NEUROGENESIS: WISDOM; Memories: Resentment

August 16, 2014

The old thinking about the brain was that neurons were given at birth, and then progressively died. A researcher named Altman found otherwise in 1962: he showed that adult human brains created new neurons. Few believed him, even fewer found that interesting. However, by 1995, incontrovertible evidence of new neurons was found in at least two regions of the brain.

And if one blocked neurogenesis, one blocked learning.

The first memory organ of taxicab drivers learning a lot of streets, the hippocampus, got visibly enlarged.

A rat hippocampus creates at least 10,000 new neurons a day. Yes, a vulgar rat.

New Neurons In White: Forge, Forget, Forgive

New Neurons In White: Forge, Forget, Forgive

Yet, the mind is not just about adding neurons. For those keen to remember their past, fresh neurons are the worst things. Newly formed neurons in the hippocampus — an area of the brain involved in switching from short term memory to the longer sort — dislodge previously learned data, a May 2014 Science article shows.

That’s counter-intuitive at first. Naively, one would expect new neurons to mean a better brain, thus better memory. On second examination, though, if neurons are the brains, new neurons mean new brain, not the old brain, with its old memories.

Many studies have shown that boosting neural proliferation before learning enhances memory in mice.

More neurons increase the capacity to learn new memories. However, memory is based on circuits, synapses, and maybe pre-existing “grandmother neurons” (whatever that exactly means: it could be a tight group of cells). If one adds new elements, it makes sense that they have nothing to do with pre-existing neuronal geometries.

Quite the opposite: creating new neurons could clear old memories… Therapeutically.

In the 2014, Science study, newborn and adult mice were trained to fear an environment that brought electric shocks. The mice learned the task quickly. Infant mice remembered the horror for only one day, adult mice retained the fear for weeks.

This difference correlates with neurogenesis. Memory persistence in newborn mice was enhanced genetically and by chemically suppressing neurogenesis after learning. In adult mice, four to six weeks of regular exercise — an activity known to promote neurogenesis — reduced the previous fear.

Massive neurogenesis in young animals explains why youngsters do not remember their early life. And, as luck has it, an animal model exists.

Guinea pigs and Chilean rodents called Degus have longer gestation periods than mice, and thus reduced brain growth after birth. Baby Degus and guinea pigs do not have infantile amnesia. Yet, heavy exercise and drugs promoting neurogenesis brings it on.

Just as neurogenesis tends to deny the past, it denies visiting again the feelings one had then. That’s resentment. French for feeling again: re-sentiment (with a second “s” added to make a snake sound).

Nietzsche used the word “ressentiment”, because German has not word for “resentment”.

That semantic gap is, per se, reason enough to suspect that Germans walloped in it: if one avoids a notion like the plague, it is an indication that one indulges in it. Luther is full of resentment against the Jews, and Hitler against the French, and then, the Jews.

For the philosopher Kierkegaard, ressentiment occurs in a “reflective, passionless age“, stifling creativity and passion in passionate individuals. Individuals who do not conform to the masses are made into scapegoats and objects of spite by the masses, to maintain the status quo ante and to imbue the masses with their sense of superiority.

According to Nietzsche, the more a person is strong-willed, and dynamic, the less place and time they have for contemplating what’s done to them. The reaction of a strong-willed person (a “wild beast“), when it happens, is short: it is not a prolonged filling, and take-over of their entire intellect by an obsession.

It’s impressive to realize how the most recent neurological findings (above) relate to those philosophers’ insights.

The super intelligent person is always in full neurogenesis, in her haste to model the world with more faithfulness. That makes her unable to hold a grudge: she has better thing to think about.

This opens a new way out of the eternal wheel of conflict, and various vicious circles: react as wild beast to attack, but then smother what led to it under the new mindset of neurogenesis.

Instead of rejecting the world as painful, and hoping for a better one as Christians, Muslims and Buddhists do, think the world again, and the old problematic will fade away.

The same may apply to entire societies, nations, or religions, or civilization. If any of these favor ressentiment, it will have to spurn neurogenesis, or its societal equivalent. Just as individuals will.

Hence a vicious circle: the more resentment, the less imagination, and intelligence, and thus the more madness in crowds as in individuals.

Let’s notice, moreover, that denial and bad faith (a la Sartre, De Beauvoir) are very close to resentment.

So what would the moral conclusion of the preceding be? Generating new ideas, just as generating new neurons, is how to break out from the past’s vicious circles. Higher intelligence is also a better morality.

Patrice Ayme’

Universe: Not Just Mathematical

August 14, 2014

Some claim the “Universe is mathematical”. Their logic is flawed. I show why.

Max Tegmark, a MIT physics professor, wrote “Our Mathematical Universe”. I present here an abstract I concocted of an interview he just gave to La Recherche. Followed by my own incisive comments. However absurd Tegmark may sound, I changed nothing to the substance of what he said:

La Recherche (France; Special Issue on Reality, July-August 2014): Max, you said “Reality is only mathematical”. What do you mean?

Tegmark: The idea that the universe is a mathematical object is very old. It goes all the way back to Euclid and other Greek scientists. Everywhere around us, atoms, particles are all defined by numbers. Spacetime has only mathematical properties.

La Recherche: Everything is math, according to you?

Formulation Before Revelation of Mathematization

Formulation Before Revelation of Mathematization

Tegmark: Think about your best friend. Her great smile, her sense of humor. All this can be described by equations. Mathematics explain why tomatoes are red and bananas yellow. Brout, Englert, Higgs predicted a boson giving mass to all other particles. Its discovery in 2012 at CERN in Geneva led to the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics!

Tyranosopher [unamused]: Notice, Max Tegmark, that the “Nobel” thoroughly excites you. You brandish it, as if it were a deep reality about the universe. But, in truth, the Nobel is strictly nothing for the universe. It’s just a banana offered by a few self-interested apes to other self-fascinated apes. The Nobel has more to do with the nature of apish society, rather than that of the universe. In other words, we ask you about the nature of the universe, and you answer with the Authority Principle among Hominidae. You may as well quote the Qur’an.

Tegmark [unphazed]: There are an enormous number of things that equations do not explain. Consciousness, for example. But I think we will make it. We are just limited by our imagination and our creativity.

La Recherche: According to you, there is no reason that part of the world escape mathematics?

Max Tegmark: None whatsoever. All properties are mathematical! We potentially can understand everything!

La Recherche: As a Platonic mathematician, you consider mathematical concepts are independent of all and any conscious act?

MT: I am an extreme Platonist, as I think that not only mathematical structures are real, but they are all what reality is.

Relativity and Quantum Physics confirmed that reality is always very different from what one believes. Very strange and very different from our intuition. Schrodinger’s equation, the fundamental equation of Quantum Mechanics, shows that a particle can be in several places at the same time. Thus one does not try to describe the motion of this particle, but the probability of its presence in such and such a place.

But, a century later, physicists are still in deep disagreement about what it all means. I think this interpretation keeps dividing people, because they refuse to admit what goes against their intuition.

