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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"A Confederacy of Dunces"

Alrighty then, time to move along... right after this final footnote to the passionate discussion that followed personal observations in the previous post, "An Inconvenient Monkey Wrench."

First, let me just say that I'm going to stand ("hide") behind the opening premise in "Monkey Wrench:" 

At a time when the bulk of his "work" laid behind him, Albert Einstein, perhaps the most scientific, studied, and brilliant of all scientists, was asked about Intelligent Design. "I see a pattern but my imagination cannot picture the maker of the pattern... we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper."  

When one doesn't know answers to life's persistent questions, it's nice to "buddy up" to someone who's life's work centered around researching said answers. It's a relatively (pun intended) safe place, standing behind Albert's demure frame in the face of naysayer "bouncers."  Look, I'll admit that I couldn't make third string on the University of Alfred E Neuman's debate team. I couldn't even get away with the tiniest fib to my dear mother any more than I could find a safe hiding place for my prized October, 1966 issue of Playboy Magazine (Jane Fonda), the one I dug out a bachelor neighbors trashcan. The women cleaned every nook... even between mattresses! 

So neither little ole me nor the books I read are going to change anyone's mind politically, spiritually, or evolutionally speaking. Those are personal "truths" that only you get to be the "decider" of (thank you George W. :)). I do, however, like to get out my pointy little stick and poke "assumptions" now and then... you know, absolute things like gravity and the belief that the earth is flat. What's that? Oh, pardon me, of course, now, in light of new information, we know the earth is round. So gee, the question that keeps coming to my little mind is, "What new information might come our way as technology and science advances, something that will change mindsets, and assumptions, and formerly, beyond-the-shadow-of-doubt theories?" I took logic 101 at SMSU, so I get fallacies. Hell, I'm guilty of them as often as not. But, as smart as "they" are, "they" don't have the whole picture yet, in my humble opinion, as some things remain to be discovered. And sometimes the incomplete little picture gets crammed down our collective throat in school as "fact" instead of theory. Sorry, but that just rubs me the wrong way. Do you realize that it takes an average of ten years to correct and distribute revised textbooks as "new information" challenges previous beliefs? I'm just saying...

Personally, with apologies to Mr Louis B. Leakey, I admit to rooting for the Intelligent Design Team when it comes to "The Origin of Man." I do it with head fully out of sand... being ok with evolution when it comes to adaptation of plants, animals and near-human creatures, the "survival of the fittest," so to speak, although I prefer more "Intelligent" over "fittest."  But when it comes to humans... us... our survival over pre-industrial revolution times depended more upon cooperation than competition. This is a "truth" that we need to get back to in light of today's age of competitive edges that are the leading source for escalation of problems from pollution to overuse to extinction to fighting over oil/resources. We need to leave competition in the arena of Olympic Games, because industrially, environmentally, globally... as in, country to country, state to state, citizen to citizen, neighbor to neighbor, school to school, person to person... it's cooperation, not competition, that will get us out of the mess we've created. Humans are wired for cooperation, not war. But "scarcity" puts us in corners and we (our lifestyles, etc.) become threatened. Over populate a space and watch what happens... put too many people too close together and watch how things get competitive and go ary. Where humans are involved, "Survival of the fittest" language shouldn't apply, let alone be uttered, for when it is, people like Hitler and Chairman Mao misuse it to justify atrocities and control. 

We need to find a way to put "war" and power aside and re-start cooperation, lest we be a unique species that fails en mass in spite of superior intelligence and ability to reason and predict outcomes based on history/information. That, dear reader, is just good old common sense... something I'm blessed with in lieu of I. Q..  

Argument is essential. But somehow we need to use it less as a weapon of division and more as a weapon of solution. Take a look around... read the headlines, if you can stomach them... something needs to change. That is all Gregg Braden wants us to understand. He is using science and history as a tool to motivate us toward change... action... survival. Perhaps I misrepresented him by singling out sensational snippets. Don't let that stand in the way of keeping an open mind about who we are and why we're here. It is in seeking answers to those questions that we can rejoin as humans instead of Americans, Russians, Chinese, and so on. Once we are of one mind to heed our inherent goodness, we have the power to end war, suffering, oppression, poverty and destruction of our planet. That is the message to be taken from Deep Truths... the only one that really counts, actually, because we are running out of time. Get the "Confederacy of Dunces" in politics and religion to quit bullshitting their way around the bush and do something tangible; show us some progress or get the hell out of our way so we can do it person to person, neighbor to neighbor, country to country. Don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. Anything is possible with motivation, and what more motivation could you ask for than our dismal record?  That's the message. Read the damn book... take what you like and throw the rest out... but don't discount it because of it's cover, me, or some new scientific evidence that rubs you the wrong way. 

I seldom defend people; most have ulterior motives and feet of clay. But ideas, I will defend... especially those on how we might escape the mess we've made. Those ideas are getting put out there... just in case. We need a little traction. We are at a tipping point...  

I was in need of a little "Drama," so instead of walking Lovely Ouray we went looking for trouble... driving over guardrail-less Red Mountain Pass on snow and ice during a storm.

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It doesn't take long to find "Drama," in the form of a family of Bighorn Sheep

Wind on Red Mountain was creating ground blizzards... so we drove on to Silverton, a remote mountain town that basically goes into hibernation from November till June. It was like a Ghost Town...

We drove up to the cemetery overlooking Sleeping Silverton. A hole opened up in the clouds, so we took a walk. With only 8 inches of snow, we left our snowshoes in the car.

By the time we started home, roads had cleared along with the skies.


