Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Ultrarunning, As Competition, Is Unethical And Defeats Communion With Nature  

May 25, 2021

I run all by myself, thus I think better. Or how an ultrarunning tragedy makes one think:

May 21, 2021:  172 Lycra-clad runners launched in a one hundred kilometers mountain race race at Yellow River Stone Forest Park in Gansu Province, China. There was wind from the start. Whipping rain turned to hail and temperatures plummeted hours into the ultramarathon on a Saturday in May 2021. A group of survivors were rescued when more than 1,200 rescuers were dispatched to find bodies in the storm. Twenty-one runners died, most of them from hypothermia. One fell unconscious and woke up in a cave, and woke up in a cave, wrapped in a quilt next to a fire built by a shepherd who had found him and carried him to safety. “I owe him my life,” Mr. Zhang wrote.

Mr. Zhang had overtaken Huang Guanjun, the champion of the men’s marathon for hearing-impaired runners at the 2019 Chinese National Paralympic Games. As Mr. Zhang was passing, Mr. Huang pointed to his ear and waved to indicate he could not hear Mr. Zhang.

Later I found out that he was deaf and mute,” Mr. Zhang wrote. Mr. Huang died on the same mountain pass not long after the encounter.

Ultrarunning and trail racing became fashionable during the past two decades. Professionals of the sport are upping the ante, with increasingly difficult and longer races, sometimes for several days and hundreds of miles and including both high-altitude climbs and extreme temperatures. They are also cheating a bit, with enormous support, some even taking cold baths in ice to cool down while being fed sweets by their attendants. The funny thing is that one knows what happens:; professional military runners in Greece, twenty-five centuries ago, would cover comparable distance, in astounding times, with no support… but would also drop dead, quite often. 

The genus Homo runs naturally. Running enables to see, and experience more landscape than crawling one one’s belly while sunbathing, say. Getting immersed in nature is the point. Only then can the human mind interconnect if full with the whole of what is out there. Natural beauty is part of it.

Now I am in no position to criticize recklessness… I have made a philosophy out of it: since life ends up pretty badly always, we may as well live it to the full. That doesn’t mean being a drunk, like Socrates, but being a general, like Xenophon (who successfully extracted a Greek army from the middle of the Achaemenid empire). As I have been reckless hundreds of times in my life, and even quite recently… Involving precisely this sort of activity. When I started mountain running, a very long time ago, I was viewed as a lunatic… who was damaging the snow (I was once beaten up for “damaging snow”… As I said, long ago…)

There are several things ethically very wrong about this sort of long distance competition in nature the way they are presently organized. First, they don’t respect nature, they are “sponsored” events organized by wealthy companies. Second, they teach people not to respect nature, by focusing on the lycra rather than nature. Indeed, why do these competitors run? Greed for money and greed for fame. And that’s why those who succeed best are most admired. So, instead of a communion with the cathedral of nature, competitors extoll the rat race of common life, and violate the former with the second, by insisting that competition matters, and nature doesn’t. 

Once I was engaged in one of my ultra runs around Lake Tahoe. Unbeknownst to me, the trail had been taken over by an ultramarathon. Participants had paid to participate and were wearing advertising and numbers. All along the “race” there were personnel, food stations, some involving several trucks serving hot food which had come through fire roads usually closed to the public. There were also aid stations, and roaming pairs of security personnel on mountain bikes. Although I was obviously not a competitor, they kindly insisted on serving me food and drinks. I usually run with nearly no water and food (I drink water from snow and streams). Running on a non-empty stomach with spectators and helpers every few miles changed the nature of the run completely from something done within nature to cityscape. 

When I run, it’s me and nature. I always carry warm clothing in a backpack (also useful if I fall on my back). Last big run I did in the mountain I got caught in a thunderstorm with dangerous hail. I went into a cave. After that I met no one for the next 15 miles, and three passes up to 10,000 feet… 

Running hard for hours in the total wilderness, solo among peaks, snakes, lions, bears, dank cathedral forests, hunger, thirst, exhaustion and thunderstorms, high on courage, smarts and willpower, I didn’t meet god, but myself, certainly.

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We live in a systemic world. Major issues are systemic. The devils are in the systems. Most systems are not so innocuous looking, such as the USA, Russia, or the People Republic of China (love China, love “We The People”, but then be careful with emperor Xi!)… An innocent looking system such as single housing zoning in the USA is key to systemic racism (OK, I don’t live in one). Many supposedly innocuous activities  are conducive to fascism and exploitation. Spectator sports are a particular strong example: Roman critiques, two millennia old, pointed out that fascism ruled with “Panem et circenses” (Juvenal). Modern circus is when young, naive but greedy idiots climb without a rope, but with a dozen cameras focused on him, on a giant climb they have fallen on dozens of times before… with a rope (including in very easy sections). Or Ueli Steck, running up the Eiger, but nearly falling in the summit snowfield (I saw it; that’s how he seems to have died on Nuptse, strangely surprising Messner…)

This all starts with a perverse relationship with nature, as Native Americans pointed out long ago.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” [Chief Seattle.]

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I run in the wilderness alone, to make nature real; running with a herd would defeat much of the purpose. But I run with a hefty well tied-down backpack, full of fluffy clothes, lamps. One cannot always go down, especially in unknown canyons (been there, done that, not keen to do it again, and I am a sometimes solo climber). Generally it’s way better to stick on the trail, even if it means going up, and always keep on moving (falling asleep in warm and cuddly snow is the signal of fatal hypothermia… I knew about it, from books, so when it happened to me, I knew what it was, and woke up… in a timely manner…) Ah, did I mention matches? More than once to save lives, I had to make a fire in a national park in the wilderness…

So can I make an effort to say something positive? After all, I launched the sport… As I said, my activity was per force, different: I practiced alone, being first. And I always ran. When my left foot got caught in a little arc of metal used by the French to limit public lawns, I shattered my left elbow. I was six. Once, facing the Matterhorn/Cervin, in Switzerland, running down the Gornergrat, I didn’t see a wire which caught me in the throat. I was nine years old. The same exact adventure happened to me in Africa two years later. Very disagreeable…  

Ah, yes the positive… The more people go to nature, the better… But all these competitions with professionals flying around the world to flaunt their drug and recklessness propelled careers of fame and greed, I am against… OK, don’t I love to read adventures of mountaineers and be mesmerized by sailors on video feed among 50 foot waves in the Antarctic? Sure. And, as I said above, I saved my life from culturally knowing what to expect in some situations. Not just hypothermia (don’t fall asleep), but also deadly snakes (jump above if no time to brake), or even wasps and bees swarms (run like hell), or wind slabs (learn to recognize them, and take a wide berth), or avalanches (stay calm and move laterally to higher ground).

So it’s good to have professional heroes, a few of them, to find out and spread the word.  

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ALN, USA commented:

@Patrice Ayme: thank you for sharing your story. I sign up and pay for these races run by small companies because I want someone to know where to come look for me if I get lost. I completely hear you about big race companies not respecting the nature.

Thanks ALN! For what it is worth, and it’s far from perfect, I look at the site “Alltrails” (the free part) Reading lots of comments one can get pretty good ideas…

For ultra runs, the old fashion way is just to look at maps. I run sections of multi day backpacking, in one day, like on the Pacific Crest Trail. In mountain running, one has to be careful of the early season, because one can come across lots of old snow suddenly, which can be very dangerous in several ways (suddenly losing trails completely unexpectedly, a severe problem if in a forest, miles from roads; subjacent torrents and deep holes; old slippery ice making mini-mountains between trees). I fear spring snow more than winter snow, although it can also provide great running and glissading… but never above where the torrent runs…

In the late season, the problem is short days, partly solved with several lamps… There are also now alert systems by satellites. I don’t have one (yet)… although I had several close calls, including one with an enormous rattlesnake last summer, above 8,000’… Dangerous, but the danger (controlled!) is part of the vacation away from an all too restrictive notion of the human condition which ultrarunning can provide like nothing else can (including climbing)…

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Patrick Cavanaugh, Silver Spring, MD, USA added:

This tragedy might not have been so bad if the race really had turned into a “cityscape”! The competitors were hit by extreme weather in a region that there were no race support personnel. Respect to your desire to run the trails solo, but a properly run event could also be a way for individuals to enjoy the wilderness with more support and help available in case something goes wrong.