Tyranosopher: Notice, Max Tegmark, that you presented as a fact (“a particle can be in several places at the same time”) something you admit later is only an “interpretation”. That’s dishonest: an “interpretation” is not a “fact”.

Tegmark [livid]: The strength of mathematics comes from the fact that they have no inhibition. Strangeness does not stop them.

Tyranosopher: Indeed, that’s why, as a trained mathematician, I am very insolent.

La Recherche: Max Tegmark, is it your mathematical approach that makes you defend another controversial idea, that of multiple universes?

Max Tegmark: I really believe that human beings never think big enough. We underestimate our capability to understand the world through mathematics, but also our capacity to apprehend its dimensions. To understand that we live on a planet with a diameter of a bit more than 12,000 kilometers was a first, enormous, step. That this planet is infinitesimal in this galaxy, itself one out of billions, was another enormous step. The idea of multiverses is more of the same. We discover again, and more, that what we understand is only a speck of something much larger. That much larger thing is the Multiverses, of types I, II, III, and IV.

Tyranosopher: La Recherche’s Interview then proceeds further, but let me unleash a fundamental critique here.

I am a deadly enemy of the Multiverse, as I believe that it rests on an ERROR of interpretation of Quantum Physics (the one Tegmark presented as a fact above, before admitting that it was, well, only an interpretation). The fact that it is another desperate scaffolding erected to save the Big bang theory does not make it better.

Now for the notion that the universe being full of math. This is understood to mean that the universe is full of equations. Equations were invented in the Sixteenth Century. Many, if not most, equate mathematics with the art of equating.

What’s an equation? It’s something that says that two things independently defined, one on the left side of the equal sign, the other on the right side, are equal. Great. What could be simpler: what is different is actually the same!

Notice this, though: before you can equate, you must define what you are equating. On both sides.

An equation equates concepts independently defined. Ultimately, definitions are not mathematical (see on the Nature of Mathematics, to follow soon). At best, definition is metamathematical. Our metamathematical universe? End of Mr. Tegmark’s naivety.

When we get down to it, it’s more our philosophical universe, before it’s our mathematical universe: no definitions, no equations.

How can a physicist make such a gross logical mistake? Are they not supposed to be smart? (OK, it’s smart to sell lots of books).

What allows to make that logical mistake? Education, or lack thereof. Many a mathematician will make the same mistake too. The problem is that neither conventional mathematicians, nor, a fortiori, physicists, are trained logicians. They just play some in the media.

Who needs a multiverse? It seems the universe of science is already too large for many physicists to understand.

Patrice Ayme’

Show Strength To Negotiate With Iraq, Putin

August 13, 2014

Putin is doing what the Kaiser did, a century ago, and for roughly the same reasons: trying one’s luck with war is better than suffering destitution. Like the Kaiser, a century ago, Putin hopes to win, because the democracies are weak, in weapons and resolve. What could go wrong?

Ah, yes, this is less haughty a subject than the first female mathematician, to be given a Fields Medal. Moreover, she is Iranian. She studies practical things, like counting “simple” geodesics on hyperbolic surfaces, depending upon their length. (I am not joking when I say this sort of research is practical: another of the 2014 Field medalist research has already been applied, to… surveillance; Fields Medals were attributed this year to understandable mathematics… Instead of the sort of crazy math I view with a jaundiced eye, as it depends upon infinity all too much.)

Mathematician Mirzakhani In Isfahan

Mathematician Mirzakhani In Isfahan

… In Isfahan with her parents. Isfahan is one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The artful architecture above is typical. Visiting such places, one can only be awed by the splendor of the human spirit, and feel compelled to contribute.

Now back to the dismal subject of the Twenty-first Century, out of control Czar. This is a serious problem.

Yet, here we talk about what makes all these fun and game possible, namely the pursuit of civilization. It depends upon crazy people and insane ideas, been kept in check.

The Kaiser was afraid of the Socialists inside the Parliament (Reichstag) that Bismarck had set-up. The Parliament’s power was fictitious. The Socialists wanted to make it real. Such was the inside pressure.

The outside pressure was an admission, by the heads of the military, the Kaiser himself, and his chancellor, top deputies, advisers: democracies were superior to the authoritarian, exploitative regime they profited from. Those German oligarchs recognized that the economic, political, and financial alliance between France, a democracy, and democratizing Russia, was increasing in economic, and thus military power, in a way that the German plutocracy could not match.

It would have been too much against their mentalities to do the right thing, and try to do what the Romanov Czar was doing in Russia: democratizing. Instead they decided to “work on the press”, and prepare the Germans for the world war they had decided to gamble everything on. That was December 11, 1912. (For a 2004 perspective of mine on that, see “To Make War, All You Need Is Love.”)

On June 1, 1914, Colonel House, the adviser of President Wilson of the USA, saw the Kaiser, and proposed him an alliance, against the “racially inferior” French. In exchange, the Kaiser would limit his battle fleet built-up (which upset the unable-to-keep-up British).

Of these little facts, these devils that truly propel history, conventional historians never speak: that is how they earn their keep. Well esteemed professors, their fate is little better than that of mice, scurrying for crumbs below the masters’ tables.

Putin is losing in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has regained much territory, and cut off Donetsk, a city of more than a million, from the Russian military. Defeat is not what Putin wants, he wants an unending war, but one which he wins. Putin is proposing to his captive Russian public opinion, to send a “humanitarian mission” inside Ukraine. In other words, he is preparing a naked invasion.

What can the West do?

Go back to basics. Putin decided to attack Ukraine, after he saw that Western plutocrats, his natural allies, had enough control of the West to prevent a justified strike against that major satanic creature, Assad, son of Assad. That was shown by the defection of the British first. The Assad family has major plutocratic connections in London. Then, while French pilots were already strapped in their seats, Obama called off the attack.

If Assad, a dictatorial monster who started a huge civil war against pacific civilians who just wanted him to go, could get away with a poison gas attack inside Damascus that killed more than 1,500 civilians, obviously, Putin could get away with anything.

Putin wanted the Black Sea oil. That it belonged to Ukraine was a detail, now that Obama and the UK had demonstrated that Western civilization was in recess, and plutocracy reigned. Putin could do what he does best: grabbing what he needs. Like the Kaiser, he could see that gas and oil is all what held his empire together (most of the ex-Soviet “republics” have shown signs of exaggerated affection towards the European Union).

If the Kaiser and his generals had been persuaded that they would lose the war, they would have not started it: after the French nearly annihilated the German army at the Battle of the Marne, Von Molkte, who had done more to start that war than anyone else, was so deeply depressed, that he could not do anything anymore (he was secretly replaced). His mood had completely changed from the one six weeks earlier, when he mobilized the entire German army, catching the world by surprise.

So, if we want peace, we have to persuade Putin he will lose, should he pursue his policy of invasion and annexation. The best way to do this is to intervene in the situation of the Yazidi, an ancient, non-Muslim group hard pressed by the ISIS in Iraq.

