domingo, 28 de diciembre de 2014

ISIS the war against knowledge


ISIS: Queen of the gods, sister of Osiris, Greek name of the goddess AST; the great magician was protected by seven terrible scorpions: Befent, Maatet, Mestet, Mestetef, Petet, Tefen and Hetet. 
New fanatic political movement based on cruel expansion of faith in name of God acting as terrorists.

The meeting of the nosers took place just after the Catholic Xmas. All were delighted to have been able to use the nose in these days of many and heavy meals with good wine. All were optimistic, days of joy and celebration seemed to justify it. The last meeting of the year touches traditionally very briefly what has been its most relevant aspects along the 12 months. War was commented many times, several of them but three connected wars created expectation as two of the members of the direction of the Nosers' Club were recently in the conflict area. ISIS, Syria, Ukraine two very well connected wars and one that is only a consequence of the other two. We obviously took advantage of it and asked them to transmit us their impressions and personal view.

This is what they told and expressed:

You know that due to our involvement in two NGOs we have the opportunity to be in conflictive areas and in this case when we heard about ISIS our first reaction was to think that it was purely a political strategy created by the association of two countries against Russia and the interference of third parties in the Oil extraction business. Partially seems true but this is not all and even not the most important part of the story. 

Let me explain you some concepts that we learned our press in Europe (not to say all press) has misunderstood. The first is that this group called ISIS is not a fundamentalist group. Fundamentalism implies a return to essential, but who kills, rapes and kidnaps among other things are not returning to the essence of Islam. They try to justify their acts making reference to the Koran, but after they have made them. There are fundamentalist in every religion and none of them, including Islam, defend mass killing. The second is that they are also not Jihadists. Clearly the Jihad exists and has a normative, it can be an internal fight to become a better Muslim (in this case there is no violence) or it can be a real holy war to defend Islam which is what the terrorists say they do based on some Koranic norms taken out of context. The real Jihad can only be declared by an accepted, respected and known authority; and the norms are clear: it is forbidden to attack or kill people that haven't done anything against them. It is forbidden to to kill women and children, to torture prisoners and this terrorist group is doing all this. They are terrorists that have invented a holy war in parallel to the holy Qur'an. And what is even worse, they have befooled their suicidal soldiers. It is of course possible to die during a legal Jihad as a shahid or martyr but even here there are strict norms. The worrier has not to commit suicide even if he has agreed to take part in a non-return mission. He has not to know the hour of his death. It is expressly prohibited to commit suicide. All his life long has Muhammad refused to bless the blood of people that would kill themselves for whatever reason. Who kill in mass people or himself will not enter into Paradise. 

But the question is who are these terrorists and what connections have they to the wars in the area. We first thought that they were only one more of the many terrorist groups that took the money from selling Oil and that were tolerated by the big economical and political countries, but we soon learned that this can't be the case as it doesn't resist ant serious analysis. 

ISIS is one of the monsters created by the Secret Services that started to use "fundamentalism" in 1978 in Afghanistan to topple the government and harass Russia. Induced fundamentalism, let me call it so, was used in Kosovo (UCK) to go against Milosevic and since them the Wahhabi jihad has has an important presence there;  was also used in Libya (Ansar al-Sharia and rebels) against Gadhafi as well as against Asad via Liberation Army.

Seems strange that UN, NATO take so much time to manifest against ISIS. May be less strange if we remember that the US sold weaponry to Saudi Arabia in value of 640 million $ to "calm" the  protests in Bahrain and Yemen, curiously two places where US have military base. Protests of "fundamentalists" of course that threatened the KSA regime. Seems also strange that the US has knowledge on all related sanctions against Russia and watches over the implementation but is unable to know who is the buyer of the Oils sold by ISIS or that the best army of the world is unable to destroy a group of rebels. In 1991 the US made around 110,000 attack over Iran in 42 days , till now less than 200 against ISIS and predict that it won't be easy to win them. One could think that ISIS is simply an excuse to maintain the area militarized. That ISIS may menace Saudi Arabia is used to prevent the Kingdom to help Russia buying military weapons (as Egypt and Lebanon made with Saudi money) and that KSA stops investing in Europe or America.

ISIS serves to cut the Shi'ite alliance between Iran-Syria-Iraq-Hezbollah. This has undermined the meeting of Iraq with the western oil companies to invest in the country. Riad, Tel Aviv and Washington are happy for it. Again seems strange that this planetary menace has not reacted against Israel after the Jew army attacked Gaza and that "afraid Israel" has not made a preventive attack against Al Nusra HQs that are not far from the Israeli military base at the Golan Heights. This might be what is called peaceful coexistence. What seems clear is that all this is used by the US to dominate the Gulf area (including KSA) and the 800,000 mill of produced oil barrels. If "by the way" the power of Syria, Iran (and Russia) is destroyed... much better. Collateral winner is China that suffers less pressure from the US, the pressure that now is having Russia not to expand more and keep military bases close to the Mediterranean sea.

But seems to be a problem. The interest to change a stable government in some countries by a weak one serves well to the political / economical interests at the beginning but they may, due to its weakness, be not able to guarantee the interests they are supposed to serve and lose control over the army and the country. This was the case in Iraq and seems to be the case now with ISIS. The new caliphate was probably not foreseen and now other measures are being taken to contain (not to destroy) it. Mediterranean area controlled, Russia under a certain control also and the US weapon industry growing is not a bad result but cruelty if it is not destroyed immediately reverts against who has been silent and quiet being able to do something against it.

To be able to do all in benefit of certain economic interests, culture is not needed; better keep population as ignorant as possible. Is true that normal-level-citizens can't be much more than slaves concerned to survive as good as possible and that the 147 corporations that rule the world believe they can serve their interests without considering the people and show their power to atomize unity, no matter if at family or country level. All this is not more than the old Greek διαίρει καὶ βασίλευε brought to the extreme. Social change to keep closed the barriers that avoid real globalization of knowledge and welfare. The sad conclusion from what we saw and experienced is that all this we can't change but the positive part is that we can influence the decisions that are taken if we ask and insist , call for, oblige with social movements for a better education, more universal and especially more human that will for sure not stop political or economical movements but not at the expense of the people maintaining them ignorant and underdeveloped.

There were many questions and the session was longer than foreseen but the main idea we all had in our mind when we left was that unless we all at our level work to change society and oblige with our unity governments to implement a real education all around the world we will not be able to progress and will remain slaves celebrating any kind of Saturnalia.

jueves, 9 de octubre de 2014

Fariseos y corrupción

fariseo(Del lat. pharisaeuseste del arameo pĕrīšayyā, y este del hebr. pĕrūšīm, separados [de los demás]).
1. m. Entre los judíos, miembro de una secta que afectaba rigor y austeridad, pero eludía los preceptos de la ley, y, sobre todo, su espíritu. 2. m. Hombre hipócrita. 3. m. coloq. Hombre alto, seco y de mala intención o catadura.

No podía ser de otra manera. Si bien hasta ahora se había esquivado el tema, en la reunión del círculo esta vez se habló de política. Los medios de comunicación no han dejado de bombardear (y con razón) con noticias de la corrupción de la clase política y en general de los mandamases. La ponencia programada trataba sobre ética y era obvio que el tema de la corrupción encajaba tan bien que todos hablamos, comentamos y criticamos a diestro y siniestro, a tirios y troyanos achacando el mal estado del país a la corrupción de los poderosos ya fueran políticos o simplemente gente con marcada influencia. Que no quedara títere con cabeza era lo normal. Todos estábamos satisfechos y aportamos historias, dimes y diretes de conocidos nombres de la sociedad. Al menos eso parecía hasta que saltó Juanjo, uno de los contertulios más callados en general.

No era habitual que Juanjo se levantara para hablar pero esta vez lo hizo. La extrañeza del hecho provocó que nos calláramos todos. No tenía cara de ir a contar un chisme más y no lo hizo. Después de mirarnos a todos, uno por uno, nos soltó "sois unos falsos, unos fariseos, o mejor dicho somos unos falsos y fariseos."  La sorpresa fue mayúscula, así que con la mirada y en silencio le urgimos a que argumentara su posición y justificara la acusación que también le incluía a él.

Estamos criticando a quienes se llevan miles o incluso millones de euros aprovechando su cargo, sus contactos o su posición social. El simple hecho de que ocupen un puesto altamente remunerado ya nos parece mal y si encima hay prebendas, peor. Deberíamos rasgarnos las vestiduras porque importantes cargos se apropien indebidamente de lo que no les pertenece, debemos exigir responsabilidades por la mala gestión y la incompetencia, pero no por el hecho de tener salarios altos con ventajas asociadas y me atrevería a decir que por ceder ante pequeños trucos legales que puedan hacer, tampoco.

Durante un momento tuvo que callar dado que le interrumpimos y empezamos a comentar cada uno su parecer, lógicamente contrario al suyo. Nos hizo un gesto de calma y continuó.

Ya se que lo que digo va en contra de lo que llaman el sentir de la mayoría, pero dejadme que analice los hechos y luego me diréis.

Empezaré por el final: ceder ante pequeñas ilegalidades. No digo que sea correcto, pero si manifiesto abiertamente que es comprensible y que todos los que estamos aquí lo hacemos. (Las miradas expectantes se mezclaban con las de estupor, pero siguió...) Insisto, no es correcto, pero si viene el fontanero a casa y nos ofrece la posibilidad de no cobrar el IVA ¿alguien dice que no? Si es peor, cuando nos dice aquello de "le he de cobrar el IVA sobre el material, pero sobre la mano de obra puedo dejarlo sin" ¿quien se opone ... si es que no pregunta si sobre el material no se puede hacer algo...? (Aunque algunos iban a comentar algo les hizo callar y prosiguió) La verdad es que todos justificamos este ejemplo diciendo que la cantidad que ocultamos al fisco es pequeña y que los demás ocultan o desvían millones mientras que nosotros solo unos cientos como mucho y exagerando. Es cierto, pero el mal no está en la cantidad sino en el hecho. Lo único que nos diferencia es la ocasión y la posición. Si compro una casa de 2 millones por solo uno y me ahorro los impuestos.... ¿quién dice que no y va al juez y denuncia al ofertante? ¿Quién va al notario y dice que no, que el precio son dos y que quiere pagar lo que toca? NO, seamos sinceros, el mal es general y lo que nos diferencia es la ocasión.

Hubo murmullos de aprobación y de reproche, pero Juanjo prosiguió su exposición. A quien le pillen que lo pague y que devuelva el dinero. No solo que lo encarcelen sin paliativos, sino que devuelva el dinero, sí. Para que se sepa que no se debe hacer. Pero esta picaresca solo se puede combatir con la educación en las escuelas. Mientras nosotros lo hagamos a pequeña escala, no pidamos que los demás no lo hagan. Pidamos que las leyes sean duras para quien sea tonto y se deje pillar y .... eduquemos, eduquemos bien y con valores morales que ahora parece que ya no valen, pero que aún así los aplicamos cuando nos conviene.

Bebió un poco de agua y siguió: Dejadme que haga un inciso antes de hablar de los escándalos de los salarios altos y opacos al fisco. He dicho educación, pero ha de ser una educación de verdad basada en los valores que necesita la sociedad actual (que son los de siempre) y que no cambie cada 4 años con cada gobierno. O hay un pacto de gobierno para un plan educativo a 20 años o este país se va al garete. Y si queréis un ejemplo de lo que pasa... con preguntar a un joven cuando y donde vivió Napoleón tendréis suficiente. Por no hablar de otros destacados miembros de la humanidad.

Y ahora dejadme que acabe comentando los salarios de la alta dirección. Veamos... una empresa privada puede pagar lo que quiera su consejo de administración y admitan sus accionistas. En eso estamos todos de acuerdo. Y cuanto más mejor. Y si nos emplean a nosotros y pagan bien... ¿de nuevo, se queja alguien? Por otra parte... ¿cuantos de nosotros hemos comentado que nos iría bien que la empresa tuvieran tiques restaurante? ¿Y cuantos nos hemos negado a que nos den una paga extra en un sobre por algo realmente extra que hayamos hecho? Ah... y todo eso sin constar en hacienda. ¿Y el complemento de los Km? Vamos, ¡no seamos fariseos! Todos queremos cobrar algo en negro y todos decimos que ya pagamos demasiado. Una vez más la diferencia está en la cantidad y en el modo. Hay empresas que pagan la luz, otras que pagan un extra en negro y otras que suscriben seguros o simplemente aceptan las facturas de los restaurantes aunque no tengan nada que ver con la empresa. Y todos contentos. ¿Entonces que nos parece mal, que cobren más?  Menos hipocresía es lo que tenemos que tener y más control y penalización a quien no cumpla la ley.

Lo que está mal es que la empresa ofrezca algo ilegal y, por supuesto, que lo aceptemos...todos. Una vez más esto se evita con una legislación dura y con una educación de base en la que la ética tenga un papel predominante. Los ladrones no son quienes gastan los que se les permite sino quienes autorizan gastos cuando la empresa está en pérdidas, cuando el dinero extra fantasma no está justificado y cuando se oculta a quienes deben conocer el proceder de los mandamses. Peores, sin embargo, son quienes gastan con cargo a tarjetas cuando han sido cesados o cuando los gastos de representación se agotan solo para que el año siguiente no sean menores. Estos latrocinios deben ser castigados ejemplarmente por cuanto implican alevosía, premeditación y por supuesto desprecio a la comunidad.

No dijo nada más, se sentó y esperó a los comentarios que no faltaron. Los hubo de todo tipo, pero no se le podían negar dos puntos: todos caemos en la tentación y la justificamos a nuestro nivel; la verdad es que falta una educación ética y conciencia de grupo por no hablar de solidaridad humana.

Fue una reunión movida por el tema y por las reacciones, pero si hubo unanimidad en un punto, el postre estaba delicioso.

martes, 2 de septiembre de 2014

Felicidad, carta inconclusa / Happiness, a view on it

Hoy no sabía que ponerme... y me puse feliz.
(actitud vital)

Carta inconclusa en el cuaderno de notas de Ibrahim.S. Lerak.

Carolus maximus,

Gracias por la carta del 14 que sólo ahora llego a contestar por aquello de que las cosas serias merecen un tiempo de reflexión y no una respuesta a vuelapluma.

Tienes razón cuando estableces que una parte importante de la felicidad a partir de cierta edad está en ver felices a los seres queridos. Quizá sea una forma egoísta de ser feliz por lo que conlleva de autosatisfacción, quizá sea una forma altruista si los demás, al menos ellos, lo son y al importarnos nos quitan un peso de encima. En cualquier caso, la felicidad de nuestros seres queridos como se les suele llamar nos es importante, grata y vital.

Claro que la pregunta ¿cuál es la felicidad de los seres queridos? parte de un supuesto de conocimiento común de lo que es la  felicidad. Y ahí tenemos un buen rato de discusión. Se puede opinar como Leopardi:  “La felicidad es la ignorancia de la verdad” o como Benavente que dice que “la felicidad no existe en la vida, sólo existen momentos felices” y un sinfín de otras definiciones siempre controvertidas. Pero si convenimos en que la felicidad  es un razonable “estar bien” con uno mismo y con su entorno nos será más fácil llegar a determinar cual es la felicidad de los seres queridos ya que la definición (admito que facilona, pero operativa) lleva parte de la respuesta en sí misma.

Sin duda el abuelón, como todos los mayores había destilado una sabiduría que solo dan los años. Un punto de vista situado en la experiencia vivida y resultado de una travesía de situaciones personales únicas e irrepetibles, pero en esencia comunes a la generación y a la edad. Las semillas que se plantan en otros si han sido bien plantadas germinarán; como en toda obra necesitarán retoques a medida que vayan creciendo y la crudeza con la que se hagan estos retoques puede determinar el resultado de lo que se hace. He ahí una de las dificultades del educador que precisa actuar con un equilibrio que debe improvisar.

Los seres queridos más difíciles de hacer felices son seguramente los hijos. No se les puede dar la felicidad ya que tienen que llegar a ella por si mismos. Lo material e incluso lo espiritual pueden quedar en medos remedos simples, de duración más o menos larga, pero incierta. Solo nos queda prepararles bien para que sean capaces de analizarse a sí mismos, sepan discernir entre el antojo, el capricho momentáneo y lo que tiene valor duradero. Hay que adelantarse 20 años a nuestra época e imaginar cómo será la sociedad que les tocará vivir para que la educación, los valores imbuidos y la forma del análisis sean aprovechables para ellos. No sirve forzar un camino, ni proyectar deseos o trazar planes. Hay que dejar la novela inconclusa con varios finales posibles que elegirán ellos, pero con la trama bien trazada y modelada de modo que sean pocas las variables. Como la vida no es precisamente un camino sobre pétalos de rosa y la experiencia no es transmisible sino que únicamente sirve como fuente de información, nuestros retoños necesitarán  llegar a una madurez y estabilidad para aprehender todo lo que está en ellos directa o indirectamente. Cuando llegan a ella es el momento en el que se ve el fruto y poco se puede hacer para corregir el tiro en ese momento. Que sean o no felices dependerá de lo acertados que hayamos estado en nuestros supuestos iniciales y de las veces que nos hayamos autoengañado al podar lo que florecía. Si son felices (dentro de un orden) bingo y si no lo son tendremos que actuar como verdaderos psicoanalistas y mudarles la escala de valores aunque no creamos en ellos. Sin duda una acción discutible pero eficaz cara a la felicidad aunque ésta sea solo la suma de los momentos felices como apuntaba Benavente.

La felicidad del resto del entorno, pareja, padres e incluso amigos es más fácil de conseguir; al menos en teoría. Se parte de un conocimiento de gente formada y de los que ya se sabe cuáles son sus escalas de valores. Conseguirla, o no, es más una determinación en la que influyen demasiados aspectos personales para hacer un supuesto único.

Tu amigo Sánchez Silva también acertaba al decir que lo importante es el ahora, quizá le faltó añadir que para ser verdaderamente importante al ahora hay que darle un sentido de continuidad, una intención. Así, el “lo importante en esta vida es lo que estás haciendo y no lo que vas a hacer” se carga de sentido cuando le añades que lo que estás haciendo está enmarcado en algo más general que tiene un sentido y una dirección determinada. La suma de momentos puntuales inconexos carece de rumbo y solo puede conducir a la felicidad artificial (sea cual sea, droga o ensoñación) o bien al nihilismo radical. Por ello coincido contigo cuando manifiestas que podemos hacer lo que nos rote en cualquier momento, pero que la posición está equivocada si se queda en eso, en hacer solo lo que nos sale de las narices por cuestión sexual, sin poder hilvanar una línea de acción.

Sobre el punto de que la lástima es sólo para los indigentes......... continuaré.

Un abrazo, primo

The English version is a bit different but maintains the central idea of above text

Life consists in small glimpses of happiness that are connected because they belong to a frame that contains all of them giving sense to their existence. To make love, to see smiling someone we like, to caress our beloved partner one day under a tree, or to make a trip or even wait for someone under the rain can be moments of happiness. But disconnected, alone, they can also be meaningless and bring more confusion and sadness to life. When they are in a frame with a sense and a direction they form a continuity that justify and show that happiness is a state of mind and not merely a collection of moments as many yellow science doctors pretend. 

It is true that at certain age, an important part of happiness relays in seeing happy the people we love. May be this is an egoistic vision as it has a certain form of auto-satisfaction, could be also an altruist way of being happy  if the others (at least they) are happy and as we care about them it takes a stone of our heart. In any case the happiness of our beloved is important for us, makes us happy and we need it also to be at our time in good mood. 

By wanting the happiness of our loved people we imply a common knowledge and acceptance of what happiness really is, and for sure we can discuss long time about it. Many will agree with Leopardi when he defined happiness as the ignorance of the truth; or with Benavente when he stated that happiness does not exist in life, only happy moments exist, and many other definitions all of them controversial.  But if we accept that happiness is a reasonable “feeling well” with oneself and the immediate surrounding it will be easier to determine which is the happiness  of the beloved people as this definition (I admit is a very light definition, but operative) contains in herself part of the answer. 

The loved ones that are more difficult to make happy are probably our own children. We can’t give them the happiness as they have to arrive to it alone. The seed that we plant in others will germinate and give sprouts if they were well planted. As all jobs, it will take some retouching while they grow; and how rude or how delicate we do it will determine the result of what we do. The mentor has to act with an equilibrium he has to improvise. Material and spiritual items could just vanish in any moment; we can only prepare them well to be able to analyze themselves, to differentiate well between what is a whim, a momentary craving and what has abiding value. We have to foresee the society in 20 years time and visualize their time to give an education and analyzing pattern valuable for them. Our set of values won’t be useful; at least some of them. 

There is no sense in forcing a way, nor project (our) desires or make plans. It is necessary to let the novel unfinished with several possible endings that they will select, but with the plot well drawn and modeled to minimize the variables. As life is not precisely a path on rose petals and experience can’t be transmitted (only serving in the best case as an information source) our “offsprings” will need to reach to a certain maturity and stability to grasp all what is in them directly or indirectly. When they arrive to it is the moment when the result is seen and nothing or little can be done to correct the way in this moment. That they are happy or not will depend on how correct we have been in our initial assumptions and on the number of times that we have befooled ourselves when trimming what flourished. 

If they are happy (within an order) bingo! And if they are not ... we will have to act as good psychoanalysts and change them the scale of values even if we don’t believe on them; without any doubt a questionable but effective action, aiming to happiness even if it would be only the apposition of happy moments.

Happiness of the people surrounding us, partner, parents and even friends is easier to get; at least in theory. We have already certain knowledge: they are grown people and we know their scale of values. To get it or not is more a determination in our willingness in which too many personal aspects have an influence as to make a unique assumption. 

Many believe that the important is the moment, the now; true but maybe we should add that to become truly important, to the now we have to give a sense of continuity, an intention. Hence that the saying of "the important thing in life is what you're doing and not what you are going to you do" is charged with sense when we add that what we are doing is framed in something more general that has a meaning and a direction. The sum of disconnected specific moments lacking direction can only lead to artificial happiness (whatever, drug or daydreaming) or the radical nihilism. We can do whatever we want at any moment but the position is wrong if we stay on that and are unable to string a line of action. 

martes, 26 de agosto de 2014

Stating the obvious / Para este viaje no hacen falta alforjas

Sometimes the long way ends where it started. (Popular wisdom)

Don't explain the how, just use it in benefit of Gaia. (Thoughts of new humanism, I.S. Lerak)

The universe, then, is God, of whom the popular gods are manifestations; while legends and myths are allegorical. The soul of man is thus an emanation from the godhead, into whom it will eventually be re-absorbed. The divine ruling principle makes all things work together for good, but for the good of the whole. The highest good of man is consciously to work with God for the common good, and this is the sense in which the Stoic tried to live in accord with nature. In the individual it is virtue alone which enables him to do this; as Providence rules the universe, so virtue in the soul must rule man. (Marco Aurelio, Meditations)

Conference taken from the Symposium "New Humanism and Society" held in the City of Ideas, Puebla, 2016, presented by Nonamemind

Sometimes science seems to tease us willingly: recent research shows that the popular wisdom is right! Scientists discover annoyed that what humans have collected as ancestral truth has a biologic or scientific reason. Makes it sense? Shall we be happy for it or on the contrary cut the funding that allows them to continue? 