@Patrick Cavanaugh Personally, I have been hit by atrocious weather, more than once, and had to do (not so) intelligent things like clinging to a cliff, or standing below a tree, with rivers of water around, dangerous hail, and lightning bolts all around. Bad weather is characteristic of mountains, even in the middle of the Sahara (sudden storms with flash floods, rarely, but often lethally, from distant flooding).

Once I was on a climb in the Alps in the middle of summer. I started to lead a pitch in lycra and tank top, under a scorching sun, clear blue sky, with plenty of chalk on my hands to ward off the sweat. I was climbing fast, all the more as suddenly there was a discombobulating blow of icy wind. I finished the pitch in a snowstorm and lightning: the storm came from behind the peak. We rapped like lightning, leaving all the gear behind. Still my partner passed out from hypothermia when we reached timberline (and we had storm gear). This has happened to me several times (during which time one has the impression one is going to die, or one is already half dead, one does not even remember normal life, it’s pretty disagreeable, but it makes all and any life pleasant afterwards…) This happened although I always check on the weather very carefully…

I do agree that, if one organizes a run, there should be a minimum of security.

Nature doesn’t just define being and nothingness. It also teaches what superior thinking is, the type which enables surviving… But for nature to teach us well, we have to experience it in full, not assisted by people or machinery. We have an advantage on other forms of intelligences, such as cetaceans: we have hands, arms, legs and feet, so we can actually manipulate the world (manipulate: man comes from the PIE root for “hand” and pele, for “fill”; in Greek hand is mane, and it’s manus in Latin… So “man” itself, as in gentleman, is defined by the hand…)

Some may sneer that running does not need hands… But actually feet are quite a bit like hands, especially when running, see chimps, and of course arms are used for balance, hands for climbing, landing on when falling (rare but important)… And then, most of all, hands make weapons platforms easily recognized by a variety of beasts out there, so that they do not have in general to be used… And, in any case are reassuring to have: the mountain runner, or coureur des bois, is not just another beast, running, but a creature the beasts recognize as a predator, master of the universe [1]. And that has to do with arms… which animals recognize carry arms, thanks to the hands.

Last but not least, the brain gets better oxygenated when steps and heartbeat go up to 120 per minute, studies have shown. Anyone exercising intensely knows that the brain acquires different perspectives on old problems: because it gets activated differently and also because it has no time for anything but barebone logic, thus eliminating superfluous logical traditional traps…

Human beings were made to be super brainy endurance athletes dominating the landscape and nature by understanding them. Solo running in the wilderness provides this, rat races don’t. Notice also that many philosophical influencers of modern times, in particular the influencers of so-called “French Theory”, whose influence is right now quite dominant in the pseudo-left, were absolutely not endurance athletes (although my frenemy Simone De beauvoir did a lot of extended solo hiking in the Provence wilderness before she became famous, so she says). When one looks at history one sees that many of the most influential minds, mythological or not, were highly athletic and, or, adventurous: they clearly loved to live dangerously, starting with the women bullfighters of Crete, the likes of Nefertiti (who may have died from her attempt to sort out Egyptian religion), the heroes of the Trojan war, Solon, Themistocles, Pericles, Socrates, Xenophon, Plato, Aristotles, Demosthenes, Archimedes, Caesar, Hypatia, Boetius, Abelard, Buridan, Villon, Dolet, Rabelais, etc. Of course all thinkers under Islam lived below the threat of summary execution, if one of their fellow believers determined they did not “believe” anymore.

Human life is a serious thing, and serious thinking is how it is best managed. Full immersion, thus loving confrontation, with nature requires us to fully use the owner’s manual (notice the concept of “man”, hand, resurfacing again…)… and thus to get reacquainted with full humanity!

Nature teaches us that it is wiser to turn tragedies into philosophies.

Patrice Ayme

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[1] I have been attacked by all sorts of animals, though, from bears to wasps (animal attacks are rare but always serious). I am the only person I know who charged mountain lions several times (twice by accident) and hit a charging bear with a (large) stone… I am not trying to hurt the animals, BTW, and I am not a hunter.

Avalanches Teach Well. Nature Is The Ultimate Teacher. 

March 25, 2021

George from the New York Times is “saddened to learn of … a near record of avalanche deaths, nearly all in closed areas… I spent countless days on the slopes and never once did I ever think it wise to risk my life on un-groomed or out of bounds areas. I appreciate the thrill of skiing on virgin snow, away from others, but at what price? These senseless deaths and the risk of life of those tasked in recovery is too much a price to pay. Substantial fines should be levied for those daredevils, lifelong suspensions and cost of rescue should be billed.”

I replied this:

@george You propose “substantial fines” for “daredevils” who… dare to go out in nature? “Senseless deaths“? When does death make sense? Worldwide, the number of deaths by avalanches of the “daredevils” who dare to go in nature during winter is less than 150 a year…. while traffic accidents on roads kill 1.35 million a year. Everyday, 3,700 people are killed in collisions on roads.

I doubt that all these road trips “made sense”. One thing I am sure of, is that many things do not make sense nowadays, precisely because people have lost touch with nature, its beauty, its perils, the intelligence it requires, and the sense it provides. We need leaders who remember nature, because nature still rules. 

Another point is that condemning people to only go to resort for the wealthy is in poor taste, and feeds the engine of inequality. Traditional ski resorts are immensely expensive, both to those who go there, and to the planetary environment. One could actually wonder why they are not submitted to hefty carbon taxes. They are churches of environmental destruction where the faithful gather among the fuel, noise and machinery. Is that what we want to teach and encourage? Bring crowds, machines, pollution to pristine nature, and fine those who get out?

Avalanche in Sion vallee, Suisse: the Rhone flows through it. Sometimes avalanches, even in Switzerland, have been known to flatten entire forests. In the 17C, French peasants in the Vars area sued to Royal government for having cut giant meleze trees (larches) for building forts, exposing thereafter their villages to avalanches. The trunks of such immense trees can still be seen at the Montdauphin fort, and are much larger than any in existence today… A testimony to the ravages of man upon nature…

Cost of rescue is another matter. Generally European “daredevils” all have insurance both for health and rescue. The former comes from universal health insurance in Europe, the latter is readily available and covers dozens of millions of people there, because it is very cheap. 

Nature is dangerous. Danger is how nature teaches best. Life is a deadly disease, after all, but it’s also a mistake to focus on that. I was caught once in a giant rock avalanche above an unfathomable icy abyss. My survival, and that of my partner, was so miraculous that, would someone tell me such a story in its gory details, I would not believe it. Never. It is actually a most unlikely story of survival. To this day, although I was there, saving my life by playing superhero with inhuman powers, I cannot believe what happened. I know what happened, I can describe it, in detail, but still it was such a miracle that I understand why miracles make people believe in divinities.  

My two closest friends, and other friends, not as close, died in avalanches. In the Alps, in Himalaya. All of them, before they had children. Untimely death goes with mountaineering. I miss them, but since we will all die anyway, we may as well do it learning tough lessons. Because we can teach them, to all of humanity.

One lesson avalanches teach? It is not because it looks extremely unlikely, that it will not happen, and then, worse than imaginable. 

Other activities in nature can teach similar lessons. For example I swam many times at a place called Black Rock in the Hawaiian island of Maui, a towering cliff of black lava, overhanging, twenty meters above the water, twenty meters below, 400 meters long. I would swim in the shadow (the cliff is north facing), on the theory that I would see sharks if there were some, and they would not see me, if they were in the lighted part, out at sea. I got to befriend a giant green sea turtle, the largest I have ever seen, who would come visit me at the tip of the cape. Nobody was swimming that north facing cliff. But the south side, next to a honey sand beach, with short rocks, was very crowded, including swimmers who would jump  in. The north side was, is, super wild, with magnificent corals… I was super foolhardy to swim there without the full armament suite I used in Africa: harpoon and extra long, sharp combat knife for fighting off sea creatures… But, besides sea turtles, I saw no sharks. However I noticed the paucity of large fishes, which told me that there were sharks around. Later there were two lethal attacks, including one on the safe side of the rock, where the crowds were. A large, experienced 60 year old man was attacked and bled to death, in spite of immediate rescue from life guards. The shark, of unknown species, was not caught.  

