A good place to start: gives you a brave heart, grateful soul, clean parts. It’s a free and life-changing art.
For one minute at most; even a few seconds are fine. If willing to just step over the line.
I am lucky. Over a minute it takes our shower to warm. I started slow, but now I can the full minute go. Still summer now, harder in the cold.
Cold shower, why do I do extol?
Many reasons can be told, but here’s the rationale for my plan. I step into discomfort, and from this learn that I can. Each day, I still hate to do it, but still do it.
And once done, it is soon over. Yes, I have to slowly count my breaths. It takes me to a count of 30, if I am brave enough for the full minute. And then, warmth, bliss and gratitude to be alive and comfortable.
Warm shower, working body, a mind cleansed of stress.
There is a hormone release that not only wakes me up. It re-sets my stress response.
The day’s ablutions completed, or not.
The hormone release for flight or fight, has
As one initial action, a rapid bowel movement.
Only to the internal sphincter.
Did you know you had two?
After Caesar fell, they praised and buried him. The die was cast, the Republic soon gone. (SPQR, Senatus Populusque Romanus: the Senate and People of Rome.)
To be replaced by Emperors, until the death of empire. Some great, others not so much. Can we blame all the Casears for its destruction, or would it have happened anyway? And why did the Roman Republic never return? Is democracy just a transitional phase in human progress, always ending in tyranny of some form?
It was a bold new idea; even if limited to the Patricians at first: democracy. (Its birthplace, not Athens, if you believe the Roman myth of 509BC)
We, children of democracy, obscure its value, as we have always had this treasure. And the idea that lies behind it: government by, for, and of the people.
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Abraham Lincoln starts his speech after the battle of Gettysburg, and ends a less than 200 words later, hoping the deaths were not in vain and the nation “shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The Roman Republic did not survive, but died from the inside. Unlike the Roman Empire that was destroyed by outside forces – as well as its inner weakness. The founders of the constitution knew their classical history well, and designed the constitution to prevent dictators – a term first established by Rome for an absolute leader but whose term is time limited. There were many who stepped forward, saved the Republic and then stepped away from power. Was this part of what made Rome grow form a small city state to the Empire on whose shoulders Western civilisation was founded. We still use the same letters! (yes, with a few additions…)
On this day, the Roman Republic fell. The Act, killing Julius Caesar, was to prevent Caesar from becoming king. Rome’s origins are shrouded in legend, starting from Aeneas fleeing from the Greeks in the Trojan Horse. The lack of documentation from the sacking of the city by Gauls in 397 BC.
After that, recorded history starts. Before are the 7 kings, then the 12 law tables when the Patricians (descendants of the 100 original families) of Rome decided to no longer have kings, because of the problems of the last, Tarquin the Proud (Superbus in Latin!).
He was dethroned in 509 BC, creating the Roman Republic. The year may be mythical, as it conveniently predates Athenian democracy by one year. Yet, all the Roman gods come from the Greeks, with just a name change: Zeus to Jupiter, Aphrodite to Venus, Ares to Mars and so on.
Paradoxically, the rationale for the murder of JC was to prevent him from becoming king. Yet, it enabled his nephew Octavian to become the first of the Roman Emperors, Augustus Caesar.
[From these two we get the months of July and August, and thus the numbers of the following months, starting with September (Sept= 7) have to have two added for their new order; Octo = 8, 10th month, Nov = 9, 11th, Dec = 10, 12th.]
Mars built Rome into an Empire on war. From a small city-state surrounded by all kinds of dangers, Rome grew into an Empire that covered most of Europe and extended into Asia. When Alexander conquered the Persians, the Greeks took over their empire. And the Romans took over the Greeks. But after the Romans we had the dark ages in Europe, when conditions of life regressed.
Does all of this come from this act, on the ides (the middle of the month, or 15th) of March 2062 years ago. If instead of killing Ceasar, they had fought in the senate would the Roman Republic have been preserved?
