and  Ron Paul is not "dumb". On the playground, children call each other names. As we mature we should grow out of this.

Please stop interrupting people.  Talking over people has become such a habit that it even disrespected the Office of the President, without any regard for proper decorum. Close minded people interrupt those they disagree with.  A healthy democracy requires that even a fool get chances to express themselves.

Please stop the ad hominem attacks.  Attack the idea and not the person.  Attacking the person disrupts healthy discourse and is a logical fallacy.  Ad hominem attacks on speakers are rarely warranted.  Belittling people when we believe them wrong belittles all involved. 

Please stop cherry picking facts.  When one looks at data and then comes to an opinion, one is searching for truth.  When one has an opinion and searches data that prove it, they disregard information that may show the opinions error.  Cherry picking data hurts ones credibility. A wise man struggles to find the truth.  A foolish man seeks evidence to prove his prejudice.

Is the money really worth tearing us apart a little each day?  Is that to be The O'Reilly Factor legacy? 

From this viewers perspective, it appears that the emotion of the moment too often overrides good sense and manners.  A TV host has a greater obligation to be master of their feelings and to search for truth.
Please sir, govern words with your mind and manners and not by emotion or prejudice.  

Kindness to people and humility before truth are strengths I hope we all strive for.   You can do better.  We, your audience, need you to do better.

Mark Bloom

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Transparency and Friction

Free markets are effected by interested parties only if the market has complete transparency and resources move in a friction-less manner. 

Some actors will try to control every market by removing transparency or bringing friction into the market.

When ever a body of people is able to shade the market or place friction into it, the market ceases to be free.  
What ever institution monitors the market, in order to ensure its both friction less and transparent  is by default called "the government".  One can name it committee or congress or agency or what ever we wish, but each market's monitor will be it's "government".

Some would have the "free market" be "the government".  For select markets, being free may be just the right institution for that market best meet the needs of humanity.  However, not all markets can be absolutely free.

Libertarian and anarchic ideas, in general,  aim to make markets governed by Adam Smiths "blind hand".  This view advocates letting markets go to "the natural order of things".

However, one must first prove that the "natural order of things" is the best existence for humans.  I maintain that this simply and obviously not so.  Rather, we manipulate our environment constantly in order to improve for ourselves.  Our markets are just another form of human manipulation.

There is no natural law that says markets will self balance optimized to human needs any more than there is any law that says campfires will burn at the right temperature for cooking.  The unaltered natural order is not what is always best for us.

What I have yet to see from these viewpoints is how, in a realistic manner, with out some form of "government" markets will work properly.  What systems will actually effect pragmatic and practical transparency and friction-less movement in markets?

It appears to me that humans will always be struggling to find a balance between "controlling" markets and allowing them to be free. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

What Next? Security or Freedom?

Has our exertion and fumbles in this "War on Terror" worn down our resolve?  Are we too weary to take on another challenge?  

Should we now turn inward and rebuild, letting down our guard against evil in the world?  Or should we maintain the struggle for a better future while  allowing our treasure and freedom to slowly drain away?

Heady Heights

In the decade after the Soviet Union fell, the world opened up to us all; a booming economy and planetary freedom seeming ours for the taking.  As the Iron curtain opened up to trade with the world our new communications technologies boomed.  Financial practices were loosen creating a vast new source of credit for anyone who could ask for money.  All over the globe the economies of the world soared.

9/11 shocked us.  A large scale attack inside USA borders, long protected by vast oceans, put fear in hearts.  I remember distinctly that in small towns across the land, people who afraid that their own little community would be the next target, demanded the government act in a big and dramatic way.  Our surprise exaggerated the threat until we felt existence itself may be threatened. 

"They" wanted to take away our freedoms.

Shock and Awe

The reaction to this new horror was to spend blood and treasure on security, combat and construction of public works here and in far away lands.  Huge build ups in surveillance,  secret soldiers, and military might drove us forward.  Massive government agencies were restructured to face the looming doom of a landless enemy who would do our "homeland" harm.

War was waged in places where conflict had already raged for thousands of years.  Free people thought technology, money,  science, and even ideology would be naturally triumphant.  Who could dare stand before such awesome piles of money and military might?

