Trump

Will the fascists win?

TrumpIn every civilization throughout recorded history there have been groups of people who are driven primarily by self-interest and greed, let’s call them by their real name fascists. In a democratic system where all people get to vote there is a risk that the fascists win. You only have to look at Germany and Italy in the 1930s to see this in action. Once these very foolish people elect their leader, they are very disappointed as the world fascists build are never worlds anyone, including the chumps that vote them in, wants to live in.

And so here we are, all promoters of democracy and yet facing the creation of a fascist state. I really wish there was a supernatural power that could intervene. The truth is our future rests in the hands of self-interested, greedy, fools. If they could learn from human history Trump would not exist.

What ever you do, do not let Trump and his supporters win.

The Rule Of Law Matters

rule_of_law.jpgFrom the President on down Americans keep setting example after example that the rule of law does not matter when it comes to the taking of human life. When President Obama set in motion the summary execution of Osama Bin Laden he displayed to all Americans and the world that he was willing to ignore jurisprudence and just seek revenge by murdering this confessed terrorist. Some would argue that he deserved it. But, if you decide to side-step the law once, where do you draw the line? When is it that you or your loved ones are allowed to be summarily executed? As it turns out in America today law enforcement has chosen to follow the President’s lead. If you are a person of color recent events prove you are likely to be executed by the police on the spot regardless of your guilt or innocence.

 American law enforcers, just like their leader, have shown complete disregard recently for the law. They have started acting like characters from a bad Dirty Harry movie and appointed themselves judge, jury, and executioner. When the Dallas police trapped the crazed gunman that killed their colleagues in a parking lot, they chose not wait him out until he ran out of ammunition, water, or food. They instead blew him up. Blew him up, I just want to repeat this to let it sink in. In a land that once prided itself on its rule of law the police took it upon themselves to blow a fellow American up.

 It is important to note how significant precedents from our leaders are. In the Stanford Prison experiment, conducted at Stanford University on August 14 to 20, 1971, researchers showed that it is: the situation “good” people are placed into that ultimately drives their behavior. If our police force is led to believe that killing people is something they get to decide, not a court of law, or a group of 12 good men/women and true, then of course we will see them executing people left right and center.

 It is not the job of the police to kill people. This decision lies with the judicial system. Law enforcement’s job is to enforce laws not to execute citizens.

My new book: The Truth About Truth

The Truth About Truth: chains of evidence

The human condition is fraught with ambiguity and plagued by uncertainty. We can’t always know ourselves and what we might do in any given circumstance, even though we might like to think otherwise. Therefore, we highly value the concept of truth as it is reassuring to feel that there is some kind of certainty in our world. If only we can find, define, and hold onto this elusive truth then we can soothe our psyches with the balm of truth, and thereby delude ourselves with feelings of certainty. It is not easy to think that truth may be an outdated concept, or indeed a concept with very little utility, except perhaps in the realm of fairy tales and fantasy.

In our lives we can only see shadows on the wall of the human cave. We need to keep in mind these shadows are only built from our personal experiences, our culture, and our perception.

Defining truth is like trying to hit a moving target. If some idea becomes a so-called truth at some point, can it be an eternal truth? Are some truths immutable, or is this possibility mere wishful thinking? Is there a moment in time when circumstances allow a truth to be possible or to really be true? Then if that moment in time passes does the particular truth lose its relevance or use?

Often traditional truths are the most powerful in our cultures, and are continually passed down through the generations. These types of truth gain immense hold over our lives and appear to gain extra power over us merely from their ancient lineage, regardless of their sense or nonsense.

Is it possible to have different versions of truth? Is a truth necessarily subjective and relative to situation? How much does truth matter to us, and in what ways does it control our decisions, even our lives. Does the concept of truth promote the accumulation of knowledge or hinder it?

This is a smart and insightful book that asks many such questions. It examines “truth” and questions assumptions about the idea of truth. It puts “truth” under close scrutiny and comes up with a useful tool for examining one’s own, and society’s assumed truths.

 

Our new film: is moving forward

The Root Cause

Log line

Human activity on the planet is a geological force, changing the climate and the oceans, reshaping the landscape, causing pollution, and driving extinctions of other species. As a result, human civilization as we know it is facing its own demise. Can humans change the way we interact with the environment and change our future to avert disaster, or are we bound by our innate nature to continue as a destructive geological force?

Story summary

The environmental and existential issue covered in the story is that humans are causing a new geological epoch named the Anthropocene, and this activity may be devastating to us and many other species alive today. Yet we are not the first species to change the course of evolution and drive planetary scale change. Billions of years ago cyanobacteria evolved to photosynthesize, produce oxygen and send the planet on the evolutionary trajectory that led to life on Earth as we know it today. Cyanobacteria were not aware of their effect on Earth, but we humans can measure and see what we are doing. How are we reacting to the changes we are causing? Are we capable of rationally figuring out a way forward that will protect life and civilization as we know it? Are we in control or are we similar to cyanobacteria?

It is important to take a look at what defines the Anthropocene. The film outlines the various areas in which human activity is influencing planetary-scale change. Probably, every person has heard of climate change, regardless of whether they deny the science or accept it. But there is much more happening in the Anthropocene epoch. The film narrative explores the definition of Anthropocene. This environmental sustainability film is narrated by the director. Narration is interspersed with interviews from six experts. There are interviews with academic researchers and experts on the various effects of the Anthropocene to provide an overview of all the impacts we humans are having on the planet.