Still, should one avoid the sea? No, but, should I go back to Hawai’i, it would be wise to go dive, fully armed. Some will sneer that I exaggerate… But I am familiar with long swims in the ocean. I have seen white sharks in the water twice, and one was the biggest white shark I have seen (including in videos). When one sees documentaries with plenty of sharks swimming around innocently, those sharks are not behaving like the sharks I have known in the seas; they probably bumped into cameras, or cages, or were otherwise trained… Another pitfall is the artificially low number of fatalities reported from shark attacks; the danger on a solitary diver is much greater than for a group; in underdeveloped regions, many deaths go unreported, or people are smart enough to not go swimming… 

Ah, lightning… Lightning kills a lot in nature. I am familiar with it as a mountain runner: I prefer to run with clouds, to avoid thirst and heat stroke, and mountain clouds have the tendency to turn into spectacular storms, which provide the natural caffeine of . The closest I have seen lightning was as a child, three meters away… I got caught by super intense lightning storms four times while climbing.

From all this, I learned how precious life was, and how close to disaster one can be. Not just for oneself, but for others… Some claim to be “Stoics”… The “Stoa” was a pillar in Greece, and some guy talked from the bottom of it. Ever since so-called “Stoics” have taught each other, the two most famous being those old crooks, yet excellent writers, Seneca, who led the Roman empire for five years (when his student nero was not paying attention yet), and Marcus Aurelius (who ruled the empire 20 years).  Marcus harassed to death a small number of christians, for no good reason, Seneca was well known for his astronomical corruption (while teaching that riches impoverished). Seneca himself, and that is not commented on usually, admitted in his letters that, in his times already, “there are no more philosophers”. Why? Because Romans had learned to only listen to their master’s voice. Romans were not listening to nature anymore. If one wants to be genuinely stoic, one has to learn to listen to the snow in the woods, because yes the snow talks, while contemplating the fresh mountain lion tracks one is following to ease one’s way (yes, another of my pastimes; I got mountain lions warnings more than once; the first time I heard the sound I had no idea what it was). 

Nature is the teacher. That’s where history, logic, science and the imagination come from. Nature is truth. We need nature raw, untamed, free to express itself.

Patrice Ayme

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P/S: And we need philosophy schools learning from nature to have the largest following, rather than herds praying to a nailed scarecrow, a caravan raider, a guy below a pillar (stoa), a replete prince watching his navel, or a docile submissive anxious to please masters (Xi’s idol, Confucius)… Actually none of these is as much of a problem as Putin or Xi, the worsts popes today. President Biden, observed that he had spent longer with Xi than any other US citizen. In a refined analysis, Biden said that, just as Putin, Xi is persuaded only autocracy, by opposition to democracy, can resolve the complex problems of today’s world. This is of course absurd. But, as Biden pointed out this leads to, once more, a conflict between oligarchy and democracy. If Xi and Putin had learned from nature, they would know that they are inviting disaster: if anything, the law of averages always win, and having two gigantic countries led by just two men, that’s completely out of average behavior…

Nature Is The Ultimate Teacher

December 1, 2019

WILDERNESS IS NOT JUST NICE, IT’S REAL. A TEACHER. GET LOST TO FIND HOME.

Nothing beats being lost in the wilderness as a formative experience. John Muir did this a lot. He loved a good storm shaking the tree where he elected to reside at night, just to experience the power of nature. Who needs the god of books, when the goddess of reality shakes your tree? (Muir, and several of his friends and followers, including the hyper plutocrat rail magnate Harriman, father of the Democratic Party controlling Harriman brothers, proceeded to save enormous swathes of US wilderness, from Alaska to Florida…)

I have practiced that exquisite, most captivating activity myself, getting lost in the wilderness, on 5 continents, since early childhood. In my search for truth and wisdom, I was attracted by that teacher, reality in full. As found in nature, from nature, by nature. It’s not just a question of allure, or thrill, or adrenaline, or of the hyper concentration it requires to not sprain an ankle, not crash into a tree, not catch a root, not go fly head first, not falling into a hole…

It’s not a question just of keeping a sense of orientation. It’s not just a question of listening to the sounds of possible predators, or looking scary enough to keep them at bay, even if one doesn’t see them, and have only a vague idea of where they potentially lurk. It’s not just a question of continually analyzing the ominous silence indicative of predators, bears, lions, hungry canids, and the discrete high pitch sound signaling wasps or African bees… while keeping an eye for snakes, spiders, thorns and pointed branches.

I used to worry about panthers in Africa (one visited me at night when I was ten years old, sleeping in a national park in a tent, leaving a definitive impression)… Now I worry about mountain lions (once I saw tow at dusk in half an hour, and I was running…) Leopards may have evolved to attack not just primates, but specifically, humans.

Baboons have canines to help lions think. We have stones, to help all beasts think, and learn how to measure distance. As a human child, I fought stone battles with full grown baboons. So much about pacifist beasts. Because we are superior tree climbers (more than even baboons), the human shoulder can throw stones more powerfully and further than baboons.

Getting lost in the wilderness and surviving it is not just a question of exerting judgment to choose in a timely manner whether to turn left or right, go up or down, or which direction to bushwhack. It’s not just a question of finding strength when has not had water, food, or rest for hours, or ignoring pain in one’s feet, and general exhaustion, or of seeing in the dark, or surviving hail, or of continually moving enough to fight the otherwise paralysing, deadly cold, not just a question of judging the depth and nature of the snow, or of the swift water, or of navigating by the stars.

Bears know stones, and they fear and hate them (because they have been injured by them). So, when bears and other beasts meet a stone master, a human, they are instilled with respect, especially if they are reminded of reality with a little stone play. The stone master can make a demonstration, for this wild audience, and, if that’s not enough, can actually connect with the recalcitrant ursid… (Something I have done, because I had to do it; law enforcement killed that particular bear, three weeks later… After he injured gravely a grandmother…)

Getting lost in the wilderness is all this, and more, all of it in one day, especially when crossing mountain ranges. This is when we get lost in the universe, in which our astounding brains can be all they are, and love to become wiser for it by visiting what is inaccessible otherwise: nature itself, raw, greatest trip of all, astounding in power, awesome beyond anything human…

Nature, embracing the wilds, reveal how humanity shines the most, finding its real home, which is not just its comfort range, but the entire universe we need to make us whole.

We need to get lost, to find where home is.

Patrice Ayme

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P/S: The preceding essay was inspired by Lost and Found in Hemingway’s Spain
Of fear and thankfulness. The white elephants of eternity are always out there.” by Roger Cohen, NYT, Nov 30, 2019 (he published my comment). Roger got lost in a national park in central Spain, and was helicoptered out… (I myself was the object of 3 mountain rescues I neither asked for, not needed… But I have been in dire straights, many times… As I generally engage best when the epic factor is significant and  potentially dramatic… Nietzsche used to do solo climbing on a glaciated mountain, with crampons, a mountain I have skied on, of course… Nietzsche had guessed much of what was above, and that’s easy to do, as, if one tries to get lost in the wilderness, the subsequent enlightenment and drugging aspect is so strong, one will be back… if one can…)

Here is from Cohen’s essay, as it’s pretty typical of the lost-by-accident syndrome:

“Earlier this year, I got lost while hiking in the Sierra de Guadarrama, which rises to almost 8,000 feet in central Spain. It had been a grueling day under the September sun. The trail, scattered with boulders, was longer and steeper than expected. What had been described as a gentle glide along a ridge after a tough initial ascent proved unrelenting.

About seven hours in, I fell behind my two friends. I was following stone mounds, or cairns, not the clearest indicators in this case. False guides, they pulled me deeper into the mountains.

This was not a sudden realization but a growing unease that culminated in an admission: lost. Lost as in every human being has vanished. Lost as in I have to slow my heartbeat. Lost as in there are perhaps two more hours of daylight, my lips are dry and I’m out of water. Lost and small in a sierra suddenly vast and threatening.

The stupidest decisions can seem natural enough. For the three of us to separate, for our remaining water to be with my friends, even to undertake this trail without adequate information, was lunacy. Yet it seemed like harmless lunacy — until the mountains rebuked me with their immensity.

I had no water but did have a faint bar of reception on my dying cellphone. All I managed to communicate to my friend was two words — “I’m lost” — before we lost each other again.”

Saved by technology unthinkable three decades ago…

“I looked around. I’d been descending, several hundred feet. I needed to climb again, get around the rocky outcrop above me, to be more visible. In the direction I’d been heading lay only wild terrain and jagged peaks.