Victory Apparent?

After a decade of effort at home and around the globe, the criminals who would hurt us were caught or captured.  Ben Laden was put in Davy Jone's Locker.  Although violence recruited new enemies, they too were sought out and brought to pay a price.

With time, terrorism itself no longer seems an imminent and real threat to us individually.  We gradually felt our small towns safe again.

Walking Wounded

Devastation and turmoil were left in our wake, as millions of lives lay shattered and radically changed.  Revolutions were triggered across dozens of countries as dictators and tyrants fell.  New governments are not always good governments.  Now nations are unstable, in chaos, or even engaged in brutal civil wars.

Professional soldiers, stretched to their limit and beyond suffer from combat fatigue, long separation from family, and traumatic stress.

Economies built on a bubble of easy borrowed money spent by citizens, corporations, and congresses have left the world economy teetering like a drunken sailor on a pay day binge.

The west wearies of fear and violence.

Forever Threatened

Terrorism's will never be gone.  Terrorism is a tactic that our enemies may pursue again.  Terrorism can never be defeated by armies or money or science or technology.  Terrorism will be tried again by someone else in another place.  Terrorism will come when we least expect it; for its very strength is it's sudden shock and brutal violence.

Security, secrets, and spying, initially embraced as a necessary evil now scares us with their attendant loss of freedoms.  No one wants to lose all their privacy in order to feel safe.  Now the tools of a war on terrorism scare us more than the terrorism itself does.

If high levels of security are maintained, the very institutions that protect us put privacy and freedom at high risk.  A dystopian future of governmental control intruding too far into our private lives  has begun to replace the fear of violence from angry people far away.  The gradual loss of liberty has become too high a price to pay for becoming less terrified.

If we ramp down our security another attack is probable some day; perhaps sooner, perhaps later.  The opportunity to surprise will present itself eventually to people of bad will.  

Choking the Chicken

We can not be Chicken Little assuming the sky of terrorism is falling down up us.
Neither can we be ostriches buried with our heads in the sand.
We can no more dismantle the entire security apparatus than we leave it in place as it is.  Both of these options leave us at perils we do not wish.

Which security works best that intrudes least?  Can such a thing be found?  
Could we stop patting down grandma at the airport?  
Could we stop tracking every phone call in order to stop bad men with evil intent?  
Could we pull all our troops home and watch the world from inside a bunker of safety until the next threat appears?

What ever we do next, let us not again react rashly.  How questions such as these get answered will determine our children's futures.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

In the Beginning was the Word

What are Words?

Words are symbols to communicate with.  We have character symbols that represent the words we can write and read.  Vibrations in the air represent words too.  The words are not in the character symbols or vibrations in the air. 
Transforming senses into symbols

Words are ideas in our brains.  Words exist in our minds.  We can only physically sense the words when we imprint them or move the air.  Words must exist inside us before we can use them.

We experience the worlds with our senses.  Sight, smell, and sound inform our experience; our knowledge of the world.  These experiences are captured in our brains.  Networks of neurons capture what we sense.  Neurons do not capture the reality outside of us. 

Our minds store metaphors of reality.  Our brains have patterns that reflect our experience of reality.  Neurons capture a symbol of what we experienced.  The smell of a rose is not what we have in our brains.  A symbol that helps us recall the smell does exist.  When a similar symbol comes to us again, we know what it is through our experience. 

Learning the smell of roses
A child develops experience before words.  We lay down symbols of reality as soon as our senses and brains become engaged.  Only when enough experience of reality has shaped our brains with information, can we start to abstract that experience into words.

Words are how we share our experience.  Words are our shared model of reality.  We learn our words from each other.  Our brains learn to assign the words to what we have sensed.  

Meaning in Mind

Words are symbols held in our brains.  Our pattern of neurons hold these symbols of writing separate from the experience they represent.  The words “the rose smell” are stored in our brains.  “The rose smell" is stored both as remembered sensation and as a set of words associated with the sensation.  Words seem to have an existence of their own.  The words are not the remembered smell. Words are references of smell abstracted into other networks of neurons.

