… went to bed a little after 9 PM last night… slept to about 4 AM with wakefulness at 2 AM… not feeling terrific this AM, but excess alcohol is not the culprit… only two beers last night… beer is looking more and more the route to go… that or no drinking at all…

… during the night wind and rain moved in… i especially heard the wind as i was trying to sleep…

… I coming to dinner tonight… planning to roast a chicken (that i helped raise and slaughter), fix some kind of potatoes and make a bitter greens salad, perhaps with the green olive anchovy dressing that is so yummy… might throw in a tomato or two from the garden… yes, we have some late harvest tomatoes that, miraculously, are slowly ripening… they don’t taste as good as those that ripen in August-September, but better than store bought…

… i am remembering that i should have gotten notification of a car payment due, but haven’t… will need to check on it today… there have been issues with payments set up to automatically draw from our bank account…

… just before going to bed, a story about Max Cleland on Rachel Maddow… war hero, triple amputee, by all accounts, a good person… the kind of politician that used to be more common, not as addicted to power, more interested in getting things done, serving his constituents… he was unseated by a Republican in a brutal campaign that accused him of cowardice… decorated veteran, triple amputee, accused of cowardice… that’s the sort of cynical politics that has me despising politicians in general… wherever there is power to be gained, the most despicable kind of behavior ensues… ethics and decency have no place in that world… is it any wonder the country is coming apart at the seems when we-the-people allow ourselves to be pushed into tribal silos that elicit the worst from us?…

… tribal silos, it appears, make easy sales targets in all sorts of ways… in big picture thinking, what does this mean about humanity in general that we are easily corralled into tribes that allow for pinpoint marketing?… and that making us angry about something is a very easy way to congregate and target us… is this a no longer useful appendage of human behavior… or is it the way we will be organized by the cosmos into a whole that is greater than the straight forward sum of the parts?… it is this kind of thought that makes me want to read Sex, Ecology and Spirituality again…

… i was recently thinking that i might want to get involved in helping out in elections in 2022… maybe help the Democratic party… but then i realized, i don’t want to be expected to be loyal to the cause… i want to be able to look at the ideas and policies and concerns of both sides and arrive at nuanced positions about the right way to proceed… i am simply not a my-tribe-right-or-wrong kind of person…

… i think i may have hit on something with no title posting… just notes, tagged for future revisiting…

First Thoughts

… Republican Glen Yungkin won the Virginia governor race… Yungkin is widely viewed as a Trumpian Republican and many will view it as a warning sign that the far right is poised for gains in the Midterms and could win back the presidency in 2024… it is, of course, too early to know what it really means… a Republican win is consistent with history in Virginia where a gubernatorial candidate of the opposing party to the President of the United States is the common choice of voters… why this should be is not clear to me, but it is the history of the situation… it will be interesting to see what the turnout numbers are… that will be more indicative of whether there is energy on the Democratic side or not…

… the thought that is bugging me more has to do with the mess that the infrastructure negotiations have been in Washington… a theory that has currency with Authoritarian regimes around the world is that Authoritarianism is able to respond more quickly and effectively and consistently (when they want to) to changing events around the world and the fast pace of technological development… the Biden/Harris administration is trying to challenge that perception but the difficulty Democrats are having passing a broadly popular with the public infrastructure bill seems troubling in this regard… at least one commentator, Democrat Mark Warner from Virginia, suggested that failure to have passed an infrastructure bill of any kind hurt the chances of Terry McAuliffe in the race… given historical trends in Virginia mentioned above, maybe it would have made a difference, maybe not… but the broader theme of whether Democracies are too cumbersome for the present world environment is a legitimate question and the jury is out on that…

this mornings post from Heather Cox Richardson suggests that last night’s election results across the nation were a mixed bag with no clear indication of future national winning strategies for either party… in fact, it seems that voters voted in line with the degree to which their state is conservative or liberal than anything else…