  1. My mom is sitting beside me on the phone with her cousin in Georgia, discussing our upcoming post-Christmas trip. She was telling her how we'll all split up when we get to Atlanta and that my daughter and I plan on hitting the Martin Luther King and Jimmy Carter museums in Atlanta. My mom said "Somehow I'll put up with driving all the way down there in the car with two Democrats" and we all had a good natured laugh.

    While cooperation is definitely more useful than competition, the human race has need of both traits...it's just having the wisdom to use them appropriately at the right time that's the struggle! As for men like Hitler who make such a mess of things...sociopaths don't follow any rules because their concerns are selfish and they only say what they think people want to hear in order for people to go along with them. Don't get me started on sociopaths! Enjoy all that snow that's on its way, and say hi to the Bighorns from us next time you run across them!

  2. Mark,
    You do have a way with words. I appreciate that. You mention Neuman, isn't he the guy from Seinfeld? Just wondering,


  3. Personally I think that we have evolved to be a cooperative species, but its a complex subject. In any case, I think there's a lot of truth in what you wrote, Mark, and while I see some things differently, I agree wholeheartedly about the big picture you are trying to get across regarding the need for cooperation, instead of conflict. With the invention of increasingly powerful and potentially destructive technology, survival won't be possible, let alone happiness, without some serious, sustained, and widespread cooperation.

    I think it would help a lot if critical thinking were properly taught in school, from early on, and when the current, best established and supported facts and theories are taught, its should always be made clear that they are tentative, and never crammed down throats as the final word.

    I've added the damn book to my reading list!

    Spectacular pictures! Brings me back to some scary driving over Rocky Mountain passes in the snow in my 82 Subaru Brat. I've got to get back to Colorado!

  4. Susan here. The Zion Bighorn were much more delicate. Although at the time since they scared the begeesus outta me, at the time they were the size of a herd of elephants. And as for that icy snowy road without guard rails... you crazy dunces!

  5. Laverne here...Mark, your explanation to this debate makes good sense to me..arguing politics and religion is like a dog chasing its own tail!

    Loved your postcards, Silverton looks great, even when abandoned...

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.

  6. “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
    ― Carl Sagan

  7. I'm sure it's very comforting to believe that people are wired for cooperation, not war, but do you really think that the evidence supports that theory?
    Can it be that we are wired for both and that is why there is evidence for both throughout history. Personally, I believe that people will cooperate as long as there's something in it for them but as soon as that is no longer true, competition and violence will spontaneously arise.
    Hunger, cold, etc. hurts and people will do what they have to do in order to survive, not only for today but also to build resources to ensure survival in the future during times of want.

  8. Yes, its pretty clear that people are "wired" (whether that is through design or evolution is another issue) for a wide variety of behaviours. Which behaviours get to be expressed is a complex mixture of genetic, nurturing, education, reward, punishment, etc. All of which are complex individually, and even more so in combination.

    I just hope that aspects such as, but not limited to, man's superior intelligence and ability to think deeply, rationally and for the long term will be enough to avoid the obvious potential disaster that are looming.

  9. First, a weather updated... it's snowing like hell (? never did get that one). A blizzard, and I'm not talking Dairy Queen!!!
    It is a good day to stay inside by the fire, but I'm not gonna. Bobbie did most of the heavy shoveling... but it's filling back in pretty fast. I go see if I can at least shovel the deck and get the Christmas lights plugged in... it's the least i can do :))

    Pam and Wayne,
    Ha... I like your mom. She can ride with me anytime :)) I appreciate your two cents. definitely worth a nickel, at least (grin)

    You must be young... it's not the Siefield Newman, I was referring to the Mad Magazine Neuman :)) Google it. I wonder if it's still in publication? thanks Mick.

    Whether it's schools, churches, governments... just give give us all sides of the story and let us make up our own minds... as the "facts" get "revised" (ahem) then we can always adapt and change our minds, if we haven't been brainwashed, that is. You sound both intelligent, and reasonable... polite. If only our leaders had such traits...
    A Subaru Brat, eh? Well at least you had the right car for those snowy roads. I see you are in England... how in the heck??? Thanks for chiming in, and when you do get back to Colorado, stop by Lovely Ouray and look us up. :))

    I think there is more food for the bighorn sheep that live around here. It's hard to make a meal out of red sandstone :)) And those rams were small... I get some photos of full curl rams... quite intimidating. thanks... see you soon.

    Arguing is the last thing I like to do... I was just giving a Book Report/review of Deep Truth. I thought it had some new food for thought. A made up mind is a closed mind... most of the time. You can quote me. thanks, and I wish you the best Christmas ever :))

    Tom in (warm) Orlando,
    Nice quote... not too specific so as to piss people off :))

    No, the evidence does not seem to support that theory, anymore... since we became so "civilized." Pre-historically speaking, the evidence suggests lack of war, tho. Very few to none whatsoever artifacts like skulls bashed in, blunt trauma to bones, arrow nicks, etc.. The earliest groups of "Man"seemed to get by by cooperating... so that's where my "wired" comment was coming from. You see it in some primitive cultures even today. But we are unlearning it more and more every day.

    And there is "something in it for them (us)" if we cooperate... think about it.
    Thanks, George... always enjoy your "take."
    Box Canyon Mark

  10. Thanks, Mark, I'd love to meet you in person. You are a class act. I've discovered your blog via a convoluted chain starting at Early Retirement Extreme, can't remember how I got there!

  11. "I seldom defend people; most have ulterior motives and feet of clay. But ideas, I will defend... especially those on how we might escape the mess we've made. Those ideas are getting put out there... just in case. We need a little traction. We are at a tipping point... "

    Well stated! I could not have summated the "point" any better. I love the dialog that ensues after your posts.



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