All Western history and learning is founded on the classics from Greece and Rome. Chinese history offers different angles from having been the premier power, the inventor of all creations, the longest lasting stable empire. Then banning marine exploration, just before Columbus sailed to the “New World” and becoming a technological backwater until recent decades, and now ready to eclipse a declining American empire. India and the Buddha yet another view.
We steal. That’s the beauty of human ideas. Each one can generate another one. Good artists borrow, great artists steal. Or did I get that wrong?
Fraud is not quite the same as stealing, is it? They are clearly in the same universe of “Thou shalt not” , if you like Olde Englishe. Both are wrong, immoral, and just not nice. the person who harms another or the common good is a thief or a fraud.
I pretend to care. That’s a fraud, but can also be a kindness. Words are so messed up, when the only way to find Truth is to agree it is bipolar. That our minds create sharp categories, but biology is fluid.
All words lie. They can only partially express the Truth, if such a thing even exists outside of our minds. But this is where discussion starts getting futile, pointless and off the topic of fraud.
Sometimes, I feel like a fraud when I use “Kia Ora” as my opening greeting in an email. It’s because I only ever use the spoken greeting at formal meetings. It’s a wonderful Maori words that can be used to express all kinds of sentiments, wishes, and above all acknowledgement of a fellow human. We say it when we are touched by what we hear, when we want to encourage.
Literally, it means ‘towards health’, or to your good health. But most often used to say ‘hello’; a less formal greeting than “Tena koe” , which literally means “That you”. Just as the Hebrew greeting for ‘hello’, is Shalom Kia Ora reflects different cultural values than the wish for Peace of “Shalom”.
A wish for health, as the most important human attribute. Without health, what use is wealth? But it is the meaning beyond the literal wish for health, that I find so appealing. That connection that we share a joint “Ora” a healthy life. But do I live it?
I am a fraud. I pretend to myself to be other than I am, because it makes me feel more comfortable. I see the world not as it is, but as I wish it to be. And manage the pretence, despite evidence to the contrary as confirmation bias, backfire effects, and other cognitive biases trick my brain that it is right, when it is not.
Financial fraud is interesting. One can argue that many rich folk, are only so because of some kind of fraud. The shady dealings of President Ignoramus come to mind. Though I am told he would have been richer if he had just invested the money he inherited in the stock market, rather than leave the trail of destruction with his failed enterprises. President Fraud who claimed he was going to fix problems, while just bringing us closer to the brink of nuclear apocalypse and planetary despoil that could spell the end of humanity. And worse than these, has increased suffering among countless millions who are deported, abused, or impoverished by his administration.
I have proposed a solution to financial fraud: a single global financial transaction system, with full transparency for all transactions. When I was a child, I was taught of an all-knowing and all-seeing God. Google was the first step in its development, and still key in its further development added by Facebook and other platforms that connect every global citizen to each other.
The solution will undoubtedly create a new type of fraud based on mathematical wizardry and ability to exploit any weak spots in the software design of the electronic financial transaction system. Yet, there is hope that a shared ledger system that is well designed could at least detect it, if not necessarily prevent that kind of fraud.
What I find strange, is how today’s governments allow fraud (or is it blackmail or just plain theft) by computer hackers of various sorts to continue to grow as a business. Are they getting a pay-back? Or is it the cover of rogue states? I’d love to know the answer, as it would seem just a question of investing more technical capacity and resources to prevent this apparently ever-increasging threat of fraud through what should be the most sacred infrastructure of our society: our connectivity to each other.
Can we remove all fraud in out connections? Probably not. But we can do more to discourage them, and catch them early – rather than wasting resources protecting copyright, for example.
Yet, another fraud. How can Warner Brothers make millions of dollars on the Happy Birthday song, when its writers made nothing? Intellectual property is a fraud, since all human invention builds on earlier ones. Inventors need to be rewarded, but perhaps in a way that better incentivises common good than personal profit. Creators create because they have to, not because of the reward. So, support creation rather than rewarding its results. And how does it help creation to maintain copyright for 70 years after the death of the creator?