Let me just centre the issue and see the implications. Man as human being has been in the beginning the centre of the universe. Humans had to learn to survive, first alone later grouped as family, tribe or society. All this time they considered themselves as the clear centre of the universe. Elected by the Gods to rule and use nature to our convenience we didn’t care not even consider that our actions may have consequences in Earth. “All what is there is for our use and benefit.” This was the starting point; created religion and law (at the end the same), survived as a group and discovered the world. Man explored and conquered nourishment and richer territories. Later came art, all possible type, from music to painting or architecture ... all the seven classical arts end even a new one. Stability and the need to calm all natural questions about the reason of life and the value of mankind created philosophy. Caught between the two unknown points limiting life, the origin and death, a reason was needed to explain and give sense to our presence in the world. All was accepted as there was no way to determine which, if any, is the true one. For some groups Man is the elected instrument to fulfil God’s willingness, to other groups Man is on earth to suffer. All is equally possible and what we believe determines what we are and what we do.

Curiosity created knowledge and structured knowledge became science. A science that explains the how and the first level of the why, but that can’t give with a single answer to solve problematic questions. But this science that has been growing and widening knowledge had a strange effect: Science dethroned Man’s idea of being the centre of all. We started to understand that we are not here to take advantage of the environment, that we are part of it. Moreover, we have discovered that we are not only part of the environment but that we influence it strongly to the point of being one of the problems affecting it. To arrive to this point science made big steps, analyzed and explained all around us. This done, the only missing point was Man himself and now, once we dominate technology, biotechnology and start to dominate biology the only what rests is the mind.

And this is the point. We return to the ancient disjunctive: shall we use the knowledge to describe how our brain works (excuse for it: If we know it, we can cure many diseases) or shall we use the power of our brain to work all together now that we dominate our surroundings? (excuse for it: we would have a better living world population) And here appears the amygdale yelling to our brain that survival is the most important we have to look for. While we study how to cure mental and physical problems we are enlarging our survival possibilities. This means that we can go on. Nobody will say anything against it and only a few will see or predict problems. In fact if we know which part of the brain creates emotions or affects memory we can use it to go against other people. No more guns needed, just dominating chemically or electronically the brain we can oblige people do what we want.
And this is the point of science now. We discover that emotions are more important than reason. That we all are subject to the same biological laws but that we can modify many more things than imagined. We can develop part of the brain or fool him, and we can even transmit to other generations what we modify. At the end what we are discovering is what we already knew since long time, that heart is more powerful than reason and many other similar items. But we need to have a scientific validation for it? Really? Now? If Man could live thousands of years without proving it, is it so important to invest in benefit of a very small part of the population? With all the risk of manipulation shall we invest in proving what we know?

We can do many things in name of science and discover many useful things that can later also be applied negatively. True. But the question is not about stopping something only because it can be used against us. The topic is priority. Are these type of researches needed urgently? Shall we use our capacity to follow with them? Possibly having in hand and dominating technology we should apply our knowledge in making all efforts that Man, all the members of the group in Earth live better; WE have other higher priorities that just to see that what we learned in years of history is right. Is our time to change priorities and stop useless or less important investigations: is time to see that Man expands not only geographically but mentally and that the group is not a tribal one –no matter how big it is-- but a global that cover the entire population of the world. We have the technical media, we know how to control resources, we can send whatever is needed in terms of hours or a few days at most; we can reach any corner in the planet. Is time we investigate but not the brain, we need to investigate the mind to make Man more supportive and solidary. Not only to help but to evolve together. This is our challenge, not to explain what we already know.

lunes, 11 de agosto de 2014

Gracias / Thank you

De bien nacido es ser agradecido.
(proverbio español)

Este blog nació hace 15 meses como un experimento con fecha de caducidad. Tiene un hermano que debía haber crecido más y más rápido. Vitaminas tiene, ... pero están en el bote y no es cómodo abrirlo. La realidad es que el hermano pequeño crece más y tiene más mimos que el mayor, algo que suele pasar en muchas familias. Por la razón que sea siempre hay un preferido. En este caso es evidente, aunque los padres son conscientes y procurarán enmendarse y ser más ecuánimes.

Cuando se creó el blog no tenía ni idea de la difusión que podría alcanzar. Tampoco esperaba que fueran más de unas decenas de lectores los que de alguna manera lo siguieran o toparan con él. A tenor de los comentarios dejados uno pensaría que incluso éso era una previsión optimista. No obstante la realidad (medida por las estadísticas de Google) indica un resultado diferente y ciertamente asombroso para mi. Hay más de 5 mil visitas y algunas sorprendentes, como 50 visitas desde Indonesia en un solo día y todas al mismo post. También parece que hay asiduos visitantes  de los USA -más bien robots espía- y algunos seguidores regulares de Ucrania, Rusia, Alemania, México y Argentina. El mayor número es, por supuesto, de España: no deja de ser un blog fundamentalmente en castellano, aunque algunas páginas sean bilingües.

A todos ellos, visitantes ocasionales, seguidores y motores de búsqueda... GRACIAS, sinceramente muchas gracias por el apoyo a este experimento que a pesar de tener la fecha de caducidad ya pasada seguirá adelante, al menos durante un tiempo. Poco a poco habrá cambios en la temática, aunque el eje fundamental seguirán siendo las reuniones del círculo y la del club de los narizones; en ambas reuniones hay una mayor variedad de opiniones y el secretario amanuense puede optar por una u otra.

De nuevo, GRACIAS a quienes siguen de modo anónimo el blog y por supuesto a los no anónimos cuyo calor contribuye más a la labor de creación de estas hojas de papel de electrón.