This may seem a surprising position for someone who was vociferously against the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

However this is now. The ISIS, outwardly Islamist, and full of Jihadists, is getting lots of its backbone from the old army of Saddam Hussein. A demonstration of military power to help the Yazidi could, and ought, to be turned into a negotiation with some of the officers of that old army, and those who regret aspects of the Iraqi state that worked better under Saddam.

In other words: strike, but then negotiate.

There was never any serious negotiation with the secular Iraqi state, in the nearly quarter of century the USA has made war to it (in the hope of some USA plutocrats to grab its oil). Even the Neocons will have to admit that this time has come.

Of course, this is all very dirty, it’s how the sausage of civilization is made. But, if good people do not make it, to the best of their abilities, evil will be in charge.

And then, in the worst possible case, all intellectual pursuits will collapse, as happened after the Roman state streaked out of control, burned and crashed. Next time would be worse.

Patrice Ayme’

NEW WISDOM, NEW TURMOIL

August 11, 2014

NEUROGENESIS IS NEVER CALM

Abstract: Wisdom requires turmoil. Too much calm brings neuronal, intellectual, and even moral disaster. A case in point is the devil-may-care attitude of the USA in the 1930s, lauded by those who celebrate calm and peace, yet condemned by common decency.

Wisdom is about embracing turmoil, and then, dominating it. It requires heavy construction inside the brain, and the greater the new wisdom, the greater the new effort. Prometheus did not just discover fire, but a multiverse of expanding possibilities.

This is why the biologically given philosophy of Homo crushes that of theocrats and other superstitious, ravenous plutocrats. Men are all about overcoming themselves. At least those men who think hard enough so as not to finish as the main course.

Learning > Neurogenesis > Effort, Pain, Struggle

Learning > Neurogenesis > Effort, Pain, Struggle

[Neurogenesis in the Hippocampus.]

Careful meditation is often helpful to establish new wisdom. Yet, turmoil is always necessary, to foster higher wisdom, in individuals as in societies. It’s important to know this, because promoting too much calm comes at the expense of wisdom. Let me explain.

Whenever we try to define a mental state, nowadays, we have to remember that there is more than 100 neurohormones known. Some are correlated to rage, others to anxiety, fear, love (oxytocin).

Neurohormones define chemical states, somewhere in the brain. Maybe in just one place, maybe in many places. Those correlate with emotions, often through the activity of sub-units in the brain (say the amygdala for fear). Which neurohormones are tightly connected to which emotions, and how, is yet to be ascertained in nearly all cases.

We just know that, to define which emotion a brain, or part thereof, is undergoing, it will be necessary to determine neurohormones, their presence, secretion, or suppression.

People love to project “calm”. When “calm” is faked, is it real? “Calm” is not far from stealth. Any predator, be it the average cat, or the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, knows that stealth is of tremendous advantage for a successful aggression (Sun Tzu’s book, various treatises on war, and a casual look at history show that surprise is half the victory).

Is there a neurohormone of “calm”? That’s unlikely: the lion stealthily, crawling on his belly in the grass toward the prey projects “calm”, but for the occasional twitch. Yet its neurohormonal war systems are primed up for maximum violence. At the time of the attack, they will be unleashed with great fury, demonstrating that feline clam is just a tactic.

A sleep hormone does exist: that’s Melatonin.

Conclusion? “Calm” is rather deceit, or computation, or then relaxation and laziness (something brains need, just as they need sleep… probably because they need to establish a hierarchy-network of knowledge).

Alex Jones wrote a second post on “Wisdom comes out of calm”. He explains that calm is how to deal with dogs. Meanwhile he explicitly said in a preceding reply to me, that the Americans were wise to calmly wait for Hitler’s attack (see below).

Alex’s position is interesting, because it reflects the popular expectation about what wisdom ought to be: something calm, a form of torpor. No wonder, calm is typical of herd behavior. The herd calmly grazes and ruminates, when lions are not pouncing. Here is Alex:

“The mind that has no calm is like a drunken person, it has no wisdom, rushing from one crisis to another, lacking the anchoring of wisdom, the drunk does stupid actions and ruin is the drunks ultimate reward. When a cat comes to me inviting me to stroke it, I gain opportunity to find my inner calm in a world of war.”

Equating lack of calm with being “drunk” is alien to me. I drink water, I find that smart. A mind that is not calm, does not have to be angry: there are other moods. When the anger neurohormones are on, the mind is certainly not calm, but that does not mean that, when the mind is not calm, the mind is angry. It could, simply, be an attentive, or hard thinking mind.

Defining “calm” neurologically has not been done. Yet. The only calming hormones I know of, serotonin and melatonin, rather induce sleep.

Too much calm puts morality to sleep, if nothing else. In a preceding comment of Alex, one finds:

“Calm provides the opportunity for wisdom to emerge, metaphorically like soil waiting for the seed. The mind that is angry, in emotional turmoil, acts like the drunk, and they will never make wise choices or actions.

The Americans were wise to avoid war, and they were wise to stay out of other peoples political problems until those aggressors began to attack them.”

Here Alex is alluding to my position that American calm while Hitler raged, killed and attacked, was monstrous. Hitler had given explicit instructions not to make Americans angry. Hitler considered white, racist America to be half Nazi already, and thought of the USA as a natural ally. Hitler’s plan went awry, in great part because enough Americans had the great courage to get angry, in spite of their compatriots’ selfish calm tolerance of infamy.

The Americans refused to support France and Britain, and the Commonwealth, in 1939-1940. Calmly supported by hordes of American plutocrats and their corporations, the Nazis came very close to annihilating France and Britain in 1940.

Consequence? More than 70 million people died, including six million Jews assassinated calmly. I understand that this vicious American policy calmly established the empire of the USA, and its famed “American Century”. And that calm propaganda has made most people believe that the intervention of the USA was purely to rescue democracy, instead of the much greater plot that it truly was.

In 1945, and thereafter, the USA supported massively at some point, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Nasser, the FNL, Saddam, even bin Laden, or the Taliban. Those details have to be forgotten: the Devil dwells therein.

I refuse to call that “right”. I call it wrong. I even call it an infamy, or a whole succession of infamies.

Something the USA ought to be eternally ashamed of was the support American political and business leaders gave to the Nazis. Consider this telling detail: the USA, as a state, had to wait for Hitler to declare war to them to find something wrong with him. It was more than despicable, and unwise. It was outright criminal. That, of course, is my calm opinion, forged by decades of calm, careful considerations.

And the real truth is even worse: German generals asked for American and British help to get rid of Hitler. Would the democrats please make clear that they would join France in a war against Hitler?

Calmly, British and American authorities denounced the generals… to Hitler.

So calm is definitively not wisdom, but something that can masquerade as wisdom.

In truth, no new wisdom can be reached without turmoil. Most great creators lived in turmoil. And that’s no accident. There is an obvious neurological reason for it.

Emotions build reasons (neurohormones guide the construction of new neuro-geometry, by growing axons, dendrites and synapses just so). To have new, better ideas, one needs to wipe out the wrong brain geometry, thus new neurohormones, that is new emotions, have to invade, submerge, and grow new geometry.