Fraud is the rentier economy, that is increasingly with us. The State allows a ‘fee’ to be demanded for use of knowledge or processes. Or even property. Why is this fair and and not fraud? What does it mean to say you ‘own’ the land. Only that you paid for it, and are part of the chain of ownership; but where and when did ownership originate?
We are not owners of our land, our assets or even our knowledge. We are stewards part of an interconnected species that started with a dozen or so humans about 70,000 years ago in Africa, who now exceed 7 billion and cover every corner of the globe. Wake up, don’t defraud our future.
What is money? There are a surprising number of answers to this. I will start with the one I learnt most recently. Money belongs to a set of words defined by Juval Harari as “fictive”. Animals communicate about the world about them. Humans use words to do so. These words extend beyond the natural world to the social world.
“Global annual military spending tops $1.2 trillion.” There are 8,000,000,000 of us. UN estimates 7.5 billion humans. We are increasing every year by about 50 million, with about half the deaths than births. (There are over 100 million born every year.)
So, that’s at least $1500 per person per year that could be used, if nations did not exist. Military is only for defence against other nations; once they are gone, there is no need for them. Is $1500 per year enough to feed the world? Given that nearly a third of humans live on less than $2 per day, that would be more than enough in developing countries. In New Zealand, I can’t get a cauliflower for less than $3, so it may be more of a challenge. But I think even at New Zealand prices one could get a healthy diet for close to that price, especially if we changed the market.
Why is food so much more expensive in industrialised countries, and especially in NZ.? The easy answer is that it is the price of labour. But is the work any different in growing the food and getting it to market? Probably harder in developing countries. They have less tools, infrastructure, and resources in general. Only labour is cheap. And that drives the price of everything.
If much of the food supply that the State provides is grown locally; and this is bought at a fair price, would that fairness not include equal pay for equal work, wherever it was done. But if you did that, then the same money would be worth much more in a poor country than a rich one.
There is a simple answer to that: change the unit of money to person-time. A basic unit can be multiplied for quality and training of the person. Or we could leave it unadjusted. Either way, we are doing what Adam Smith writes about when we exchange goods: we exchange our labour for that of another’s. His labour theory of value.
People would be supported to grow their food, on roof-tops, balconies and indoors, by being provided the resources to do so, and the sell to the State for the produce based on their labour. The produce would the supply the local or community. Commercial or State food production would be needed to supplement the local product for most communities.
The State would supply each person or family, either with food or with meals at community centres. The food ordered would still have a price (in hours of basic person-time), but the State would supply and charge the electronic account of the individual. This is the functional equivalent of money, but is an abstract electronic credit that is given at birth to each baby.
Citizens earn credit by doing work; those who are not in paid employment get paid (in person-hours) for the work they do in caring for their family, friends, or community. Those who are unable to work are in the same category as those who are unable to manage their credits: they need State support.
Citizens use their person-hour credits for all their needs, from the private and State markets. Each individual is given credits by the State, and earns more from work, art or new ventures. One way that is not possible for an individual to make credits from is investment. The State provides investment to entrepreneurs, based on community support and track record.
If all transactions are in credit instead of money, and credit ledgers are public it becomes much harder for corruption to stay hidden, and crime is easily tracked. Blockchain technology offers secure and transparent transactions.
But, where does the State get the money to do all this? The money has to come from its citizens. The money we currently spend on the military could be used to feed the world. By providing healthy food, we can also expect to reduce the State’s cost for health services. But the State can also create money, especially when money is just digital credit.
But let’s ignore that aspect and make the case that food provided by the State could be more efficient (or cheaper) than when provide by the market. There is no longer the need for marketing, and we have the technology for global management for scale efficiencies.
State planning did not work well for production or distribution of food in the Soviet Union. The difference is that through the use of smartphones and computers, we can have a system that is driven by community needs; not directed by bureaucrats. A system that encourages local food growing, by rewarding productivity. A system run using science and technology to efficiently. Such a system can provide food cheaper than the market, while meeting individual preferences, and improving health. So, it makes sense to pay more taxes and get free food. We do that for health and education; why not the other human needs? If we can do this more efficiently through the State than the market.