Monday, December 28, 2020

The Real History of the Settlement of Ohio is Intensely Interesting

The story of the settlement of Ohio is riveting. I was born and raised in Ohio, but this story is barely told, which is a real shame because it's got lesson after lesson on politics and intrigue and includes some really interesting characters. It probably wasn't told in great and gory detail to high school students because it's got too much Realpolitik and violence and makes the nascent United States look like any other nation: antinomian, scheming, feckless and greedy. It also doesn't fit the SJW narrative about the native tribes being blameless victims.

Ohio was the western frontier of the colonies, and then the frontier of the nascent United States. It was the cross roads of the interests of the British and the French and colonists. The indian tribes in the Ohio territories, and to the west of there were divided in their support of these different factions. The Lenape indians in south-east Ohio played a very interesting role. They attempted to form a state within the United States... and they probably almost could have done it.

One of their leaders was assassinated by an American militia man. It seems possible the assassination was to prevent the state from being formed so Ohio could be sold off by the east coast establishment who had already formed a land company to do so.... there had even been a prior attempt to do a real estate deal on Ohio while the US was still a British Colony, and that's one of the events that might have sparked the revolutionary war.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Cainite Agriculture versus Abelite Agriculture

Agriculture is the basis of our civilization. Once people started farming, then storing grain, they were able to monetize goods and have money based trade. Their life became structured around seasons and time based planning became important. People organized as larger groups with hierarchies. In the pastoralist mode of life, time is important too, but the clock is kept by herds of animals and the flow of those herds north and south. In the farmer's life, the clock controls the activities of man.

The pastoralist's reality is reality. They are in it all the time. Their time orientation is more immediate. There's no concept of investment, just barter--value for value.

The agriculture city's reality is really an internal, toy-model version of reality that's based on measurement. A certain amount of land will produce a certain amount of grain and feed a certain number of people for a year. The model drives the activity of the people. The people beseech the gods to make reality conform to their hopes for the model. The people's time-orientation is forward looking and wait-and-see. It's credit/debt based. It is risk/gambling based.

The empire parasite emerges from the risk and gambling aspect of this type of agriculture. To reduce risk of catastrophe, agriculture needs to be practiced over a large area. The inner-world toy-model starts to spill into the outer world too in the form of infrastructure, like grain storage.

The problem with agriculture is that the inner-world toy model is simply incorrect and is fundamentally paradoxical. People like Masanabu Fukuoka  started to point this out in recent decades. The productivity of a given area, when left alone will be higher overall than when it's managed for agriculture. That is, the amount of solar energy that's converted to life will be higher when it's left alone.

I can see this in the forest that's on our property, and is connected to about 1000 acres of park woods. This forest supports a fairly large deer herd, turkeys, and countless small mammals like squirrels. When it was first settled it supported even more animals and huge stands of trees. This area used to support elephant sized mammals and giant bears.

Fukuoka tried to come up with a type of agriculture that was between pastoralism and traditional agriculture and it appears to be at least as productive as the traditional mode of agriculture. Fukuoka attempted to duplicate natural processes of planting by randomly throwing seeds around rather than planting in rows, for example.

Much of traditional agricultural practice is oriented around maximizing the time and energy efficiency of planting and harvesting. This is really because our time-orientation and the domination of our consciousness by the toy-model of reality that's described above.

It's possible that the risk and gambling associated with traditional agricultural practice is just a side effect of this low-fidelity inner world model.

One of the current attempt to solve this problem is to make the toy model more accurate. That is, by collecting more data and using a computer to run the toy model, it can be made to "work better", that is, to reduce risk and energy inputs. The yield per acre can be higher.

The permaculture method to solve this problem is to shift the practice of agriculture into a more nature based mode. For example, no-till methods of farming corn in Ohio actually improve soil year over year. The difference in the way of thinking is illustrated by how Fukuoka came up with his methods. He "saw" them after a long illness. They really came to him in a vision, rather than through research projects. Then he went out and attempted to practice them and learned through experience and observation. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Symbols and Actual Reality

Reality arose from the word. That is, a sensible world was partitioned from formless chaos by a symbolic representation. Creation emerged from formless waters that were personified by the Egyptians as the god(s) Nun. It was spoke into existence as the creator god.

Symbols are representations of information. Information emerges from the relationship of multiple distinct things and time. The information is something that's "alive" and in the world, while symbols are dead things that are outside of time. They're like footprints of an animal left in cement. They're the record of information. They're only brought back to "life" by being replayed.

Since there are so many distinct things, there's an infinity of information everywhere in the universe. However, for any animal, the ability to perceive and record via the senses is severely limited. Living creatures all seem to use some form of filtering, and lossy compression to experience external reality. We all seem to have some built in dictionary that's a form of representation of external reality. Indeed the forms of animals and plants are geometric and constructed from underlying molecular machinery that's coded in DNA in some way that is possibly analogous to physical algorithms.

There's a built-in gap between what we perceive and what is. There are a few different schools of belief on this fundamental problem of existence. The solipsistic perspective is there's no external reality at all, and that "the world" is really an expression of our belief, or our inner world. The scientism religion belief is the inner world can be made to exactly match the external world via science and the discovery of underlying mechanisms of nature--then this world can be transplanted into a computer. My personal belief is we can hop across that gap of experience by shifting our consciousness.

In simple terms, we can shift our consciousness from the left brain to be more right brain focused, leaving the realm of language and symbolic interpretation of reality into more of a direct experience... that is, we can think with the outside world and sort of be the outside world. A concrete example can serve to unfold this concept.