Thus fresh passions and actions bring new and better reasons. To model the world better, we have to engage the world, further. Experiments do this.

Indeed exercise itself, let alone challenges, bring higher mental performance. And it’s not just performance, that they bring, but also even neurological existence. Rats with a non-stimulating environment see their neurology shrink. Neurology was evolved for turmoil. Without it, the very reason for its existence disappear.

And so it goes for entire civilizations: the more turmoil, the more wisdom. The Greeks, a notoriously bickering lot, as Nietzsche pointed out, were not just about Apollo (calm, beauty, poise, balance), but also about Dionysus (agitation, turmoil, passion, mess, craziness). This is the main idea of Nietzsche’s “Birth of Tragedy”, an analysis of the genesis of Greek greatness.

Civilizations which are too calm produce nothing, not even their own survival. This may be the problem of Europe now.

Pathological calm was certainly the problem of the civilizations that Genghis Khan and his generals overran. The Mongols said so explicitly. The fierce horsemen accused those they invaded to be sleepy plutocracies mistreating their own people.

Notice that Greek civilization, although it was conquered, greatly survived, so strong were its animals spirits. There is nothing calm about the main Greek notions. Nor is there anything calm about science. Physics has energy at its core. In physics, calm does not exist.

Truth comes out of trial, error, and the passion to engage in them, which rampant imagination. Really new ideas disturb all brains, that’s why they are new. I have had many of my comments censored, all over the Internet, because they contained what was perceived as new, thus inconvenient, ideas, or facts.

Latest example? Scientific American publishes carefully controlled articles on the climate. I dared to mention that there was coral in the Mediterranean. The six words comment was censored. (An email informed me of this.) I guess that, as long as I stay calm, I will keep on paying for “Scientific American” (which is neither scientific, nor American). But is that the wisest course? Would not anger be a better adviser?

Highly conservative types may object that they do not see why we need new wisdom, and thus the exhausting task of neurogenesis. Indians, Egyptians, Pythagoricians, Stoics, and their parrots, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, believed in Eternal Recurrence, the fact that nothing is really new under the Sun. Wisdom consisted into accepting what had been, as it sure, will be again. Related to this is the Arabic “Inch Allah” (If God wants it.)

However, an achievement of modern science, was to disprove these philosophies of Amor Fati (Love of Fate).

Starting with the discovery, and subsequent disappearance, of Sun spots in the Seventeenth Century, and then the discovery of biological, and geological evolution by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and his somber company, turmoil was found to reign all over. The universe, biology, man himself, let alone technology and civilization, are never, ever standing still, nor repeating themselves. Everything is a force that goes.

New wisdom is necessary for survival. It’s not a matter of choice, and esthetics. Those who will still stand in the future, individuals or civilizations, will have thought anew, and their brains will have mutated, from their own volition, or dismal condition. Others will have turned into the main course, literally, and figuratively.

Patrice Ayme’

 

Calmly Thinking Up A Storm

August 9, 2014

Buddhists, Muslims and other Christians, often make the argument that human society is a terrible place, a false world, that it has to be fled at any cost.

Saint Augustine famously recommended to leave that “City of Man” (Rome), and join instead the “City of God”.

Soon all Romans joined the City of God, which happened to also be that of the Plutocrats. There was no more money for real things, like the military. By 400 CE, the Franks were put in charge of defending the North West of the empire. In 406 CE, the Rhine froze, and several German nations broke through, surprising the Franks. There were no hinterlands military reserves.

The Vandals, one of these nations, charged across Gallia, Hispania, and landed across, in Africa.

Soon the Vandals were below the walls of Saint Augustine city of Hippo (of which he was bishop). Hippo fell, a case of divine justice, no doubt. Augustine died. The Vandal occupation, overall, lasted a century, before a puny, but successful Roman counter-attack.

Within three centuries, North Africa, the world’s most Christianized place, would fall to the invading Arabs. And it fell the hard way: after a war that lasted many years, the cities were annihilated.

A characteristic of Roman North Africa is that the presence of Roman soldiery was very light. Eight centuries of peace were enjoyed, aside from episodic violence during Vandal rule. Now contemplate this:

Here is Alex Jones, a successful blogger, in “Finding calm in the storm“: “Human society encourages you to become anxious, always in a state of panic. The adrenaline constantly runs like an angry river… The news is always ugly, full of fear and worry. Human society is a constant raging hurricane of angry fear.” He then recommends to pet a cat: ”You are calm, the cat enjoys your company. The cat has pulled you out of the storm into a calm centre.”

I am myself a great apostle of Nature, and the realism it fosters. Using a human body, and a human mind, the way they were evolved to be, in nature, allows us to enjoy what we are meant to be. That’s why I hike, run, dive, climb, and work on my garden.

Yet, a purring cat, per se, comes rather short, as a full expression of nature. And why are some people so disturbed by… nothing?

The argument can be made, and ought to be made, that, in this raging storm, being calm should be the least of our worries. There is all too much calm about big things, and too much tempests in tea pots.

Alex Jones kindly replied this to me: “A calm mind is a wise mind.”

There we have the naked truth: a blatant identification between calm, and wisdom. They are related, but far from identical. It’s true that a wise mind will often be calm, when others are not. That’s because the wise has anticipated the situation, and those who are less wise, when confronted to reality, get all excited while they are trying to adapt to it. They have no choice.

Conversely, those who were never excited never learned anything.

If one believes that “a calm mind is a wise mind”, the Americans were sure wise to keep calmly supporting Hitler in 1939. The Japanese were sure wise to calmly support emperor Hiro Hito, from 1937 (Nanking) to Pearl Harbor (1941), and beyond.

And those who do not give a hoot about whether humanity is poisoning the biosphere, are certainly remarkably calm, thus very wise. Meanwhile, Nile crocodiles, who barely move for months in winter, deep in the watery depths, have got to be the wisest.

Believing that calm is wise, renders the calm acceptance in the UK and the USA of Bush’s attack on Iraq in 2003, really wise.

In truth, unveiling truth often demands not just excitation, but outright violence. Even if that’s just the violence of changing one’s own mind. Nietzsche pointed out, courageously, that he made “philosophy with a hammer“.

Conventional wisdom is always calm, because it is so sure of itself. Calm also are the deepest errors, those harder to expugnate. It’s easier to keep one’s mind at ease, and regurgitate the past, as one learned it at the age of four.

To identify wisdom with calm is, thus, a fundamental error.

Building the correct ideas and moods requires work, thus energy, thus, one could say, violence. A child has to accept a lot of force to be perpetrated on her mind to fabricate all that knowledge and wisdom, which shows up in immensely subtle neuro-geometry.

When one looks in the small, at the Quantum scale, one discovers extreme agitation. And the smaller one looks, the greater the agitation. Most of the mass of a proton is created by the kinetic energy of the quarks zooming around inside, thanks to E = mcc. (E, the kinetic energy of quarks, creates m, the mass of the proton.) Agitation itself creates mass.

Last night, I watched a tremendous thunderstorm. Nature herself is violent. Truth itself is what’s left of the imagination, once all trials and errors one could think of have been made.