Adrenalin is the most exhausting form of energy. Fear is a survival instinct as long as panic does not supplant it. I climbed without feeling the effort, leaping from boulder to boulder, but growing more parched. Far below me the switchbacks of a forest track appeared. No visible way to reach it.

Don’t fall or twist an ankle. Don’t trust that rock with your weight, misjudge the depth of the juniper thicket, or turn in circles. How and at what point does extreme thirst affect the mind? Don’t panic. Think.

This is the paradox of Getting Lost In the Wilderness: contrarily to repute from stuffed academics and drugged out pseudo-philosophers, the wilderness is a place to learn to THINK and CONTROL emotions (because one doesn’t want to move in haphazard directions… That could mean death, and right away…)  One should even say that the wilderness is THE place to learn to think and emote correctly, because, not only it contains the universe in full, but it’s the ultimate disciplinarian… And Roger to have a bird experience. The bird experience is indicative of the ripe state of an epic. It happened to me even in California with two condors, at the night was coming (the only time I ever saw California condors).

“Then I saw the birds, two of them. They were looking at me. Hulking and black, they were perched side by side on a rock like bloated chess pieces. No, they were not looking at me, they were eyeing me.”

Europe has Black Vultures. The Black Vulture, not just a vulture, is the largest bird of prey. It will attack wounded hiker. A French woman with an injured leg in the Pyrenees was left by her companion who went for rescue (there are no phone coverage in most mountain range yet, this side of Elon Musk…). When the rescuers came back, Black Vultures, who had killed her, were disposing of her remains. They will attack cows. Europe has also the magnificent Gypaete, the only bird known to have killed a (Greek) philosopher. Last year I was doing a high altitude rock climb, off season, the snow was everywhere, the sun was getting low, and these four Gypaeti came to study us very carefully, to see if we were going to make it. They used the updraft of the formidable, slightly overhanging limestone peak to make alluring acrobatics, eyeing us with yellow eyes… When they decided we were too vigorous, they left…

But dogs can be the worst: like leopards, they can be hard to impress: A pregnant woman was killed by dogs in a forest in France as a hunt took place nearby, investigators have said.

“The body of the 29-year-old woman, who was walking her own dogs at the time of the attack, was found in the forest of Retz outside the northeastern village of Saint-Pierre Aigle on Saturday.
An autopsy revealed that the woman had died of “bleeding from several dog bites to the upper and lower limbs as well as to the head,” prosecutor Frederic Trinh said in a statement Wednesday.”
https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/20/europe/woman-killed-dogs-hunt-france-intl-scli/index.html
Once French geologists in Iran (a place where I confronted an angry bear), were attacked by five wild dogs, intent to eat them. So persistent were the ferocious animals, they had to kill every single dog with their geological hammers (the story, which is old, will not be on the Internet, I knew them…)
Nature is not nice. It’s real. A teacher.

 

 

 

 

Could Veganism Cause Extinctions?

June 7, 2016

For millions of years, hominids evolved as ever more efficient killer apes. This allowed entire human races or subspecies to live off meat. Such as the Homo Sapiens Sapiens variant Cro-Magnon, or Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis. Meat was a hyper concentrated energy source. just ask seals, dolphins, killer whales, humpback whales, polar bears and walruses.

East Africans, tall and lean, evolved to run down exhausted preys in the mid-day sun, they became ancestral to many people today (most of all of them, according to the “Out of Africa” theory). Cro-Magnon looked like ancestral Scandinavians, tall and strong, ready to fight the fiercest lions, wolves and bears. They are ancestral to many people today. They long lived in present day France, when France was landlocked by enormous glaciers on towering mountains, all around, or the giant ice sheets form the north, and the icy seas, west and south. Then non-glaciated Europe was a land of tundra, and enormous herds of often gigantic beasts.

Hunting is our past, how we evolve, and so was war. Vegans want to change all this. They claim that the future is not to touch adversely the smallest hair or feather. Thus they suggest to not use any animal product whatsoever. Instead, one should go fully agricultural. Agri-cultural means to cultivate the ager, the field. Hence the question: Vegans say they are friendly to beasts, they want to live off fields they cultivate, but are fields friendly to beasts?   

Pure Veganism Would Lead To The Extermination Of This Species

Pure Veganism Would Lead To The Extermination Of This Species

This is the paradox: is one friendly with others, when one exclude others? (The question is not just for Brexiters) When vegans exclude all animal species, are they friendly to animals?

Nature is good and evil. Gods stand above nature (supernatural), they don’t exclude it. Could it be that, when vegan want to exclude evil, they want to exclude nature?

How so? Very simple. Contemplate the world we have. Look at the Auroch. The last auroch died in a royal preserve in Poland in the Seventeenth Century. Europeans domesticated aurochs perhaps 25,000 years ago. Through a careful mix of natural and artificial selection, over 10,000 generations, Europeans created the European domestic cattle (meanwhile Indians and Africans were doing the same with their own breeds; the African zebu was probably evolved in India first; it resists well to African diseases such as sleeping sickness, malaria…)

Or consider sheep and goats: millions live today. They are descendants of their wild ancestors.

What do vegans want to do with all those animals? Through these millions of these domesticated animals survive the ancient species which graced the Earth for tens of millions of years.

This is not an idle question. Take chicken. The rooster was made by the Romans into the symbol of Celtic lands (which they called “Gallia”, the land of chicks…) In the wild, chickens, initially from South East Asia, are basically extinct. By refusing the presence of chicken inside plates, and in the fields, vegans condemn the species to terminal extinction.

Does hard core veganism allows to ride on horses and run dogs?

Conclusion: hard core veganism would lead to the terminal extinction of the most megafauna. They claim to be friendly to the individuals, but they will kill the species.

Solution: keep on using animal species, but do it in what is, ironically enough, called a “humane” way. If a rooster has a beautiful, easy, comfortable life, and then loses by surprise its head in a laser explosion, is it so bad? Would this sudden death be worse than enjoying life prior to this impromptu, sudden, unforeseen and painless demise?

Is veganism, pushed to extreme, the psychological equivalent of a brat who declares to his mom that he will refuse to breathe, rather than to eat its vegetables? Mummy here, being nature herself?

There is an extremely powerful metapsychological objection to veganism: we have seen that story, the story of renouncing life, many times before. Periodically, a slave religion arises, and recommends to us to lay prone, refuse life, reject even self-defense, accept to live small, barely eating, afraid to bother others in all and any way. This apparently bizarre cult is only natural, and is an evolutionary selected mode of operation: that of the prey which surrenders to those red in fang and claw.

When an animal of one of these species which get preyed upon, is surrounded, and death is unavoidable, it is often seen surrendering to its fate: this is part of the co-evolution of ecological systems (something not well-known, but still a fact). Not the evolution of the fittest individual as the naive evolutionists of the 19 C had it, but the evolution of entire ecological systems, as individuals made of multitudes. Is the vegan is a beast which wants to die and disguises this as a lofty language, while dragging hundreds of large species in its hateful discourse? Hateful of what? Hateful of life itself. Life is about living, thus suffering and dying. Not that the latter activities are necessarily something to look for, just the opposite. But mitigating and escaping them, is the spice of life.

Thus it is not excluded that the rise of veganism corresponds to surrender to mighty plutocrats: instead of tearing and shredding plutocratic substance, vegans decide that broccoli is all the protein they need. ‘They are starving? Let them eat grass!’ Say these new Marie-Antoinettes of the abysmal age.

Thus we have seen that story before. Whenever great plutocrats rise, We The People tends to roll on its back, presents its belly, and waits for horror, persuading themselves that horror is all what they ever wanted. Buddhism preaches that it is better to give up on life in full, rather than indulge into giving and receiving suffering. After its creation by a Princeling (not a coincidence), Buddhism took over most of India. But the predators laid in wait. They re-took all of India.

Vegans can preach. The only way what they preach can not lead to mass extinction, is by reserving around half of the land mass to total wilderness, in all and any ecological zone. That could, even should, be done. However, refusing the essence of life, preferring non-existence to death, is another matter entirely.

Patrice Ayme’

Rousseau’s Infamy

May 5, 2016

Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously started his treatise “The Social Contract” with: “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are.”

Rousseau claimed that man was naturally good but became corrupted by the pernicious influence of human society and institutions. French sailors implemented Rousseau philosophy in Tasmania: they went swimming in the nude, to show the natives they had nothing to fear. Hundreds of Natives attacked the French, who gathered a vivid impression of Rousseau’s wickedness.

