What to do when you’ve got money in the bank and you’re worried about a dollar collapse: The Past and Future of Money

Inspiration: http://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/comments/mkhjj/what_does_economic_collapse_mean_for_my_money/

The smartest investment you can make is creating a self-sufficient community or network, possibly with an alternative currency. If you own a small/local business, you can start directly offering credit to locals you know (you can even issue your own currency). These are things that can insulate you from the collapse in the value of centralized money. I don’t have nearly as much faith in the metals as many others seem to. Gold and silver won’t work as a replacement currency unless centrally issued because most people won’t have any to use for exchange.

Bernard Lietaer: Money diversity   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9EI2PrDpmw

Douglas Rushkoff on currency:

David Graeber on the origins of money:

Someone shared the documentary, “The Trouble With Atheism” with me and this is what I commented


If you liked the above, you’d probably enjoy:
What Is Reality? http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/what-is-reality/

I feel like the most fundamental point to keep in mind is that either way, the only type of God that can be justifiably believed in, is absolutely and fundamentally incompatible with all the major western religions. It is an egregious error to use uncertainty and the logical impossibility to disprove God as an excuse to continue to believe in any of the traditional Abrahamic incarnations of God [with all the dogmatic doctrines they entail].

“If everyone became atheist tomorrow, would the world be a better place?” Absolutely, the least religious countries are demonstrably better places to live.

Dogmatic, anti-dogmatism, is the least dangerous form of dogmatism.

I found the false equivalencies in this documentary to be disturbing. Here’s an example why:

I find the fine-tuning explanation, as a justification for most concepts of God to be rather unpersuasive. And do in fact think multiverse-like theories to be more likely.
Quantum Computers and Parallel Universes

His handling of memes is simplistic and misleading (feel free to ask for more).
His framing of new understandings of evolution as somehow undermining evolution itself is also simplistic and misleading (feel free to ask for more).

Of course science can’t know everything, and can’t claim to.

It’s similarly irresponsible to use historical scientific mistakes (which only have been shown to be such with better science) as somehow evidence that science itself is criminally suspect.

Not surprisingly Rod Liddle also confuses descriptive morality with rational normative prescriptions.
“there are at least three projects that we should not confuse:
1. We can explain why people tend to follow certain patterns of thought and behavior (many of them demonstrably silly and harmful) in the name of “morality.”
2. We can think more clearly about the nature of moral truth and determine which patterns of thought and behavior we SHOULD follow in the name of “morality.”
3. We can convince people who are committed to silly and harmful patterns of thought and behavior in the name of “morality” to break these commitments and to live better lives.”
“Because most religions conceive of morality as a matter of being obedient to the word of God (generally for the sake of receiving a supernatural reward), their precepts often have nothing to do with maximizing well-being in this world. Religious believers can, therefore, assert the immorality of contraception, masturbation, homosexuality, etc., without ever feeling obliged to argue that these practices actually cause suffering. They can also pursue aims that are flagrantly immoral, in that they needlessly perpetuate human misery, while believing that these actions are morally obligatory. This pious uncoupling of moral concern from the reality of human and animal suffering has caused tremendous harm.”

It’s also rather ridiculous to blame atheism for Hitler, Stalin, Mao. Those examples are clearly examples of dogmatic belief; not based on science and reason, but rather state worship. Believing that the ends justify the means will always be dangerous.

Studying human nature without assumptions about what we are can only help us better understand what we are, and how to live better as humans. And in fact has.

These are things I’ve said with links I recommend:

“Everything you read in the mainstream media is 100% true.” (Good quotes for signs)

“Everything you read in the mainstream media is 100% true.”

“Please go back to your jobs. If you have not got a job you are a worthless human being.”

“Consume, consume, consume until we have no planet left to consume.”

“What you need to do is buy things that you don’t need, that’s the best way to support the economy.”

“Smiling is bad for the economy. Please DO NOT smile. Please move swiftly to your next shopping experience.”

“It’s very important for the children to be trained in ripping people’s bodies to shreds so come and buy some games filled with lost of killing, destruction and war.”

“Independent thoughts lead to chaos. Thinking is boring. Thinking is hard work and it is not worth the energy.”

“If you see a Buddhist on the street, get them to leave their religion, they are trying to get us to meditate. Meditation is a waste of good shopping time.”

“Miserable people shope more, so please, remain as miserable as you can.”

