EH&D 6

Friday 1 August 2014 2 comments

(This is a serialization of the draft for my book, Expectations, Hopes and Dreams. Regular readers will recognize this as a rewrite of a previous post.)

Leverage

I mentioned previously the concept of recognizing the authority of others over us in varying degrees. The same concept applies to us in living out our own life narratives. We have to replace the shadows of Western mythology about authority with something more consistent with how we are actually wired.

Revelation teaches us that changing human behavior requires leverage. Any leverage we might have comes from God alone. God may permit humans to chase a lot of different approaches for gaining leverage, but His moral character restricts His servants to voluntary leverage that depends on His Spirit. It’s a question of dominion and boundaries authorized by God. If someone voluntarily enters your domain, you have only so much leverage as they surrender. We bear the burden of negotiating leverage and boundaries.

There are thresholds in the Spirit Realm not easily discerned by flesh. We are warned to keep in our mental awareness that there may come a time when we will be forced to defend our boundaries. There are no simple rules; this is one of the most difficult areas for the mind to grasp in God’s moral character.

What is not difficult to grasp is that the vast majority of what humans do stands in stark violation of God’s moral justice. If you follow any logic except that of the Spirit Realm, you cannot fail to offend God’s moral character. It’s not so much the particulars as the failure to consider the authority of revelation in the first place. If we embrace His revelation, the Spirit of God fills up the things we lack, and heals our injustice.

There remains for us a state of tension in this world. On one level we are to maintain a fierce loyalty to our Lord in all things, even as we recognize we have precious little moral leverage in a fallen world. We trust Him for the difference and seek what few opportunities we have to bring Him glory.

The Western obsession with “teaching them a lesson” is rooted in evil. The flesh imagines that it has leverage and can compel some “proper” behavior, even to the point of compelling “proper” thinking. That’s a demonic mythology. Your children are under your dominion by virtue of birth, a dominion steadily decreasing as they age; the rest of the world is on its own before God. Your only real authority from God is exclusion of those who refuse to cooperate with His calling and mission in your life.

How you exercise that mandate of exclusion is always subject to the vagaries of context. Your actual power to exclude may be highly constrained. You cannot demand that fallen souls understand your calling from God. There is a sense in which you cannot expect fallen souls to understand anything that matters. If you have a talent for explaining, use it. Pray and strive to have some kind of answer. Otherwise, be prepared to remain silent as a lamb before its shearers. The only people who can really understand much at all are those to whom God has granted some measure of enlightenment. You can speak only to what little they may have.

Nor are you required to succeed at every defense of your dominion. Rather, it is the attempt, the determination to please God, that matters most. It remains in His hands to enable any measure of success. Sometimes you know you have to grab the whip, as Jesus did in the Temple. Sometimes you seize your own Cross. The ultimate victory is leaving this life, not controlling events within it.

CentOS 7: Virtual Box VM

Thursday 31 July 2014 Leave a comment

Folks, this is how it’s done.

Oracle may not be our favorite company, but this is one thing you will not want to miss: Oracle’s Virtual Box VM. It’s free.

You’ll find the user manual is quite in-depth. Here are the installation instructions. Keep a link to the manual itself in case you need some help on things. What follows is a quick-n-dirty HOWTO.

You will need to install the kernel-devel package and all the dependencies. You’ll also need the dkms from EPEL, so be sure to enable that respository. What dkms does is allow kernel modules to follow updates to newer kernels.

Download the correct version of Virtual Box; it will list CentOS 7 with a link to the RPM. You’ll need your root credentials to install using Yum on the CLI. What happens is that the package builds itself on your machine and creates several kernel modules. It will take a good long while as the system is quite busy in the background.

I got errors from SELinux about attempts by ldconfig to write to some directory. You’ll have them show up in little GUI popups and on the console after it’s installed you’ll see this:

Trying to register the VirtualBox kernel modules using DKMSldconfig: Can't create temporary cache file /etc/ld.so.cache~: Permission denied
ldconfig exited ungracefully
ldconfig: Can't create temporary cache file /etc/ld.so.cache~: Permission denied
ldconfig exited ungracefully
ldconfig: Can't create temporary cache file /etc/ld.so.cache~: Permission denied
ldconfig exited ungracefully

So far as I can tell, it has no effect on the outcomes, so just be aware that this represents how strongly SELinux protects you from unwanted changes to your system.

Also notice the message about adding your user account to the vboxusers group. While still logged in as root, simply edit the file /etc/group. Scroll down to the last item on the list, which should be vboxusers and simply add your user account name at the end of the line.

Launch from the main menu: System > Oracle VM Virtual Box. Upon first running the thing you’ll discover this is a very intelligent tool and much easier to use than Qemu.

You create the machine first and get it running before you install. I didn’t think 192MB was enough RAM for Windows XP. Depending on your system, you may not be able to give your VM multiple cores on the CPU. If you can’t, you’ll get errors about not having AMD-V enabled in the BIOS. My Win8 laptop was like that. However, I was able to link the machine to my own home folders right from the start; I selected the automount option and browsed to a Projects folder where I need to use MS Office. You really need to take your time and explore the various options in this manager window.

The display is considerably less laggy than Qemu. Once you install the Guest Additions, it becomes even less so. You can fix a lot of niggling issues like display, making your VM respond automatically to window resizing and such. Under the VM menu, see “Devices” and select the last item at the bottom to automatically mount the virtual ISO image and get those extra drivers so that everything can be smooth and unified in use.

A very handy feature is the row of icons across the lower right side of the window when the VM is running. You can connect and disconnect from the host USB, CD/DVD drives, etc. with ease. From the menu, you can elect to connect or disconnect things like the network connection. So you can, for example, keep your vulnerable XP VM from the Internet.

It’s pretty easy to export your VMs and reimport them on other machines running Virtual Box.

EH&D 5

Thursday 31 July 2014 Leave a comment

(This is a serialization of the draft for my book, Expectations, Hopes and Dreams.)

It’s Personal

Turn on the TV at the appointed time and you will see this talented, experienced, perhaps even charismatic newsreader offering you a dose of journalistic narrative.

These people have to eat, you know. Did you pay for this presentation to come into your presence? Maybe you bought the equipment for viewing, funded the electricity required to operate it, and maybe even a bit more for the transmission over a wire or satellite receiver. That newsreader gets none of that. Their pay comes from the journalistic enterprise that organizes this presentation, often as a subsidiary of some broadcast company.

Those companies in turn get their money from advertisers. But then, the whole thing is regulated to some degree, so there are more controls and inputs. Yet the newsreader pretends that he is merely offering a digest of significant events of the day that might affect you. Of course, on another channel or through a different medium, you’ll get an equally charismatic newsreader to report the same exact events with a totally different narrative.

Both pretend to observe the same professional journalistic standards, but any given viewer might decide that one or both is a liar.

The presentation itself has become a ritual in our society. Changing the music, the graphics and the mood on the set, along with the intonation and word choices of the newsreader, plus that all important facial expression and camera angle, can push the meaning of any give story all over the political map. Some of us recognize that the very choice of what stories to run is also a measure of the agenda, but at some point we all agree to give it our attention. It has somehow become the expected thing all decent people do.

“Don’t you watch the news?” The question itself is a narrative loaded with manipulation. And if you simply read the news in print or online, you are trading a face you can see for one you cannot. Everything else is the same pretense of journalistic integrity.

Introducing third parties between you and the events of real life does not make it a more accurate narrative. The truism — “everybody is looking for something” — was commonly used well before it was added to popular song lyrics. Your science teacher was supposed to have engaged in enough lab experience to gain a sense of what was accurate or useful theory, but then was probably handed a curriculum shot through with a political agenda. Sometimes it’s not even subtle. If your teacher prefers his job over the alternatives, he’ll stick to the script closely enough to avoid being fired. So even your amateur student lab experience was tainted by a broad set of controls that excluded factors politically inconvenient for those in charge.

Most of us are not cynical enough, not by a long shot.

We should not be manipulated into seeking some mythical body of truth, but only a tolerable truce with all the various political agendas. If you don’t seek to build your own personal agenda, you’ll end up swallowing a mixed bag of pieces from others. If you don’t have your own personal narrative, you can’t be a person. You will merely be a reflection of one or more other persons and repeat their narratives. The pretense of objectivity is just an excuse to enslave you to a narrative shared by however many agree to the standard. Even if it’s the majority of the human race, it’s still just a collection of godlings enabling each other to quash any narrative they don’t like.

Evidence can be faked. Photographs and videos are now easily altered, but it has always been possible with the right equipment and talent. If you weren’t there, you will have to decide whether the reports are accurate, valid or even important to you. If you were there, you’d be a fool not to question your own senses and logic to some degree. Computers and pure math? If you don’t understand it well enough to formulate it on your own, what difference does it make? You can’t verify what you are told; you still have to take someone’s word for it. Computer experts and even mathematicians are looking for something.

In the end, you still have to operate by your own narrative. It’s very personal.

CentOS 7: QEMU

Wednesday 30 July 2014 Leave a comment

Install a Windows VM on CentOS/RHEL 7 using QEMU — this is the hard way.

VMware won’t build properly on CentOS 7 and all of the suggest fixes failed. The simplest answer is using the included virtual machine, QEMU.

See this quickstart guide first. Sadly, they don’t tell you to install libvirt:

yum install libvirt

Then, turn on the libvirt service:

systemctl enable libvirtd.service
systemctl start libvirtd.service

It still won’t run properly, so reboot!

Whatever OS you wish to install, extract an ISO image from CD/DVD. This way you won’t have to fight permissions. This is true of everything you want to use with your VM. There are various ways to pull off the CD/DVD into an ISO.

Sine I’m running KDE, it’s simplest to use K3B. Select the option to copy your CD/DVD and on the “Options” tab, check the box for “Only create image.” Also, click the “Image” tab because you may want to move the image from the default location up in the /tmp/ directory. Click the folder icon button and select someplace like your home folder.

When you open the Qemu manager (in the main menu under “System > Virtual Machine Manager”) you’ll be prompted for root credentials. It won’t run in user mode.

I didn’t have much luck installing XP; it kept hanging and entering a race condition. Win2K worked fine for this experiment.

Click the button for a new machine. Give it a name like “win2k”. Select to install from “Local install media” then on the next tab choose “ISO image” and navigate to where you had K3B save it. Select OS type and version. I had to tell Qemu to show me all the options for Windows before it listed “Windows 2000″.

The defaults for RAM and CPU are okay, but you can double the CPU if your machine actually has two or more cores and you think you’ll need it. The defaults for storage are probably fine unless you know you need a big storage space.

The rest is a matter of having installed Windows a time or two. There may be some errors flash on the screen at times, but unless they persist, they don’t mean anything. Play with the settings; I found the Cirrus display gave me a lot more screen real estate.

Qemu is downright cranky and sometimes cryptic. I had to manually tell it to add a USB passthrough option so I could connect a jump drive to the VM. Unlike other VMs, Qemu will not make it easy to link the VM to your host file system. You’d have to run a file server (Samba for Windows VMs) and connect through the virtual network link. Worst of all, it takes lots of system resources to run any 32-bit VM and it’s quite laggy, so if you intend to use it a lot, you’ll have to be ready for that. I don’t recommend Qemu for Windows VMs.

EH&D 4

Wednesday 30 July 2014 Leave a comment

(This is a serialization of the draft for my book, Expectations, Hopes and Dreams.)

It’s People

People cannot give you objective truth, only their own experience of it. That was inherent in my caveat at the beginning of this book. I’m inviting you to share some part of my experience and I make no pretense of objectivity. Instead, I openly confess to characterizing things.

We can characterize our experience of other humans in this world in the sense that we react to others on three basic levels. Some people are significant to us, demanding a sizable chunk of our attention. It won’t matter whether the interactions are negative or positive, only that it consumes our attention. Others are useful but not really a part of our lives. Again, there may be fondness or dislike, but their individual significance in our existence isn’t that great because they are interchangeable on some level. Beyond that, most of humanity is just that — humanity at large and of no personal significance.

This is entirely normal. It’s not a moral valuation of other folks, but a simple matter of our own personal limits. We don’t have the energy and resources to address more than a certain amount of humanity at any given time. We can’t invest deep personal value in every human, so we should not try. Otherwise, we end up feeling guilty about things that we cannot possibly change.

It also has nothing to do with objective facts. We cannot usefully address anything until we shed the chains of our mythology. Don’t confuse a genuine capacity for empathy with some false moral burden of valuing every human life. The latter leads only to a frantic chase to sacrifice our very selves for nothing. We come to the point we must use the language of not caring again, because despite the richness of our tongue, we have allowed manipulators to hijack the narrative. Let’s break that spell and tell ourselves first quite bluntly: Human life has no intrinsic worth.

Let’s replace it with something better: Every human you encounter has potential value. Not for the fact they exist, but their value arises from the encounter. God becomes the ultimate Real Person for us and we adopt His viewpoint of humanity. Lacking His divine insight into individuals, we simply wait until He reveals to us how we should interact with each one. We can even extend this into the virtual world, though any virtual encounter must shed many of the cues we use to guide how we engage them. Note: If the encounter is one-sided, with no real interaction, that other cannot be for us more than merely useful. They cannot be a real person for us unless we are for them.

That is, unless we want to invest that person with a broad authority in our lives. It’s too easy to turn a one-way commitment into a religion, making the other an object of idolatry. That way lies madness. Humans aren’t deities, nor are imaginary constructs that serve as objects of devotion. Still, there is a sane way to recognize authority.

Everyone serves someone. Most of us serve a lot of someones, which tends to dilute our loyalty and confuse things greatly. We aren’t wired to answer simultaneously to a dozen chiefs with functionally equivalent authority. We can give each one a limited and somewhat distinct dominion within the whole, but we can’t even split our genuine loyalty between two without suffering serious internal damage.

The sane approach is conditional loyalty, contextual obedience with an assurance we must endure the ire of folks who imagine they own more of us than we can give. You probably realize that such problems arise when other folks perceive us as less than fully human. There is a broad evil in our society which cripples the meaning of human significance and perverts human relations by encouraging people to elevate themselves to something they are not.

Inherent in Western Civilization is the elevation of some imaginary standard of reason and logic which serves only as a proxy for the self. In other words, we are taught to make ourselves gods with no equals in humanity, using the excuse that our logic is pure and objective, in theory at least.

We end up with the false notion that things people say are either truth or lies, when virtually all we see and experience is some mixture of both. Even that is misleading, since objective truth does not exist in any useful meaning of the concept. Rather, everyone is sharing their narratives.

While we will surely encounter folks who are consistent only in getting us into trouble, it’s totally wrong and unnatural to classify people simply as liars or truth tellers. That’s unfair to our own human existence, never mind unfair to other humans in general. Lumping people together as the opposition in some particular conflict is where we surrender to unjustified hatred. Thus, we are easily polarized because we insist some communication is either true or false. Even if we discern the difference between fact and falsehood within a statement, that someone would offer a mixed bag like that makes them a liar and an enemy to our Western minds.

It’s not a sane way to operate, in that it ensures we are easily enslaved by those who are talented manipulators. We end up leaving the decision of commitment and service to folks who consider us cattle at best.

EH&D 3

Tuesday 29 July 2014 Leave a comment

(This is a serialization of the draft for my book, Expectations, Hopes and Dreams.)

Labels

Most people who know English agree that our language offers a very wide range of subtle flavorings. Our words can be used to paint exquisite images with both artistry and precision. Yet, most people prefer to use that flexibility for deception.

The only reason deception is possible on such a grand scale and with such depth is because of a basic deception about language itself. A primary expectation in the West is that language is meant to convey facts. It can be done to some degree, but this is not the default in our human wiring. Without conscious consideration, we assume that language is supposed to convey an honest report of the speaker’s mind. It’s not that we are unaware of lying, but that we tend to think of accuracy and deception both on the same level in the most simplistic terms.

That is not how we are wired. The fundamental purpose of human communication is conveying meaning in far more subtle and imprecise terms. The default use of language is to tell a story, not factually, but in terms of the impact it had on the narrator. Humans are generally incapable of factual accuracy. We can approach it only when we don’t have any real interest beyond truth itself. Bringing ourselves to that point requires far more than any book, or even a whole shelf of books, can convey.

The problem goes to the very fundamental core programming of our thoughts and assumptions about reality. I contend that this can be fixed, but that it is a task far larger than most people would imagine. Not only are we burdened with a wealth of false assumptions about reality, but we are burdened with a mythology about how marvelous and perfect is our mythology.