… i had a productive day yesterday… worked right up to 6 PM… i made my first “In This Year” post in which i photograph an inscribed date i find on my walks (usually on a building, but sometimes scrawled in random patches of concrete) and then look up what happened in that year… i find it is an interesting exercise in grounding oneself during times that seem tumultuous… a somewhat reassuring find is that tumultuous years are common in history and that things often work themselves out without bringing down the present order… though not always… one will also find a record of eras that come to an end… what is always the case is that life goes on, sometimes in a better way for the general population, sometimes in a worse way… Steven Pinker author of Better Angels of our Nature1, argues that the overall trend is for the better and that Enlightenment Humanism is the foundation of that better trend… i loved the book, especially it’s grounding in Enlightenment Humanism philosophy… it is completely in line with my own philosophical stance in the world… however, those principles are under severe attack and one can imagine everything “going to hell in a hand basket” as that enlightenment order crumbles… hello new dark ages?… or is something else afoot?…

… it seems odd that Joe Biden, in some ways a relic of the past, is the standard bearer for Enlightenment and Humanist principles… a true believer in the “Better Angels of our Nature”… a last gasp?… the optics at present don’t seem good…

… i am feeling like Ken Wilber’s Sex, Ecology, Spirituality would be an important book to read right now… an important concept that i want to review is that every next level of being subsumes and incorporates into itself the preceding levels of being and is dependent on those levels of being that came before it, yet none of the levels of being that came before it are dependent on it… that is… split out of this next level of being, preceding levels function perfectly well on their own… the thought that i have in reviewing current technological trends is that a way is being prepared for the appearance of a next higher level of being… a level of being composed of all that is now and a more comprehensive intelligence brought on by advances in data processing…


  1. This Wikipedia article has an extensive critique of Better Angels that is worth reading as is the book itself. [return]

Annaka Harris, Conscious, Chapter 6, Is Consciousness Everywhere?

… the introduction to panpsychism…

… a review of the reason(s) why we might need a consciousness is in everything view of the cosmos, the hard problem of consciousness… where do you draw the line between what is conscious and what isn’t?… how do you pin down the conditions for its emergence?… you don’t have to do either of these things if you accept consciousness as somehow fundamental to the nature of the cosmos…

… Ms. Harris explains that most scientists, including neuroscientists, don’t accept panpsychism, believing consciousness to be an emergent quality of complex systems… they fail to solve the hard problem and possibly fail to overcome a human then mammal centric view of consciousness…

… i find it easy to accept panpsychism… experience is noticing, in some way, surroundings… all matter experiences its proximity to other matter… consciousness is simply being aware…

… the arguments against consciousness as a byproduct of evolution seem a little confused, groping around… the emergence of memory and the ability to anticipate and plan is what i think most evolutionists are talking about when they talk about the evolution of consciousness… a gradual awakening of experience into the ability to remember and predict, remember and teach… i am not sure this is the same as consciousness though i am also not sure it can be separated from consciousness…

… i remember reading that genes cary “memory” of predatory threats which cause an animal to respond even if they have never experienced the predator before… this DNA memory takes up to 10K years to dissipate once the predator is no longer in the environment…

… Harris confesses that she does not full on embrace panpsychism but also believes it deserves a place at the conversation table… she outlines the difficulty that humans have in conceiving of consciousness as something more simple and rudimentary than the complex thought processes they are capable of… it is a human-centric bias…

… perhaps we need a scale of awareness from subatomic particles to human brains and beyond (we haven’t gotten at all to the idea that individual higher level consciousnesses may add up collectively to something more complex and powerful still)… maybe that will be in a coming chapter…

… i keep thinking about Ken Wilber’s book, Sex, Ecology and Spirituality… i think also of Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man… both point to levels of complexity that will be composed of the individual units of thought gathered together in interconnected activity… a new level of consciousness and exchange… de Chardin, by the way, is buried a few miles from where i sit making these notes…