“Go back to work, when you die you’ll regret you didn’t work more.”

all cribbed from:

Things That Make Me Angry (and make other Occupy Wall Street supporters angry too) [Expanded]

[expanded below]

Wall Street Isn’t Winning – It’s Cheating

The two-tiered justice system: an illustration

9/10/2001: Rumsfeld says $2.3 TRILLION Missing from Pentagon 

The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality

The Quiet Coup “the finance industry has effectively captured our government”

What OWS is about + data behind the movement

Data privacy is now extinct in the U.S.

“The problem that confronts us is that every living system in the biosphere is in decline and the rate of decline is accelerating. There isn’t one peer-reviewed scientific article that’s been published in the last 20 years that contradicts that statement. Living systems are coral reefs. They’re our climatic stability, forest cover, the oceans themselves, aquifers, water, the conditions of the soil, biodiversity. They go on and on as they get more specific. But the fact is, there isn’t one living system that is stable or is improving. And those living systems provide the basis for all life.”

The 1% are the very best destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen

The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?

How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich: The inside story of how the Republicans abandoned the poor and the middle class to pursue their relentless agenda of tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent 


Johann Hari: How Goldman gambled on starvation
Speculators set up a casino where the chips were the stomachs of millions. What does it say about our system that we can so casually inflict so much pain?

”By my calculations, at least 10 times as many girls are now trafficked into brothels annually as African slaves were transported to the New World in the peak years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

U.S. Special Forces Operating Secretly in 120 Countries

The American Medical System Is The Leading Cause Of Death And Injury In The United States

Top Secret America
“The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.”
  and video version

The Video The USA Army Doesn’t Want You To See (Read Description) – YouTube

This is one of those must see videos. An unwillingness to watch the inhumanity perpetrated in our name only perpetuates that inhumanity and marks our society as barbarous.

On “Consciousness: The Black Hole of Neuroscience” aka the “hard” problem

[http://bigthink.com/ideas/40965 Megan Erickson on November 6, 2011, 12:00 AM]

She says, “ Discovering how mechanistic processes work – the firing of neurons or the earth revolving around the sun, for example – is considered by some to be an “easy” problem because it involves observation, the description of an event from a third person point of view. “Hard” problems, on the other hand, involve first person experience. They’re the questions that persist even after physical processes have been mapped and explained.

. . .

So there’s no reason to assume that consciousness is eternally inexplicable. However, it may never be explained through neurobiology, says David Chalmers, the philosopher who originally made the distinction. “In so many other fields physical explanation has been successful… but there seems to be this big gap in the case of consciousness,” he says. “It’s just very hard to see how [neurological] interactions are going to give you subjective experience.”

. . .

What do you think? Is the distinction between “hard problems” and “soft problems” useful, or reductive? Does the brain create consciousness? Will we ever empirically understand where it comes from or how it works?”

She spawned quite a discussion. I find the distinction between “hard” and “soft” problems illuminates more than anything how flabbergasted most people still are in contemplating crossing the objective/subjective divide. It illustrates how inconceivable bridging that explanatory gap has seemed to be. And that tells how little most of us still understand. It turns out, however, there are a great many reasons to conclude that the brain indeed does create consciousness, Erickson herself points to some in her article. What had been lacking until relatively recently was an overarching framework or theory through which to grasp the nature of consciousness. The lack of a general theory of consciousness, of how it comes to be that there is something that it is like to be, was really the last rational bastion of opposition to the scientific assertion that consciousness emerges from the brain.

The solution to the hard problem is rather simple. It has been so hard to see for certain evolutionary and cultural reasons. The solution is that the “self” is an illusion. The conscious part of us is actually a representational process. For simple reasons of caloric efficiency, to survive, humans have only needed to assume that they directly experience reality. This is now clearly false. We do not directly experience reality. We have various limited sense organs through which, from an existence far richer than we can perceive, information about the environment is taken in and an estimation of reality constructed. Other species construct a different map of the same external world from different sets of senses. Some have eyes tuned to a different slice of the electromagnetic spectrum. Some use echolocation, some are sensitive to electromagnetic fields, etc.

It isn’t at all the case for example that you “see with your eyes.” You see with your visual system. But we didn’t need to know that to survive. We didn’t need to know that when you saw a large feline predator of mostly orange coloring with black stripes, you were, strictly speaking, seeing a representation of a tiger. We just needed to know to get the fuck out of dodge. If you had a brain tempted to make the likely correct philosophical intuition that your experience of reality is actually virtual, those extra milliseconds could cost you your life while in danger, and in most cases, if not under direct threat, until very recently the extra caloric cost of that higher order thought process of a representation of a representation would just make you hungrier faster without much evolutionary benefit.

We are not just naive realists in our understanding of the external world, but clearly (especially?) we are equally naive realists in our understanding of our internal world. Hence, the common cultural dichotomy of body and mind, and the often magical explanations of consciousness. We don’t experience the neural underpinning of consciousness, and thus if what we experience is what is real, consciousness is inexplicable and magical. “Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.” We just happened to be born in “technological” equipment like that.

The nature of agency itself is thus tied to the extent to which modern neuroscience may or may not be indicating that consciousness itself and hence all of rationality might function in the brain as a special kind of sense perception of the world. I recommend Thomas Metzinger’s Graduate Council lecture at UC Berkeley for a quick overview of the self-model theory of subjectivity. This is the first paragraph of his book, Being No One:

“This is a book about consciousness, the phenomenal self, and the first-person perspective. Its main thesis is that no such things as selves exist in the world: Nobody ever was or had a self. All that ever existed were conscious self-models that could not be recognized as models. The phenomenal self is not a thing, but a process—and that subjective experience of being someone emerges if a conscious information-processing system operates under a transparent self-model. You are such a system right now, as you read these sentences. Because you cannot recognize your self-model as a model, it is transparent: you look right through it. You don’t see it. But you see with it. In other, more metaphorical, words, the central claim of this book is that as you read these lines you constantly confuse yourself with the content of the self-model currently activated by your brain.”[ii]

This explains the research that increasingly is indicating the extraordinary extent to which seemingly conscious decisions have been made before subjects think they consciously made these decisions. This seems to indicate that many so-called conscious decisions are actually ­subconscious and our conscious awareness is only being informed of the decision.  It is not that consciousness has no meaningful role to play in a our behavior, but rather it seems to play a larger role the more reflection is reflected in any given behavior. For example its role in the choice to move to a different city, as opposed to realizing that you just scratched an itch, or the more we train ourselves in the daily practices of mindfulness.

Furthermore, these findings have interesting repercussions in the discussion of agency in general and in the context of freedom.[iv] It seems the true limits of our freedom are not external to our bodies,  as the determinism misperception implies, and therefore the autonomy of our human entity is not externally determined (only confined), but that it is consciousness itself that has been shown to be increasingly more limited than traditionally expected. We don’t have bodies, bodies have us.

Interestingly enough, the descriptions of many mystical experiences, are cast in terms of the abandonment of the “self.” I hypothesize that meditative practices, in witnessing the mind as an object, are stepping stones to a higher order consciousness, one that implicitly recognizes Metzinger’s scientific perspective. It might be more proper to say that mystical experiences are compatible with the self-model theory of consciousness, as indeed they would have to be if the model is any good. I do not want to suggest that Metzinger’s theory in any way implies universal consciousness or any other speculative metaphysics justified on experiential grounds. I speculate on the only way I could find universal consciousness rationally plausible here.

[ii] Metzinger, Thomas. Being No One: the Self-model Theory of Subjectivity. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2003. Print.

[iv] “Are Zombies Responsible? The Role of Consciousness in Moral Responsibility” Neil Levy.  Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. University of Melbourne, nllevy@unimelb.edu.au


On new age spirituality, consciousness, and reality

Justin x

‎”morality did not enter the universe with the Big Bang and then pervade it like background radiation” Steven Pinker

Like ·  · September 16 at 2:12pm via mobile · Privacy:

    • Justin x: I get the sense that this is how new age spiritualism views consciousness.September 16 at 2:13pm · Like ·   1 person
    • Tj x: more like consciousness is before and underneath our universe.September 16 at 2:47pm · Like
    • Justin x: That is stupid, lol.September 16 at 5:08pm · Unlike ·   1 person
    • Charlie x: Which is to evacuate “concsiousness” [sic] of meaning.September 17 at 5:34pm · Like
    • Tj x: it’s metaphysics, and consistent with the singularity hypothesis. I don’t think it’s an inconsistent or particularly unfair extension of the traditional meaning of consciousness if it turns out our universe is virtual. We have no clue what type of consciousness singularities permit.I do object to new age “knowledge,” but no more strongly than any metaphysics (which by definition can only be considered hypothetically).But to return to morality, it seems entirely possible that morality when properly understood could be rather like math. There just might be certain justifiable normative relationships between different instances of consciousness depending on the given species driven necessities.https://thinkahol.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/a-couple-good-sam-harris-quotes/ September 17 at 7:19pm · Like ·   1 person
    • Justin x: Anything when properly understood is going to break down to math at least in parts. As much as humans resist, you really can measure things, you just have to state what that is.Yesterday at 1:37pm · Like
    • Justin x: What the fuck is the singularity hypothesis? What the fuck does it have to do with bumbling morons equating the universe to a consciousness soup that is “before and underneath” our universe? I do actually want to know?Yesterday at 1:39pm · Like
    • Justin x:After hearing a lot of people talk about this whole higher power/super consciousness soup thing, I have an opinion. New age spiritualists (along with some old) are basically talking about the christian god minus the spiteful revenge. Its the same crusty old bastard he is just called consciousness and became genderless along the way (but he still has a beard). What they are talking about is an agent. I haven’t talked to a single person who holds to this super consciousness that isn’t, in the end, talking about a super agent. Most people don’t even have a fucking clue what consciousness is.Yesterday at 1:46pm · Unlike ·   1 person
    • Tj x:Here a list of various definitions of the singularity:http://www.singularitysymposium.com/definition-of-singularity.html But it’s basically a collection of concepts related to uninterrupted exponential technological growth. One of the predecessor phrases was “intelligence explosion.”First I’m saying that I think exponential technological growth is not only possible but real. The next step I’m taking is putting that possibility in context. If the singularity CAN happen, maybe in the entire history of existence singularities have ALREADY happened. This line of reasoning makes the simulation hypothesis seem even more plausible (that our reality is software running on a higher order reality). And it is really only in the context of the simulation hypothesis that I can make new-agey metaphysical concepts sound remotely reasonable in my mind.So if our universe or multiverse is a simulation running on a higher order operating system it’s theoretically possible that that higher order reality has become saturated with consciousness, i.e. become one conscious network. And it is in that sense that consciousness could lie before and underneath our universe.

      That said, I don’t think any of the above are necessary to explain subjective states of conscious experience that would give one the desire to say that the above new age-y concepts are true (regardless of their ability to point to states of conscious experience that could be demonstrably preferable to live in).Yesterday at 4:35pm · Like

    • Tj x: But yeah people are talking about a super-agent. Which I tend to agree is superficially ridiculous, and just plain wrong the way most people must conceptualize it. But I also think that humans have the ability to become/create a super-agent. So if there isn’t already “God” i think it’s really only a matter of time.Yesterday at 4:39pm · Like
    • Justin x: You do have material and processing limits. This is my response to the singularity proposition. There is a greater probability that you would run out of material resources or reach a processing ceiling than there is for infinite exponential growth in information technology.Yesterday at 5:29pm · Like
    • Justin x: I also find it to be a major leap of faith to assume that a virtual world would be conscious of itself. Why am I assuming this? Why wouldn’t the executive software be a second system unnoticed by the virtual universe? It is super fun that this is where “god” comes back in the picture.Yesterday at 5:35pm · Like
    • Tj x:I think you’re wrong about the material limits and the information processing limits. I’d have to review Kurzweil’s book before I could get back to you with a robust response.I never said anything about the virtual world being conscious of itself yet. I definitely think that our universe mustn’t be aware of itself as a whole.”Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.”If what is outside of our virtual reality is unsurpassed consciousness then the simulation hypothesis becomes a form of panintheism.Yesterday at 6:17pm · Like
    • Justin x: That all seems reasonable.Yesterday at 6:54pm · Like

You Are Not Your Beliefs and Stop Acting Like You Know Things You Don’t

David Brin in 2006 wrote an article titled, “The Cato Hypocrisy” which began as below:

“I have long held that the greatest tragedy, among countless misfortunes that recur in the long and agonizing human story, is not when evil triumphs over good, or when oppression overcomes freedom, or even the wretched loss of ten billion potential might-have-beens. No, the most devastating defect in our character — a trait that held us down ever since the caves — is the very same twist in our natures that makes us such fine storytellers.

I am talking about our incredible penchant for — and creativity at — self delusion and rationalization. The lengths that we all go to, in order to convince ourselves that we are the smart ones, virtuous and right… often in complete denial of blatant evidence to the contrary. It is the one magical act that all of us can easily perform, at near genius level.

Elsewhere I talk about the organic mechanisms of reinforcement that make us addicts to this sort of blithe, self-righteous assurance, while dismissing all opponents as vile or stupid strawmen. Indeed, I can step outside myself and watch these very tendencies play out — the same smug assumption of privileged knowledge and superior perception — even as I type these words. Well, we are of the same clay. This ecumenical allure tugs at even the wise. Even the shy.

Can we escape the bewitchment of solipsism and seductive self-hypnosis? For millennia, the prescription in every culture was to accept, with utter fealty, whatever mythic system was taught by local authority figures. Parents. Lords. State and church. This method replaced (or overlaid) some individually vain ‘realities’ with shared/consensual ones. But while mantric uniformity helped to maintain peace within some communities, it absolutely guaranteed conflict against others.

Above all, the top aim was to make sure no one asked: ‘Isn’t it just a little suspiciously pat and convenient, that my bunch just happens to be 100% right, and my opponents are so completely deluded?’ One nation and culture after another imitated the same obstinacy that we see in countless individual neighbors. A steadfastness that is often portrayed as admirable, even — especially — in the face of contrary evidence.

Are we screwed, then? Betrayed by an utterly consistent human character flaw? Doomed to repeat the same patterns over and over, with only minor variations of cult and incantation?

Fortunately, a slim ray of light appeared. Gradually, over time, a completely different approach took shape. Instead of clutching a consensual delusion (to augment your private ones), this new method called upon human beings to adapt their subjective perceptions to evidence. By referring both to objective reality (experiment) and the cross-checking feedback of other people, we can catch a relatively high percentage of our mistakes and misperceptions.

It isn’t magical. The process requires deliberate effort, overcoming our own egos, as well as humanity’s greatest paradox.


If “criticism is the only known antidote to error” (CITOKATE), then suppression of criticism must be the greatest single cause of error, not only in daily life, but especially among the leaders who have been entrusted with statecraft. Name a nation or time when a society’s need for cleansing information and argument did not inherently conflict with the most driving need of leaders and oligarchs – to stifle dissent and maintain confidence in their rule.

Especially their own sense of confident superiority and right-to-rule, whether they were emperors, aristocrats or commissars. This conflict of interest runs so deep, it is very likely biological. Don’t all of us descend from the harems of kings, who gained reproductive advantage by seizing and holding unaccountable power?

Despite countless, contradictory definitions we’ve heard it seems to me that the core endeavor of the Enlightenment Experiment is quite simple — to find ways out of this trap. To escape the paradox of criticism. All of our great accountability arenas – science, markets, justice and democracy – have their roots in this realization… that no man is trustworthy to declare what’s true. As Richard Feynman said – ‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.'”

I wrote a similar more philosophical piece here.

It really is a bummer that questioning beliefs is so threatening. Of course it isn’t rational to actually feel threatened because that would mean that you’re casting your net of identity over many things that often can’t rationally be known. If you feel threatened when people question your beliefs I contend that you don’t really know who or what you are. Everyone has been wrong. And until you find out otherwise it turns out being wrong feels exactly like being right. How we feel has nothing to do with whether we’re actually right or wrong.

I was irked at the way the Occupy Wall Street movement was so condescendingly, negatively portrayed by much of the “main stream media” as exemplified in this conversation a fellow blogger had with a colleague of hers. There is so much going on all over the country within the OWS movement, even news junkies like me can hardly keep up. OWS is obviously doing some things right if they can shut down the Port of Oakland. But I agree with the above mentioned blogger, Venessa Miemis, there is a tremendous amount of potential within this movement. One of the oft cited criticism of OWS, that it hasn’t issued a clear and concise set of demands, is one of its greatest strengths. Making bullet-pointed list of demands of the powers that be, and then going home defeats the whole purpose of OWS. The movement isn’t content to ask anything of the extant political power structures because the structures, the system itself, has become suspect (to put it mildly). No longer can people trust that our government at the highest levels operates with the interests of the general public at heart. It’s a facade that has finally cracked. What’s happening now, as that awareness spreads, is the recognition that if we want to have a livable world for our children we can’t wait anymore, we have to get together and start talking about what to do and how. More and more people are recognizing why. And everything follows from “why.”