A recent study by research and analysis gurus, the Economist Intelligence Unit, says that America is now a flawed democracy due to a steep decline in Americans’ trust in their government, elected representatives and political parties.

Slight correction.  America has never been a democracy, it’s a republic. It’s like calling a filet mignon a hamburger. If you don’t know the difference, you should look it up. Are you listening there at the Economist?

The Real Israel

01/16/2017

Once upon a time, almost half-way around the world the biblical kingdom of Israel existed; that is, until it was wiped off the map by the Roman Empire. Today, the country of Israel has been resurrected but there is something very strange about it – almost unrecognizable in fact. You see, it’s now very different, geographically speaking. So, why and how did that happen?

In biblical times, Israel existed as two kingdoms; one was called Judea and the other Samaria. Interestingly enough, those two kingdoms make up, more or less, what today is referred to as the West Bank. Yes, the West Bank rather than Israel. How does one explain how the creation of a 20th century Jewish homeland never had them return to what was truly home for them. It’s sort of like someone who grew up in New York City going back home as an adult to live in New Jersey. How does that make any sense?

Well, actually there is one way that this all makes sense. The reality is that the Jewish homeland was never about geography, but rather about politics. Today, more than half of modern-day Israel is made up of the Negev Desert, which could never be considered to be a homeland for anyone, with the exception maybe of the Bedouins who have lived there for thousands of years. Further, important biblical cities/sites like Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Masada, Jericho and Qumran are, today, all in the West Bank.

So, the true Jewish homeland is really what is now referred to as the West Bank and not some arbitrary lines drawn on a map by some politicians who carved up what was then British Palestine. The West Bank was also then part of Palestine and later became part of Jordan. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Jordan (having lost the war) ceded the West Bank to Israel, and so it remains today. Therefore, why would anyone expect that Israel would give up their true homeland? Why? Would you?

 

Epilogue

Palestine has never existed as a country, so it’s hard to see why it should exist today. This is especially true since the majority of British Palestine was spun off into an Arab nation that today is called Jordan and which is populated predominately by Palestinians. That’s why King Hussein, the former king of Jordan, said that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.

Of course, Jordan could just become a Palestinian state (as opposed to be being a Saudi/Hashemite kingdom). However, that would be too easy. Why promote a peaceful solution when you can promote one that creates chaos instead.

 

 

Palestine Fake News

01/06/2017

So, Palestine is back in the news again. One really has to ask the question why. That is, why do the Palestinians deserve a homeland?

In recent days, the UN Security Council passed a resolution whereby Israeli settlements in the West Bank were deemed to be illegal (i.e. occupied territories). I say “deemed to be” because the UN Security Council has no legal power to tell any sovereign nation what to do. If we’re going to play the “occupied territories” card, it would only be fair to first demand that China give Tibet its freedom back or that America return the country to the Native Americans. By definition, then, the West Bank, Tibet and America are all occupied territories. The West Bank arguably falls into this category because it was won as the result of a war… and the treaty that ended that war said that the West Bank now belonged to Israel. So, that should be the end of it, right?

Aside: The fake news is that an actual, sovereign nation of Palestine has never existed; not even in biblical times. Some scholars say that a Palestinian identity did not even become a reality until after 1948, with some saying as late as 1967. Ethnically, Palestinians are actually no different from other Arabs living throughout the Middle East.

However to understand the politics of the present, one has to know a little something about the politics of the past. At the conclusion of World War I, the former Ottoman Empire was carved up and a part of it was given the name Palestine. Arabs, Christians and Jews lived in Palestine at that time and they were all considered to be Palestinians. Palestine was governed by the British under what was called the British Mandate of Palestine. Part of Palestine would later be spun off and become the Arab state of Transjordan. In 1948, Transjordan (now called Jordan) and other Arab states invaded the remainder of Palestine (then called Mandatory Palestine). The trigger for the war was Israel’s declaration of independence. The resulting treaty that ended the war gave the West Bank to Transjordan with the remainder of Mandatory Palestine recognized as the Jewish state of Israel.

Those borders remained in place until the Six – Day War of 1967. That war was initiated by various Arab nations, including Jordan, who still did not recognize the creation of the state of Israel. At the conclusion of that war, Jordan ceded the West Bank to Israel. It’s interesting to note that The United Nations did not call for a homeland for the Palestinian Arabs at that time.