Truth is not calm, nor is it arrived at calmly. Believing otherwise was all the excuse authorities often had to send many a thinker to death.

Patrice Ayme’

Mediterranean Coral Reef

August 6, 2014

Even Doom & Gloom has a romantic, esthetic angle, as the Rolling Stones reminded us (once again), in the song by that title. Coral reef in the Mediterranean will be pretty. Until July 2014, I thought that would take another 50 years. To my amazement, I found otherwise.

I was swimming in an area I know well. I don’t swim on the surface, that’s too bourgeois and destructive of what one is trying to achieve when visiting the sea. I was baffled by the sea floor. I could not recognize it. It was weird: it was full of arches (!), mushrooms, grottos… Some structures a meter high, or across. I could not figure out what that meant. Did the rising sea erode the rocks?

But the rocks in the area are made a solid orange granite. And how could the sea erode rocks ten meters below the surface?

Plage De L’Escalet Crushed By Rising Sea

Plage De L’Escalet Crushed By Rising Sea

Because, yes, the sea is rising. This beach above was 60 meters across, 50 years ago. Now, in some parts, it’s only 5 meters. Waves are crashing into tree roots. As I said, this is a rocky shore, it has no telluric activity, it is not subsiding. So, when rocks get submerged, it’s because the sea rose.

In their gilded palaces, our great leaders, basking into their oligarchic medium, receive the news from scientists who know their careers depend upon telling their masters what they want to hear. And scientists are way down on the totem pole, as the collapse of American research under University of Chicago Law professor Obama shows (the University of Chicago, fief of Milton Freidman, always taught that things human are best left to private enterprise… meaning the destruction of non-immediately financially profitable research; plutocratic law has been evolved accordingly).

American research is collapsing (affecting research worldwide, as it used to be a third of it, or so), meanwhile American banking is thriving, applauded by consciously liberal Paul Krugman. But of this, another day.

Scientist speak of a reassuring sea rise of only 4 millimeters a year. Average. But in Bangla Desh, precise measurements of high tides just showed the rise is now 17 millimeters, a year.

(OK, the scientists have to say, it’s probably the fault of levees, precisely erected to compensate for sea rise, etc. They have to say that, or their masters would be too unhappy. One does not want the masters too unhappy: they can cut entire fields of study, to satisfy the great god of “Fiscal Responsibility”, aka Austerity.)

On the beach pictured above, the sea level has gone up at least 30 centimeters. Maybe two feet. The old beach is still there, with all its wonderful fine white sand, three feet below.

It’s eerie.

So here I was, contemplating small, but spectacular arches, holes and mushrooms of stones below, as if I were flying over a submarine version of Arches National Park. I grabbed the yellow rock, full of holes. It was sharp. As a climber I recognized immediately limestone. Coral limestone, on which I climbed many times, while religiously communing with my apish roots.

Except this coral was not fossil, lifted out of a Jurassic sea, thousands of meters in the sky by immense tectonic forces. It was alive, covered with mini flowers. It reminded me of diving off Kailua, Hawai’i. It was coral, coral reef!

In some places, one could see patches up to a meter or more of coral clinging to the solid granite below. Off that French coast, apparently unbeknownst to all, in a few years, thousands of tons of coral appeared.

One unique specimen, hidden below an overhang, was 50 centimeter across, and looked a bit like a gorgon (sea fan), except it was not a sea fan, but something solid that I have seen in the tropical seas (I am looking for its name).

There you have it.

Some changes from global warming affecting the Mediterranean are official (barracudas, invading tropical algae). Up to this month, if someone had presented me with the possibility of coral reef on the French Riviera, I would have laughed cynically, and pointed out that, when it appears, 50 years from now, it may convince climate deniers.

Well, as far as the Mediterranean sea is concerned, the 50 years are over in a flash. Coral reef is now growing, in Southern France.

Where exactly? Well, on the same peninsula where Sea Turtles started to reproduce again recently.

Dire warnings about the biosphere do not just serve probable truth, but also may well mitigate catastrophe. Canadian, Russian, and even American leaders, reading this, may well scoff: after all they own giant real estate up north, and seeing it melt may serve them, or their successors, well.

Indeed there are positive aspects to the incoming Jurassic climate: agriculture in Siberia, Greenland and Antarctica. The biosphere is by far the largest system upon which human beings have an impact.

The Human Effect led to mass extinctions in the last million years. Homo made the Earth into a pleasant garden for himself. Homo destroyed his closest competitors first, a million years ago or so, most other Hominidae and primates, such as giant apes and giant baboons. Those who, like Rousseau the philosopher, accused civilization, were rather stupid. The Douanier Rousseau had it more right.

Now the biosphere is in full mass extinction mode. Thus it is adapting with tremendous speed.

I am not a trained marine biologist, a specialist of coral. But I dove around, and kept manipulating and contemplating. It seemed that several species of different coral had appeared. Some yellow, some pink, some white, all with different textures. I even found one starting to grow like hard white little trees, just as proverbial Polynesian coral. (The precious indigenous Mediterranean coral is pink or red, and has been exploited to near extinction; it used to color the sand pink in the area.)

The force exerted by humanity on the biosphere keeps on augmenting. But the biosphere has enormous inertia. This means that the changes we see now are little relative to those which are already coming… those which are already baked in. For example, West Antarctica will melt. It’s just a matter of time.

So some changes will be positive, and they will come with more force than people expect.

Not to lose sight of the essential. From a hill above the sea, hundreds of pleasure boats can be observed, some of them, gigantic yachts for multibillionaires.

A sort of armada appears: maybe 50 boats, some large yachts, others fast “cigars”, all together, with fifty long white wakes. Two huge yachts dominate the armada. One can see their helicopter decks. Several helicopters are accompanying the fleet. Suddenly the two gigantic pleasure ships turn around, as if the lesser boats did not exist.

The plutocrat in command had changed his mind, catching his minions by surprise. Probably part of his power trip. Confusion ensued among the lesser kind. All scrambled to follow the master. Wakes crisscrossed, collisions barely avoided. The magnificent power parade reforms in minutes, and headed back to Cannes and Nice, there to impress fellow satanic entities, heads of states, and other servants.

Such are the creatures molding world public opinion, by their control of generalized media. All politicians and other members of the world’s oligarchy are anxious to please them, so that they can get financial crumbs.

All are to conclude the CO2 crisis is in full control. Just a matter of extracting more fossil fuels, and everything will be OK. So frack and burn, baby, frack and burn. No more gloom and doom. Or we will shoot the messenger, and burn the message.

What is sure out of control are the magnificent forests of the Southern Alps. The combination of higher CO2, and massive precipitation makes for very green, fat trees.

What a funky little universe.