Imagine a vulture soaring on thermals. In his action, the bird feels and knows the lift from the rising air coming off a south facing hillside, for example. We can have a sort of similar experience when we do some all consuming physical task, like walking across a log, or carrying a heavy, awkward load over uneven terrain. That task displaces speech based consciousness. The experience of those moments is very complete. There's no model of reality that's being consulted, rather the body and the nervous system dance with reality, or inhabit the external world.

My general feeling is that sort of experience of the external world can be superior to the toy model version of reality for many tasks--specifically for agriculture. That will be the topic of the next post. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

DNA Learning

There are many physical objects that "record" information. For example, a pond that's fed by a stream will leave a record of sediment deposition over many thousand years that encode the pattern of seasonal change and rainfall.  Similarly, DNA is a molecule that records information as well. (I wrote about this in 2018)

Recording information is akin to learning. It is the passive component of learning, anyway--memory. DNA memory is the record of trial and error successes of living things in some environment. It seems likely that the information that's recorded in DNA isn't a simple code, like a binary code or alphabet. Rather it's combinations of molecular machinery rather than symbols or words.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Green Square Good!

You can spot a piece of man-made detritus in a forest from far away. For example if you see an old hubcap in a stream-bed, it is very out of place next to rocks and sand and old leaves and silt. The surface texture is uniform, and the shape is a composite of simple geometric forms. By contrast some rock that is in the stream will be irregular in every way.

Animals, insects, and flowers have more fixed geometric appearance. Birds are particularly colorful and marked. The visual systems of animals, including us, seem to be particularly tuned to regular geometric patterns. My dog, for example, will easily get freaked out by some out of place man-made object like an orange bucket that's out in the woods or an inflatable santa that's in front of somebody's house. Our ducks will freak out about a ball or a brightly colored plastic bag of food.

Faces have the most visual information around the eyes, nose and mouth. The image above fades away from the areas with the least visual information leaving those with the most behind.

Our visual system seems to use a similar scheme as our auditory and speech system. That is, it compresses and encodes information. The thing we see is a composite of simple shapes and outlines that's sort of lifted out of the background of more nuanced and muddled natural forms. Actually that's pretty interesting. It's pretty likely that we "see" those forms using these modes of understanding because DNA itself is encoding those shapes... somehow those codes that underlie our consciousness and understanding include their own recognition.

This aspect of our visual system seems to strongly influence behavior and preferences. Cities, for example, tend toward stark geometric forms of squares and rectangles. They emulate deserts by omitting trees and meadows. A lawn is a green square. The simple forms are also a side effect of the tools and techniques used to manufacture building materials like doors and windows.

The down side of simple geometric forms is they aren't inherently stable. They require lots of energy to fabricate, and are subject to corrosion and weathering back into incoherent forms. A lawn, for example, requires constant inputs of energy to maintain, or it quickly reverts to a meadow and a forest.

Civilization as the Sum of the Parts of Men

Every animal is a composite creature. Humans are too. Our consciousness seems to be a unitary thing, but it's really multi-layered. Our brain and body consist of multiple systems that are distinct, but integrated. Consciousness, especially speech based consciousness is just one part of it.

It's very common to for the speech based consciousness to slip into the background. When a person dances, for example, or balances on a narrow beam, or performs a complex task like juggling, that lingual consciousness goes to sleep. In an emergency situation--like trying to avoid a car accident--the non-verbal consciousness can take over instantly. In most sports, the verbal consciousness plays no part when action is underway.

If man is composed of multiple parts, then groups of men are composed of multiples of multiple parts. Obviously, different circumstances or arrangements of people could emphasize different parts. The corporate consumer world emphasizes specific elements of that composite to emphasize. A world that's based on warfare would select other elements to emphasize. A world that's based on hunting and gathering would select yet other elements.

It's unlikely that those elements can be arbitrarily selected, though. The world of man is malleable and can be manipulated by those with wealth and power, but only to a degree. Self-directed "evolution" won't work, because there's no such thing as isolated evolution. All creatures co-evolve. This is probably why civilizations just collapse rather than change.

Civilization gets way out of balance with the pace of nature. It is inherently unstable. It loses the connection to the self-regulating aspects of nature and tends toward forms that are too structured and organized so it crumbles easily.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Right Brain/Nature Brain

I've wondered if the Cain and Abel story, like the fall of man story, in the bible is about the change in the way humans comprehended the world that was wrought by language and writing. Language fractured the comprehension of reality in multiple pieces. The apprehension of the whole is not lingual. If you do any drawing, you know that mode of consciousness. While you're engaged in depicting a form on paper, you don't think in words.

Symbolic/word based thinking is fairly limited by the mechanics of speech, and ultimately it's limited by the wavelength/frequency of the tones we use to communicate, and the serial nature of speech and hearing. In information theory terms, the bandwidth of our speech and word based thinking is only in the range of tens or hundreds of symbols per second.

Symbolic apprehension ultimate relies on an either algorithms or forms of compression that utilize pre-learned dictionaries of concepts. That is, it relies on toy models of reality rather than reality itself.

Planning and organizational activities are generally model based. When a farmer plants crops, for example, the planning of that activity is based on historical information, like soil temperature as a function of time of year, and demand for the crop that's really based on caloric needs of the people he'll be feeding.

Those models are really the basis of our civilization. They tie into the technology toolkit of our people, plus cultural traditions and behavioral expectations. Those models are really "the matrix".

Can we discard those models, at least in part and rely more on direct experience of the world that's generally thought to be the province of the right brain? I've been thinking about this for years... chances are it's not possible to write about it. It might be more of an image based form of thinking.