However today, some fifty years later, politicians have reinvented the issue of a separate Palestinian state. Never mind that the biggest minority population in the Middle East, the Kurds, still do not have a homeland of their own; never mind that an Arab nation (Jordan) was previously carved out of Palestine and could be used to provide for a Palestinian state; and never mind that the West Bank is, more or less, the biblical Jewish lands of Judea and Sumeria, the loss of which was the reason for a Jewish homeland in the first place.

Finally, and most importantly, never mind that the Palestinian Arabs still do not recognize Israel as a sovereign state as evidenced by their rejection of John Kerry’s recent two-state solution. In those circumstances, why would anyone want to create a Palestinian state which would be next door to a nation (Israel) that they, the Palestinians, do not recognize, a nation that they would like to wipe off the map? After all, that’s how we got the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 and the Six-Day War of 1967. So, you have to ask yourself if the real reason the politicians want to create a Palestinian homeland is to create a lasting peace or to start a war. Last I checked, no one makes money off of peace, only off of wars. Fake peace anyone?

 

“The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.”  –  King Hussein of Jordan

 

Fake News

11/30/2016

The topic of so-called Fake News is prominent in the headlines these days. However, it’s just one person’s opinion as to whether news is fake or not. After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, right?

So, what if anything should one make of the furor over Fake News? Most of the debate seems to center around the mainstream media vs. certain alt-right internet sites. However, differing opinions are in reality not necessarily differing viewpoints. By that, I mean that some opinions are in reality based on ideology, ideologies that often do not require proof. These ideologies are the result of agendas of control which are not interested in the truth, but rather only in the promulgation of the ideology itself.

Aside: Perhaps, the American people have already decided this issue since the mainstream media’s approval rating has fallen to around 6%. More to the point, when you lose credibility your ideology suffers (i.e. you lose elections).

Beyond the obvious debate concerning the media, there is a less obvious example with regards to ideology shaping the world that we live in. I’m talking about one of my favorite whipping boys – science. As philosopher Paul Feyerabend put it, “Thus science is much closer to myth than scientific philosophy is prepared to admit… it is inherently superior only for those who have already decided in favour of a certain ideology, or who have accepted it without having ever examined its advantages and its limits.”  Yes, even in science, any process inherently begins with a person’s ideology.

A couple of well-known scientists who admitted to what Feyerabend said about ideology are Edwin Hubble and Richard Lewontin, as follows:

Such a condition would imply that we occupy a unique position in the universe…The hypothesis cannot be disproved but it is unwelcome… Therefore we disregard this possibility…. the unwelcome supposition of a favoured location must be avoided at all costs…. Such a favoured position is intolerable…Therefore, in order to restore homogeneity, and to escape the horror of a unique position…must be compensated by… spatial curvature. There seems to be no other escape.” – Edwin Hubble, astronomer

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a priori commitment, a commitment to materialism.  It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” – Richard Lewontin, geneticist

So, is it theory or is it fact? Is it real or is it fake? How is a person to know? Maybe, we should just play another one of those videos from physicist Michio Kaku. He wouldn’t lie to us…now would he?

 

Epilogue

One needs to keep in mind that things are rarely what they seem. In reality, it’s the people crying Fake News who are the ones putting out the Fake News. It’s a strategy taken right out of the playbook of Saul Alinsky. Of course, that’s just one man’s opinion, isn’t it? No doubt some would even claim it’s Fake News.

 

 “Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” 
    – Michael Ellner

 

 

I read a post the other day where a reader commented that one should follow God’s will. That comment immediately raised a couple of questions, at least for me. First off, how do we know that God has a will? At first blush, maybe that seems like a pretty innocuous question. However, how does anyone really know? After all, The Pascal Wager states that, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible” (i.e. the finite cannot conceive of the Infinite).

That, of course, begs the second question. That is, what kind of a life form might God be? However, we first probably need to define “will,” as in God’s will. The Free Dictionary says that will is “The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action.” In that case, I suppose, God has to be considered to be some sort of a physical life form. The Bible confirms this as it says that God was a man, specifically referring to God as Him.

Aside: Of course if God was a man, then who created God?

Now, I know that some people would say that God does not have to be a Him; that God could be a She or even an It. Fair enough. However, consider this. Some researchers/historians, myself included, believe that the Genesis story (in particular the Creation and Flood stories) was borrowed from older Sumerian writings.

Aside: That was only natural, in a way, since the Israelites actually were descendants of the Sumerians through Abraham.

In the ancient Sumerian writings, God (or more accurately the gods) is referred to as Him because he actually is a man – a real flesh and blood man. This is why the Bible says that man (Adam) was created in God’s image, (i.e. the image of a male, human being).

Aside: That is, man and God have nearly identical DNA.

Naturally, all of this raises more questions than it answers. For example, is God the Prime Creator? Well, certainly, the god of Genesis was the creator of man, at least the modern-day version of Homo sapiens. As for being the creator, the Bible actually says that God is not the Prime Creator. In Deuteronomy 32:8-9, it states, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s (Yahweh) portion is his people; Jacob (Israel) is the lot of his inheritance.” This shows that Yahweh was, at best, a lower god since Yahweh was subordinate to the Most High. Further, in John 1:18, John says that ““No one has ever seen God.” Of course, John was speaking about the spirit form of God, so the physical god of Genesis could not be God, according to John.

Back to the issue of God’s will. If God was an intelligent life form with a physical body, by definition he would almost certainly have a will. God then might impose his will on man, if he so chose, similar to what happened in so many of the biblical stories. The problem is that the so-called god of Genesis is not God, as in the Prime Creator. In that case, why worry about god’s will at all? Indeed, why even worship Yahweh?

…Or perhaps, the “god concept” is really just a distraction to keep us from connecting with our real Creator.

 

Epilogue

As Yahweh told man, you shall have no other gods before you. Hopefully, you can now see how that Bible verse makes some sense. That is, there were many Yahweh-type entities running around in ancient times. Yahweh was simply one of many (see Deuteronomy 32:8-9 above). In fact, the Israelites were polytheistic for thousands of years, even after Moses. Yahweh was an important god but the goddess Asherah was just as important, perhaps even more so. However, with the introduction of monotheism, the Israelites were told to have no other gods before them – and certainly not the gods of the Sumerians, the gods of Abraham.

 

The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”  – Carl Sagan

 

P.S. Of course, “the universe” Sagan mentions is not a life form (i.e. it cannot know itself). When reading his quote, therefore, you need to replace the word “universe” with the word “Creator”.

Imagine

09/29/2016

“There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.”  – Bill Hicks

Imagine that you are a TV monitor looking at another TV monitor. That’s exactly how one’s eyesight works. Of course, you have other senses and they all send messages to the brain where they are interpreted and communicated (fed) to your consciousness. Collectively, then, your perception of reality is defined as the sum total of all these electrical signals which have been transmitted to your brain and, then, subsequently interpreted by it.

Scientists say that our decisions are made in the brain (mind) before we are actually  consciously aware of them. So, it seems that we need to reassess who and what we really are. Consider this – are we more than just our physical bodies, more than just our conscious minds?

Science is continually breaking new ground in their quest to define creation. For example, MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark believes the universe is a mathematical structure. Of course, mathematics, by definition, is information. More to the point, a mathematical structure implies intelligence. Then, there is a new scientific field of inquiry called DNA Wave Genetics which postulates that the genome of the highest organisms is considered to be a bio-computer which forms the space-time grid framework of a bio-system. The logical extension of that theory is that we exist in a bio-system created by a bio-computer which is none other than our own DNA. But, then, who created our DNA?

If you are religious, you no doubt believe that you have a “soul.” However, what then is a soul if not another layer of information which defines who or what we are? Indeed, that information/soul might even come from a higher dimension than the three-dimensional universe that we “exist” in. After all, some cosmologists and physicists believe that there are more than three dimensions in the universe (four counting space/time).

Since science has theorized that there are such things as parallel universes, perhaps we exist in more than one universe at the same time. However, if we are multi-dimensional beings, what then is creation? Well, no less than Carl Jung offered up that all of creation is subjective, a dream…and we are the dreamers. Maybe, Bill Hicks was on to something.

 

 

Some people think that capitalism is in serious decline. Does it really matter? The thing is that capitalism is already dead and buried… but they forgot to write the obituary. The bank bailouts of 2008 were, perhaps, the final nail in the coffin.

Results from a recent survey by Harvard University found that a majority of millennials do not favor capitalism. Interestingly enough, the same survey said that those same millennials favor a free-market system over a government-managed economy. What’s wrong with that picture? The problem is that those two responses stand in stark opposition with one another. That is, you can’t favor a free-market system and in the same breath reject capitalism. Can you?

So, on what level does this make any sense? Here’s how. Those surveyed don’t truly understand what capitalism is. That should be intuitively obvious since, by definition, capitalism is a free-market system. I said should be intuitively obvious.

All that the millennials know is that they object to the 1% controlling most of the nation’s wealth. As a result, capitalism becomes a convenient whipping boy.  Little do they realize that a free market system is not truly free if it’s controlled by the same 1%. The truth is that the economy is run in a concerted partnership between corporations (the 1%) and government. Historically, this is more correctly labeled as fascism – not capitalism. Just ask Mussolini.

 

    “Fascism is capitalism in decay.”

              – Lenin

 

Is Reality Real?

04/18/2016

Everybody I talk to is so certain of just about everything. It certainly gives the impression that no one is wrong about anything.  So, here’s a little pop quiz for those who think that they know everything.

What is a table made out of? If you answered wood, that’s fine. If so, then what is the wood made out of? In other words, what is the essence of matter? For those of you who answered the atom, very good. So what, then, does the atom mostly consist of?

Answer: Its 99.9% empty space. Show of hands. How many got that right?

Back to the original question: What is a table made out of? Best answer: Mostly empty space.

Then, what is reality you might ask. Good question. Karl Pribram, a neurophysiologist and physicist, says that we exist in a virtual reality matrix where our brains construct reality by interpreting frequencies that are projections from beyond space and time. In other words, the physical world is a projection from the quantum world. With regards to how we actually view our reality, science says that 2-D optical impulses are sent to the brain where they are converted into 3-D holographic images. So, where is it that we actually “see” an object? Perhaps, you can now see where I am going with this (no pun intended).

Sleep studies show that we roll over in bed at night, sometimes a lot. After all, we wake up in a different position than when we fell asleep. Since we’re asleep, who tells our body to roll over and why don’t we ever fall out of bed? For that matter, how would we even know where the edge of the bed is, since our eyes are closed? Obviously, we don’t understand what consciousness is and therefore we lack an understanding of who and what we really are.

Then there’s the curious case of our belief systems. Given what was just said, do we even have an accurate view of life? How can one make enough sense out of our perception of reality (since that’s all that it is) in order to make proper decisions (e.g. in order to be able to differentiate between right and wrong). Consider this: science has discovered that decisions are made in our mind even before we are consciously aware of them! So, who really made the decision?  Who are we?

One of the wisest men in history was the Greek philosopher Socrates. Socrates understood that no matter how much he knew, his knowledge would be dwarfed by what he did not know. Today, science has confirmed what Socrates knew intuitively. That is, reality is not understandable. As Einstein said, man will never be able to grasp the magnitude of the Universe and we now can appreciate why that is. The source of matter, and therefore the origins of reality, can be traced to the quantum world. It’s a world that we cannot penetrate. We can only theorize what it is like and what kind of natural laws might operate therein.

So you can probably see why I am a little skeptical when people tell me with absolute confidence that they know an answer to a particular question. As a Greek philosopher once said, “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion” – and now we know that atoms are basically empty space as well.

Aside: Of course, there is no such thing as empty space as what we’re really talking about here is a quantum field.

Life is truly an enigma which scientists are still trying to figure out. As astrophysicist Martin Rees noted, “Life is the most mysterious of all the wonders of creation because atoms have been assembled in such a way so that they can ponder their own existence.” However, because we have a very limited understanding of reality, we can ponder our existence all we want but I believe that our opinions are just that – they are opinions, and not facts. After all, how can you prove something, indeed anything, that you do not understand in the first place? If you believe otherwise, please enlighten me.

 

“In the world of physics…the shadow of my elbow rests on the shadow table as the shadow ink flows over the shadow paper…the frank realization that physical science is concerned with a world of shadow…”

   – Arthur Eddington, astronomer, physicist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post certainly isn’t Shakespeare.  However, it is about a tragedy, a modern-day version.  That is, politics rarely results in anything productive. Today, with all the backroom deals and secret handshakes, the world is upside down. As Shakespeare put it, there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.  That said, a little background is probably in order.

 

Historical background

After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was carved up by the victors (the Western Powers). They took a magic marker to the map of the Middle East and completely redrew all the boundaries. As a result, countries like Syria and Iraq were created out of thin air.

Further, the British were given a mandate by the League of Nations to administer certain occupied territories in the Middle East which would be used, for among other things, to create a Jewish homeland. That mandate is referred to as the Palestine Mandate, with Palestine referring to what is now the combined areas of Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. The original term of Palestinian referred to anyone then living within the boundaries of this new territory of Palestine, including Christians and Jews.