Patrice Ayme’

Note: a) This is not deep sea coral reef (discovered in the Mediterranean by Pola in 1891, Le Danois in 1948; see also). Clearly the shallow sea coral species I discovered need the temperature is high. It was not found in places where the water is clearly colder. Even if that was only 100 meters away (because of cold sweet water springs). The part where the coral deposition was most massive is a uniquely warm stretch, only 500 meters long. And it definitively was not there last time I patrolled it, three years ago.

b) Red Coral (Corrallium Rubrium) experienced mass mortality in 1999, apparently caused by high temperatures in North West Mediterranean. That happened above 30 meter depth. So the apparition of the corals I saw is inversely related to Red Coral.

c) The definition of coral is not strict. What’s sure is that there were giant coral reefs in the Mediterranean 60 million years ago (when it was part of the Tethys Sea). And that if it builds a reef, that’s it.

History: First, Thoughts & Moods

August 3, 2014

When historical historians look at history, they tend to look at the antics of history, and their heroic actors. All too much. Although the first historian, Thucydides, analyzing the Peloponnesian war, concluded that it was caused, first of all, by the anxiety that the rise of Athens brought in Sparta.

Athens rose because she was a democracy. Sparta could not rise the same, because she was not constituted that way (ironically, Sparta had created Athenian democracy, by an armed intervention).

Peter The Great was more than two meters tall, he walked very fast, he was hyper active, domineering, he fought the “Old Believers”.

The way Peter looked at it was different: he wanted to replace Russia’s old moods and systems of thoughts with one grafted from Western Europe. To accomplish that, he determined, to his dismay, and sometimes with lots of humor, that no violence was high enough.

4,000 Year Old Celtic Crosses Switzerland

4,000 Year Old Celtic Crosses Switzerland

Semiotics is also endowed with huge mental inertia, and capability to generate mental structures: the appeal of the cross preceded Christianity by millennia, in the West.

Clearly, looking at it objectively, considering the fanatical resistance of the “Old Believers”, Peter had no choice. He was actually extremely patient, waiting years before he struck all out.

Some will whine about how violent it all was. Yet, no Peter, certainly no Russia, as we know it. Peter even contributed to the conquest of the cold regions, by having the “Old Believers” fleeing there.

The big change between the Greco-Romans and the Franks was the Franks’ refusal of going on with haughty, exploitative discrimination. Both the discrimination of the Christians, or, more exactly, the Catholics, against non-believers, and the discrimination against slaves.

When one looks at the complicated history of the Americas after the Europeans landed in force (in contrast to the weak landings of the Vikings, 500 years prior), the greatest explanatory schemes comes from biological and philosophical systems.

In biology, the Europeans were simply immunologically stronger, the Eurasian-African cesspool-petri dish, being the world’s largest.

Philosophically, the exploitative philosophy of the Conquistadores was inexhaustible, until Charles Quint called off the Conquista (precisely to stop the holocaust). They collided head to head with the Portuguese, who, although just one million, were even more hyper, in the same way.

The French, who were next, were much more careful, all too careful… Too careful with their morality, not enough with their persons and that of their allies.

Thus Philippe II sent an armada to annihilate the French colonies of the Carolinas, down to Florida. France was the enemy, being too tolerant of the Protestants (who had founded said colonies). That was highly successful, down to the last baby.

Another example: the French over-civilized the Hurons. Once the Hurons were civilized and grew crops, the Iroquois, still proudly savage, and seeing in the Huron thought system the enemy, swooped in, and killed the Hurons to the last.

Voltaire was a pseudocrat, someone with pseudo power. Voltaire became immensely rich by manipulating the highest powers in France, England, Prussia and Russia. Voltaire, under the guise of the Enlightenment, unconsciously made the work of the Dark Side. How? By advising Louis XV’s and his Pompadour not to die for a “few arpents of snow in Canada.

Indeed the English colonies in the Americas had been founded by the “West Country Men”, top English plutocrats who knew no bounds to their exploitative schemes.

Thus English America was not just founded by some men, and some accidents, but by an extreme exploitative mentality. By advising the French to fold, Voltaire posed as politically correct, Buddhist, wise man of the mountain, Christian saint, whatever despondent philosophy beasts are forced to embrace when they get devoured.

However, all what the boyfriend of Frederic the Great achieved, was to give free reins to the exploitative mentality of the West Country Men, who won the World War of the Seven Year War (1756-1763; known myopically in the USA as the French and Indian Wars))

Hand in hand the French and German presidents stood today, August 3, 2014. They were on the “Man Eating Mountain”. More than half a million French and German soldiers died there, in combat.

The presidents laid the first stone of a memorial monument to World War First, financed by Germany and France.

Why not? The French and German share the same system of thought, Republican, and the same mood, Democracy. No Kaiser in sight. The Kaiser, that is, plutocracy, was the system that ruled Germany a century ago. Cornered by the rise of democratic forces all over, all the way to Siberia, and even inside the Reichstag, Prussian plutocracy gambled that it could win a world war, and all would fall its way.

Now France and Germany are ruled by the same general mood and thoughts.

That’s how to bring peace and harmony. And nothing else ever worked, but for distance. The latter being something we absolutely do not have anymore on this small planet.

Take another example. Viciousness is a human trait. Corruption is maximum, when it cannot even be evoked, or denounced. Yet, that mood has often come to rule.

How does one fight that mood? By yet another mood, a higher one. To avoid this sorry state of affairs, where viciousness, say in the leadership, intellectual or political, cannot even be evoked, the honor of the human spirit has to rise above all. Including offending all too common courtesy. Moods against moods.

History has been, first of all, about moods and systems of thoughts. They compete, they fight, and the best overwhelm the rest. You know, like the West did with the rest.

Need a proof that this happened? Watch the United Nations (whose head just spoke of “criminal” acts by Israel: “This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act,” Ban Ki Moon’s office said.).

Some fear the clash of civilizations. They are wrong. Clashes can be good. They can be a form of debate.

History is about civilization clashing, colliding and coalescing anew around better ideas, a bit like stars are formed. We should welcome such clashes as we should any effort that gives us everything we have that is good, our superior mind, the Fifth Element (found in Vedic, Celtic, and Greek mythology).

The best example of a fruitful clash of civilizations, of moods and thoughts, was the clash between Celto-Germans and Greco-Romans. It gave us. It gave us the West, for the rest.

Patrice Ayme’

MULTIVERSE IDIOCY DISSECTED

August 2, 2014

Physicist Sean Carroll, “explaining why the many-worlds approach is not completely insane“, says: “If the particle can be in a superposition of two states, then so can the apparatus.”

This fundamental error, that everything is a superposition of states, is the essence of the idiocy of the Many World and Multiverse error.

Why Mr. Physicist Carroll? Why is it that, for you, if something is a superposition of two possibilities, then so can be something else? Where is the logic in that? There is none whatsoever. Let me show you why. Why that’s illogical.

Maybe, sometimes, because something can be cut in two, say a fish, another fish can be cut in two, or a million fishes can be cut in two, indeed.

The fact that fishes can be cut in two, because one fish can be cut in two, does not imply that everything else can be cut in two.

For example, the fact that one can cut fishes in two does not imply that the sea can be cut in two. Such is the Multiverse error, a very fishy argument.

Quantum Dot: Fuzzy, Not Discrete!

