“How easy it is to follow our thoughts instead of our senses.”
Frank Herbert

Children of Dune

Poor Decisions

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Scarcity impinges on your mind. People behave differently when they perceive a thing to be scarce.

… Scarcity narrows your focus to your immediate lack, to the meeting that’s starting in five minutes or the bills that need to be paid tomorrow. The long-term perspective goes out the window.

… Compare it to a new computer that’s running ten heavy programs at once. It gets slower and slower, making errors, and eventually it freezes — not because it’s a bad computer, but because it has to do too much at once. Poor people have an analogous problem. They’re not making dumb decisions because they are dumb, but because they’re living in a context in which anyone would make dumb decisions.

… There’s a key distinction though between people with busy lives and those living in poverty: You can’t take a break from poverty.

… It all started a few years ago with a series of experiments conducted at a typical American mall. Shoppers were stopped to ask what they would do if they had to pay to get their car fixed. Some were presented with a $150 repair job, others with one costing $1,500. Would they pay it all in one go, get a loan, work overtime, or put off the repairs? While the mall-goers were mulling it over, they were subjected to a series of cognitive tests. In the case of the less expensive repairs, people with a low income scored about the same as those with a high income. But faced with a $1,500 repair job, poor people scored considerably lower. The mere thought of a major financial setback impaired their cognitive ability.

… in addition to measuring our gross domestic product, maybe it’s time we also started considering our gross domestic mental bandwidth.

poverty is not a lack of character. It’s a lack of cash.

source via James Wallbank

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Money, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Artificial Intelligence: Game Kills Players

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A bug in Elite Dangerous caused the game’s AI to create super weapons and start to hunt down the game’s players. Developer Frontier has had to strip out the feature at the heart of the problem, engineers’ weaponry, until the issue is fixed.

… The AI was crafting super weapons that the designers had never intended.

Players would be pulled into fights against ships armed with ridiculous weapons that would cut them to pieces.

… weapons have been removed from the game, giving the dev team time to investigate what’s been causing the bug.

source

Posted in Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christopher Alexander on Despair

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Christopher Alexander on Essential Awe

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“… In this conception, value is not something merely grafted onto space, as a passenger might be who carries no weight and does no work. It is part of the same nearly mechanical picture of space that we have come to believe in, and respect and trust. Yet, at the same time, in a most subtle way, it is also not mechanical. After all, what we observe is life emerging from space …

It is a structure, we can (tentatively) calculate with it, and it fits our structural understanding of space and matter. Yet it carries a bridge to life, feeling, and to our own experience of what it is to be a person: the self, which all of us contain, and are connected to …

I believe that one day it will be possible to demonstrate an experimental connection, where it will be shown exactly how the field of centers does open a door between space and self, and how, ultimately then, self and matter are permanently intertwined through the construction of this mechanism.

… Even today, we continue underestimating the degree to which we are prisoners of the present mechanistic cosmology; we have a strong tendency to underestimate the effect that this interior mechanistic view can have on us.

Consider, for example, three elementary facts: (1) in our immediate world, at normal temperature and pressure, nearly everything is made of atoms; (2) atoms are little whirling mechanisms which are spinning constantly; (3) people are largely made of atoms too.

Nearly every schoolchild learns these fats in school. We all learnt them. They are, by now, virtually a part of us … As a result, in the western world at least, there are few people alive who do not believe (‘know’) that they are mechanisms made up of millions of tiny whirling mechanisms.

… But if you believe … [this] mechanized reduction is accurate, how can you take seriously the kinds of ideas which I have described about the life of buildings, and walls, and rooms, and streets? The answer is you cannot. You cannot, because if you believe the three elementary-school facts, then mentally, you are still living in a universe in which nothing matters, and in which you do not matter. And then the life of the environment is not real either.

Ideas about the personal or spiritual nature of reality, no matter how desirable they seem, cannot affect you deeply, even if you think they do, until they can be embodied in some new picture which leaves the facts of physics intact, and also paves the way to a more spiritual understanding of the world

The whole point of the concept which I have described – of wholeness seen as a calculable, recursive, bootstrap field of centers with the consequences that follow from this view – is that within the framework this concept creates, things really are different, and the differences are visible as new aspects of the structure of space and matter. This newly seen structure not only says that things are different. It shows, through the properties of the structure, exactly how things are different.

… we can reconcile the face of being a a mechanism of whirling mechanisms, because we know that each atom it itself a field of centers, and that in the emergence of these fields, the self comes into view. We … you … I … are this instances of the field of centers

Armed with this view, we can unite our personal intuition of religious awe with our sensible scientific understanding of the world … And in this view, the work of building takes on entirely new meaning … we … realize … [that] When we make something, its selfness, its possible soul, is part and parcel of our own self.