Rousseau’s beautiful tweet is only true as a poetic metaphor, a helpful bleating to a despondent sky. Otherwise, it is erroneous in roughly all ways. Man is not born free, but fatally dependent upon others, and especially lactating human female(s). (Until very recent technological developments.) The one who thought of himself as the master often was, or is, really the master, whose very mind had been made by an ideology of mastery. And thus, cannot be otherwise. Even more surely than Rousseau advanced by seducing judiciously chosen wealthy women. (Say Jean-Jacques: “To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.”)

I Strike, Therefore You Die. Nature Is Not About Goodness, Just Balance

I Strike, Therefore You Die. Nature Is Not About Goodness, Just Balance

[Natural Quantum Supercomputer At Work. The latest on rattlesnakes show them capable of foresight and engineering, in preparation for a strike… a few hours later.]

As New Scientist puts it, April 13, 2016: “It’s a premeditated attack. A deadly rattlesnake seems to be planning attacks by clearing a path for its strike in advance.

Northern Pacific rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus) have been filmed manipulating vegetation near the burrows of ground squirrels. It’s the first time they have been captured on video moving grass in such a way, says Breanna Putman at San Diego State University in California.

Putman and her colleague Rulon Clark recorded two instances of hunting rattlesnakes pushing away grass around them at the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve in California’s Santa Clara County.”

If rattlesnakes can premeditate and prepare their deadly attacks, so can humans. (In particular, plutocrats.)

Chains, around ankles, are a rare sight. Yet ideologies, stunting minds, are common. Actually, the word “ideology” comes short: minds go deeper than ideas. Ideas are anchored in moods. Mentalities are ecosystems for ideas. Rousseau’s basic axiomatic mood, anchoring his entire critique, was anti-civilizational. (He got carried away from the Ancient Regime, not understanding that was not civilization, but plutocracy run amok.)

Rousseau preached returning to nature to live a natural life at peace with neighbors and self. He heaped scorn on civilization: “Civilization is a hopeless race to discover remedies for the evils it produces…Trust your heart rather than your head… What wisdom can you find greater than kindness… The truth brings no man a fortune… Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Maker of the world, but degenerates once it gets into the hands of man“.

Returning to nature is fundamental, agreed, because that is where the deepest structures of our minds come from. Yet lives in the wild were short, brutish, and cruel. Civilization is a remedy for nature.

We are made, evolutionarily speaking to handle the short, brutish and cruel. Paradoxically this may be what is missing now. Instead, we are slowly been overheated like the proverbial frog in an increasingly torrid bath.

Similarly, too much politeness can kill a proper debate. Calling fools and their stupid ideologies for what they are is a preliminary requirement to think correctly.

Even more paradoxically, politeness can be a diabolical weapon against those who do not expect it, especially our greatest enemies. Had I met Bin Laden, I would have been polite. I would have asked what exactly happened. Bin Laden was initially recruited by the CIA and SIA, to lead an Arab mercenary army against the Afghan Republic. The latter initially had a defense accord with the USSR, but also intended to develop Afghan geology with French expertise. All this became impossible as the White House conducted a secret war, using Pakistan. As that was not enough democratic president Carter gave a secret order of attack, July 3, 1979.

So politeness can be appropriate, or not. In the case of Rousseau, the answer was clear. Rousseau sent Voltaire a copy of his “The Social Contract” and Voltaire wrote him the following:

“I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such a cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs, in reading your book, to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it. Nor can I embark in search of the savages of Canada, because the maladies to which I am condemned render a European surgeon necessary to me; because war is going on in those regions; and because the example of our actions has made the savages nearly as bad as ourselves.”

De Sade coldly observed that Rousseau had no idea of the nature of nature (paraphrasing). The argument can be made, and has been made, that there is a direct filiation between the philosophers Rousseau and (the quite similar) Herder, and the Prussianized Nazism which disfigured Europe, after Metternich and Bismarck launched their conquering ways.

Voltaire said that “one must crush infamy!”. But infamy is clever. Even rattlesnakes are clever. Just as it was recently documented that a rattlesnake, preparing for an ambush, will clear its strike trajectory, so it is with most thinking beings, and not just predators. Elephants and rhinoceroses have been observed attacking with enormous fury and persistence even innocent calves. Surely, indeed, the nature of nature is not to be strictly cuddly.

In the end, Jean-Jacques himself had to admit the truth: “All my misfortunes come of having thought too well of my fellows“. Well, after behaving all too long like a rattlesnake of love, striking here, and there, lying in ambush… no wonder.

Patrice Ayme’

Beyond Cynicism, Reason

October 27, 2015

We have a lot to learn from the history of ideas and moods in Greco-Roman antiquity, and how it was entangled with the history of battles, empires, and the near destruction of civilization. We are clearly in a similar scheme. Except now it’s the biosphere itself, not just civilization, which is in peril. So let’s have no pity for our so-called “leaders”, and those who admire them.

In that light, Diogenes and the mental topology around him ought to be contemplated. The founding cynic Diogenes of Sinope, was of the opinion that people ought to behave more like dogs (or, even, mice). To this, I would add baboons. Understand what moves a baboon, shine a light on the human soul.

In particular, Diogenes’ followers would have sex in public. This was viewed as a much ridiculed oddity at the time. But Diogenes persisted loud and clear, even in the marketplace, responding: “he wished it were as easy to relieve hunger by rubbing an empty stomach” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 46).

Diogenes believed that each individual would either be guided by reason, or, like a domesticated animal, she would be led by a leash. Diogenes, did not despise knowledge per se, but spited pretensions to knowledge which serve only domestication. He had the intuition that the logic of behavior (human and animal) was the master wisdom. And more can be said. Why don’t human beings poop in public? (Aside from “Sun King” Louis XIV, but he was certainly not human.)

A dog has got to do what a dog has got to do. However, the point of human, is that human does not have to do what a dog has got to do. A human ought not to do what a human ought to do: this is the difference with dogs. We are free, free to go against the grain, and that’s all the freedom we have, as free human beings.

Diogenes was labeled mad for acting against convention to the extent he did (allegedly by Plato). To this, Diogenes retorted that conventions often lacked reason: “Most people, are so nearly mad that a finger makes all the difference. For if you go along with your middle finger stretched out, someone will think you mad, but, if it’s the little finger, he will not think so” (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 35).

For Diogenes, reason clearly plays the central role. There is a report that Diogenes “would continually say that for the conduct of life we need the right reason or a halter”.  (Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, Chapter 24). A halter is something one puts around the head of a dog or horse to lead them around. So either the truth will make you free, or you are just cattle. Cattle ready to trample over civilization.

Diogenes’ influence was deep. He started a line of argument which denied motion (it evolved into Zeno’s paradoxes which have caught a second wind with Quantum Physics; Zeno founded the philosophical school known as Stoicism; probably being a stoic was best when subjugated by the “Hellenistic Kingdoms”, the dictatorship Antipater imposed by naval battle).

Diogenes was a harsh critic of Plato, disparaging Plato’s metaphysics and breaking away from theoretical ethics which only justified oligarchy.

“Plato had defined the human being as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, ‘Here is Plato’s human being.’ In consequence of which there was added to the definition, ‘having broad nails’” (LOEP, chap 40).

Diogenes insisted that true human beings lived in accordance with nature. He lit a candle in broad daylight, and proclaimed he was searching for a human being, as so few lived in accordance with nature. Life in accordance with nature made human beings fully rational.

This was indeed true. Plato the chicken let to Aristotle, who was worse: that famed philosopher played a direct role in the destruction of civilization, and why there are still “royals” in England, leading, at least symbolically, the worldwide plutocratic charade.

That Diogenes had an anti-plutocratic bend is clear. He was captured at some  point by pirates (long story), and ended his life in Corinth. Alexander so-called the Great, was thrilled to meet the famous philosopher. The thinker was basking in the sun. ‘Could I do anything for you’, asked Alexander. Diogenes replied to the exterminator of cities and states alike: “You could stand out of my sun”.

Not easily defeated, Alexander tried the rejoinder: “Were I not Alexander, I wish I could be Diogenes”. In answer, Diogenes stared at a pile of bones: “I am looking for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.”