Quantum Dot: Fuzzy, Not Discrete!

Transmission Electron Microscope Image of a single InAsP/InP Quantum dot (left; “In” is for Indium); such dots exhibit discrete electronic energy levels (Right Top), and this allows, upon spatial and spectral filtering, the generation of single photons on demand (Right bottom).

That some process can result ultimately in two states, does not mean that the sea, or anything else, will be a “superposition of two states”.

When we mention “the particle” (whatever that is) and the apparatus (whatever that is) we are talking here about things of completely different natures, obviously.

What’s the difference? Or differences?

Obviously, “the particle” is being measured. And it’s measured by “the apparatus”.

One is “Quantum”, “the particle”. The other is classical, the “apparatus”.

What’s the most basic difference between “Quantum” and “Classical”? “Quantum” is dominated by DISCRETE states. “DISCRETE” here is in the strict mathematical sense (in bijection with a subset of the natural numbers, N).

Discreteness of light emission is how Planck explained the Blackbody Radiation and resolved the Ultra Violet Catastrophe.(1900 CE)

Discreteness of light reception is how Einstein explained the Photoelectric effect. (1905 CE.)

Discreteness of electronic orbitals is Bohr explained the structure of atoms. (1912 CE.)

Discreteness of non-self-interfering-to-destruction waves is how De Broglie explained all the subjacent discreteness, uncertainty, interference and basic dynamics. (1923.)

Classical mechanics is NOT discrete. We do not understand why. It’s a major mystery.

But the passage from Quantum to Classical has been studied experimentally in simple, particular (namely made of PARTICLES) systems.

Let’s go back to Sean’s statement:

“If the particle can be in a superposition of two states, then so can the apparatus.”

I just said that “Quantum” is characterized, as its name indicates, by discreteness, a superposition of states.

In other words, in Sean’s view the foundation of the Many World Interpretation/Multiverse theory is that Quantum = Classical.

Yet, the very concept of “Science” comes from the ability of scindere, to cut in two, to make distinctions.

By ignoring the most basic distinction, that between Quantum and Classical, the Many Worlds/Multiverse theory reveals itself to not be science.

Yet, it’s even worse than that. The Multiverse error is reminiscent of the blind alley of the Epicycle theory of Ptolemy and company, 2,000 years ago.

Patrice Ayme’

Notes: 1) The error was inaugurated by Everret, a student of Wheeler, 1963 CE. At the time it was viewed as horrendous (probably for the reasons above, but they were left unsaid; the preceding is my reasoning, entirely). Everret was driven out of research physics (although there were lots of jobs at the time).

2) Bohr and his followers had got the ball rolling, by murky attacks against reality itself. It was debatable at the time, as some then-not-discovered particles (say neutrinos) led to apparent violation of energy-momentum conservation.

3) The philosopher Heidegger, maybe inspired by some of the less wise, contemporaneous statements of Bohr and company, insisted that the distinction between “subject” and “object” be eradicated. Unsurprisingly, he soon became a major figure of Nazism, where he was able to apply himself to further lack of distinction.

Camus Mudified

August 1, 2014

I read on an Academic site in the USA that: “Albert Camus supported French colonialism”. That struck me as grotesquely incorrect. An horrendous statement. (And I am not particularly in love with Camus’ work.)

Unsurprisingly, my retort was not published. Amusingly the initial essay was called “Stifling Discourse On the Left”.

Why was I stifled? Because it’s obvious to all “bien-pensants” (well-thinkers) that the stifling French rule in Algeria was a terrible, colonial thing.

Once a citizen of the USA expressed that opinion, that the colonial French deserved what had happened to them in Algeria. He was a geologist, an old friend of my dad. You know, the way friends are made in the USA: fair weather, and not too deep, politically correct in all American ways.

My dad an Algerian born geologist who discovered Algerian oil and gas (while employed by an Algerian oil company). He found the verbal trashing of his homeland inspiring. He retorted: “Certainly, there would have been no civil war in Algeria, if the French had killed all the Natives, the way it was done in the USA”.

The American “friend” was not amused at all. He and his family ceased all and any contact with ours. So much for the great American friendship. His name was Birdstall.

Camus was brought up by his mother in Algeria, where he was born, under extremely modest circumstances. Poorest of the poor. Saved by the Republican educational system (when it still worked). To call Camus’ family background “colonial” is an insult.

The excuse to trash Camus is always the same. After he got the Nobel in literature, a student called on him to take a stance about the civil war in Algeria. Camus retorted, off the cuff, that: ”Si j’ai a choisir entre ma mere et la justice, je choisirai ma mere” (or words to this effect). “If I have to choose between my mother, and justice, I will chose my mother.”

Well, “justice” is a social construct. One may well find oneself in conflict with it. Just ask dozens of millions of Mitteleuropa citizens, in the 1930s and 1940s. Or any country, just before a revolution. Algeria was in a revolution in the 1950s, justice was taking a back seat to motherhood.

It has become common opinion that the good guys were from the Front National de Liberation. The opinion was all the more common as it advantaged the USSR… and the USA.

However, most people living in Algeria did not support the FNL. How do I know this? Among other things, there was a vote! In the early 1960s, more than 60% of the Algerian population voted for the new French Constitution.

That was the first, and last free vote Algerians would get.

As The Economist put it in 2001: ”… given that the French army by the end of the 1950s had more or less won its war in Algeria, why did Algeria nonetheless gain its independence? If Mr Stora is puzzled, Mr Wall is not… French public opinion was sickened; the French intelligentsia was outraged by the practice of torture; and, “just as important”, America could not accept French policy.

Did Charles de Gaulle, summoned back in 1958 to meet France’s constitutional crisis and end the Algerian war, realise all this? Conventional wisdom is that he was France’s far-sighted saviour, accepting almost from the outset that the loss of Algeria was inevitable. Mr Wall, having trailed through both French and American archives, disagrees. De Gaulle’s acceptance of Algerian independence was a belated pragmatism, forced on him by his failure to win over the Americans, first under Eisenhower and then under Kennedy.

…pessimistic implications for the future… the United States was a critical force in pressing France to accept Algerian independence.”

That’s also my opinion. To make matters worse, the average French population was anti-Algerian racist (both against Muslim and Pieds Noirs)… And so was De Gaulle (who made very clear racist statements).

That was not just criminal, but thoroughly idiotic.

Why? Because it made a travesty of reality under the guise of political correctness, when all it was reflected a subjugation to the USA’s White House, and its attached plutocratic Congress.

What was the idiocy?

Most people in Algeria who did not support the FNL. (Nor did they support the French colons, who were a small, distinct class… And they did not support those colons for the same reasons that they did not support the FNL).

Sartre, and many “intellectuals” support of the extremely cruel FNL was an offense against civilization (later pursued with Sartre’s support of hard core “Maoism”).

The FNL advocated publicly terror torture of toddlers. That some elements in the French army used torture on some terrorist suspects is a separate issue. The French army never advocated publicly to torture toddlers.