Vacaciones: La cojera vital / Holidays: The vital lameness

La felicidad cuesta de encontrar dentro de nosotros, pero sin ella es imposible encontrarla en los demás.  (Atribuido a Sakiamuni). 

Sawubona! Sikkhona! 
(Saludo zulú).        

¡Cómo no!, en Agosto no hay reuniones del círculo. Todos estamos, o al menos queremos estar de vacaciones. Unos más, otros menos y por ello la reunión del círculo tuvo lugar casi a finales de Julio. En esta ocasión el tema obligado eran las vacaciones. Era lo más cercano, lo más deseado y lo que más prometía. Viajes, descubrimientos, pesca, relax, aventura o simplemente descanso. Ocio programado para un tiempo de felicidad propia y con los propios. Así que nuestro filósofo preferido cambió su tema y nos hizo reflexionar sobre nosotros mismos. Filosofía para mocosos nos anunció cuando aceptó preparar la charla-excusa, esa excusa para una reunión de amistad, de reflexión y muy gastronómica.

Cuando se levantó, nos miró a todos detenidamente; nos preguntó por las vacaciones: Siempre van bien las vacaciones y os gusta programarlas con detalle ¿verdad? Parece que programarlas aumenta el gusto de poder escapar de la rutina. En la breve pausa que hizo sonreímos y asentimos, ¡claro que se disfruta con ello! Pero no esperábamos la continuación: ¿Y si en lugar de programar las vacaciones para huir de la vida, programáramos la vida para no tener que escapar de ella y no andar cojos todo el tiempo?

Sí, muchos vamos cojos por la vida. No nos orientamos ni sabemos adónde vamos; a duras penas sabemos quienes somos y lo que queremos. Antes la orientación vital la marcaba la religión, ahora lo hace la política que es algo más cercana en el tiempo y, como la religión no da resultados visibles y solo consuelo ante una vida infeliz, parece que la política puede combatir mejor la desigualdad. Claro que la política combate la desigualdad por medio de la guerra sea de ideas, sea de armas. Y si combatimos la desigualdad resulta que estamos ante una uniformidad o al menos ante una mayoría con un pensamiento uniforme y entramos de lleno en la dictadura de la opinión general. Sutil, sin tortura pero igualmente eficiente. Sin embargo aunque todos opinen igual no por eso poseen la verdad. La filosofía está para eso, para buscar la verdad; al menos en teoría; es una religión racional que va con la ciencia.

Lo malo es que no hay en realidad filósofos y si los hay.... no se nota. Las ideas nacen sin saber donde, simplemente se propagan y en un determinado momento alguien con inquietudes afines las plasma y les da la forma. Lo que se ve luego es una teoría, una explicación de los efectos observados bajo una nueva luz que ha de estar acorde con el conocimiento de la ciencia en ese momento. Los filósofos profesionales (más de 12000 actualmente) aportan bien poco a la solución de la gran crisis cultural que vivimos; apenas proporcionan orientación vital ni proyectos novedosos ni contribuyen a la construcción de una cosmovisión actual. No nos orientan sobre como vivir o morir, no nos definen la buena vida. La destreza en el vivir es de interés común y el tema de la filosofía y ... no hay respuestas. 200 revistas de filosofía, 130 mil páginas al año ... todo son análisis del pasado. Nada nuevo y si lo hay, sin influencia en la sociedad. La filosofía contemporánea parece irrelevante para los problemas de nuestro tiempo.

Claro que antes de decidir adónde y por dónde queremos ir, necesitamos saber de alguna manera donde nos encontramos. Conocernos, dentro y fuera de nosotros mismos. Antes de elegir como vivir precisamos tener una cierta idea acerca de como es el mundo en el que estamos. La cosmovisión es el marco de referencia teórico para nuestras consideraciones prácticas. Si queremos vivir bien necesitamos un mapa correcto de la realidad. La sabiduría filosófica se basa en la lucidez y pasa por la búsqueda de la verdad y la construcción de una cosmovisión acorde con el conocimiento científico del momento. Por ello un filósofo ha de ser un devorador de conocimiento científico. No se pueden establecer teorías que contradigan lo probado.

Explicar el mundo es un modo simple para poderlo entender y para ello somos nosotros quienes hemos de dar el primer paso: pensar y responder al famoso Temet nosce o Gnothi Seauton, como lo queráis llamar; lo que está claro es que sin ello iremos siempre cojos por la vida. Más vale programar la vida que las vacaciones, creedme.

Nos dejó pensativos pero no sin ganas de probar el delicioso postre que nos habían preparado para esta ocasión festiva y de verano. Quizá el chef ya sabía de que iba la charla porque nos contó con pelos y señales los componentes de la delicia y la forma de su correcta preparación.  El postre no quedó cojo pero tuvo una corta vida. Otra cosa somos nosotros que nos quejamos por cosas cuyo origen está en que no pensamos lo suficiente. No deja de ser cierto que vale más preparar bien la vida que las vacaciones, pero eso requiere un esfuerzo continuado y no todos están dispuestos a realizarlo.

viernes, 13 de junio de 2014

Night thoughts of life

Night thoughts of life, falsely attributed to Geras
Me espanta ese sentimiento de que se aprende de la vida a medida de que te alejas de ella.
Charo López, actriz española

After a certain life time, experience reveals the difference between holding one hand and enchain a soul, and one learns that love is not go to bed with someone and that company doesn't mean security; also that kisses are not contracts and that gifts are not promises. You start to accept own defeats holding up the face with open eyes because you have gained the serenity to understand it. 

You learn to prepare all the ways today and fulfill all the work; because tomorrow is too far to make plans and unsure if it will arrive. And after a certain time we even learn that too much is excessive; even the heat of the sun burns. This is why we have to grow our own garden in our spirit without waiting that someone brings us flowers and we learn that yes, we certainly can, we can resist, we can overcome, we are strong and we learn to believe in ourselves. This is the key to continue and BE, whatever the purpose of life is.

