Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Obama


I think Obama did well in the context of the leader of a conservative Western nation with a conservative, right-wing Congress composed of right-wing, conservative Democrats and a Republican majority. Democrats are practically indistinguishable from Republicans on many issues, with only the most outlandish things, like forcing prayer in schools or torturing prisoners, being the hallmarks of the Republican party. He did about as well as he could on most fronts. The paranoid white people that claimed Obama was a communist, Muslim or antiChrist have been exposed as crackpots by his mild, caretaker administration. Meanwhile, Obama has brought wars to an end and tried to deescalate all the other conflicts around the world that the U.S. has been embroiled in. Easing the situation in Cuba was a good idea, and not getting too involved in Syria was also right.

I read today some quotes from his appointed Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotamayor, and was impressed by how good she is. Whenever I read quotes from Scalia, I always wondered what a cold person he was. Now he's cold for real, but even back in the day, he was pretty cold, always siding with whatever was bigger and more powerful against whatever was weaker.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trump?


I'm not opposed to the idea of a businessman as President. I do think there are many skills that translate directly from the business world to the political realm. However, in elections, we deal not with generalities, but specifics. The specimen before us is Trump. First of all, how did he make his money, and what kind of skills has he demonstrated, and what was the nature of his deeds? Simply having the money is not impressive by itself, nor is making it. If Trump could indeed make America great again, I'd vote Republican. His career is a long history of enriching himself at the expense of others and not bringing a lot of benefit to his community. When does Trump think about anyone else besides Trump? Never, would be my guess. A Trump Presidency would be rich on self-gratification and self-promotion. Trump has shown himself to be thin-skinned and vengeful, so he would have a lengthy enemies list and punish anyone that said or did the slightest thing against him. He would spend most of his time combing his hair, looking in the mirror, and acting important. Trump does not strike me as particularly intelligent or original. He has street smarts, though, and made short work of the nitwits that the Republicans usually place before voters. Perhaps he is a better choice than they were.

I'd prefer a normal manager-type, one that knows what she is doing and is used to it, like Hillary Clinton. I hope that she does the right thing and selects Bernie Sanders as her running mate. If they have a rocky relationship, so much the better. VPs and Presidents don't have to be best friends, and I think that Hillary would gain credibility by having a prominent and vocal critic in her administration.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Silence


I admire those that have learned to be, or who always were, quiet watchers and listeners. Silence is really underrated. People, politicians and socialites, talk and talk, out of nervousness, anxiety, or boredom, not realizing that in many cases, they help themselves not at all. It best to talk when one has something to say. When one has nothing to say, silence is best. Talkers help their listeners in forming opinions and gathering information. One conserves energy and prestige by saying as little as possible. To observe, retain, and use knowledge is really the way. Except when there is something useful to say, silence is best. Silence has the tacit approval of Tacita.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Tacita


For the most part, we see in this world as through a glass darkly, but to see with clear vision is a gift.

I derived the name of the Goddess from a phrase that came to me in a dream. I did not recognize the phrase as an acrostic until I had turned it over in my mind a hundred times.

What little we know is that the ancient world thought of Tacita as goddess of the dead and importuned her to exact vengeance upon hated enemies.

She does nor preside over, but remembers the dead, who are truly gone. She remembers what was & sees what can be.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Model vs. the Ideal


I compare myself to the ideal, as conceived by me, and come up short. I know there is room for improvement, in areas such as memory and intelligence, and suspect that improvements are the name of the eugenics game being played by modern scientists around the globe. Indeed, who cares about workers and their rights, because the future won't need workers, or at least not as many of them. If H. Sapiens improves (evolves), becoming stronger, more robust, more agile, smarter, and longer-lived, then the world could get by quite well with a tiny fraction of the existing population of workers. How many living people are really required to run a society? That is open to debate, given the emergence of automation and robotics, as well as the possibility of improving human DNA. If future people become capable of living thousands of years or forever, then that is a huge advantage over current models of people. If future people will be ten times smarter than me, then I suppose that people like me can be dispensed with. Of course, that is what has always happened on this planet. H. Sapiens is only the latest iteration of many different models of the walking ape. Maybe there will be a successor created not by evolution but by the laboratory and market forces.

This seems to be the thinking, or rather the deeper, unspoken, secret thinking, behind trends in the world. Technology, philosophy, and economic forces point in the direction I have described. It is not necessarily wrong, even if it is unpleasant and frightening. If the end result is a better H. Sapiens, then perhaps sacrifices need to be made, in terms of quality of life or even life itself. I don't like it, but that seems to be the way that the world is headed, whether I like it or not. I would hope for a gentler transition, but I think that may not be part of the program. One can't count on stability. Stability is a bonus, a prize denied to many of our ancestors.

If I am fortunate, I will survive to an appropriate old age, such as eighty or so, and then cash in my chips, well-liked and well-remembered by those who know me. I hope the economy does not crash, or war break out, or something foolish like that, but one never knows, with Trumps and Putins and Khameinis and Kim Il-Jongs running around in the world stirring up trouble with their nuclear bombs, missiles and tanks, and nasty threats and disregard for others. Many people seem to think that hatred and warfare is the way, and that peace is for sissies, and morality is for losers. The warrior ethos still holds great appeal for wannabe candidates to Valhalla. This may be a fatal flaw in H. Sapiens, given the capabilities of our weapons. Hatred and warfare, so much of it, reinforced over generations. To recover from traumatic violence may require more than one lifetime, and cycles tend to repeat and reinforce.

If I am not fortunate, then that is okay too. I think the world will go on turning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Yes to Tariffs


I do support the idea of tariffs to protect American jobs. Too much is made in China, which seeks to conquer the world, beginning with its backyard. China will soon eclipse the U.S. in economic might, and then the military will follow. We need to add twenty to fifty per cent to the cost of goods manufactured overseas, to encourage companies to manufacture goods in the U.S. If this results in a trade war, then the U.S. will win that war, because it is the largest consumer economy in the world at this time. Another idea would be to include all of North and South America in a development zone that is free trade, and then place a tariff on goods outside of the New World. Just about everything can be produced in the New World. We need to take an interest in our neighbors and friends, rather than enriching future military adversaries like Russia, Iran and China.

The idea that one day, America will be able to compete with China on jobs is ludicrous. China has zero protections for workers and the environment. They will always be cheaper. Either you want an America where your child will grow up to flip burgers at the Waffle Goon, or else you want an America where future generations can get decent jobs that pay well enough to enjoy a good quality of life. It seems pretty simple to me. The only people that benefit from so-called "free trade" are the stockholders in the big corporations. Workers don't see any benefits.

I do realize that slapping tariffs on China would result in a drastic increase in prices for all computer parts and all kinds of other goods. My purchasing power would go down, in the short term. There would be a long period of pain, maybe even a whole lifetime. That would be a price I am willing to pay. One has to think, not just about today, but about fifty years from now. What will America be like? People just don't think about anything other than themselves and today. That is why America is in the situation it is in, where good jobs are hard to find.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Naming a Spirit


Despite my skepticism, it pleases me to experiment with Tyson's as yet unproven hypothesises. Skepticism seems wholesome, robust and right. Morally, I think we should be skeptics about everything, save goodness and love, in which we should be true believers. Credulity is a big problem in H. Sapiens. We must question, or we seem like ants. People will vote for Trump only because they lack skepticism. He is confident, sure. He is more confident than he really should be. Is he right? Is he good? People don't bother to look past the bravado. They want their tribe, Republicanus, to win, and "Trump=Win" seems to be the thought behind all the brouhaha. Well, Hillary is a known quantity and, I suppose, predictable. Boring, I think, is better than Bad. Perhaps people have forgotten. History provides us with many examples. But I digress.

Skepticism seems a tedious pose to maintain long-term among believers, and I feel swamped by believers in various things that don't make much logical or physical sense, and there seems no real harm in indulging in a bit of magic, whereas there would be real harm in supporting a bad politician. So, although I don't believe very much, I suppose I can manage to pretend just a little bit, sure. Perhaps pretending is what this thing is all about.

I shall attempt to take notes of my ongoing experiments. Based upon my reading, I believe imagination may be the best interpretation of what magic is to the believer. Whatever one thinks of, if it seems to arrive from an external source, might be, instead, a communication of sorts or even a divination. Intentions, motivations and environment seem to be relevant. Good attracts good, evil attracts evil, and so on.

Unlike Wiccans, I do not place much stock in rituals, spells or suchlike, which strike me as silly and ridiculous, especially in this modern age. It seems like so much nonsense and rather debasing and primitive. If Tyson felt free to deviate from tradition, then why not deviate further, and dispense with much of the nonsense, forging one's own way, provided it seems right or makes sense to the user. One seeks a dignified and original approach. After all, languages and cultures vary, and so too will words, inflections and practices, so I don't think any of that matters very much. Thoughts matter, if anything, but not specific formulas of words or marks. Tyson's treatise on sigils gave the game away. None of that really matters. The sole purpose is to inculcate patterns of thought in the user. That can be done with or without sigils, and the shape of the marks clearly is irrelevant.

I have thought about certain words that seem interesting or meaningful. The first name that occurred to me was Fra. It is convenient to have a monosyllabic handle, no? This is in accord with Tyson's recommendation to have a name for one's familiar. Apparently, it is possible to manufacture one.