Fast forward to 1967, at which time various Arab countries attacked Israel in what would become known as the Six-Day War. Those Arab countries, which included Jordan, were on the losing side of that war and as a result Jordan ceded to Israel those lands west of the Jordan River (the West Bank). To the victors go the spoils, or so they say. Ever since, there has been an international dialogue to have Israel give the West Bank to the Palestinians to create a new and separate Arab state.

 

Making a bad situation worse

Today, the world is stuck with the political deals that the Western Powers made with each other at the end of World War I. Unfortunately, there is no way to unwind what has already been done and moving forward with a reasonable solution has proved to be elusive. So, as world leaders answer the clarion call, it would be good to remember a few salient points:

  • There has been a lot of discussion of returning the West Bank to the Palestinians, as if there ever was such a country. However, there has never been a country of Palestine – not in modern times and not even in ancient times. So, creating an Arab state for the Palestinians would not be a case of returning the West Bank to them, but rather it would be creating a Palestinian state for the very first time in history.
  • The Palestinians are not the only group in the world without a homeland. There are significant minority populations in any number of countries who have never had their own homeland. For example, the largest minority population in the world is actually the Kurds (who also live in the Middle East). However, there has never been any talk of giving them a homeland.
  • If Israel is forced to give up the West Bank, it could set a dangerous precedent.  If that were to happen, who might be next? Is it possible that America might be asked to return the Southwestern United States (stretching all the way from California to Texas) back to Mexico, since it was acquired as a result of the U.S./Mexican War.

Unfortunately, a precedent such as this would likely have an unexpected ripple effect. So, is there a reason why the world is hell-bent to make a bad situation worse?

 

The run-up to WWWIII

Although the status quo is far more palatable to me than the solutions offered up so far, I do have a proposal that might end the stalemate. Actually, it wasn’t very difficult to come up with it either. That is, simply have Israel give the West Bank back to Jordan. Yes, the very same Jordan that the West Bank used to be a part of. Jordan is a pretty stable government and they can probably be counted on to keep the peace.  Besides, a majority of the people currently residing in Jordan are actually Palestinians!

Despite its appeal, this proposal will no doubt fall on deaf ears. That’s because there is more money to be made from war than from peace. World War III anyone?

 

Epilogue

While we’re at it, let’s return North America (Canada and America) back to the Native Americans, have China return Tibet to the Tibetans and give North Korea back to South Korea.  Who would like the task of breaking the news to Kim Jong-un?

 

“The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.”

      – King Hussein of Jordan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

De-Evolving Man

03/28/2016

People have asked me if I think that man has really been getting dumber as I mentioned in my recent post Real Life, Real Evolution. Well, the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids, didn’t they? For that matter, we have pyramids dotting the landscape around the world.  Somebody built them, right?

It’s really just a matter of DNA. Genetically speaking, man is the by-product of sophisticated instructions contained in our DNA. DNA has software that even Bill Gates admits is far more advanced than any supercomputer. So, tell me, who put those instructions there? If you say that the DNA just evolved then I have to ask you another question. How does DNA just magically evolve and choose, through natural selection presumably, the necessary changes for the survival of the species? Either process requires intelligence.

So, where did the intelligence come from, then? How could man have had a dramatic increase in his intelligence followed by a subsequent, steady decline? Actually, all that it would take is a one-time injection of DNA from another source, a source other than Homo sapiens. You may recall that I have previously mentioned the genetic study by the Harvard Medical School, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Man is said to have mated with an unknown species. Such a mating could easily have produced a spike in man’s intelligence if that unknown species were more intelligent than Homo sapiens.

Thus, my prior reference to ancient, advanced civilizations, civilizations who seemed to have since vanished off the face of the Earth.  Many ancient cultures have stories of intelligent beings who appeared bringing with them the seeds of civilization. For example, the Incas were visited by Viracocha, the Mayas by Kukulkan, the Aztecs by Quetzalcoatl and the Dogon by the Nommos. Most of the “gods” said that they would return, but of course they never did.

The getting dumber part is actually easier to explain, if you assume the scenario I just presented is correct. That is, there would have been far, far more pure Homo sapiens running around than the smarter version. Over time, man’s intelligence would have been diluted, genetically speaking…and it will continue to be diluted in the future until we return to our original intelligence level!

So, there you have it.  You probably won’t agree with my explanation but I think that you will find it hard to completely ignore. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, the truth usually works that way.