Sunday, 30 September 2018

Garbage can save the world.


 

Garbage can save the world.

Some people don’t want to know about problems in the world. A guy just told me that he disconnected the satellite and no longer watches any news. Good idea if you don’t care about how you may be the reason that we have such stressful news. Please consider the possibility that if you and I and many others do our share, the world could be a better place.

There are big problems that face us now and must be dealt with. Some people are working on it but not nearly enough. Instead of fighting for more gun controls people should fight against nuclear weapons. We can’t survive a nuclear war. Therefore, nuclear disarmament is a must. We also can’t rebuild a civilization if ours will be destroyed by a catastrophic Climate Change. We barely manage to deal with the changes that are already happening. Again, many millions of people are actively trying to make a change, but there are many others who block their efforts with economic arguments. It is hard to tell people to change what is obviously working, especially if the solution requires immediate sacrifice mostly for future benefits. Yet we all like to have insurance just in case. Let me tell you, my friends, insurance won't help.

Overall I see our society advancing to its betterment by leaps and bounds, at least where people have a say about their future. The more democratic countries have better living conditions, longer life expectancy, more educated populations and better healthcare in all but one. Those are also the countries where a large majority speak up against looming dangers like Nuclear arms and destructive pollution. Our main problem is the problem of the rich. Rich is what half of the world calls us. We have too much, use too much and have to spend a significant amount of our resources on defending our wealth. We are the throw-away societies.

The UN commissions all kinds of studies that prove how much food is wasted, how it could be used and how hunger can be defeated. I don’t wish to give numbers and waste a lot of writing space on footnotes but I can say the following. We are able to produce all the food the world needs without any of us giving up whatever we need. Even at current rate of production hunger can be eliminated if we only don’t throw away 45% of all the food that we produce. My family and I throw away food and so probably we all do. That is a problem, but not the main problem.

The main issue is that the waste here is a business decision. Food production is an industry governed by predatory Capitalism. Not the good kind of Capitalism that uses competition to drive people towards working harder and smarter, but the kind that goes after the jugular for world domination. The kind of Capitalism that is displayed openly now by the US demanding a new NAFTA deal. But, that is not the focus of this column.

Throw away society was coined, I believe, in a Time Magazine in 1945 before we even began the age of plastics. Look at where we are now. Just consider the amount of material and labor that is in packaging. Now consider the life expectancy of products. All of what we buy is manufactured with an end of life expectancy and new products to replace it, (not repair) are made. My grandparents bought shoes from a shoemaker and had them repaired. How often do you buy shoes this days?

Now let's consider the single-use products that we make so cheap to save on labor for cleaning and reusing them. The kind of throwaway products that seem harmless if we don’t consider the energy pollution required to produce them and the issues facing their disposal. You probably saw the video with the many miles of garbage accumulated in the oceans.

Another extremely wasteful industry is the fashion industry and please include home fashions in the equation. While a large portion of humanity are lucky to have the clothes or utensils necessary for life, we replace next to new items on a seasonal basis. Most of my friends remodel their homes every five years and in some cases it is not the only home they have.

Consider what you see in a public washroom. Notice how many people use by far more soap, paper towels and heated water than what is needed. Now turn your mind's eye to our favorite subject oil and gas. We need both to survive but how much do we really need.

If we reduce our 4.5 tonnes of garbage per year, the 25% of food thrown out and reduce turn over of our wearable fashions; we can make a great impact. If we use energy wisely we may see reduced fires in BC and California, less floods all over the world and a return of the weather from some years ago. This and reduced wars in the middle east, reduced military built up all over and perhaps more jobs.

Strangely enough, the throwaway culture taught us to throw away people mostly in favor of making more money and buying more so we have more to throw away. Our family relationships weakened, less intergenerational interdependence and definitely no empathy whatsoever for others who must have a way to make a living, just like we do. Predatory Capitalism is all about me or mine. Within the family, the community, country, race, all that we consider and expect others to consider is personal gain. It wasn’t always like that as some of us older folks clearly still remember.

When I was young, parents and kids helped each other, business owners cared about their employees and people didn’t mind paying a little more so all will be fed. This could return if we change our mindset. I cared more about my dog than a Corporation cares about laying off a thousand employees to increase the shareholder's dividends.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Humans and Partners.,


Humans and Partners.

 

When I was a child, on a farm by Armageddon in Israel, we had a horse and a mule to provide farm horsepower and transportation. The horse was a tall white female named Cloud, and the mule was dark, stubborn and had big ears. The older kids said that he was gay since mules don’t have any colts. He shouted in defiance but worked harder than anyone on the farm. When Cloud the mare died, from a snake bite, I cried bitterly; she was my friend. I still remember her fondly. The mule disappeared after we got a tractor to do his work and no-one ever apologized to him for calling him names because of the way he was born.

This experience taught me about working with nonhumans. Each of the animals had a personality, physical characteristics, and intelligence. Our survival was tied to those animals, and it was a “give and take” relationship. If the mule didn’t want to go somewhere, you had to find another way, since you couldn’t change his mind. I remember my mom feeding watermelon to Cloud, and the mule started braying in defiance and kicking up the straw. I hurried to get him some watermelon and petted him saying sorry, Mom just forgot. I thought I saw tears in his big black eyes. In my early life, humans and animals coexisted interdependently, and nobody had a problem with it.

Move more than sixty years forward, and humans are once more becoming dependent on a partnership with another entity that has a mind of its own. It is not furry and doesn’t have biological functions as we do, but it seems to have a personality, an ability to demand of us what it needs and treat it with respect. Our relationship with it may be more intimate even than the partnership we had with the farm animals.

I am alive today thanks to a couple of machines and a wonderful Canadian Healthcare system. One hundred percent dependency. If there is even the slightest glitch with my most sophisticated Pacemaker, or if I got tasered by the police, I will probably die in seconds.

Most people have a psychological dependency now on computers and cell phones which are a small Artificial Intelligence device. Apparently, folks check it even at the most intimate moments and can’t envision life without it. The “device” became an extension of our brain connecting billions of people through the internet and providing information that is vital to our survival. The only problem is that we communicate very slowly with devices.

Elon Musk, a business magnate and investor the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; co-founder and CEO of Neuralink; and co-founder of PayPal (Wikipedia) known mostly because of the Tesla cars, believes that in a short while we will be able to communicate with Artificial Intelligence directly from our brain. There will be an interaction between a device and a biological brain, namely ourselves. Combine this with our already existing ability to create Virtual Reality and humans may be able to create whatever reality they want or will they?

When we team our own brain with a machine who is going to be in control? Working with the farm animals we were in control since we were smarter. With the computer, we lose our main advantage. To enjoy what the “A I” offers we must hand over control like we do when we use opiates. Opiates don’t have a mind, but our phone has a brain. Will the computer use the human brain, or will the biological thinking device remain in the driver seat.

A long-lost book that didn’t make it into the Bible, The Gospel of Thomas stated.

(7) Jesus says:

 “Blessed is the lion that a person will eat and the lion will become human.
 And cursed is the person whom a lion will eat and the lion will become human.” (Gospel of Thomas)

 

For two thousand years people couldn’t interpret this saying, but now we can. Just insert “computer” where it says “lion.”

We, humans, are smart and innovative, but we always need to harness the help of someone else, a none human entity. The problem is, who will control what we call our life.

When I was a child, we used animals, we even loved them, but there was no question about who was in charge. Over my lifetime we worked hard to develop machines and technology. Now we are on the verge of merging with our creation. My physical body already did.

I am elated thinking that this may be the fulfillment of God’s promise that “His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Humans may be able to have any reality that they want. On the other hand, I am scared. I say to my self, again and again, be not afraid, but I am.

When I loved the white mare Cloud, she returned my love. When I chose to be fair to the black mule, he had tears of either pain or joy, but he had feelings. Those were creatures like me created by the invisible hand.

Now we are talking about joining with our own creation which we can’t infuse with emotions. The human creators assume that their own emotions will just use the superior intelligence and abilities of the Artificial Intelligence they have created. Cursed is the human that the Lion ate and it became human.

When I was riding in a cart towed by a stubborn mule if he didn’t want to go through a big paddle, I just followed him around the mudhole. If he was going to tip the cart, I forced him to go the other way. It was a partnership, and we both benefited. Now, if my brain will merge with a computer brain, I don’t know what may happen. Will the “A I” play a game with me instead of the other way around?

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Life’s Photography.


Life’s Photography.

Years ago, before cell phones, instant cameras, and electronics, someone bought me a camera. It was a black box with a film on the back and a simple lens over an opening in the front. There was a crude mechanical shutter release on the front, and a viewfinder screwed to the top, nothing else.

This simple camera taught me more about life than any other device including the computer and the internet. It was based on the early knowledge of the eye which people mistakingly used to call the window to the soul. It is not since the soul is not the brain.

In the fifties, film was rather expensive and developing pictures much more yet. I had to study a lot of material to make sure that I didn’t waste any pictures and I did. I spent many days, in the age before television when we had time to think, learning lifelong lessons which are still with me to this day.

First, you have to figure out what you will take a picture of. There must be something that for some reason is more important than the rest. We choose all the time what to pay attention to and exclude the rest. Try to choose what to think about. You will discover that mostly you don’t. Life chooses it for you, and you go right into it without considering why. If you think about what to take a picture of, you can learn to select your thoughts.

Next, you will figure out if the subject of your picture is going to be the main item in your picture or if it is going to be a part of something bigger. Is it going to be a picture of an eye, a face, a body with the head or perhaps a scenery with a person somewhere in it? The eye is still there. This is a process that is done by itself, but we could do by paying attention. A good practice is to write some of your thoughts. I face it every week when I am going to write this column. This week I had some requests to write about current issues and local politics. There were some news items that I heard on international news, which are not known here, and cameras. Could my readers benefit from learning to chose what to think about? The latest won.

You probably notice, if you have an old camera, that the light makes a difference. No pictures in the dark but wonderful pictures in low light, if one doesn’t use an automatic flash. Do you know how they take a picture of the milky way? The eye hardly can see it, but a long exposure shows millions of stars. If you pay attention to something for a long time, you get details that all others miss. No kidding, it is just an exercise in attention and patience. You must shine a light on something to see it.

I had the old camera for a while, and I became interested in portraits of people and animals. Faces intrigued my interest, pretty pictures were loved by people, but I wanted to show through the camera lens the personality of creatures or the one thing that interested me the most, the soul. You can’t see, smell or touch a soul, but you sure feel that each is different from another. It seems as if the soul makes a body grow just a little bit to reflect its own nature. It is evident in “first impressions” but more pronounced if you have patience and take time to notice.

I remember how as a child I noticed that some people had wrinkles showing that they smiled a lot. Some had frowning marks and some had what I called stone faces. There was a principal in my grade school who had a stone face and the kids used to say that he could paralyze you with a look. I never got his picture.

The next thing I noticed was that all creatures had a good side and a not so good side. In my thinking, I interpreted it as good or evil. It is true, and a child learns early in life to try and deal with the good side, unless they can’t find it. A few people have no expression and whatever they say can’t change the impression they project. At that point, the photographer can play with the angle of the camera.

Benito Mussolini forced all photographers to take his pictures from the bottom up. It made him look like a strong, powerful leader. Pictures from above the middle of the face make women look more feminine and so on. When you meet a person, you tend to choose from which angle you will remember them. It can be done by choice instead of chance. You can select to see them in sharp focus where every line and blemish count, or you can see them in soft focus where the general outline is visible but the little details are not seen. Women prefer the soft focus and men the sharp. You can see a person how you want or expect them to be, depending on your emotional state and feelings towards them. A photographer can direct your emotions about a person by choosing the angle, focus or distance from them. They don’t need to say a word.

Now in the age of complicated, sophisticated devices, we lost a lot of this knowledge. The camera corrects almost all of what I mentioned, and most pictures are taken from the front and middle by people who don’t know that you have so many choices. You must remember that you do and consider that what you see forms your thoughts, and your thoughts direct your emotions.