Creating meaning from links
These stored sense memories and their associations as words are models of the world made into physical reality.  The model of reality existing in our brains is a physical thing of matter and energy.  Words are written into our brains. 

Many kinds of living beings have sense memory.  Stored experience of reality as it is sensed is an old trick of life forms.  The storage of what is experienced as a symbol to be used later has a significant competitive advantage.  Symbols stored in physical reality and recalled for later use give primitive mind to even the lowest of creatures.

Meaning begins when symbols are linked with experience.  The very meaning of meaning is that some symbol is held to be similar to another.  These associations of stored symbols in our brain define the world to us.

Symbols give our minds existence.  Without a model of reality, thought can not exist.  Thoughts are models of reality moving from form to form in time.  Our brains sequence through models of reality, symbolic representations of experience, when we think. 

One can then say the word was the beginning of the human mind.  The human mind transformed by development of symbols.  Brains sharing symbols of experience was the start of culture.   We consider ourselves superior to other life forms because we share our internal metaphors of reality with each other.

Sharing symbols helps us all understand more reality.  Metaphors of reality not yet experienced directly can prepare us to deal with them when we do.  Words provide us with a tool to transcend beyond our own bodies to a larger time and space.  Our senses are extended by the words we associate with them.

Often words are used with multiple meanings.  One symbol can be associated to different sensed realities.  Take the word Kind for instance.  Kind is linked with “things that are similar”.  Kind is also linked with “friendly, generous or empathy”.  These different meanings are stored separately in our brains and only linked by how communicate them.  The spoken or written use of the word Kind is the same. The meaning, the association, the link to our sense experience with the word Kind is different.

Symbolic Limits

The average human knows less than 20,000 words.  English contains about 600,000 words if you include root words and derivatives.  This means most of us know about 3% of the words existing in our own culture.

Some words get used more than others.  Some parts of reality are experienced by few of us, often in one special practice or another.  Plumbers have their own words for their trade.  Physicists have special words rarely used by others.  Preachers have a vocabulary of their own.  Unique sensory experience provides each of our minds with its own set of metaphors for engaging reality with.

Words are links to stored sensations.
There are many words we each know.  There are many more we do not yet know.  Of all the possible sensory experiences of reality, we are limited to only those we are exposed too.  Even by extending our experience using the words of others, we are still limited to the total set of experiences that all minds have. Our limits in time and space place a limit on the vocabulary we can ever develop.

Discovering new means of sensing the world expands our vocabulary.  Sensing electricity transformed our experience of reality.  Close observation of the planets allowed us to sense gravity differently.  The microscope opened a new set of sensory data to us.  Each of these new experiences caused a change in words. Some words were transformed and others created to help us give meaning to the novel experience.

Are there an infinite number of sensory experiences?  If so then there are infinite numbers of words. 

There are certainly more experiences and words to call them than we can all ever imagine.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Belinda is My Bride Today

Belinda and I will exchange vows and rings today.

We are having a Dr. Who themed wedding.

Hope to post pictures here in a couple of weeks.

The photo below is the episode our costumes are from.

Thanks ahead of time to Belinda's family and our friends for all their help and patience in pulling off today's events.  It is good to be amongst such lovely people.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Are We Listening?

The plants and animals
And stars and dirt 
And ocean and air 
And gravity and light 
And charge and spin 
And all the various 

Forms and flows 
Of all matter and energy 
Not yet even sensed 
Existing beyond capability 

To understand remotely
In one tiny little corner 
Of a single blue planet 
Circling an obscure star 
In a galaxy of billions
Shouts loudly. 

To listen
To only a single book 
And then cease hearing 
All the rest of creation 
Is to turn away 
From the awesome.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Us, Me, or We?

Our desire for a particular political ideology is highly driven by our self esteem.  

He is just better than everyone else
Those who think they are better than every one else tend to want no holds barred competition.  Those who are less sure of themselves want to be apart of a group.

From a political perspective, timid humans trend toward communism while egocentric people trend toward anarchy. 

Communists tend to be altruistic and Libertarians tend to be selfish.  

It is more dangerous on the norm to be surrounded by Libertarians than Communists.

The optimal utility for society will most probably be a mixture of these two extremes

Thought Experiment

Pretend for a moment you secretly think you are better than everyone else.  Your natural talents, current resources, and/or knowledge make you a better human being than most of the people around you.

What kind of political system/structure would you want to exist in?

     a) everyone on a big team
     b) lots of small teams 
     c) every man for  himself 

Now pretend that you think your just normal/average, a little bit less educated, do not have so many resources and/or are lacking in some natural talents.

Look at that list again.  What kind of political system/structure would you want to exist in?

People who think they have an advantage will be less likely to want to be on a team.  They tend to believe their personal merit will allow them to do better in a competitive situation on their own.  Given the chance to compete one-on-one, they think they will win.

People who think they are less capable want to have the infrastructure of a team.  They hope their lack of personal merit will be supported by others who have different strengths and weaknesses.  Given the chance to be on a team, they think they will win.

Safety in Numbers
We Are Together

Communism and Socialism are examples of society as a big team.  

Examine from the lens of self esteem, "communism" is about spreading all the skills evenly so no one has unfair advantage.  All skills are normalized in value toward the benefit of the team.

From this perspective "socialism" can be seen as a team which spreads risk but is configured for more personal advantage to be allowed, as long as it benefits all.

The Uber Man
Cream Rise On Up

On the other end of the spectrum we have Anarchism and Libertarianism as trending individualistic political structures.

“Anarchy” systems are generally focused on individuals, have minimal formal rules and eschew systematized political teams.

While allowing for more interconnectedness through transactional systems, "libertarianism" is also very focus on individual merit and achievement.

A fundamental part of both these theories is that the best/fittest individuals should be able to rise to positions of strength and power.

We Can Do It

In between these two extremes of anarchy and communism lie a great many flavors of political formulation.  Oligarchy, monarchy, democratic, republic, federalism and others are based on larger or smaller teams of people working in concert and competition toward an end.  
Many competing teams in the whole
These in between political structures for this discussion are grouped together because they share in common a limited interdependence and a since of shared risk and reward among group members.  There may be a supreme leader or not.  There may be regular transfer of power or not.  

The in between political structures are different means for those with more perceived merit to have some more independence of action and those of less perceived merit to be more controlled.  All attempt to setup a situation that allows the cream to rise to the top for the good of many.


The link between political affinity and self esteem is not an absolute.  It is a trend.

If you take any one individual who thinks to become a communist, they may not have low self esteem.  In large groups however, the trend toward lower self esteem and desire for being the member of a protective grouping is clear.

Likewise, not every anarchists and libertarians will be selfish ego-maniacs. Like with many fluid natural systems, the attraction to self aggrandizement will trend more people in that direction.

There is clear data about self esteem and team participation.   There was no clear quantifiable data that I could find showing the exact distribution of self esteem to political persuasion.   

My understanding is that self esteem is self reported and the results are skewed in most surveys about political persuasion because of the nature of question being asked.

My hypothesis is that we would look for bell curve like distribution models of self esteem based on group dependency/inter-dependency beliefs in direct correspondence with political persuasion.

Individuals who are surrounded by altruistic actors will have a competitive advantage over those surrounded by the selfish actors.

Gaming theory studies on competitive versus cooperative behavior patterns in nature show a clear advantage toward the cooperative individual’s survival.  

There are some systems that thrive on pure competition; however their ecological stability is much harder to maintain making them rare and often fragile ecosystems.

Examples of this stability of cooperation exist within in plants and individual cells.  The cell groups that cooperate in a plant have proven very successful evolutionary.  Even individual cell organisms are collections of parts in cooperation.  Life itself evolves to those systems of cooperators because of the specific advantages spread risk and shared power brings.


Libertarians trend to have more self worth, self regard, self respect, self integrity and be more self centered and selfish.

Communist trend to have low self worth, self regard, self respect, self integrity and be more group oriented and selfless.

Any one individual who is surrounded by self centered and selfish people will be more apt to fail.

Any one individual who is surrounded by selfless and altruistic people will be more apt to succeed.


Here are some relevant papers worth reading if you’re interested in exploring these ideas more deeply