The scale of human activity is enormous due to industrial processes and due to issues of population and consumption. There are unprecedented numbers of humans alive today. And many of us mindlessly consume with complete disregard to the environmental cost of our behaviors. The film takes a look at demographics and projections for future population. As our numbers increase, it is only morally right that every human should expect adequate food, water, safety, education, and to have a so-called developed world lifestyle. Yet what does this mean for the future demands on the environment. No society has yet developed without fossil fuels; can future societies be different? The main issue impacting the survival of the human species is how the distribution of consumers evolves. If the Earth was populated by 7 billion high-level consumers today it is likely that the effects of human activity on the planet’s life systems would be much, much worse.

The film then examines our ability to respond to environmental threat and interviews an expert researcher in this area. By taking some time to examine our typical psychological responses the film asks if we able to fully grasp the extent of the problem that we face? And if we are, can we respond in time to protect and conserve our resources?

The film contends that one major problem to solving the Anthropocene is continuing with business as usual. If we are unable to take into account the true cost from cradle to grave of the production of goods and services, will we be able to have equitable and sustainable lifestyles for all people on Earth? Business as usual relies upon ever growing numbers of consumers of products and services. The numbers of consumers are increasing worldwide. The film takes a look at consumption and production under the business as usual rubric and poses possible alternatives. A lawyer who is working to help people develop co-operatives, ways to promote a sharing economy rather than an exploitative system shares ideas for alternatives. Any solutions to the problems of the Anthropocene need to take a look at our business as usual practices.

The ending does not provide a clear answer, rather aims to stimulate the audience to take a look at themselves, their behaviors, and to think about ways that in their own lives they could participate in solutions. Are we humans different from bacteria, do we have the ability to think our way out of the situation that we have caused. If we believe that we are different from bacteria, that we can act and change our behaviors, then now is the time to prove it. We need to collectively participate in solutions, and to recognize the magnitude of the Anthropocene Epoch of our own making.

The interviewees in this film are academics (from Stanford University and UC Berkeley) and environmental and social justice activists in the San Francisco Bay Area. The film interviews 6 individuals. To-date, five interviews are completed and the remaining interviewee is scheduled to participate.

Artistic Approach

The vision for this film is to create a cinematic essay with stunning natural footage and still images of nature throughout, while the narrative will describe the Anthropocene and human response to the threat. The film will juxtapose the serious and menacing reality of the Anthropocene with the beautiful reality of nature. We intend to show only images of nature. The images will all be gorgeous; we do not want to show any smoke stacks, or industrial images, or cityscapes. The interviewees are filmed in front of green screen so that scenes of natural beauty can be inserted behind them. It will appear to the audience that each person has been interviewed in a natural beauty spot. The narrator will not appear in the film in person, but the narration will provide bridges between the threads of expert testimony.

The filmmakers have footage and images of nature from around the world (animals, flowers, plants and landscapes) that will be used in collage interspersed throughout the film. The intent is that the look of the film will be a subconscious reminder of the things that we have the potential to destroy or lose due to the Anthropocene. Apart from the interviewees the film will not include images of humans. Infographics (again only using images from nature, including digitally created oil paintings) will be used to explicate certain information where it will be helpful.

 

Desert Skiing Disaster

North Star

We set out on our first ski trip in two years. Our knee injuries hadn’t kept us away from the slopes, this time, it was a combination of school and no snow that gave us such a lengthy hiatus. However, the protracted gap did not affect our muscle memory as Julia and I were zooming down the slopes of North Star at Truckee in no time.

After a glorious day of skiing on excellent snow in sunny weather we packed up and made the trek across Nevada on to Park City to indulge in another three more days of skiing. The trip through the snow covered deserts of Nevada was wondrous. After overnighting in Elko we continued our snowy drive and were soon at Rick’s place in Park City.

Park City

Julia and I skied all day the next day in more lovely warm and sunny weather on more excellent snow. Julia had by now returned to her former glory days of skiing and was tearing up the slopes at Park City.

The next morning, we were back out skiing and had another great day. On our way off the mountain at about 2:00 pm Park City time Julia and I were heading home down the Home-Trail when without warning she caught an edge of one of her skies. This caused her to fall. During the slow fall on a very gentle ski slope her skies got tangled up and she broke her leg. I was ten feet in front of her and could hear the bone crack!

The mountain rescue folks were wonderful and had her off the mountain and in the medical clinic within 30 minutes of the horrible accident. The doctor there took x-rays and discovered she’d fractured her tibial plateau. This is a break in the knee and required immediate surgical attention. They braced her leg in a splint and I drove her to the Utah University Medical Center Emergency. She spent the night on pain medications with little sleep as she had to be monitored for a potential swelling that could cause blood flow issues in her leg.

She had her surgery the next day and the expert and friendly staff at Utah University Medical Center did a wonderful job. Poor Julia woke from her general aesthetic while in surgery with no memory of where she was, who the people were around her or even what had happened to her. She cried out loud and had to be calmed by the nurses until she regained her memory.

The surgeon spoke with me after the operation and explained that it had gone great and she was now the proud owner of seven titanium screws and one titanium plate; permanent reminders of her skiing endeavors.

Our good friend Rick allowed us to stay at his home in Park City for an extra week as Julia slowly began her recovery from the initial operation. We sure appreciate Rick’s kind gesture. Julia had three very bad days after the surgery, but later that week she began to come back to us. She was in fact strong enough at the end of the week to make the arduous journey back across the snowy desert to our home.

She has 10 weeks of no load-bearing on her injured knee, then another 10 weeks of physical therapy to get her function back in her unused leg. Then some more time to return back to full function, although I doubt she’ll ever want to ski again given the ordeal she’s been through. Oh well, only Darwin knows.