A second word, Mishante, occurred to me whilst walking in the rain, and may or may not be a name. I think, rather than a name, it may be a subject and an action verb, as in, "I sing," or "Me chantez," which is poor French grammar. It could also be m├ęchant, or wicked, but that is a depressing and paranoid thought and not at all what I felt when the word occurred to me, for I felt good then, even though it was raining. The rain does not bother me. I like walking, and I did have an umbrella after all. I prefer the "Me chantez" interpretation, because rain is the way that water "sings", and presumably Fra is of water, so there is a bit of poetry from Brother Fra.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Veneration for Things Ancient


I'm dismayed by a certain writer's reverence for the ancientry, their practices and beliefs. We moderns have, most of us, concluded that our ancestors were wrong about a great many things. And in any event, whether they were correct in any specific instance, there is no question but that modern, Western societies are nicer places to live than ancient kingdoms. I would not want to go back two thousand years. Ancient people hurt others for little or no reason and waged war as a regular profession. Cruelty was commonplace. Everything was the fault of invisible demons or gods or spirits, and people were afraid of the dark and did not understand anything about science. Ignorance was rampant, reason in short supply, and people died for stupid reasons.

Also, our ancients were not that old, in the cosmic sense. Ten thousand years is not really all that much compared to the age of the planet we live on. What reason have we to suppose that there was anything the ancients knew that we do not? What sort of advantage accrued to the practitioners of magic? We do not today see any on the public stage. Why should they hide, and why should they be in the minority, if their practices work, even in some small way? These questions should occur to anyone that reads about magic. If magic were a really useful thing, would we not learn about in school?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Donald Tyson's Sexual Alchemy


I suspect people dabble in magic to horrify the orthodoxy. Christians seem upset by mentions of witchcraft, fearing it comes from the Devil. The Islamists behead people for witchery, along with a thousand other supposed crimes. The Jews, who knows? They invented the Kaballah back in the day. But most modern Jews are probably amused by witchcraft and don't take it seriously. There really is not a clear Jewish position on magic.

I think witchcraft comes from foolishness, not the Devil. I don't believe in the Devil, but if he does exist, then he is a rather weak and unimpressive bogey. I quit believing in the Devil around the age of thirteen. It is an easy matter to establish whether the Devil or any other entity has real power and authority in the world. Invoke the thing by name, and if it does not appear, insult it. Nothing happen? Fine, then you know the thing is the fantasy of shaman from long ago.

I've been browsing Donald Tyson's book on sexual alchemy, in which he discusses how to attract and recruit a spirit lover, presumably, one that has no material existence in the world as we know it. One never really knows what is meant by the word "spirit" or "spiritual" when it is bandied about by those who really believe. I am not sure Tyson knows what is meant by the word "spirit," either. He seems unperturbed by pesky logic.

Tyson lays out an intricate system for harnessing magic. He is rather vague on material results, but who cares about the material world, anyway? He does not promise material results--a wise and prudent move on his part as a writer, because in my opinion, there will be none. Instead, he talks about communing with spiritual entities and traveling through the astral plane, which is a more achievable goal for the self-deluded. For me, airplanes are more effective than the astral plane. Magic seems like a mind-trip people indulge for pleasure and amusement. If it were effective, then we would all use it, not only lonely dabblers in the dark. It is not prejudice or close-mindedness that keeps us from magic. Magic does not work. Even if magic worked a little bit, people would use it. People use software all the time that doesn't work that great. We don't expect miracles, but need to see a little bit of benefit in this world, not the imaginary world.

As for Tyson, I can't help but feel like he is in magic for profit. People want to achieve power beyond the human capability, so they buy his books, because he promises that the process is easy and just requires certain rituals and a lot of patience, I assume a lifetime of patience, because nothing will happen in a whole lifetime spent dabbling in magic. He explains a complicated system, which fills up hundreds of pages to the end of his book, and then counsels patience. Clever, no? He regurgitates a mixed salad of superstition from the ages: astrology, mythology, the Kaballah, and who knows what else, flaunting his knowledge to establish himself as an authority on magic. I suppose this is pointed at other magicians, who might dismiss Tyson if he didn't know all of the lore they knew, but might accept him if he reveals things they did not know. If someone believes all of that and takes it seriously, then by the time they reach his book's end, they will have invested a lot of time learning and constructing their own reality with his ideas. I think magic only works when people believe in it. Thus, it is the same as any other delusion, such as religion. I do not think that Tyson can achieve power or knowledge over me or anyone else by using only magic. If only the world were that simple, then life would be easy indeed. The Tysons of the world are these romantics that hope human beings are more powerful, and human life more meaningful, than it really is. In reality, we are numbers generated by other numbers, and math is at the heart of the cosmos and explains everything. Magic appeals to those befuddled by arid, difficult math, like Tyson, because it is easier and more accessible.

Magical practice can transform the self, like any other exercise that people do, but whether for good or ill depends upon the nature of the practice. I do think there are odd things in life that beg explanation. We do not understand them yet, but magic is not an optimal hypothesis. Old gods and demons are not the answer. The lore of the ancients can be discarded. Direct experience and experimentation is the way. That which is called a goddess, what is it really but a facet of ourselves, and why should we not call it by another name?
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions