First, be warned: It takes forever, over an hour. That’s about what it took to install Vista in the first place. Naturally I haven’t had much time to play around with it, but I want to note it’s much better looking than Vista. There are quite a few more Aero themes and they work better. The taskbar is much improved, and I’m impressed with the better visuals. I like having the widgets on the desktop background directly. The Dell free Win7 Upgrade Program is well worth hunting down if you have enough machine to make it go.
So far, all the programs I’ve added work as expected. I can’t detect anything different in terms of speed, though I am assured the underlying processing takes less time on most machines. A few programs seem to pop open just a bit quicker, and I believe it boots just a wee bit faster, but this is a fairly healthy mess of hardware to begin with (Inspiron 545 MT). I don’t see Firefox locking up so often.
A few of the standard programs appear differently when you first see them. When I dropped in a music CD, I was surprised Media Player was just a tiny square, which is fine. By default, the open windows are marked on the toolbar with a mere icon. You get the option to right-click to add the program to the toolbar directly. A lot of the old paradigms are gone like that. I suppose the only thing I’ve missed so far is the old-style view of the Control Panel. It appears some of the original functions are gone by default.
So on the one hand, the appearance defaults are a little nicer, and it would seem almost everyone says it runs much better than the previous, but a few more items are taken out of the users’ hands. It remains to be seen if there are any work-arounds for some of those imperfections. Either way, I’m still glad I upgraded.
The pendulum swings relentlessly.
We have seen over the course of history when, coming out of the Slough of Despond, someone manages to rise up and push for what’s right. At least, as far as we can tell. So they build up some momentum, and things look good for awhile. In the past it took a few generations, but these days it’s much quicker. Eventually, greed gets a foothold and the whole thing goes downhill until we are back at the Slough of Despond. There are mega-cycles and mini-cycles, too, but trends aren’t that hard to spot when you find some place to stand outside of the mess.
Right now, the West in general, and America in particular, are way out on the swing toward greed. That is, almost everything we expect to see enforced in laws is not, unless it pays. The few things vigorously enforced are those which benefit the greedy. Less and less of the pretense is put up, as the facade is coming off. So don’t expect anything resembling common justice unless you get it yourself. That’s really sad.
A really good example of this is highlighted in the film, Food, Inc. Just a tiny handful of mega-corporations own all food production in the US, and they own all the enforcement of food regulation, too. The deck is stacked against actual good nutrition. For example, it is almost impossible to buy anything with corn or soy which isn’t GMO. And it’s almost impossible to buy anything at all which doesn’t include corn or soy.
The only light in the darkness of this picture is the rising organic food industry. Yes, it’s an industry. And it’s being bought up by the same handful of big food makers. But you can, if you work hard at it, find a few who haven’t sold their souls. That is, the product which began as a tiny little operation of true believers may still be the same product. It usually costs more.
Which simply points out the greed of the victims. Were it not for the fierce demand food be fast, convenient and cheap, those major conglomerates would have never made it that far. Of course, the biggest problem in this formula is the demand for cheap. We aren’t willing to pay what things naturally cost, so someone else obligingly leaps on that and builds a business. It grows, and there is the natural demand for uniformity, which makes food a “product” as opposed to something natural. Once those vendors get big enough, they realize the only way to stay on top is to control everything in the business. That means keeping you from ever considering how messed up the whole situation is.
Frankly, the sin is ours, but now it’s out of our hands. The movie tries to portray the notion you can demand a change and get it, but don’t count on that. You can scarcely find that a copy of that movie in the first place. Would you have heard of it any place else? Sure, but only if you look for that sort of thing in the first place.
At any rate, the pendulum swings. Very soon, the whole system will collapse and many of us will likely face starvation, because we have entirely far too much invested in the current system. There are a few limited opportunities to fix this mess before it collapses, but I would be totally amazed if we even notice them, much less availed ourselves of them as a nation. No, we’ll let the pendulum swing back the other way before we catch on, and then we’ll slowly adjust and maybe, just maybe, push aside the greed and do what’s right. For awhile.
I went to high school in the early 1970s, mostly in Alaska. We had hippies up there, but it was hard to tell them from rural residents who weren’t native. The antiwar stuff was more a matter of fashion for most kids, but we had some who were serious about it. Along with that were the population fear mongers, anti-pollution freaks, climate change folks, and dopers. Oh yeah — climate change meant fearing global cooling.
Some things weren’t really a problem. Population, as Crichton shows, was already on the decline. Protests against the “population bomb” were utterly misplaced. The anti-war folks were generally correct, but I’m not really sure they had that much do with our the US actually leaving SE Asia. We lost on the ground, and I simply don’t believe some of the bogus recriminations about how we lost it here first. We never should have been there in the first place, so if that’s the case, we should be protesting again.
Pollution was an issue, and still is, but Crichton is completely wrong about pharmaceuticals — they have already been shown a serious danger. Industrial pollution we are reducing, not a moment too soon, and not nearly in enough places. And Chernobyl is hardly a non-issue. I sincerely hope we learned our lesson there. Nuclear technology is hardly that safe. It can be done, but most governments tend to lavish such things with neglect. Only rarely do people in power actually care about their fellow humans, so we can expect more disasters, such as Yellowstone.
But the new fear of global warming was never anything but pure hogwash, an attempt at watermelon politics: green is the color you see, but it’s pure red murderous communism inside. It remains a profit seeking, fear mongering power grab, and humanity be damned. Instead, it seems the old fears of ice ages were accurate. But that doesn’t mean burning petroleum isn’t harmful on the scale we now do it. It may not kill us all, but the long term effects are dismissed by the heedless masses.
Still, I am much more concerned with something deeper. All of the above would never be an issue if we simply lived by God’s Laws. It’s the moral pollution which will kill us first.
I suppose it’s possible you haven’t heard about the exposé of the climate scientist’s email and documents. In essence, someone scooped up a copy of lots of private email between some climate guys, along with documents and some software code, all of which indicates these climate guys were lying about what their studies indicated about climate trends. They have been saying all along we are headed for global warming, and they further wish to blame humanity for it. They honestly expect us to believe somehow what we are doing is producing way too much carbon dioxide, and it’s causing the planet to change somewhat, rather like a greenhouse. Or something equally stupid.
There have been thousands of blog posts about it, so I won’t even bother to link. Just search for “climategate” using any Internet search engine. By the way, the college is in the UK, but it’s getting tons of funding from the US taxpayers.
The first point is this: The fraud has been exposed. Most of the secret exchanges would be quite different in tone and content if their work had any integrity. Some of their exchanges made clear they were hiding information, twisting other information, doing their darnedest to make it say what they wanted it to say. Then there was the software code, which was a huge tangled mess, say coders, because the author was participating in making the computers produce more lies about climate change. So, what’s really going on is the climate is cooling. We are headed for an ice age, if anything.
The second point is this: The exposure of fraud won’t make any difference. Powerful forces are too deeply invested in the climate lies, and will simply act as if nothing happened. Truth, facts, and what we all know, matters not a whit to them. You and I will be forced to live as if the climate lies are true.
It makes me very sad. If we think about this, we realize the only way to stop this madness is to kill an awful lot of bad people. Of course, you may realize they would certainly not hesitate to kill you and I. But perhaps you also know the vast majority of the human race would prefer to swallow this crap because it means somewhere in there is also their favorite drug. They don’t have to face reality; that’s someone else’s problem. They get whatever drug makes them happy — literal or figurative — and stick their fingers in their ears. They don’t hear the truth because it costs too much.
Don’t look for a popular uprising.
Last year’s trail lay fallow this summer due to the massive infestation of deer ticks. Now that cooler nights have returned, they aren’t so fierce. I went back out over the past few weeks and began clearing afresh.
Aside from a couple of trees down across the trail, it was mostly cutting back the sprouts in the woods. Primarily vines and underbrush, it didn’t really take all that long. In the open areas, it was quite arduous, as it meant mowing with a machete. However, I have already gone past where I was forced to stop last year.
This year, instead of following the old grassy draw, I’ll be heading the trail back into the woods on the east side of the draw. This will put it on higher ground. The draw is a natural water course during heavy rains. Thus, we can have the majority of the trail in sloping ground without so much water-logging of the soil.
It’s at least a half-mile I’ll be cutting through the woods, so it may be slow going for awhile. This year I’m making sure it’s plenty wide enough for the bicycle.
At first, it was just Cream. I really started liking the extravagant syntax highlighting for my XHTML files. But I never could quite get some of those really off-the-wall keys strokes, even with Cream. Then I spent some time just running on the Linux console, and it became just about necessary to run Vim for posting on my blogs. You see, it’s about the only text editor which can be set to soft-wrap on the console.
Finally, I got tired of Linux and started using the Windows which came on my computer from the vendor. But I still needed that really good editor power. So I got Cream again, but it wasn’t quite right. Finally, I decided to “go naked” and run Vim itself.
Now, with Vista 64-bit, it’s sometimes tricky to get stuff working just right. So I decided to try the Google Code project for Vim-Win64. Even better, it’s the very latest release of Vim 7.2.
It took some doing to get things the way I need them. For my text and XHTML files I always set the hard wrap for 72. And I love having spell check on the fly. And automated filetype detection with syntax highlighting. And I got it.
Now all I have to do is keep that cue card handy, because that remains some of the weirdest keystrokes for someone coming from other text editors.
Fortis was thinking how the situation resembled a child starting life over with an adult’s awareness. “How badly was the ship damaged?”
George grinned. “Should you stay with us long enough, and tolerate the travel, you will get a chance to see it yourself. The place was not level ground, but we were too high above it for the standard thrusters to do more than slow our descent some. The landing gear collapsed on the high side, though, and the whole thing leaned into the slope. The hull was breached where it struck the rocky ground, since even such an old ship was not built to withstand much physical impact.”
Fortis remembered the business about energy emissions not working on the planet. “So the impact resistant field generator failed?”
“Completely,” George said, shaking his head back and forth. “The generator was working, but there was no field.”
Fortis was puzzled. “My own ship does not have the old thruster technology, so I assumed it used the levitation field. Am I mistaken?”
George shrugged. “Most likely your ship had the beacon’s data about the exact depth of our cloud layer here at the pole. The military surveyor who visited us last used a ship with extensive failsafe landing capabilities, as most military ships do. I suppose he made note of the depth in his update of the beacon. Departure is much simpler, because it’s not based on fields, but on something else entirely.
“At any rate, our ship landed at the edge of the desert belt girdling our planet. According to our religion, the whole thing was miraculous. We couldn’t leave because the ship was damaged and our alternative thrust system was spent. In the middle of the desert, we would have died before we could find our way to greener lands. But in the middle of the greener lands were predators we could not fight at that time, since all we had were useless energy weapons. And in the northern hemisphere it’s all small rocky islands. Our ship would not have floated. Instead, we crash landed on the one place where conditions allowed us the most time to orient ourselves to the situation.
“Equally significant was the good fortune of having the one and only retired engineer with a collection of museum pieces he wasn’t supposed to bring. Hand tools, of all things. It’s not as if nothing electronic works here. Wherever there is a close circuit for electrons to flow through solids, it’s just fine. But we can’t generate anything in the air, aside from the visible spectrum. Well, just a little into the ultraviolet and infrared, but not far enough for something like a laser, even.”
Fortis thought for a moment. “So computers work, as I’ve already noted in my ship, because they are solid nano-circuitry. And you can create heat and light, and use powered tools, but how do you generate sufficient voltage?”
George gestured at the glowing patches on the tent ceiling. “The lighting is a coating extracted from insects. What powers it is the entire tent. It’s outer surface is coated with a modified native mildew. It doesn’t eat the tent material, but consumes what little energy comes through our cloud layer. It’s enough to light the patches, heat the water for tea, and in while, help prepare lunch.”
Fortis realized he was already hungry. It was one of the drawbacks of visiting other planets, because it meant shifting his circadian rhythm, but there was no way to avoid it. “Did you have the means to generate food, as most humans do these days, or have you found the local flora and fauna edible?”
George laughed, tipping his head back. “When we left Terra, most humans were still eating plants and animals in one form or another. We had learned about advances in artificial replacements much later. Again, fortunate it was for us what grows here was compatible to human biology. However, it took many years of serious health troubles to discover the absolute necessity of eating the fish here. The lack of sunlight creates a serious deficiency which only the fish satisfy. Our forefathers found them repulsive, which is why it took so long, but it’s something we now take for granted.
“It was hardly idyllic. We had the predators, deficiencies, diseases, and were thrown back to prehistoric living without energy weapons.” George pointed to a place near the doorway. “I suppose the light from outside prevented you from noticing the archery equipment there.”
Fortis turned, held up his hand to block the light from the doorway. Sure enough, there was a curved piece of wood, pulling a line taut between the ends, and a collection of thin wooden shafts clipped together in a neat row. The fletching was not feathers, but something resembling a stiff fabric with small panels joining them across the edges. The heads were hidden by a protective cover. Turning back, he asked, “Do you also have other sorts of melee weapons?”
“All sorts of toys,” George replied with a faint smile. “Very little of it is metal. As I said, we have precious little of that here, and almost no means of smelting if we did. Because we came with rather modern technology notions, we were fairly quick to develop alternatives. We make fabrics from both plant and animal sources, but with highly advanced variations in properties. The same with animal skins, wood, glass and ceramics. We use a great many microscopic plants and animals in the process. If it grows here, we likely have done something to breed it for special uses.
“In the past we have traded these specialties for metal and electronics. Most of what we have is wearing out, and we would like to get more soon. I know you saw the ‘bird’ circling Misty, or you would not have known where to land. That is almost entirely fabric and wood, with one tiny computer and transmitter attached. We use them mostly to harvest the hyperspace radio traffic, which can only be read above our atmosphere. The welcome signal takes quite a bit of energy, so it’s broadcast only once each lap. The bird absorbs as much energy as possible during the sun exposure, then makes that brief broadcast before having to save power during passage around the dark side.
“We have to do that because there are only three working birds. When we still had a dozen, the message was longer because we could rotate them more often. Now they have to stay aloft until the memory is about full, then it descends down while another slowly makes its way aloft. It takes a couple of our days each way, gliding and climbing the weak updraft over the marginally warmer deserts. We have winds aloft, of course, but they are due mostly to spin, since the temperature is very stable. The other problem is the mildew tends to weaken during exposure to space, so we have regrow it some each time.”
Fortis asked, “Have you never considered using an artificial satellite?”
His hands spread out in a powerless gesture, George said, “We thought about that. Bear in mind, for the first couple of centuries we were still fugitives from the Imperium. Why would we want them to find us so easily? Once that threat faded, we found it still very hard to establish regular trade relations. And while we do have a surplus for trade, it’s not enough to easily afford something like a full satellite system. We would still need the birds to ferry the data — physical closed circuits only down here.”
Fortis was silent.
George continued, “We are content for the most part. We are loathe to breach what has accomplished so very much in favor of our religion. Frankly, too much technology is the reason we feel the rest of humanity is having such a difficult time, with wars and such. It’s not as if we have no wars here, but they don’t amount to much. Our culture is the result of our religion, and our stability and peace and…” He paused and took a deep breath. “We hold to a totally different value system. We didn’t come here and gain those values because it was the best we could do in a bad situation. We had those values before we left Terra. We believe they came from God, and that it was His plan to put us here to keep them alive, because this world perfectly matched what we believed. We might not have known that so well when we got here, but the realization dawned on us as we made our way.”
His locked eyes with Fortis. “Whatever you do, Fortis, I beg you not to take any actions which would destroy what we have here. I have no doubt you are well trained in dealing with us while you are here, observing without interfering. But once you leave to take the knowledge of our world back to your galactic academic network, it would be all too easy for something in your report to precipitate a disaster.”
The most fundamental characteristic of what defines us as humans is our choices. That is, it’s not what we are, or what we do, but what drives us, things to which we are committed, things from which we cannot walk away. It is best understood as the process of human development.
We have a body. It makes lots of choices, since it is little more than a bundle of appetites. They are neither good nor evil, in themselves. That body is connected to a mind through the emotions. The other end of that connection is a tangled mess.
For purely academic purposes, we can distinguish certain things. Directly connected to the emotions is a large wad of memories. It’s not so much a record of the five senses, but a thin stream of five senses wrapped by a very fat coating of emotional reactions, impressions, values, etc. Critical to understanding this fat coating is unraveling the childhood psyche. For now, it’s enough to note various parts of how we interact with the world — the decisions we make — depend on the degree to which we finished the tasks of childhood development, and in what areas of our consciousness we are able to assume an adult role. It’s pretty messy, as I said.
Insofar as any part of us has reached an adult level of consciousness — a sense of taking responsibility for the self, a sense of proportion, etc. — we can exercise a certain amount of intellectual rationality. The space where conflicts are under control, as opposed to exerting control, that space is capable of reason and logic. We are thus capable of dispassionate evaluation, a measure of objectivity, of setting aside the demands of body-emotions channel. Please note: It is fully possible to form a highly intellectual awareness of logic without any ability to use it for choices.
It is critical to understand there is a human will, a core of decisiveness, which sets humans apart from simple rational animals. This capacity to choose, to commit the self to a course of action which forms a self-consistent thread, is what gives us character, identity, a sense of self. This is the part where we “get in touch with ourselves” — we discover those things which are essential to what we are.
Thus far, we are in the territory of Gods Laws for mankind. Every human on earth has the capacity to reach that stage of development without spiritual birth. Discussing the spirit is purely an academic exercise. That element of humanity is the most difficult to describe, since it exists in the place where words are insufficient to carry the load. In making decisions and commitments, the living spirit should overrule all other considerations. It is not irrational; it is super-rational. It is above the intellect, processing priorities and commitments which intellect cannot handle. It decides often in defiance of all logic, in defiance of life itself.
The spirit knows with an entirely different logic. We can discuss it academically, but our words cannot possibly describe it, only indicate it. We can say the logic is symbolic, indicative, given to paradox, builds out from assumptions which are beyond mere deductive analysis. It is totally beyond inductive analysis, because there is nothing of types and categories — everything is altogether singular, unique to the individual involved. There are common elements which can be recognized, but which can scarcely be vocalized.
This spirit cannot be awakened by any human effort at all. However, to envision some clear line of departure, some concrete threshold, would be missing the point. Humans can approach this thing by degrees, but it requires a tremendous success with the previous level of maturity. The path of approach is called all sorts of things, usually in an attempt to dismiss the importance. However, an accurate and popular term is “mysticism.” A lot of junk hides behind the term, but in a broad sense, without the ability to know things which cannot be handled by the intellect, there will ever be some things in this universe which will evade explanation. Fathom all the mysteries of life, the universe and everything with science; there will always be some things which cannot be reached that way, cannot possibly be explained fully.
Fortis was surprised the tea was so hot, when the cup was simply warm. It looked and felt like ceramic, but was hardly thick enough to explain the insulating effect on his hands. Another question he would ask later.
Taking a sip, George gazed into his cup, then his gaze drifted to the open tent door. “We would like to claim our religion has been around as long as mankind, but they all claim that, and none can prove it.” He turned back to Fortis, who was thoughtfully sipping from his own cup.
“What we can document is a group of families separated themselves somewhat from the established organized religions of their day shortly before the first serious attempt to bring all humanity under a single government. You may recall that attempt unraveled before it was even fully engaged. Had it succeeded, that might be the end of the story. One element in that first Terran world government was the plan to force all religions to unify under a single institutional authority. The government policies clearly rejected the very thing which distinguished our religion, which was the insistence mankind was not merely body and soul, but there was a distinct third element, a separate faculty we called the spirit. Our religion was largely an attempt to cultivate that other faculty as a means for determining how men should live.
“We managed to establish an existence which did not withdraw us from all human contact, but limited it some while we built a different life. The degree of separation was the major source of conflict with any government we faced. Because our community was so small, we initially escaped much notice. But whenever things grew unsettled, our numbers surged. At that, entry was never easy. Our covenant of community was quite demanding compared to the world around us in those days. At some point, tensions with secular governments grew along with our numbers.
“During that first Imperium, things went well for us because His Majesty was too busy worrying about the mere mechanics of asserting control over basic resources. Humans had already begun interstellar exploration, with many colonies across the galaxy. Life on Terra had become almost unbearable as the result of pollution and social breakdown, so we began acquiring ships. They were, of course, the most primitive sort. Still functional, they made spartan accommodations, indeed. When we were almost ready to leave was about the time imperial policy began implementing all sorts of bureaucratic controls on colonization. We were caught in a bind, not quite enough ships for all to leave, but a strong sense we could not wait any longer.
“We held a council. You have to understand, a critical element in our religion is self-denial. In this case, it meant we did not have to struggle to find volunteers who would sacrifice and stay behind. Rather, it was a struggle to convince our strongest leaders to go, among other things. The logic of our choices would probably escape you, but the process of choosing very nearly took too long before someone had to take the reins and make it happen. A very strong leader rose up and gave orders, which is not something easily done under our religion. But it did save the day. The group left behind was small enough to hide in one of the few places left on Terra which was fairly safe.
“We took some risk packing them temporarily into standing room on the ships, slipping them up into the Artic zone, then departing the planet as quickly as possible. The Imperium was not happy, naturally. They rescinded our negotiated plan, and placed troops on our destination, one of the few remaining colonies as yet uninhabited. We found out later the troops all nearly died as the place was marginally livable, at best. The group we left in the Terran Arctic was better off than those troops, by far. Given this situation, we simply stopped for a time near the edge of the galaxy quite a ways from any star system, and held another council.
“To avoid easy detection, we resorted to primitive means. We linked the ships physically and exchanged personnel until enough elders could gather for a quorum in the largest ship, speaking face to face. I suppose it was altogether fortuitous one of our engineers, a convert who had served in the military, insisted we then unlink the ships — ‘just in case.’ That case arose when imperial targeting drones popped out of hyperspace. Those ships weren’t armed, of course. We knew they wouldn’t simply destroy our ships and kill us all; they wanted our military aged members for the war they had just declared. This would have been unconscionable for us, and we would have willingly died to a man to prevent it. No soldier fights so hard as a genuine pacifist avoiding war, even if he seeks to avoid killing.
“The only escape was immediately entering hyperspace, but we had to turn off our navigational instruments. On those primitive ships, the instruments would, in effect, broadcast our intended destination. Each ship simply grabbed space and fled. That was the last they saw of each other.”
George was quiet, and mood was decidedly somber. He sipped his tea a moment.
“The ship with the elders ended up in this star system. Prior to the attempted council, we had balanced the ship assignments so each could have formed its own miniature colony, if necessary. In the bargain, the ship which arrived at Dalorius was short a few engineering specialties, most of our former military converts, and a few scholars. While the last group we could replace for the most part, the first two made all the difference in the world.
“Supplies were short because no one expected to be in those ships that long. The beacon was not directly line of sight, but the presence of its signal bouncing off the planets made everyone nervous. Since it said the fourth planet was habitable, but offered no details, it was decided to blindly land. Even if we did turn on our scanning equipment, a risk of broadcasting our location to the beacon at least, we would have gotten nothing back, as you know. So the pilot simply estimated the surface depth below the clouds and brought the ship down. He barely had the means to maneuver once inside the atmosphere and they bumped the ground rather hard. No one was hurt severely, and we disembarked.
“That was several hundred years ago.”