You have to understand that this was the turning point of civilization in Greco-Roman antiquity: Greek philosophy, at its sharpest, was meeting the fascists, wealthy savage gangsters from the north, the Macedonians, rich from horses and gold mines. Macedonia was the world’s foremost sophisticated military.

Yet, the Greeks, led by Athens and Corinth, had the brains. Alexander, taught by Aristotle, was not too sure where he was standing. In the east was monstrous Persia, a hyperpower made of an archipelago of plutocracies (satrapies).

Alexander was hesitant about which course to follow, clearly. Alexander respected demographically vanishing Sparta, and fully resurgent Athens. Yet he annihilated Thebes (a move that would have helped Athens, actually, had a mild Alexander stuck around). Alexander went on to destroy Persia. He gave up on his attempt to reach the Pacific, after he discovered that India’s kingdoms could defend themselves.

Alexander then died, all too soon (a conquest of Arabia was being prepared). Alexander was perhaps assassinated by Antipater, Aristotle’s estate executor. Antipater, senior even to Alexander, certainly replaced Alexander and encouraged by Aristotle, destroyed Athenian democracy, replacing it by a plutocracy (only the rich could vote).

Antipater and the world Aristotle created, that of monarchies, thereafter ruled for around two millennia (although the Franks allowed small republics here and there, starting with Venice, then Firenze, Genoa, Switzerland, Escartons, Netherlands, etc., the first big break was the French Republic, a full acknowledgment that the Roman Republic was right all along).

Monarchies make no sense: if anything, being just the brain of one, they are dumb and weak against democracies (as the Swiss Canton demonstrated when they rebelled against the (Germanized)Roman empire ). So, for peoples to accept to be subjugated by individuals and their families, one has to make them stupid.

According to Diogenes, nature makes intelligent.

Thus, to reign monarchs (the Roman emperors in this case) had to fight nature and its gods. Switching to the fascist, cruel, demented and jealous Christian god was not enough. One had also to destroy the interface with nature, the body. Making it gross and smelly, reeked with lice and infections, was a good start.

In the fullness of time, the Catholics decided that anything having to do with the body was dirty. Some woman became a saint just because she never washed, and waited for her clothes to rot of as she piled more clothes on top. Her face was black with grime: she was lauded for that.

The Catholics were after the entire mood of the Greco-Roman civilization, and kept at it for more than eleven centuries: when they took the last Muslim kingdom in Grenada, their very fascist, cruel and demented majesties, Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon, inventors of the Inquisition in Spain, closed all the 2,000 or so baths therein (disclaimer: an ancestor was ennobled by the Aragon king, 12 centuries ago).

So Diogenes was right: if one wants unreason, behaving unnaturally is a good start.

But now let’s go further than Diogenes: what is the interest of a sharp dichotomy between the public and private spheres? It enforces a morality, a sort of hygiene: just as it is good to wash one hands. Recent studies show that just washing hands would cut down child mortality by 40%, in the most destitute countries  (diarrhea kills more children than all other diseases combined). Symbolically, preserving a private sphere is a king of conceptual washing: it keeps some bodily functions and activities out of the public morality, thus segregates and hence weakens their influence, allowing for a more elevated society, let alone diarrhea free..

Any question?

Patrice Ayme’

 

 

Non-Linear Us

October 22, 2015

Nature is not nature, ever since there are humans, and they think. Earth has been terraformed, made into a garden, a human garden, in the last few million years. By ours truly.

Neanderthals started to used coal (lignite), 80,000 years ago.They also domesticated (that is, modified) European wolves, and invested in real estate, by exterminating Cave Bears.

Thus, following “nature” is a non-linear activity, as, by following nature, we also follow the new nature we deconstructed and rebuilt, that is, we follow ourselves.

Linearity Is The Penultimate Mathematical Simplification

Linearity Is The Penultimate Mathematical Simplification

The simplest thing is to view all causes as constant. The next simplification is to view them as linear. After that quadratic, cubic, and all powers etc… The exponential, an infinite sum of powers with fast decreasing coefficients, grows as fast, at any point, as its own value. So it’s all over nature.

“Following nature” thus does not just mean hugging trees. It also means dealing with trees the old fashion way: cutting and burning them, to favor plants and animals human beings were involved with (fires in Indonesia are contributing at least one gigaton of carbon to the atmosphere in 2015, making them an appreciable source of CO2). “Following nature” also means using genetic engineering on plants and beasts alike.

Nature has been artificial from even before the rise of civilization. Prehistoric men in Europe already conducted advanced and successful surgeries, from trepanations, to amputations, complete with anesthetics and antibiotics (parts of that knowledge got completely forgotten during the European Middle Ages… to this day!) “Facts” nowadays are all what influences humans, because they, in turn, change nature. Including hopes, systems of mood (“austerity!”, “Islam!”).

The fundamental calculus assigned to (say) Stoics, is the fundamental calculus of humanity. To mostly quote Massimo P’s “New Stoicism, Part IV”:

“physics” (i.e., natural science and metaphysics), “logic” (i.e., logic, epistemology and psychology), and “ethics” (i.e., ethics)… the first two are instrumental to the third one: one cannot decide how to live (the proper domain of ethics) if one doesn’t know how to reason well (logic) and doesn’t also know whatever we can know about the reality of nature (physics). This implies that whenever our understanding of physics changes we need to update our beliefs accordingly, and then examine (via the use of logic) whether and to what extent that also affects our ethics.”

Human evolution discovered, so to speak, this virtuous spiral of understanding and behaving. The species modified itself accordingly, it became that spiral. it is now more energetic than ever.

One cannot read morality straight out of scientific facts, because facts are about the world, and the world is about what we constructed. Thus the calculus of human hope, desire and risk evaluation has to be factored in… And it keeps on changing, the more it reflects on the agitated waters of its darkest soul.

Fundamentally, then, the human species is immensely adaptative (see future Martians): to act, human agents consider human minds, and what their activities wrought (nature). We can call ourselves new names, but our new game is the same as our old game: changing the rules as we see fit, the more we learn, and the more we change nature.

There is no general theory of non-linear mathematics. How could there be? It would be as having a theory of us. Yet we are all about the changes we decide. And how do we decide? This is not an obvious question, it has hounded fundamental physics, ever since the EPR paper of 1935. It is so non-obvious that it is the last loophole to check in the Non-Local aspect of the universe. See the New York Times, October 21, 2015: “Sorry, Einstein. Quantum Study Suggests ‘Spooky Action’ Is Real.”

To quote from there: “the National Science Foundation has financed a group of physicists led by Dr. Kaiser and Alan H. Guth, also at M.I.T., to attempt an experiment that will have a better chance of ensuring the complete independence of the measurement detectors by gathering light from distant objects on different sides of the galaxy next year, and then going a step further by capturing the light from objects known as quasars near the edge of the universe in 2017 and 2018.”

Translation: our presumed influence on the universe is so vast, subtle and pernicious, that quasars apparently receding much faster than the speed of light, are called to the rescue of physicists who want to make sure they reach beyond man, to an unspoiled universe.

We are everywhere we look, at least in our terrestrial neighborhood. Everywhere we reach, human influence has already changed everything. It’s not just about the melting icecaps.

Patrice Ayme’

Save Species By Exploiting Them

August 16, 2015

BETTER CYNIC THAN DEAD.

It’s Not Just A Question Of Saving Them, But Saving Our Mental Potential.

Ah, Cecil the Lion, this blood thirsty monster, with giant fangs, was slowly and cruelly assassinated by an evil American dentist. Let’s cry, say the politically correct. Hypocrisy and false reality are the gifts which keep on giving.

A few days ago, a “Mother Bear”, called “Blaze”, in Yellowstone National Park killed and ate, in part, a 63 year old hiker. When she, and her brood, came back for more choice morsels, inhuman, or all-too-human, rangers shot her to death. Her cubs were sent to Toledo, presumably to learn the Flamenco. Let’s cry, it’s the politically correct thing to do.

Rocks @ High Velocity Is The Compassionate Way To Handle Attacking Predators

Rocks @ High Velocity Is The Compassionate Way To Handle Attacking Predators

[Years ago, the recommendation was to lay prone in case of predator attack; this is wrong: predators don’t like to be hurt, a fortiori crippled. By the way, the largest bears are much larger than described above; some subspecies can reach a ton.]

I read some of the “Compassionate Conservationism” press. They are all over the Internet, including the Huffington Post (of course). The comments posted are bloodthirsty against the killer species, man. If only people stopped killing, everything would be great, they scream.