We learn that being with someone because we are offered a bright future or comfort implies that sooner or later we may return to the past and to unhappiness. We learn that love means to accept with all defects without wanting to change them, love with open eyes and perfect knowledge of the being. You see that by being together to avoid loneliness you will end up not wanting to be with the partner, but that it is worth to give a chance if there is something more and not give up just because difficulties are in the way or because our friends tell us to do so. 

One understands that what is said without thinking may offend forever and create an abyss between people and that forgiveness is only possible for great spirits. Hence that we have to be able not only to say sorry, but also force the way to let the other act like a great spirit as if would be the normal habit. And one learns to keep silence before being taken by the words as they are weapons without return that may severely hurt the person and kill the relation.

You see that the experience with one person is not comparable to any other, all of them important, unique, and that this is the reason why the center can not be the other; that one is oneself in all, for all, with the support of the others and of some special ones; but in the same line, as we are the others at our turn. That our acts, even the smallest have consequences in the people we interact and we can not expect them to behave as we believe they should, as we do the same in our turn. We learn that that what we like is not the only possibility, not even the "normal" one as there many ways to understand reality.

There are many things we learn with time and especially that serenity is a state of mind and not period between two dates. We  understand the benefit of giving and sharing is the best we can do to arrive smiling to the house without doors nor windows.

And the most important, that life is worth to be lived with open eyes and open mind.

miércoles, 21 de mayo de 2014

Puppets / Marionetas

Not all we do we do it freely, even if we believe to act so.
(Anonymous, heard in the underground)

The Big Nose club has, as you know, the tradition that new members make a short speech somehow related to the nose of course. The Spanish expression “de narices”  meaning that something goes very well to the occasion has been used several times to introduce some topics. César, the new member knows that we don’t usually accept political related speeches but before he started to talk about puppets and noses (what he had prepared) some of the members of the club insisted in having his opinion on the actual facts happening in Ukraine as they know he is an international journalist that  has visited the country a few times. Other members insisted on hearing what he prepared on puppets. We let him go and talk about what he wanted but didn't expect such clear political opinion. His opinion of course, but I must agree, interesting to hear and not bad to have broken the rule of no political speeches in the meetings.

He started: -I was supposed to talk about puppets… and Ukraine is a good example. You ask me my opinion and it is a complex situation to comment, especially from such a large distance and lack of knowledge on the real situation. Let me first start saying that everybody in Ukraine now believe that they act freely. And this is not true. There are many reasons and interests that just play with the people and their feelings. All is done artificially. But to explain why and how I see it is a long story that starts when I was young and doing science research in oceanography. Anyhow let me center the points:

.- Should be Ukraine be within the EU?
.- Who is interested in avoiding it and why?
.- What are the movements behind?
.- How does politics move governments and let people believe they have free will.

… and let me start with the last one that brings me to my time as science researcher.

On that time I was young, smoked already pipe (and I must admit quite a lot), spoke 5 languages and was performing research on oceanography with very new ways to do it, mixing satellites, planes, ships, math and physics together. Nice cocktail that gave as result that we could predict and tell fishermen when and where to find some types of fishes.

One day I got a call in the Research Institute where I worked and I learned that I had been nominated Spanish representative at the Ocean Committee in NATO. Nice, yes, but VERY strange as Spain was on that time not member of NATO, so I asked why. Answer was “come… and you will learn it”. I went, of course! Nice, absolutely interesting the meeting with all the important people in oceanography in Europe + US. There I learned that even if Spain was not YET member of NATO, it was already agreed that the Spanish government would do it. “We just want to gain some time” was the answer. Important for me was that on that time we had big discussions in Spain to be or not members of NATO…. And here I learned that it was not something we would discuss, it was already agreed politically and a closed matter. “We just want to gain some time” and we stupidly thinking in we were deciding by ourselves.

Second point of the meeting. Imagine me with a lot of ideas in my mind in the center of the real power of science….. I talked, a lot…. On my side a young nice man was asking what I would do and how I would do it if I would have the media and what I needed to do it. I told him.  One or two months later I received a call from the US XXXX and they asked me if it was true that I said …… in a meeting at NATO. They reproduced all my conversation. I was asked if I maintained it and if I agreed to share with them the results of my findings if they would give me the instruments I needed. Of course I agreed! Like in the movie: Next day X at the place Y at hour Z a man, tall will ask you… you take the instruments and sign the agreement. I went, I got all I needed and asked…. The young nice man sitting on my left in the NATO meeting was from CIA, science branch…. So they know what is going on. Politics are in the places we do not expect and agreements are taken without the people knowing it.

Spain into NATO agreed by other countries & governments; Crimea taken by Russia without too much noise from the rest of the world. Do you think is causality or was it already agreed? We can discuss whom it serves and why, but…. We are moved as puppets and believe we act freely. What better to move people that to tell them they will earn more? Is easy to convince people that are poorer:

Crimean’s will receive wages, pensions and social benefits in accordance with Russian legislation. Today, the average salary in Russia is 25,000 rubles, Ukraine - 11 thousand rubles, Russian pensioners receive 9917 rubles, Ukrainian - about 5674 translated into rubles. Thus, the inhabitants of the peninsula will increase revenues nearly doubled. Who will resist if on top since 1992 life went worse?

Now let’s see what part of reality is behind it. US and Russia have competed since years to be THE big player in the world. We all know how poor is now the situation of the US that the CCCP was not a good idea as it was done and that it was evident in 1989 when the Wall was destroyed in Berlin. 1992 Ukraine becomes independent after the referendum of December 91 if I remember well. Everybody is happy till reality comes and shows the truth. No money, no European standard of life.  “Oh! Before 92 we were better, being part of Russia we will again be better…” So people were mislead. Now, why?

All superpowers in the world know they need an army. If you want to defend or to attack you need people and not only this, you need to be able to move people fast, by air, earth and sea. We may destroy a country but we can’t be sure till we send our troops there.  To have influence we need an army that moves. Russia depends from Europe and fears Europe. Europe imports 34% of Gas from Russia and the Mediterranean Sea is vital for all ship movements in the area. Russia does not have a natural coast that goes to the Mediterranean, hence the importance of Odessa were the agreement existed that it was the Soviet Army who would benefit of a special status in Odessa till 2016 (I believe). Odessa is the easy way to go to the Mediterranean and this makes from Odessa a strategic place not to be lost. If on top there is more …. better.

What means Crimea to Russia or to Ukraine? Lets see:
GDP of Crimea is approximately 10% of the Ukrainian GDP and 1 % of Russia. If you look at the benefits that the Russian economy will get from the annexation of the Crimea, you find first need the tourism business and the expansion of health resort infrastructure. Russian investors have already announced their intention to invest in the development of tourist resorts of the peninsula. For example, now, a businessman plans to invest 12 billion rubles in the project to build a resort.

Don’t forget also the energy resources of the peninsula (in particular gas of the Black and Azov Sea), industrial enterprises of Crimea (heavy, light, food, chemical industry), as well as agricultural lands of the republic (including wine farms). And of course is important to remember that the transfer of Crimea to Russia would help the country to save about $100 million a year they pay as lease for the military base of the Black Sea Fleet.

In summary, what are the pros and cons?
Well the pros are clear, Russia gets the strategically important naval base at Sevastopol for its fleet , remember 100 million $/year, which is not bad; but there are more things as the large recreational area with the possibility of international travel, Russia gets 3000 hectares of vineyards and the largest wineries (Inkerman Winery , Koktebel, Massandra , the New World) and very important Russia receives also the large chemical plants in the northern Crimea, having the biggest market share in the world in the production of components for fertilizers and chemicals for the oil industry.

And the cons exist but are they really that important? It is true that Crimea needs serious irrecoverable financial injections into the economy, which is two-thirds subsidized region but there is future behind it; is only a problem of liquidity not of viability. One practical problem is transport as it is necessary to go to Crimea through two Russian- Ukrainian borders, or across the Kerch Strait , where there is no bridge (and it will take 4 years to have it built); the ferry to the Crimea is also a possibility but there is always a huge queue with  people waiting 18 hours or more. An other big problem is water as they will need to urgently address the issue of fresh water (now it is taken from the Dnieper) and finally the electricity to Crimea which produces only 30 % of its total electricity consumption.

You see who is interested and why. Basically is a political-strategic situation to maintain power. Moreover now that Syria is in a bad moment and can’t help Russia if there is a revolution. Russia has also good agreements with Syria to have the fleet of the Army there, and this is what is behind of all the movement. The rest, East Ukraine, is a plus for Russia. With Crimea being 10% of the richness of Ukraine, Russia has a poor country where it is possible to sell and have cheap labor with the similar language more or less and well prepared. Is a large territory to prevent an attack, gives free way to the Mediterranean…. What can Russia want more?

Before we enter in looking who could be interested in avoiding it or not, let me consider if Ukraine should be politically pro-Europe or pro-Russia. What is clear is that Ukraine has no weight as to be able to be alone in the world. They need some friendly countries that may give stability, money, help… Historically, till the 92 they were members of the CCCP and in fact an important player within it. Was growing fast, 7.5% GDP growth yearly but the crisis of the 88 and the one of the 2008 brought the country to a bad economical situation. The country was mostly Slavic even if it is true that part of it was in the “European” part and taken by the Austro-Hungarian Empire in recent historical times. But, has Europe an interest in having Ukraine as a member? Geographically seems not to be any reason. Is far, Romania is already at the limit, and historically there are no real common things, language is different, religion is different, commerce is not an important matter, economy is poor. It is a market of 45 million people. This is the only reason to bring Ukraine to Europe. But the cost is by far too high, specially now with all the economical and political problems Europe is facing. From the point of view of Europe… no need, no interest YET to have Ukraine as a member state.

From the point of view if Ukraine… is a dream. The same dream that East Germans had to become part of Germany. To live better, have more money, with work for all and be “Europeans”. Germany is still paying the union of the former DDR. Ukrainians dream that it would be perfect without knowing that it is not true, that the crisis will be longer and harder; restructure  industries provokes unemployment. So a part of the country which is disappointed by the economical situation looks to Europe and Europe smiles but doesn't do anything really. An other part of the people remember the former CCCP and that unemployment was 0, so better to return, and finally a part believes that the country should try to do something, but really has only one option, decide if the orientation must be pro Russia or pro Europe. Too small to be a bridge between cultures. There is no real reason why Ukraine should be part of the EC. This is the point but politically helps to give hope telling that in the future all will be better. Ukraine belongs to the East of Europe to a group of countries that will find their position together, but it is too early and they are not aware.

The last point is if there is somebody that would be interested in avoiding that Russia takes Crimea and destroys Ukraine with it. The answer is no. Only in theory. Russia made a movement that was to mark positions. If expected or not by the US I don’t know, but Europe is too weak to do something, and at the end doesn't care. It is not yet the time for other countries, we have to solve our internal problems. The US doesn't care, as long as Russia lets them in peace with Israel, which is the entrance door of the US in Middle East and the Mediterranean. China is busy taking positions in Africa and will be glad to help if they can with it against the US. So, nobody cares. I fear that is goes further than this, that the real interest is to weaken the area and have two or three strong economies together in Europe (Germany, France, UK and maybe Italy) together with Benelux and Austria and create a strong Europe. The rest… weak countries, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, …. all with low income, cheap labor and a huge market for them. Ukraine would be just one more and a good door for all Slavic counties. I hope to be wrong, but I fear I’m not.

The meeting continued after the speech, it was one of the longest we ever had. But his position was clear and many agreed to it.