Sunday, September 27, 2020

But Wait, There's More!

                                                                                               written 20 September 2020

                                                                                           published 27 September 2020



            The year 2020 is one for the record books!  Beginning with the trial of an impeached president (only the third in US history) we are now experiencing the worst pandemic in a century.  The incompetent Federal response produced the largest infection on the planet and the ongoing economic crash rivals the Great Depression.  Social protests over systemic economic inequity, misogyny, police murders, and racism have swept the nation, mobilizing people of all races, demanding structural change: real equality for all. 

            The National Hurricane Center has already run through the alphabet this storm season (for only the second time in history) and three major storms hit the Gulf Coast this month.  A record-breaking fire season in the western states started a month ago with 14,000 lightning strikes, creating blankets of unhealthy smoke, and the seasonal Diablo winds are still to come. 

            Trump used troops on protests and hobbled the Post Office as people plan to vote by mail due to the pandemic.  The integrity of the Justice Department, Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control have been compromised for partisan reasons.  Political polarization in the country is at an all-time high, each side seeing the other as traitors, with a presidential election in five weeks.  Even the existence of "truth" has been called into question.

            Then Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died.  Ginsberg dedicated her entire life to equality: as the legal foundation of America, and the moral foundation of integrity.

            Long standing Republican policies (low taxes, small government, anti-regulation) increasingly benefit corporations and the very wealthy, but at the expense of the rest of society, making it more difficult for Republicans to win popular elections.  Their short-term strategy is to restrict access to voting through purging voter rolls, stricter voter ID rules, and extreme gerrymandering.  They are aided in this by the anti-democratic make-up of the Senate and the Electoral College, which gives disproportionate power to states with smaller populations, which have trended Republican.  But their long-term solution is control of the Judicial Branch, particularly the Supreme Court, consisting of nine unelected individuals, appointed for life, who can veto any legislation, no matter the popular support.  

            When the election of 2000 was contested, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to halt the recount in the state of Florida, giving the election to Bush II by decree.  In 2010, a 5-4 decision called Citizens United removed a century of law limiting campaign funding, which has allowed torrents of corporate and dark money to flood into politics.  In 2013, key portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were repealed by a 5-4 vote, claiming voter discrimination was no longer a problem, removing federal scrutiny of state voting practices.

            During his term, Obama appointed two retiring Justices, and would have appointed a third after the sudden death of Justice Scalia in early 2016.  Senator McConnell refused Senate consideration for over a year, the first time since the Civil War, claiming "it was too close to an election and the voters should decide".  Trump won, made that appointment, another when Justice Kennedy retired, and is now poised to make a third.  With weeks left before the election, McConnell has conveniently changed his principles, and declared there will be a vote in the Senate.

            This is not a foregone conclusion, as some Republican Senators may still have moral integrity.  If not, the Republican dream of judicial control is still limited by the reality they consistently deny.  Population demographics are against them, as younger people want a more inclusive, livable world.  Women vote.  Covid-19 isn't going away, the economic consequences of the pandemic will be long-lasting, and climate change doesn't care who thinks they are in charge.  Republicans have no solutions for any of this.  

            Reality is inclusive and systems of exclusive gain at the expense of the whole are doomed to fail, as we are witnessing today.  Like the caterpillar dissolving into goop to become the butterfly, the structure of our society is failing, no longer supported by the premise at its core: the myth of separation in a unity reality.

            Vote as if this is the last election we will have.  Vote for what you want, not against what you fear.  We have more power than we know.






Sunday, September 20, 2020

What An Interesting Week!

                                                                                               written 13 September 2020

                                                                                           published 20 September 2020


            As apocalyptic wildfires ravage the west, four tell-all books hit bookstores.

            Melania And Me, by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, details how Wolkoff, a high-powered event producer and long-time friend of Melania Trump, helped produce the Trump Presidential Inauguration.  More than $107M was raised, but only $65M was spent.  When questioned about what happened to the rest of the money, the Trump administration scapegoated Wolkoff.  Her book is a refusal to accept the blame.

            Rage, by reporter Bob Woodward, describes privately taped interviews with Trump in February, revealing that Trump knew Covid-19 was much more lethal than the flu, infected children, and spread easily.  However, Trump publically dismissed the virus as a "Democratic hoax", held large indoor rallies, repeatedly stated it would disappear like magic, and refused to organize a federal response to the pandemic.  This week Trump explained he lied to the public because he "didn't want to create panic".  America still leads the world in Covid cases and deaths.

            Disloyal, by Michael Cohen, Trump's convicted former lawyer, talks about the 2008 sale of Trump's Palm Beach mansion to a Russian oligarch for $95M, more than $50M over price. Trump told Cohen he believed the money came from Putin.

            Compromised, by Peter Strzok, former head of FBI counter intelligence, states that in 2016 the FBI was concerned candidate Trump might be compromised by Russia, and started investigating, with full support of both Republicans and Democrats.  But a complete counter intelligence investigation was apparently never concluded.

            In July, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determined Russia was interfering with the current election, spreading misinformation about Biden's mental capacity to help Trump.  A report was due to be distributed to state and local law enforcement, but was quashed by politically appointed DHS officials because "it failed to meet agency standards ".  Since then the White House has been pushing the idea that Biden has "poor mental health".

            In August, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a final report, with unanimous bipartisan conclusions that Russia did interfere with the 2016 election to help Trump, and Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager, reportedly gave internal polling data to an agent of Russian intelligence.

            This week was hard on the president.

            On September 8th, an article in The Atlantic, by Jeffrey Goldberg, reported Trump referred to war dead and wounded as "suckers" and "losers" on numerous occasions.  In 2018, he refused to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, for WWI Marines killed at Belleau Wood, because "it is filled with losers", who were "suckers for getting killed".  During the 2016 campaign, Trump disparaged John McCain, claiming "he was not a war hero", because Trump "likes people who weren't captured".  When McCain died, Trump declared he would not "support that loser's funeral", and was infuriated that the flags were flown at half-staff.  While the Atlantic report was immediately denied by the White House, it was quickly confirmed by several other sources, including Fox News.  Trump demanded Fox fire the reporter.

            On September 9th, DHS officer Brian Murphy alleged in a whistle blower complaint to the DHS Office of Inspector General, that top DHS political appointees have attempted to censor intelligence information about Russian threats to national election security because "it made the President look bad."  In addition, he was told to minimize the threat assessment from violent domestic white supremacists, and instead highlight left wing groups.  When he refused, he was demoted and reassigned.

            On September 10th, Microsoft reported discovering hundreds of hacking attacks against the Biden organization and other Democratic advocacy groups, by the same Russian state agencies involved in the 2016 election interference.  Additional attacks originated from China and Iran.  To date, Senate Republicans have refused to take any action to protect election integrity from hostile forces.

            On September 11th, the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, it was revealed the Trump administration stole $4M from a health benefits fund for New York firefighters injured that day, and the Afghan government, pressured by the US, released Taliban prisoners involved in killing American troops.

            Less than two months from the election, Trump is dealing with evidence of financial corruption, that he lies about Covid, completely disrespects the military, and is being helped by foreign powers.  Again.  How many Americans can he con this time?



Sunday, September 13, 2020

Dimensions Of Reality

                                                                                                 written 6 September 2020

                                                                                           published 13 September 2020


            In Cartesian mathematics, a point has zero dimensions.  But an infinite number of points arranged in a row become a one-dimensional line, with the quality of "length".  An infinite number of lines arranged side by side become a two-dimensional plane, with the quality of "area".  An infinite number of planes stacked up become three-dimensional, with the quality of "volume".  Each integer dimensional increase encompasses the previous ones, and producing a quality unique to the new dimension.  

            We experience three dimensions as space.  But for things to move in space, the fourth dimension of time is required.  The four-dimensional space/time continuum has the quality of "material reality", and for centuries this has been the domain of the western scientific study.  But there are no limits to dimensions in mathematics, and the "real" world has indications of higher dimensions.

            Chaos theory is the mathematical study of natural dynamic systems that appear random, disordered, and chaotic.  A strange attractor is an ordered pattern, residing in a higher dimension, which influences the disordered chaotic system.  

            String theory in theoretical physics proposes patterns in 10 or 11 dimensions, which express as the material reality of our senses.  Physicist David Bohm postulated higher dimensional patterns called pilot waves, which connect material reality and guide how quantum phenomenon manifests.  Once considered heretical, his theories are becoming accepted by mainstream physics as a best fit to experimental evidence.

            Fractal math is the study of complex geometries, as experienced in the natural world.  One can imagine a very wiggly line, which never crosses itself, but fills most of a sheet of paper.  Since it is a line, it can't be two-dimensional, but as it covers much of the page, it can be described as greater than one-dimensional, introducing the concept of fractional dimensions.  In the same way, a very convoluted plane can be more than two-dimensional, yet not a three-dimensional volume.  This suggests the possibility of objects which such complexity that they transcend four-dimensional space/time.  One of the most complex physical objects is the human brain.

            To avoid the philosophic tyranny of the Church, when western science first arose it constrained itself to investigating only the objective material world, that which could be weighed and measured, and left anything metaphysical alone.  Thus, classical physics assumed all reality, including consciousness, was limited by four dimensions.  Consciousness, when considered at all, was defined as a biochemical complexity within the brain, of no real importance.  Matter was the ground of reality, and consciousness was an emergent phenomenon.

            When quantum physics arose a century ago, it upset fundamental parts of classical Newtonian physics, and injected consciousness into the heart of matter.  The act of observation is a causative force, demonstrably changing material reality.  Some physicists now propose that the ground of reality is consciousness, and matter is an emergent phenomenon.   Eastern science, and most mystical traditions, have always known this.

             If we abandon the constraint of four dimensions, we can define a higher dimensional reality which contains all of matter, and has the quality of "awareness".  

            Consciousness has been shown to be non-local, meaning that it transcends space and time.  The human brain, considered the seat of human consciousness, is a very complex four-dimensional object extending as a fractal into a higher dimension.  

            Rupert Sheldrake's decades of research into morphogenetic fields has shown transcendent patterns influence embryonic growth processes.  These patterns even influence how mineral crystals form, and how knowledge is acquired.

            The original meditators at the Findhorn Spiritual Community established communication with what they described as the "over souls of the vegetables", aware beings that organized the development of the vegetable's material form.  Working in coordination with these beings, Findhorn gained world renowned for their garden grown on the harsh Scottish coast.

            In "Biology Of Belief", Bruce Lipton presents evidence that the beliefs we hold affect the fundamental biochemistry of our cells, down to the genetic level.

            The world is profoundly connected within higher dimensions, the domain of consciousness and inspiration, relegating the apparent separation within material form to simple limited perspective.  The core of our current social upheaval is the conflict between those who experience the world as separate, isolated, dead material forms, and those who experience the world as whole, alive, and aware.  The choice is death or life.









Sunday, September 6, 2020

Four Month Check In

                                                                                                   written 30 August 2020

                                                                                           published 6 September 2020


            Four months ago, Trump began pushing to reopen the economy.  On August 30th, worldometer lists US cases at 6,158,408, and 187,026 deaths, still leading the world in both categories.  The next three countries, also lead by nationalist autocrats, are Brazil (3,847,739 cases), India (3,613,922 cases), and Russia (990,326 cases).  These four nations constitute 57% of the world case load.  The US averages 43,152 new cases daily (down 1/3 in August), and 949 new deaths daily (down 1/5 in August).

            The per capita death toll in the US increased 184% since May 1st.  Eleven states have increased less (eight Democratically controlled).  Twenty-two states have increased more than twice the national rate (sixteen Republican controlled).  Per capita death toll in five states have increased by more than four times the national level, Mississippi (763%), South Carolina (892%), Arkansas (1067%), Arizona (1325%), and Texas (1386%) (all Republican controlled).

            The US per capita death increase per month dropped sharply after May, but has held relatively steady since: 59% in May, 22% in June, 23% in July, and 19% in August.  Thirty-six states had a similar trend, with the greatest death rate increase in May, and declining rates since.  One peaked in June, ten in July, and three in August.

            California still leads the nation with 702,274 cases and 12,910 deaths, with Texas and Florida close behind.  California averages 5,331 new cases daily (down 1/3 in August) and 110 new deaths daily (down 1/5 in August).  Los Angeles has 34% of the state total, and the ten southern counties account for 69%, about the same as a month ago.

            Mendocino county case load more than double in August to 673, and the death toll almost doubled to 17.

            In the second week of August, the City of Sturgis in South Dakota, population 7,000, hosted the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, attended by more than 365,000 people, mostly unmasked and ignoring social distancing.  Participants came from 2/3 of the states.  It is being viewed as an epidemiological experiment on a massive scale, since such a large gathering has not taken place since the pandemic began.  The consequences will take weeks to fully manifest, but infections in South Dakota have already jumped by 40% in two weeks, and more than 100 cases have already been reported elsewhere.

            The RNC convention in North Carolina, and the finale event on the White House lawn, also ignored masks and social distancing, and there are already reports of infected participants.  However, the Trump administration is acting as if the pandemic is under control, boasting that his swift action to ban travel saved lives, and that he organized all the necessary supplies needed to address the pandemic.  

            In the real world, testing is still limited, testing rates are declining, and the results can take over a week to return, making contract tracing difficult.  New, more rapid tests are being developed, but are not yet in widespread use.  

            There is still no coordinated information coming from the CDC, but last week they announced asymptomatic people need not get tested.  This will make it even more difficult to actually control the spread of the virus, but is in line with Trump's assertion that the more we test, the higher the case load.  It has since been reported that this directive resulted from pressure from the White House, not CDC science.

            There are now four documented case of a person being re-infected with Covid. Numerous reports suggest Covid antibodies may decline rapidly after a person gets well, raise questions about how long immunity may endure.  Under White House pressure, the FDA fast tracked using convalescent blood plasma as a Covid treatment, which may reduce mortality, but has not been rigorously tested.  Russia has announced they have a vaccine, but there is little data to suggest it has been well tested for either efficacy or safety.  

            Schools that have opened to in-person learning report finding clusters of infection within a matter of days.  Many major school systems around the country have decided to start with distance learning only, until further notice.  

            With no effective response to the pandemic or the resulting economic devastation, Trump is focusing all his attention on getting re-elected, promising four more years of the same incompetent leadership.  America deserves better.