The “Compassionate” ones are against all and any killing. They are also against all and any suffering. As if suffering was the exclusive invention, and province, of human killers. They are completely hysterical about it, forgetting the following: part of wisdom is learning to not be too easily offended.

The problem is not just that suffering is part of the world, and thus, the mind, in full, as I have argued in:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2015/08/01/why-killing-beauty-makes-sense/

The problem is that the best way to insure no animal suffering in a given species is by killing the species. Thus the truly compassionate are terminators. As all good terminators, they don’t have any inkling of the horror they are visiting on the world.

Where is this going?

Last time we had frantic animal rights people in power, they called themselves Nazis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_welfare_in_Nazi_Germany

This made sense: the Nazis tended to hate human beings. To show that, nevertheless, they were good and their hearts were pure, they disingenuously claimed to love animals to death.

People who are so sensitive and unreal to believe that if only people stopped killing animals, the world would be set right, are neither very capable mentally, nor capable of defending themselves.

But there is even a deeper analysis: remember that death, nirvana, annihilation, is the best way to terminate animal suffering. Thus those who advocate stridently to terminate animal suffering are actually advocating annihilation.

Philosophically, I disagree with them. Socrates said that the unexamined life was not worth living. Indeed. But what is the examination made of? Of the mind, applying itself. And what is the mind made of? Of the world. The fuller the world, the fuller the life. Hence the interest of REWILDING US. It’s not just about them, it’s even more about us.

A life less full in less worth living. The examining mind fosters, and is fostered, by surviving the world in full.

Ecology, in full, is the ultimate capital given to us by nature. It has to be protected, and, in particular, the species do. This means finding them economic utility.

Man-eating bears roaming national parks is no way to encourage other human beings to visit the parks, or making people feel warmer and cuddlier about bears.

The 63 year old hiker was “experienced”, said the National Park Service. Although he did not carry bear spray (so the “compassionate conservationists claimed he was at fault).

I carry bear spray when in grizzly country, and nearly used it once against a charging moose (with calf). Charging moose with calf kills more people than grizzlies in Alaska. The calf slipped and fell, and I was able to skirt that unbalanced duo through small diameter trees (having made the theory they would hinder those gigantic quadrupeds). I was not at fault: I had stopped, one hundred meters away, and waited calmly for those ferocious beasts to get off the trail. But, half an hour later, they did the Mohican hairdo thing, lowered their ears, both well-known ominous signs, and charged me casually.

In most of the Alaskan temperate jungle, the safety bear spray provides with is illusory: vision is extremely limited by an exuberant vegetation, with giant leaves, you would smell the bear before you see it!

Half-Ton Bear, Flying To Your Annihilation. No Beast That Could Survive The Genus Homo For Millions Of Years Is Easy Game

Half-Ton Bear, Flying To Your Annihilation. No Beast That Could Survive The Genus Homo For Millions Of Years Is Easy Game

Bears charge at 20 miles an hour through thickets, that’s a problem. Bear spray also has a guard and is cumbersome: one cannot spent hours with a finger on the trigger. (Bear hunters in the past used dogs, who provide warning, or stick to open country.) Black bears are also very dangerous: they can kill and eat humans, where they think they can get away with it. I have been charged by black bears more than once, and had to go full prehistoric, even hitting a bear with a large rock, with drastic effect.

The way to handle dangerous predators is to collar them with GPS, and have professionals track their activities. You want some employment for the future? Here is one of them! One should make an app giving the location of the ferocious beasts. The National Park in Banff, Alberta, already handles grizzlies that way when they approach inhabited areas.

If we want to save nature, we have to endow it with economic utility. This is the highest morality. Let me repeat slowly: if we want to save nature, all of nature, we have to endow nature, all of nature, with economic utility. This means, in particular rewilding. However, rewilding does not mean that human beings ought to be made fair game.

Quite the opposite. The essence of humanity is that human beings are not fair game.

We own this planet, all of it, and our minds depend upon that. Saving them is about saving us, but it cannot come cheap, so we have to redefine what is expensive, and compassion is one of those values which have to be redefined.

Those who claim animals deserve as much, or more, compassion than human beings are either not honest, or mental weakling whose logic will never stand the heat of reality. They bestow nature a disservice, by brandishing useless, self-defeating, narcissistic self-admiring considerations which aim at befuddling the cosmos.

Not feeling the pain we deserve to make us whole, is a pain we can’t afford.

Patrice Ayme’

With Physics Like That, Who Needs Reality?

June 9, 2015

The quest for reality has been exemplified by science. However:

From a recent New York Times op-ed, “A Crisis at the Edge of Physics:”

“DO physicists need empirical evidence to confirm their theories?

You may think that the answer is an obvious yes, experimental confirmation being the very heart of science. But a growing controversy at the frontiers of physics and cosmology suggests that the situation is not so simple.”

In December 2014 famous physicists George Ellis and Joseph Silk, published in the journal Nature…Scientific Method: Defend the Integrity of Physics…Attempts to exempt speculative theories of the Universe from experimental verification undermine science.”

Science is immensely old. I pointed this out for dogs in “Very Ancient Relationships“. The Ancient Greeks had more than six breeds of cattle which had been evolved in Greece, specifically, to genetically modify them in a suitable manner:

Obtained By Ancient Greece Artificial & Natural Selections

Obtained By Ancient Greece Artificial & Natural Selections

[The Greeks were famous for their mix of natural and artificial selection of cattle.]

Ellis and Silk wrote that:

“This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue — explicitly — that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical. We disagree. As the philosopher of science Karl Popper argued: a theory must be falsifiable to be scientific.

Actually, Ellis and Silk are completely wrong there. The theory that the Earth turned around the Sun, originated by Aristarchus of Samos (a Greek island in sight of Anatolia, presently swamped by refugees). Its competitor was the geocentric theory. However, there was a strong argument against geocentrism: it stretched credulity. Indeed, the Greeks could compute that the Sun was much much larger than the Earth. It made sense that the little thing turned around the big thing as Buridan pointed out (around 1330 CE). To this geocentrists could only reply with silly arguments such as: man and his creator are big, etc.

So Karl Popper was also wrong. In the most spectacular case.

The Heliocentric Theory was a full blown scientific theory, so was the Geocentric Epicycles. However only a careful study of the illumination of the phases of Venus showed definitively that the the latter was wrong. This happened only in the mid-Seventeenth Century.

Ellis and Silk: “Chief among the ‘elegance will suffice’ advocates are some string theorists. Because string theory is supposedly the ‘only game in town’ capable of unifying the four fundamental forces, they believe that it must contain a grain of truth even though it relies on extra dimensions that we can never observe. Some cosmologists, too, are seeking to abandon experimental verification of grand hypotheses that invoke imperceptible domains such as the kaleidoscopic multiverse (comprising myriad universes), the ‘many worlds’ version of quantum reality (in which observations spawn parallel branches of reality) and pre-Big Bang concepts.”

In other words, many leading physicists are arguing for leaving behind the search for evidence, the old fashion way, leaving no stone unturned, just like smart prehistoric men did. Instead:

“These unprovable hypotheses are quite different from those that relate directly to the real world and that are testable through observations — such as the standard model of particle physics and the existence of dark matter and dark energy. As we see it, theoretical physics risks becoming a no-man’s-land between mathematics, physics and philosophy that does not truly meet the requirements of any.

The issue of testability has been lurking for a decade. String theory and multiverse theory have been criticized in popular books1, 2, 3 and articles…. In March 2014, one of the founders of inflation theory, theorist Paul Steinhardt wrote5 in Nature that “the theory of inflationary cosmology is no longer scientific because it is so flexible that it can accommodate any observational result”.

As I said above, Popper was wrong: falsifiability is neither necessary, nor sufficient to qualify a theory as scientific.

Another example of untestable theory was biological evolution through natural selection: they Greeks knew it to be true. One can read the theory explicitly stated in Lucretius’ giant poem about the universe. However the Greeks did not. know how to test it. The only tests they knew were indirect, they had to do with ARTIFICIAL selection.

Still biological evolution was a valid scientific theory, although untestable for millennia, and perhaps even hundreds of thousand of millennia. Many a shaman is bound to have stumbled upon it.