There is, then, something very like a religious obligation to allow this self to reveal itself … It arises as a supreme spiritual obligation, which is our obligation to the matter/spirit we ourselves are made of …  it arises now, not as a religious or superstitious belief, but as a result of a new understanding of the structure of the universe.

A few years ago I went to mass in Salzburg’s great cathedral. It was at that time, one of the only places left where Mozart and Haydn’s masses were still sung every sunday. There was a Haydn mass. The church was filled with people thronging, crowding, pushing, to be there while the great mass was sung.

The high point of this mass was the sanctus. Full choir, slowly increasing rhythm, deep sound of the organ and the basses … the air became tense with the presence of this mass … At the most awe-inspiring moment, a young man pushed forward to a telephone mounted on one of the columns of the nave. He picked it up and listened. The telephone was tied to a tape-recording, giving interesting dates and facts for tourists. He listened to the tape-recording of dates and facts, while the Sanctus blazed around him.

This man became a symbol for me of the loss of awe and of our loss of sense. Unable to immerse himself … unaware of the size and importance of the sounds that he was hearing … For a while, during the 20th century, this had become our world: a place where the difference between awe and casual interest had been sanded down to nothing.

… All the efforts I have made have, at their heart, just this one intention: to bring back our awe … and to allow us to being to make things in the world which can intensify this awe.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order – Book 4: The Luminous Ground

 

Posted in AltEco, Design, Expanding, inside, Intellect Run Amok, outside | Tagged , , , , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Summer 2016 Allergy continued: disturbanced, sleep, tick

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After the first few days there was a drop in my sense of well-being. An initial blow came when I allowed a disturbance to take places – a visit to the city. I came back feeling tired, with a slight head-ache and agitation. The next day I was somewhat contained, I was able to get on the mat, but my breathing compromised. I adjusted my practice to accommodate this state of being.

Shortly after that came another disturbance – a first jam making of the season. The preparations (cleaning and cutting strawberries) were made during an evening and the next morning (usually my time of being and practicing) we got on with preparation. I thought to practice later in the day but that did not work out. The cooking, though spacious, was agitating, lighting and keeping the rockets going for a few hours added some smoke … practice did not find me after that. However I was able to settle … and the next day I was able to engage my practice fully and pleasantly.

Shortly after that (a day or two later) there was a sudden change in my sleep. I woke up around 2:30am and had to leave bed to keep my breathing from deteriorating. That effort required (as it has in the past) two main ingredients: warm tea and alertness / attention (being awake). After that nights continued to be disrupted. It seemed that as long as I was awake I could somehow keep my breathing together (sometimes with relative ease, sometimes with difficulty) … but lying down and fading to sleep seemed to lead to deterioration. 2:30 soon felt like a regular thing. I was able to find some rest in the night, but almost no sleep.

For a couple of days, despite the sleeplessness, I was, to my surprise, still able to be with my practice with quality. I was surprised at being able to engage the new pranayama ratios (and I was very grateful that the technique was anuloma ujjayi instead of pratiloma). It took quite some hours until I could approach practice (usually not before 1pm). My appetite was also affected by all this, I wasn’t eating much before practice and I was (still am) drinking a lot of tea and that too reduces my appetite for food.

At some point (fortunately early in the unfolding) I recognized that tea may also be effecting my sleep. Iulia made for a me a mix with about 10 supportive plants … however some of them, I believe, were detrimental to my sleep … so while I still drink it, I drink less of it and only in the first half of the day.

Then a few days ago a last disturbance kicked in. During the night I felt a nausea coming on … the next morning my bowels emptied completely … and for the next 36 hours I ate almost nothing … only teas. I had no appetite for food at all. This completely drained me. A couple of days later I found a tick attached to me (not sure how long it was there)! I don’t know if the nausea is related to the tick (it may be) … but when I think of the tick … the most prominent feeling I have is that its presence is of a healing intention! Strange, I know!

Anyways the nausea knocked me completely off the mat. Only today (its been 4 or 5 days), after a gradual return of my appetite and some sense of physical strength (at the peak of this cleansing walking was a challenge) and a couple of night with some sleep I am curious about re-engaging the mat.

This year, it has been a strange meeting with allergy. Overall, I feel that my allergy symptoms are lesser. But still I feel like I’ve been through a storm … and I don’t feel it is over. A qualitative change which has not yet revealed its narrative to me.

Posted in About, Breath, Myself, Yoga, Yoga & I | Tagged | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours