Tuesday, February 18, 2014

EVOLUTION, SEX AND SPIRITUALITY

Introduction
The more that any community of life forms is in tune with Nature the more sustainable that community will be. That is as true for ourselves as it is for any other life form. After all Nature gave birth to and sustains all the life forms on earth ourselves included.
How does the human community remain in tune with Nature?
We need to recognise that this is a life and death question for us and  that it involves investigating many different aspects of human life in our search for answers.
In recent times, in my search for improved understanding, of things that particularly interest me, I have been trying to see them through the lens of evolution as I understand it. This has proved very enlightening for me and hence this paper which is my attempt to share some of the insights that have emerged as a result.
Scientific research into the history of Creation has shown, through geological and fossil records, that primitive life began on earth some 3.8 billion years ago and has culminated in the bio-sphere as it now is. Looking at life, and ourselves in particular, life's evolutionary trajectory would seem to be summed up inthis phrase ‘an organic impulse towards greater and greater consciousness’. We are the current end product of this impulse because not only are we  conscious but we are self conscious. What this means is that there is an opportunity for each of us to choose to have a conscious relationship with the over-arching consciousness, which, I sense, is the consciousness that gave birth to Creation and is present everywhere within it. However as self conscious beings we can only enter into this conscious relationship voluntarily, the entry cannot be automatic because that would be a negation of consciousness.
There is no halt to evolution but once self consciousness emerges then, for self conscious beings, evolution is dependent on the being entering into a conscious relationship with the over-arching consciousness. When we do so then our evolution under the guidance of the over-arching consciousness becomes, in a sense, super-charged. As I see it, striving for a conscious relationship with the over-arching consciousness is actually what has traditionally been known as ‘leading a spiritual life’.
As evolving, but self conscious, beings it seems that learning is an inseperable part of our evolution. What is learning? Learning is establishing in consciousness mental models of things, mental models that are, as truly accurate a replica, of the thing as we can get. Truth is determined by the degree of accuracy of a mental model, the more accurate it is the more true it is. So learning for us is a constant search for truth, true information about  our individual selves as well as everything else that exists. Science is our term for the disciplined, collective, effort to gather such information and make it public.
Sex
Like most humans I am interested in and have, over the years, grappled with my own sexuality and my  relationship to sex in general. Because of the accessibilty of information on the world wide web I have been exploring sex and sexuality as expressed on the web and have come across these websites https://makelovenotporn.tv/ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u54YSnkog5U and http://www.juicypinkbox.com/s1/home/?revid=12508
The first two sites intrigued me greatly because the creators of them want, through them, to move human sexuality into the mainstream, by mainstream I mean into public acceptability. Sexuality is in public consciousness but in a schizophrenic kind of way because it is also regarded as unacceptable, particularly any public expression of it.
The third site is a lesbian porn site and in a sense it demonstrates how pornography has become more and more mainstream as the site’s intent is clearly not so much to educate people about lesbianism but to make money from the public of all sexual orientations.
How does the above relate to what I said in the introduction?
We need to start with a question, why are some life forms, like ourselves, differentiated into two genders, male and female, which needs, the male to penetrate and the female to accept penetration, in order to procreate?
One theory that I have read, that makes good sense to me, suggests that sexual procreation was Nature’s strategy for speeding up genetic change, thus keeping ahead of any parasites that preyed on a life form. Through sexual reproduction each new generation of individuals has a different genetic make up to that of its parent’s generation rendering it less likely to succumb to the parasites that preyed on its parent’s generation. Thus according to this line of thinking we are differentiated into male and female in order to enhance the long term survival prospects of our life form. However if the two genders were not very strongly impelled into completing the necessary actions for procreation then the differentiation into male and female genders would have had no survival benefit whatsoever hence the powerful attractions that exist beween the two sexes, attractions which culminate in procreative actions.
But we are conscious beings so how does our sexuality impact on on our lives given the  reality of our consciousness?
The differentiation into two sexes was already in existence long before humans evolved thus our sexuality was already a reality when we emerged into consciousness. But, because of its power, our sexuality presented us, both individually and collectively, with a problem. It could not just be left to operate unconsciously and thus instinctively as it thrust itself into consciousness but the problem was in how we dealt with it there.
Nonetheless it would seem that our collective decision has been to try to ban sexuality from our consciousnesses. This was not a very clever thing to do because to gain control of and maximise the benefits of our sexuality it needs to be fully accepted into our consciousness.
Sexuality, like everything else that we take into our consciousnesses, requires both individual and collective learning. As sexuality itself  can’t actually be switched off trying to ban it from consciousness has only meant that we have been unable to reap the benefits that would have derived from accepting it fully into our consciousnesses. This ‘banning from conscious’ response  to sexuality has historically been particularly prevalent in the West. For example in my generation, 70 years ago now, I learnt from society, not really from my parents I don’t think, that my sexual urges and actions were something to be thoroughly ashamed of and not to be acknowledged or discussed with anybody not even a sexual partner and most definitely not in a public space.
Thankfully this oppresive/suppressive attitude is changing for the better. Now there is  public acceptance of increasingly explicit sexual information. This change has been aided and abetted by things like the Kinsey Report, HIV/Aids and particularly the ready availability of ‘live’ pornography on the internet. This latter is the reason why 'Make Love not Porn.tv’ was launched by its creators. Pornography is, as the creators say, a staged performance of a sexual activity and therefore provides viewers with a very misleading educational experience of real life sexual activity. But because of the continuation into the present of the earlier attempts to ban sexuality from public consciousness pornography, initially an underground response to public disapproval of sex, is now proving to be the major source of  sexual education for web enabled individuals. ‘Make Love Not Porn.tv’ is an attempt to provide viewers with an alternative viewer experience based on real every day and unstaged sexual interactions.
The second site ‘Cliteracy’ is an attempt to educate people about the female clitoris, which is physically almost totally hidden from public and individual view and thus largely absent from public discourse or if present  at all it is only in a negative and ill-informed light.
The third site, drawing on the power of sex, is only incidentally educational rather it is indicative of how commercialism permeates everything in modern culture
Spirituality
In my understanding, because we are conscious beings, we humans can all have active spiritual lives, if we so choose. Like most of us are, as children anyway, and actually should be as adults too, I am very interested in human spirituality, I consciously try to place it at the centre of my life.
Traditionally society’s understanding of a spiritual life was that it could only really be conducted within the confines of a religion. There are two problems with this understanding. One is that it is wrong, our spirituality does not have to manifest within the confines of an already recognised religion. Two it is restrictive because most religions are created as a result of people striving to formalise, the possibility of a conscious relationship with the over-arching consciousness, and to do so in a way, which they, and their fellows at the time of the religion’s founding, could understand.
As our overall understanding of life in the universe evolves, i.e. improves, inevitably the understanding encapsulated in earlier generations’ religious dogmas and creeds also needs to change. The bedrock, i.e. the possibility of an individual conscious relationship with the over-arching consciousness, does not change but the religious constructions which people have seen fit to erect on the bedrock inevitably need to change in line with people’s changing understandings. The trouble is that most religions do not find these changes easy to accept.
I was raised and confirmed as an Anglican and completed my secondary education at an Anglican boarding school. This schooling was later to prove spiritually useful to me in that I gained a basic knowledge of the spiritual teachings in the New Testament by rote but at the time that I learnt them they never spoke to me in any kind of meaningful way. It was only once I started regularly attending Quaker Meeting that any kind of meaningful connection with these spiritual teachings begun to develop.  My spiritual journey, in the company of Quakers, only began in my mid-twenties, however.
Our Quaker forbears recognised the immutability of the bedrock which, amongst other terms, they called the ‘Light of Christ’. They also recognised the constant need for change and adaption in the cultural accretions built on the bedrock. Thus they did not formulate any dogmas or creeds because they realised that attempting such things in an  effort to pin down their living personal experiences of the Light would be counter productive. They realised that each and every generation needs to experience for themselves the workings of the Light. They felt comfortable too in only formally passing on to succeeding generations their central practice of regular participation in silent Meetings for Worship plus any associated spiritual practices that sprang from this central practice. And they were happy to do so because they knew, through their own experience, that this way of consciously connecting with  the over-arching consciousness worked for the individuals who regularly participated in it and with the consequence that their spiritual evolution would naturally progress.
After I became a practicing Quaker I gradually became more and more open to exploring other spiritual traditions in a search for more spiritual knowledge.  It was a gradual process because having been brought up within the confines of Anglicanism I had been conditioned to be fearful of corrupting my Christianity by meddling in other spiritual traditions.
Yoga evolved as an extremely effective spiritual practice. In its spread to the West however many of its practitioners seem to have very little knowledge of this aspect concentrating on its physical benefits.
23years after I started attending Quaker Meeting it still took the near collapse of my body for me to take up the practice of yoga. Luckily for me I did so in the school of BKS Iyengar as my initial my motivation for doing so was purely physical. I wanted to see if yoga would help to counter the progressive collapse of my body under the, at that stage undiagnosed, impact of Multiple Sclerosis. Even going to a yoga lesson once a week began to improve my bodily condition so in addition to a once a week lesson I embarked on my own regular daily practice. My intention in doing so was still in pursuit of physical health but gradually the knowlege that the practice of yoga was intended to be a spiritual discipline began to enter into my consciousness and some 20 years after I started yoga practice I recognised it as an essential part of my spiritual practice.
About 18 months after I started the regular practice of yoga the dichotomous view of life, which I now realise was part of my Christian upbringing, began to create great inner distress in me.  At the same time I was struggling with the fact that Quakers have no formal teaching on meditation and in my search for such teachings I attended a lecture on Compassion given by Rob Nairn a Tibetan Buddhist. Meditation is a central practice within Buddhism and as a result it is replete with teachings on the practice of meditation. Buddhism also, I found out in due course, subscribes to a unitary view of Creation which gradually undid my dichotmous view. Two days after attending a week long Retreat given by a high Lama, in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, I awoke and just knew that I needed to take refuge as a Buddhist. I still knew very little about Buddhism so the sense that I needed to take refuge as a Buddhist was completely independent of any intellectual knowledge.
I was worried however that I would be required to abandon my Quakerism if I took refuge as a Buddhist.  Luckily the high Lama was staying briefly in Johannesburg before returning to Scotland and on querying him I was told that,  if I took refuge as a Buddhist,  I would not have to abandon being a Quaker, so I took Refuge as a Buddhist. As a consequence my spiritual learning received another boost and continues apace.
I have struggled with integrating my Quaker experience and understanding with my  understanding and experience of Tibetan Buddhism which, in complete contrast to  Quakerism, is organised  hierarchically both organisationally and spiritually because the higher up the organisational hierarchy you ascend the more you are expected to have evolved spiritually to warrant the position.
It seems to me that the hierarchy works in a fashion because the incumbents of the positions are supposed to be genuinely spiritually advanced and, usually are. However there is no absolute gaurantee of that, so things can go awry and have done so in the past and, I guess, will do so in the future. My sense is that Quaker spiritual egalitarianism as expressed through our collective decision making processes that seek collectively to be responsive to the Light is a much more certain way to proceed both for our individual and collective spiritual futures.  
Rory Short

Monday, February 17, 2014

THE PHYSICS OF MONEY


   THE PHYSICS OF MONEY
Background
The exchange process without money
The exchange process with money
Suggested method for
 uniquely linking newly issued money to
 the intrinsic value in real exchangeable items
Suggested changes to the money system
The benefits
Background
Even though money is a concept created by humans this concept springs from physical  reality, hence the above title ‘The  Physics of Money’. This reality is actually quite easily grasped by ordinary people. What ordinary people do not see however is  the logical connection that exists between money and this everyday reality. In this article I will try to demystify money for the ordinary person by explaining how money plays a role in this ordinary every day reality. Unfortunately money’s role can be either an honest one or a dishonest one. It is the honest role, of course, that we are primarly interested here but reference has to be made to the places where dishonesty is legally practiced.
But first ,what is this everyday reality that I am speaking of?
All life forms, whilst they are alive, have constant exchanges with their environments and these exchanges are vital for the life form’s continued survival.
For us humans an every day example of this would be our breathing which is essential for our continued survival. We inhale into our lungs air containing oxygen in order to infuse the oxygen into our bloodstreams. Simultaneously our lungs extract CO2 from our bloodstreams so that the extracted CO2 can be excreted along with the exhaled air.
The breath is just one of the vital exchanges that we humans are dependent upon for our survival. These vital exchanges can be split into two groups those requiring the involvement of our fellow human beings and those not necessarily involving our fellow humans. The exchanges with our fellows can range from conversations to the exchanges of goods and/or services. Now it is these latter exchanges that we are particularly interested in here because, these days, money plays a central role in them and they too are vital for our continue physical survival. The role that money plays is a facilitative one as will hopefully become clear.
Unfortunately, as metioned above, money can also be created dishonestly. This is because it  can be created independent of any actual link to particular real goods or services. Such money, being indistinguishable from honest money, does however play the normal facilitative role of money in exchanges, but it does so dishonestly because it is claiming to represent the intrinsic value in particular goods or services which it simply cannot do because it is not uniquely linked to any particular exchangeable goods or services.
Individuals who put such money into circulation are prosecuted and gaoled, sadly not for their economic crime, e.g. theft , that they have committed, but for usurping the State’s money producing role. This is not to say that the State and its agents do not produce such fraudulent money, they do. The State sees it as its right to do so, publically stating that  this is done in order to better manage the economy. Ordinary people have become accustomed to this dishonest practice. There is even an accepted, rather than pejorative, name for it in the USA. It is titled, QE, or quantative easing, by the US Federal Reserve.
Undoubtedly exchanges of goods and services have to take place if we humans are to survive.
In a healthy society these exchanges are voluntarily. Such voluntary exchanges form the rock solid foundation for any healthy economy, the only foundation in fact. This in turn provides the basis for the continued survival of the human community. Basically without such exchanges the members of the human community would die and the community, without members, would cease to exist and so would its economy.
Interestingly such exchanges do not require the use of money but once the concept of money was conceived, money, because of its facilitative utility soon became regarded as a vital part of any exchange process. It came to be viewed in this way because it has the ability to facilitate binary exchanges, enabling them to happen at any time in any place and to include an unknown third party in the process thus widening the possibilities for making exchanges.
The exchange process without money
Two parties A & B agree with one and other to voluntarily  exchange two items with one and other, item IA, belonging to A,  is swopped with item IB, belonging to B, i.e. the ownership of the two items is exchanged.
It is safe to say that because the exchange was completed voluntarily neither party,  although they are now  in possession of different items, experienced any loss of value through the transaction. So for each of them the intrinsic values that they accord to IA and IB must be the same. Notice, however, that in an exchange not invoving money the intrinsic values accorded by A do not necessarily have to be the same as those accorded by B.
As already noted such completed exchanges are what make up any healthy economy. They are the indivisible economic events, or atoms, that form the essential building blocks of a healthy economy.  We shall call them economic nuggets because they are literally equivalent  to gold nuggets in economic terms. 
Now if we wish to maintain a healthy economy the formation of economic nuggets must remain the same, even when money becomes part of the exchange process. However the potential for serious disruption of their formation is a very real possibility when newly issued money is introduced into the exchange process. To avoid this happening special preventative measures need to be taken as explained below.
The exchange process with money
Quite simply money is a stand-in, or surrogate, for the intrinsic value of one of the items being exchanged. Clearly if the exchange is to properly form an economic nugget then the money involved in the exchange must be honest, not fraudulent.
For money to act as an honest stand-in it must be old money, i.e. already be representing the intrinsic value of a particular exchangeable item. So if money is not to disrupt the formation of an economic nugget the money must be honest, it cannot just claim to represent intrinsic value, it must uniquely represent the intrinsic value of a real exchangeable item. If not the money is counterfeit in the full meaning of the word. It is pretending to represent an intrinsic value which does not exist because the exchangeable item in which the value should inhere does not exist. The money is thus fraudulent and consequently the formation of a healthy economic nugget  is compromised. In economic terms the nugget is, corrupted.
It is essential here to draw a distinction between new money and old money. New money is money that has not yet been uniquely linked to a real intrinsic value. That is the intrinsic value inhering in a real exchangeable item whereas old money has been so linked.
Thus old money,  because it  cannot help but honestly represent the intrinsic value of existing exchangeable items can never be fraudulent. So when old money is used as the surrogate in the exchange process the formation of an economic nugget will not be compromised in any way.
The problem of corrupted nugget formation occurs when newly issued money is used as a surrogate for an exchangeable item. This is because the newly issued money cannot honestly claim to represent the intrinsic value of an exchangeable item. For it to do so a deliberate effort has got to be made to uniquely link the newly issued money to the intrinsic value of a particular exchangeable item. Once this is done it then becomes old money and can honestly claim to represent the intrinsic value inherent in a real exchangeable item.
Ensuring that this happens will require a change in the way the current money system operates.
Suggested method for uniquely linking newly issued money to the intrinsic value in real exchangeable items.
The intrinsic value that inheres in exchangeable items resides in the heads of the people wanting to make exchanges of the items. It belongs to nobody else.
The workings of the suggested money system are predicated on the above fact. The current money system simply ignores it.
As already pointed out unfortunately once intrinsic values become externalised in the form of money it becomes possible for the externalising agents [i.e. the monetary authorities] to lay false claim to the value in the money. This is a temptation that the authorities have unfortunately succumbed to time and again throughout history.
In previous eras money had to have a physical form and for this reason alone money had to have a central controlling body to oversee its production and issuance. This made it easy for the members of the controlling body to lose sight of the fact that the intrinsic values of exchangable items, externalised in money, actually belonged to the people making the exchanges, not to anybody else particularly the monetary authorities.
In the current era of ubiquitous electronics there is no reason to be bound by the  physical constraints of previous eras. Now, provided that an individual has a cell phone, money, both old and new, can be issued electronically to the individual when and where it is needed. The only constraints on this practice will be the ones that are logically neccessary to mantain the honesty of the money.
The banks are already issuing money electronically. They do this by means of credit and debit cards. These cards can be used to make payments at the point of purchase and in due course the money involved in the transaction is transferred electronically from the purchaser’s bank account to the supplier’s bank account.
Unfortunately under the present monetary system before people can make use of these cards they have to have a bank account and for this they have to already have money.
People with little or no money cannot have a bank account, thus a credit or debit card, nor can they enter into voluntary exchanges of goods and services that involve money. This situation is highly undesirable both from an individual and from a societal health point of view.
The situation can be rectified however by adjusting the money system to operate in a different way to that in which it currently operates. This change is not a radical one as the bulk of the money system can remain unchanged.
Suggested changes to the money system
The change will be in how money is created, put into circulation and removed from circulation. Physical money will be discarded completely, replacing it with electronic money. Electronic money, both new and old, will be issued directly to individuals at their  point of need. Further more in order to impede the accumulation of money in financial centres individuals will be encouraged to spend their money within their proximate community by levying an ‘out of community’ tax on money spent outside of their proximate community.
The following points list some of the most important changes. Other ones will of course be uncovered as the reformed money system is fully developed.
1. Money is only ever recorded and held in an electronic form. It will no longer exist in any ‘hard copy’ form.
2. Thus the national currency  will only need to have a single unit of currency [UoC].
3. An independent National Currency Authority [NCA] will need to be established. It will look after and keep a record of every UoC created.

4. Because each UoC is intended to be representing an economic nugget it will exist as a uniquely identified record on the national currency database [NCDB]. The NCDB wiII be the electronic equivalent of a central bank’s gold holding.
5. The NCA will maintain the NCDB.  
6. The NCDB will also  contain a recorded history of the identities of the successive holders of each UoC.
7. Through strict controls on the amount of new UoCs issued into circulation at any one time the NCA will ensure that the national currency contains the absolute minimum of new UoCs, and thus the national currency will never be deliberately debased as currently happens.
8. All UoC will be held only on the NCDB.  Outside of the NCA they will only appear as the recorded amounts of UoC held by, economically functional entities[EFE’s]. EFE’s are either real persons, or legal persons.
9. The amounts of recorded UoCs held outside of the NCA will, just as is currently the case, require regular auditing to ensure the integrity of the recordings.
10. Every EFE will have to be registered with the NCA before they can be involved in any monetary transactions.
11. Every ‘person’ EFE will have to be recorded as a member of an identified community comprised only of persons proximate to the EFE in question.
12. All ‘legal person’ EFE’s will have to be recorded as members of a single national community.
13. Every EFE will have to have an account with the NCA. These accounts will be maintained by the NCA on a EFE database [EFEDB].