Do you want to live in a country where the leaders have advocated torturing toddlers? Few would. So, when De Gaulle, on orders from the USA, gave Algeria to the FNL, he was being treacherous and stupid: of course most Algerians wanted to move to France, as being overruled by blood thirsty tyrants had little appeal.

So De Gaulle did his best to prevent that mass exodus. Still, the pressure is still on, and 52 years later, it’s much easier for an Algerian to immigrate to the USA, than to France.

And guess what? The present president of Algeria, Bouteflika, a corpse in a wheelchair, is an ex-general from the original FNL.

So what of Camus? In truth Camus begged to differ with most of the French intelligentsia, which was more into being a well thinking herd, than really thinking, and this is why he got trashed. Still is.

Camus wanted the Algerian Civil War to stop. Camus wanted the Republic to be strong, and motherly. But the Republic is relatively weak, and getting weaker. Those who conquered entire continents (Anglo-Saxons, Russians) are stronger. Their reasons are thus better. If nothing else they sit on all that oil and gaz. Even if the ground explodes cataclysmically, nowadays, with all that warming:

http://mic.com/articles/95232/those-massive-black-holes-discovered-in-sibera-are-even-more-alarming-than-scientists-thought

(Thanks to Alexi Helligar for informing me of this!)

It does not matter. The ground explodes? War is their friend. Let there be war. It’s just a matter of not being on the losing side. A chorus of well-paid intellectuals singing their praises, is most helpful. Yesterday the Bible, today those who recite their well honed version of history.

Dragging Camus in the mud by modifying his beliefs is deeply dishonest. So was the devastation of 1962, when many populations which lived in Algeria before Islam was invented, and Arabic written, 3,000 kilometers away, found themselves in a worse tyranny than they were under Paris’ boot. (Only the Jews could flee in majority; many ended in Israel.)

The future of Algeria? Just wait for the oil and gas to run out. Then the other shoe will drop.

Patrice Ayme’

Multibrain: Republic, Democracy

July 29, 2014

Some brainiacs such as the philosopher Michel Serres (of “France decapitated”), make a big deal that France is a “Republic”, and the USA a “Democracy”. It’s the sort of mock sophisticated distinction that those who want to look intellectual embrace. Serres has taught in plutocratic universities of the USA, he should know better. Or, maybe, he knows better how to serve his masters than yours truly. The distinction is without merit.

First it blows up the differences between France and the USA. In truth, both Republics are much more similar to each other than they are, to any other regime in the world (including the United Kingdom).

Differently from Rome and Athens, the USA and France were born as entangled republics. Both Republics have recent imitators, namely dozens of modern states.

Second, the main difference between “Republic” and “Democracy”, as it happened 25 centuries ago, was just a matter of language and esthetics. The beauty of how the concept sounded in Greek did not translate in Latin (‘Populus-Imperium” has six syllables).

Athens called itself a “demokratia”, because demokratia was a Greek word. Greek spoke Greek, Romans spoke Latin.

Too Big For Debate Killed Respublica

Too Big For Debate Killed Respublica

But democracy was not exclusively a Greek concept. It was as strong, if not stronger, in Rome.

Indeed, the “rule of the People” is how human societies have always worked best (except during war): distributed intelligence, creating the super-brain effect, from the many brains debating. TheMultibrain effect. Whereas, indeed, I do not believe in the “Multiverse”, the human brain, and, even better, any human society, is a multiverse onto itself.

Democracy allows to tap in this multiverse of the multibrain. Democracy is a multiverse. For real.

So the Romans spoke Latin. They had two words for “power” in the sense of “rule”. “Potestas” for lower magistrates, Imperium” for higher magistrates (Consuls, Proconsuls, Praetors; “Censors”, although higher magistrates, did not have the “Imperium”).

It would have been all too long, thus awkward to make a single word with “populus”, “potestas”, and “imperium”. Thus the romans instead used the Thing Public (Res Publica). Later the Demos-Kratos of the Greeks, Latinized into “democracia”, was used.

But that does not mean the Romans did not practice democracy. They did. Real democracy, that is, direct democracy. In practice, there was little difference between direct democracy as practiced in Athens, and that practiced in Rome.

(But for the fact that Athenian democracy lasted two centuries, and the Roman one, around five. Also, even under the Principate founded by Augustus, many Republican functions kept on going, and it was not clear that the Republic had stopped, as the weird transition between Augustus and Tiberius amply demonstrated.)

The various Roman “Magistrates” were masters of diverse functions, and represented those functions. They implemented People Power, they did not displace it. They did not represent people, just functions.

Rome, or at least the Roman Republic, which lasted five centuries, ignored that oxymoron, “Representative Democracy”. SPQR, the Senate and People of Rome, lasted so long, precisely because the Romans refused to be represented in some theater, by professional liars. (For those who don’t know, oxymoron is Greek for “sharply stupid”.)

Athens’ democracy failed, because, as Demosthenes pointed out, the Greek city-states refused to make the tremendous war that was required to get rid of the fascist plutocrats from Macedonia. In the end the war came to them, and Antipater, one of Philippe’s senior generals, took Greece over thanks to enough torture and execution to terrorize the Greeks into submission (130 years later, the Roman Republic freed Greece, and the legions were then withdrawn).

If it was so good, why did Rome quit Direct Democracy?

I have argued that it was because of the rise of plutocracy. That’s entirely correct, but then the question occurs of what allowed this rise.

I have written detailed essays pointing the finger at the Second Punic War, the rise of the war profiteers, the death, or dilution of the really noble Patrician families’ spirit (whose ancestors had conducted the Roman Revolution in the Sixth Century BCE). I also pointed out to the fact that the Roman Republic became, thanks to that war, around 200 BCE, a global power.

All too many rich, powerful families were then able to do what is now called “inversion”. Namely rule from abroad (where Roman Law did not apply). So they escaped confiscating taxation that was meant, precisely, to decapitate the plutocratic effect.

But there was another pernicious effect of the vastness of the Roman Imperium.

Athens had met it already. In the Athenian Assembly (of the People), important decisions needed a high quorum. That meant distant farmers had to travel to Athens for a few days. That was expensive, so the Athenian Republic paid for distant farmers to come to vote.

The situation was much worse in Rome.

The Athenian City-States ruled Attica, which is about 100 kilometers long. The Athenian Imperium extended at some point to the Black Sea (to insure the wehat supply). Moreover, all Athenain dependencies could be quickly reached by boat.

Not so with Rome. Cities such as Numance (Numentia) sat in the middle of Northern Spain, weeks of travel from the sea.

Rome was physically incapable of maintaining communications fast enough to maintain direct democracy (in any case the old democratic set-up in Rome depended of the detailed status of citizens within “tribes”, and would have had to be severely modified just to extend to Italia).

Very slow communications was the deep down root killer of Roman direct democracy.

We don’t have this excuse. Not anymore.

Quite the opposite. Whereas Rome experienced a loss of opportunity as the empire extended, modern technology, the Internet, offers us the ability to do as the Romans did under the Republic: vote all the time, about anything.

We don’t need no stinking representatives. Freedom is a mouse click away.

Patrice Ayme’


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