Because we believe language is meant to convey facts, and that we are wired to rise to a pure rational response to those facts, we are unable to notice what is actually going on in our subconscious processing. Whether or not our abusers are consciously aware of the process, they are at least well-trained monkeys performing according to what their owners reward, however imperfectly. They feed us carefully disguised lies knowing that we will react as if they had shared a narrative filled with personal meaning.

As social creatures, we are predisposed to merge our lives with others in a given context. We don’t enjoy protracted isolation, so we look for something familiar in others. If you feel what I feel, you are likely to act somewhat as I act. If I can persuade you by narrative to feel a particular way, you’ll tend to act on those feelings. Labeling does not convey facts, but a wealth of totally non-factual information. That is how it is supposed to work. That’s how we are wired and it really makes a big difference if this is what we learn to expect. It’s not a question of believing the person or their words, per se, but of granting a measure of personal loyalty regardless of facts.

In the first place, none of us can possibly obtain a pure and undefiled experience with reality. One writer described our memory as a tape recording with multiple parallel tracks. We experience reality as the passing of time in a particular sequence. Our five senses compose a record of varying width depending on how developed our sensory perception is. But however much of the space on that memory tape is dedicated to the sensory data, our feelings about that experience is geometrically larger in our memories. We humans are incapable of disconnecting that huge experiential factor of emotional evaluation no matter how hard we try.

More, what we might imagine as the proper approach to minimizing the emotional connection of our sensory experiences is based on totally flawed assumptions. We believe we can teach ourselves to be objective, but that effort is diluted by the degree to which we are interested in the experience in the first place. It’s not possible to be objective about something that consumes much of your time and energy.

So, no two of us experience reality in precisely the same way. If you and I were best friends and we passed through life in each other’s back pockets, as it were, we would find ourselves pulled in two directions. On the one hand, to the degree we feel it’s in our best interest to do so, we will tend to merge our personalities and experiences. But in the full tilt of our human natures, we will also make note on some level of things that simply cannot be shared. In the most guttural terms, we cannot both have the same orgasm at the same time. The human state forcibly individualizes us, something we desperately try to ignore at times.

What should scare us is how thoroughly a false experience can be implanted in folks who aren’t aware it is happening. For with that false experience comes all the attendant feelings and commitments. Thus, we come to know things we cannot possibly have experienced, but it seems to us subjectively as all too real. It actually requires some talent and training to avoid this in our Western world.

Meanwhile, we cannot see how this conditioning is actually a normal result of Western mythology. If we had built an intellectual tradition that assumed conditional perception and narrative, we would be much more free to evaluate things differently. We would be less likely to respond with such depth of passion to labels people throw at us in an attempt to manipulate our behavior.

EH&D 2

Monday 28 July 2014 Leave a comment

(This is a serialization of the draft for my book, Expectations, Hopes and Dreams.)

Grabbing You by the Throat

“Oh my God!”

Her eyes weeping, she put her hand against her lips, knuckles folded. On the screen just across the small room from her was a scene of horrific human suffering. Bombs falling and debris flying, bodies stumbling and falling, blood gushing — all crying out that she must do something!

The propagandists had succeeded. It mattered not which side she took from their point of view; the neighbors next door were weeping at the same sort of scene viewed from the other side in the conflict as they watched on their own screen a broadcast from other propagandists. While each side in this conflict had their respective propagandists pushing their agenda, what lay behind their partisan efforts was another rank of manipulators hoping very much that people would care deeply one way or another.

Not that anyone in the background actually gave a damn about the human suffering on either side, because you can be sure there was enough hatred to go around. That was the whole point: stirring up strife to keep the masses distracted. Those not directly involved should be made to feel it vicariously.

I’m not suggesting that we should stop caring. The problem is the structure and the packaging in which that caring comes wrapped. It’s entirely natural in our context that any reminder of human mortality should shake us. The problem comes in how we allow others to steer the energy that arises from it.

Keeping you tied emotionally to one side or the other will make you a slave. Even keeping you worried about warfare itself, as if we could somehow wish it away, makes you a slave. As long as you are emotionally committed to something that you cannot possibly control, you cannot be free to think and act realistically.

They have stolen your EH&D by suckering you into investing that energy in something you cannot possibly own. For those of us who begin to escape, we often use the language of not caring as a means of contrast. The language of caring has been so thoroughly hijacked that we struggle to find the means to express sanity.

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