14. Every EFE will be required to have a bank account registered with the NCA.
15. The NCA will keep a record, on the EFEDB, of every UoC, old and, new if any, issued  to individual EFEs.
16. Only the NCA will be allowed to issue new UoCs or to remove old UoCs from circulation.
17. The preferred means of EFE access to the NCA will be electronic.This will not preclude face to face or email interaction with the NCA when necessary.
18. It will be essential for the NCA to provide, for every EFE,the means for secure electronic access to the money system.
19. Many positive benefits to individuals and to the community as a whole will arise from a switch to a solely electronic currency thus the State should bear the electronic transmission costs of all monetary transactions between individual EFEs and the NCA. This means that  the State will bear the electronic transmission costs between the NCA and banks as they too are EFEs.
20. For those at the lowest levels of the economy cell phones are likely to be the only means of access to the NCA’s systems and thus money. Therefore the State must fund cell phones for EFEs where necessary.
21. Every monetary transaction entered into by an EFE will have to start its life with the NCA.
22. When an EFE wants to make a payment to another EFE the NCA would first check to see if the receiving EFE was a member of the same community as the paying EFE.

22.1. If yes the NCA would ensure that the ‘out of community’ tax register on the transaction was set to zero and proceed to step 23.
22.2. If no the NCA would calculate the tax payable on this ‘out of community’ transaction and put this amount in the ‘out of community’ tax register before proceeding to step 23.
23. The NCA would check to see if the paying EFE had enough funds in its bank account to make the full payment, i.e. transaction plus tax, if any.
23.1. If yes the NCA would first take the tax portion of the transaction, if any, for itself before passing the transaction through to the receiving EFE’s bank account. The tax  portion could be used to defray the NCA’s operating costs.
23.2. If no the NCA would fist check to see if the required amount of new money could be issued to the paying EFE. [EFE’s would have an enforced limit on the number of unredeemed new UoCs that could be issued to them.]
23.2.1. If yes it would transfer the new UoCs to the EFE’s bank account and add them to the amount of new, i.e. unredeemed, UoCs issued to the EFE and proceed to step 23.1..
23.2.2. If no it would halt the transaction and inform the paying EFE accordingly.
24. If money from another EFE was to be deposited into the EFE’s bank account then the NCA would first check to see if the recieving EFE has any record of new UoCs issued to it.
24.1 If no then the money would be immediately transferred to the EFE’s bank account.
24.2 If yes the NCA would, before transferring the deposited UoCs to the EFE’s bank account,
24.2.1. Deduct from the deposited UoCs the number of UoCs equivalent to the number of new UoCs previously issued to the EFE and reduce the amount of previously issued new UoCs accordingly.
24.2.2. Pass the remainder of the deposited UoCs, if any, through to the EFE’s bank account.
24.2.3. The deducted, deposited UoCs, would be removed from circulation and placed on hold awaiting their re-issue into circulation through the national treasury.
25. The NCA in conjunction with the Dept of Statistics would constantly monitor the percentage change in the size of the economy.
26. At regular intervals, based on these statistics, the NCA would issue into circulation via the National Treasury the volume of additional UoCs, if any, needed in the economy. These UoCs would come first from the UoCs currently on hold then, if there are insufficient UoCs on hold to meet the need, issue new UoCs. Under these circumstances these new UoCs would not be inflationary.
The benefits
1. Adherence to procedures 22 to 24 would ensure that newly issued UoCs  become old UoCs without corrupting the formation of economic nuggets.
2.  The controlled issuing of new money to individuals at the point of need would eliminate cash starved individuals and communities and begin a natural process of eradicating  poverty.
3. The elimination of cash starved communities would naturally boost the economy and in due course drastically reduce poverty.
4.  The switch to an electronic currency would eliminate the need for
a) the infrastructure established to handle and secure physical money and
b) all the infrastructure’s associated costs.
5.The criminal uses of money would become impossible once the switch to an electronic currency takes place because of suggestions 8, 9 and 10 above.
6. Any criminal activity that flourishes because of the anonymity accorded to the holders of money under the current money system would be threatened once suggestion 6 above is implemented.
Rory Short  2014/04/27