New York Times: “Implicit in such a maneuver is a philosophical question: How are we to determine whether a theory is true if it cannot be validated experimentally? Should we abandon it just because, at a given level of technological capacity, empirical support might be impossible? If not, how long should we wait for such experimental machinery before moving on: ten years? Fifty years? Centuries? …

Are superstrings and the multiverse, painstakingly theorized by hundreds of brilliant scientists, anything more than modern-day epicycles?”

Not even that. Epicycles were useful and observable. They actually are true in some sense, because they reflect Fourier Analysis of periodic motions.

Today’s most brandished “scientific” theories have nothing good about them, and worse of all, they don’t pass the smell test. Just as the Geocentric Theory did not pass the smell test. Just much worse. Theories were a gazillion universes get created in every cubic millimeters are just insane. Arguable even more insane as the worst from Daesh.

And guess what? Both insanities are related. If all what our supposedly best minds, our most rational, most scientific minds can produce, and brandish, is sheer insanity, why can’t Islam Fundamentalists, Saudi despots, North Korean dictators, and hordes of degenerated plutocrats not be crazy too?

So why not go with the flow? There are jobs to be had there. Saudi Arabia is looking for more eight more executioners to execute those who “insult Islam“. No experience necessary. Just a willingness to whip and “amputate”.

Patrice Ayme’

Sting Operations

June 1, 2015

{I wrote this shortly after having been nearly killed by a wasp swarm attack, related below…}

Venom In, Real Philosophy Out:

The brain works under different laws, according to circumstances. If one lives only behind a desk, all the law a mind will know will be the law of the desk. To see how the mind works, I recommend wasp swarm attack. Painful, costly, scary? Yes. All enlightenment costs, and the more the enlightenment, the greater the cost.

Want To Change Perspective ("Theory")? Try this 40 times. Venom In, Real Philosophy Out

Want To Change Perspective (“Theory”)? Try this 40 times. Venom In, Real Philosophy Out

[Yellow Jacket Sting; in North America, They Make Ground Nests. And Defend Them With Lots Of Enthusiasm.]

Sting operations make a common tactic of law enforcement in the USA: a police organization sets-up a criminal organization, and invites befuddled citizens of dubious morality to participate. When they do, they may get arrested, and justice may, or may not, be done.

There is always an unreal character to sociology in the USA.

That unreal character, for example officialdom engaging in crime, supposedly to extirpate it, by itself is a manipulation, as it habituates the population to lose track of reality: one learns to feel that police which does crimes to find crimes is just, and, even worse, smart. The ensuing lack of respect for the police is no problem, as it was historically enough for police to pull out its guns, and start shooting, re-establishing an even more fearful form of respect (what the powers that be were looking for).

Stuff happens. Stuff happens which nobody predicted. When one looks at World War One, scholars tend to say that Europe was a powder keg, ready to blow, especially Germany, from hysterical militarism. They do not know, or understand, the details, where the devil lurks. Indeed, in the end, nasty, venomous stuff happened in the minds of mostly two individuals: the Kaiser, and Chief of Prussian Army Staff, general Von Molkte (with a little help from USA Colonel House, the devil’s crucial assistant).

So Secretary of State Kerry was biking in France, fell, and broke his femur. This is not going to make it easier for Iran, a theocratic republic of god fanatics. Obama absolutely wanted a deal with Iran. Sometimes an occasion is missed, and does not come back.

However, the world today is much more a powder keg than Europe was in 1914. The difference, so far, is  that there is no plutocratic conspiracy determined to have war, as the top Prussian leaders were in 1914 (or Bush and his goons were in 2003).

Catastrophic calculus say that whatever terrible which could happen, will happen. Nowadays this means fanatics such as ISIL/Daesh getting control of nuclear weapons (say in Pakistan), or North Korea nuking the USA (just because it can), or China going to war in the South China Sea (just because it can).

Only now is the USA waking up to the latter possibility. Seriously late.

I am a mountain runner. One would guess I am ready for an eventualities. But I am not, because there are no solutions to some of the dangers. What to do in the case of attack by venomnous creature? I have thought about that one a lot, and have no answer. (Aside from killing venomous snakes with an aggressive attitude; the ones with a good attitude, I let go.)

Once in Colorado, jogging on a flat dirt road, I was attacked by bees. I ran as fast as I could, leaving the noxious critters behind, and got away with a dozen stings.

I got less lucky this time. Amusingly, there was a warning from the gods. I had a shoelace to tighten up. While I prepared to sit on sequoia root, I noticed bees, real brown bees, coming out in a hurry from a hole, just next to where I wanted to settle. I quickly retreated, images of Africanized bees in my head. The bees were alarmed, and alarming, but not nasty. No sting. That was good because there was a bit of dangerous, exposed rock and tree climbing, in the next thirty feet.

I went on up a steep and messy slope I am familiar with, loaded with debris, branches, leaves, among the giant sequoias Suddenly I heard a high pitch whistle sound, and within a second, felt the stings, and heard the buzzing. Stings everywhere!

All of my brain instantaneously became one action machine. The first stings had been painful, the next ones became just slapping targets. Super-human power was mustered to run up and away.

Philosophers sitting behind their desks love to tell us what consciousness is, and what not. They talk, they talk, from behind their desks, enclosed in their little minds. However, as I have tried to explain, the brain works according to different laws. Different neurohormones, different laws, different brains.

The law sitting at a desk has nothing to do with the law of a brain under deadly attack. Perceived lethality and pain provides with a different universe. This is the main reason for the allure of dangerous sports, let alone war and mayhem.

The brain, all in command, and all about command, determined the general direction of attack: left, ground level and down slope. So the brain determined the way out was up and slightly right (everything else was obstructed by trees). Brain ordered to jump and run that way. The brain also determined that slapping deadly insects to death was in order (books say don’t do that, it releases pheromones but stinging also does; not running away from a swarm attack is purely behind-a-desk pontificating by complete idiots; if I had not run away, I would be dead).

After a mad charge of maybe half a minute or so, more than 500 feet (150 meters), uphill (!), most of the assailants were gone, and brain wondered who they were. I could still feel new stings, so I looked just before hitting some of them: they were clearly stripped yellow and black: wasps. The famous yellow jackets who nestle underground; I had been attacked from a ground nest once before, in Stanford park, and ran away with a few stings. I tore an elastic branch with wide leaves, and used it as an anti-wasp weapon, to threaten remaining hard core individuals (I have studied the intelligence of wasps: they are not suicidal).

A few minutes later, I was back on a normal trail, for normal people, discovering to my amazement, that I was decorated with two dozen darts with venom pockets attached. Brain decided those darts with venom pockets attached made no sense (I thought only bees lost their venom innards, now I know better). I used Twenty-First Century technique, grabbing my supposedly smart phone, hoping for coverage, and organizing rescue. I may have been stung 50 times. Survival was plausibly in question, but not a question to entertain now. Now was time for decisive action.

Cell phone coverage there was, to my surprise, so I modified my trajectory into a beeline towards the closest road, 7 miles and more than two thousands feet lower, where my faithful spouse was rushing, going around the mountain, Mount Tamalpais. I followed hard single tracks, at maximum speed, which alleviated the pain (and pumped up the adrenalin, a survival trick). Brain had decided that getting to civilization before venom got to its central control system was the world’s most important thing.

So here I am, two days later, after various medical treatments, including a tetanus shot. More loaded with venom than ever.

Lessons? Stuff happens. Death also happens. If I had had a seven year old child with me, the child would have died. Any person with reduced mobility would have died. Even with my spectacularly fast egress (I can climb one mile up, in an hour!), I got stung maybe 40 times. So much about nature been good: one second before the first stings I had no idea that there was a wasp nest in the area. (And, because of the dangers experienced in the past, including grizzlies, lions, wolves, and especially degenerated scofflaw mountain bikers, I don’t wear headphones, and try to stay as aware as possible at any moment.)

Sting operations from the gods, we all have to fear. Hubris is the loss of that fear. The Greeks, rightly felt it as the greatest danger. Nevertheless, they fell into it. When they refused to unite against the looming fascist menace, in spite of philosopher Demosthenes’ strident warnings.

Our entire planet, at this point, is managed like an adventure. We may be, collectively, as clueless as I was a second before the first stings, in my latest misadventure. Like many an adventure, Human Earth could turn tragic, and very painful, all of a sudden.

Patrice Ayme’

[Even more full of venom than usual!]


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Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

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