My friend told me that we use the creative power of God with our thoughts. You live in your thoughts and don’t forget it. Your thoughts are your reality, and often your reality is your choice.

 

Vintage Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Camera

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Dirt cheap.


Dirt cheap.

My ancestors didn’t take land from the natives in America. They participated in taking land from the Palestinians instead. My home now is situated on land I have purchased from another person, and the line goes back to those who simply took the land from those who used it before them, since they had a more efficient army. All humans took land from someone else at some point. There are winners, and there are losers everywhere, and according to the theory of evolution, the winners have more kids and the species improve. Tell that to the great whales who may not exist fifty years from now.

Looking at the situation now, in 2018, it seems as if our turn to perish and clear the earth for those more suitable for survival has come. Some believe it will be insects. All we must do is stay on course and let evolution do its natural duty.

First scenario is for humans to let some world nuclear power leader push the button on his desk and boom, three years later there will be no more human civilization. Scenario two, which the smoke outside reminds me about, is a bit slower. We keep the orgy of burning things for free energy to do our work; there will be more fires, more floods, and all other related disasters. Going that way will prolong the human's existence but in much more difficult conditions.

Those who are concerned with immediate pleasure and less about the future advocate leaving the problem to be resolved by future generations. Ironically the same people are complaining about social debt and want to see austerity exercised upon the majority of people existing today. Remove the Social blanket and let nature take its course. Reminds me of my children when they were toddlers. They learned how to say “give me” but didn’t yet understand that they can break things.

I am driving my red Ford on a country road watching fields rolling between foothills framed by blue mountains. The fields alternate and are squared off by fences. Some have cylindrical bails, and others are swatted. A pond in the valley is shimmering blue, and horses surround the one shore. Another greenfield and next there are cows and behind them hundreds of windmills white and moving. A valley with a farm beside a bridge and another farm in which sheep graze in front of the house. I glimpse the beautiful prairie town Pincher Creek, and my eye gets stuck on an eagle soaring, while a flock of blackbirds carries my gaze back down towards the road I am supposed to be watching. Here on the right, there is a fresh brown newly tilled field. I see the beloved earth I was looking for.

I understand Hebrew and know a secret that most people here don’t. The Hebrew word for “man” is “ben Adam” which means son of dirt or soil. It’s strange that one of the oldest writings refers to humankind that way. How did primitive tribe people so long ago figured that we and all that we use is made of the earth, will return to the earth and become something else. I pass by the brown field and now see a stretch of gold. It's wheat that only looks like gold. Gold itself is worthless unless people decide that it’s valuable.

My mind goes back to who owns the land, from which all things are made. It is dirt and water which makes all that there is. We find evidence of earlier civilizations big and small on every continent. People were created or evolved but societies came and went. It seems like this is the natural progression of earth’s living things.  Just like people, the societies and civilizations begin, flourish and die so other living things will take their place.

Possibly the Earth is trying to grow a civilization that will live forever and will not be recycled back into dirt. Perhaps the earth is using superintelligence to raise living creatures who will develop the heaven that everyone is dreaming about, but what will it take?

First, we must re-educate or get rid of the humans who are only concerned about what they can get and accumulate fast without consideration for the rest. They will bring an end to our kind, and there is no way to survive the damage they inflict upon our world. We have witnessed their effect often in history or even in our own lives.

Secondly, we must pay full attention to those amongst us who are trying to save us from distraction and take action before it’s too late. It is similar to the biblical stories about prophets who said repent or else. Some nations survived, and others were destroyed. The part that we don’t easily understand is, we must act before it’s too late. If you smoke a pack a day, don’t expect radiation or chemotherapy to save you. One must do the right thing when the opportunity is available.

Last, we must have hope. This world, regardless of who owns parts of it, is built according to the picture in the minds of those who built it. I like to say that God is creating all the time, what we expect him to create. We, the creatures with imagination, have to create a picture that will work out, not just for ourselves, but for the whole earth. Nothing short of it will work.

Forget evolution and natural selection, forget markets dictating the future, It’s only good for creating greedy, selfish earth destroyers. If we share the fruits of our labor, work towards clean energy, and  clean up the mess we’ve made, we may survive. It is simple, but life depends on it.

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

East or West, independence or not.


East or West, independence or not.

I remember clearly some years ago when the competition was between Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay for the Conservative leadership. MacKay was young, too Progressive and less inspiring for the “investors” but for me, a Canadian layperson, he had the better ideas. If at that time more of us had made an effort to elect Peter we would have been better off today. History made a “play,” and the best leader sacrificed his political career for “unity” as Canada lost. I wish Alberta today had a Peter MacKay of our own.

Instead, an introvert from Toronto who changed from being a Liberal to being a right-wing Conservative won. Canada under the secretive and unyielding Stephen Harper lost some of its character and a few good opportunities. One most obvious was the Keystone pipeline which had a great effect on Alberta today. Later the hard line over Muslim headdress supported by the then minister of National Defence, Jason Kenney paved the way for Trudeau’s Liberals to come to power.

I just watched an interview CTV had with MacKay and the sentiments from years ago rekindled. Here is a very electable Conservative who truly think about workable solutions to Canada’s present challenges. He is not popular with the “make a quick buck” crowd but could set Canada up for success, if given a chance. There is enough Progressive in his character that could have won the day in today's’ political environment. Captains of ships must be very responsive to the weather regardless of what they like.

What the Conservatives missed is the fact that in 1999 in Seattle USA hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in favor of reducing the gap between the rich and the poor and becoming environmentally responsible. They didn’t win but left the Canadian population more left leaning then they used to be. The world changed.

Acknowledging that Canada suffered a blow with the recent Federal Appeals Court decision to disallow the energy transfer west under present circumstances, Peter MacKay is reawakening the more reasonable option of a pipeline to the east coast.

So many reasons to work diligently and promote the now defunct project as MacKay mentioned. Canada is sitting on oil reserves while being a net importer of oil, buying from places that we criticize for human rights violations. We don’t have to be held hostage to some crown prince who beheads people and bomb school buses in the Middle East. We can supply all the energy needs of the East and sell highly ethical Alberta oil to the energy-hungry European markets.

The East is so scared of Trump either killing jobs in the auto industry or taking away our farmers livelihood by forcing us to give up the smaller farms protections. How would this situation change if we injected all the good jobs of building a pipeline into the economy? Trump is bullying us since he is sure that we can’t get our act together and become self-sufficient. Canada is not acting like a country.

Without looking at the statistics, I seem to remember that at the beginning of the last century Canada produced 80% of what it needed and imported 20%. We later also had the most advanced jet fighter in the world. This has now reversed itself, and we are being taken advantage of while the next-door President is screaming that we are the culprits and demanding that we will buy American manufactured weapons.

I believe that there is no easy solution to the problem since previous generations skimmed the rewards leaving us to foot the bill. I see politicians pushing us to sell more of our resources cheap instead of building our capacity to be self-reliant. They think that austerity which will hurt our average Canadians is the answer.

I say NO we are not going to. We can listen to MacKay and get going on an Energy East pipeline while building capacity for cleaner energy, reducing energy waste, and growing our own food. We can slow down big chains from taking over all of our small businesses and building new export markets so we will not be hostage to American unpredictable election cycles.    

It took us more than a hundred years to become fully independent from Great Britain, and now we must work on becoming free from the American economic stranglehold that we got ourselves into. All is not lost, and it is possible that the lesson we are learning the hard way will leave Canada better than it was.

 

Probably every Canadian loves the country, Liberal, Conservative and others. I imagine that Canadians of every religion, race or origin would volunteer to protect this land if needed. What we must decide is, do we love this country mostly to make money or to preserve its uniqueness.

Do we take action that is aimed at improving business or do we act towards uniting against those who weaken us as a nation? I view Peter MacKay as one who has the country first in his heart, and I wish he got back into politics.

Jim Mackay L Stock Photos & Jim Mackay L Stock Images - Alamy

Here is a link to my blog: https://thesimpleravenspost.blogspot.ca/  Feel free to check other articles and comment.

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