Friday, January 19, 2018

The Iron Heel

The Iron Heel by Jack London
NY: The Regent Press, 1907
(page 219) Our Benevolent Feudalism by W. J. Ghent (1902) - evidently a muckraking book of the era, cataloguing the effects of poverty
(300-301) They, as a class, believed that they alone maintained civilization. It was their belief that if ever they weakened, the great beast would engulf them and everything of beauty and wonder and joy and good in its cavernous add slime-dripping maw. Without them, anarchy would reign and humanity would drop backward into the primitive night out of which it had so painfully emerged. The horrid picture of anarchy was held always before their child's eyes until they, in turn, obsessed by this cultivated fear, held the picture of anarchy before the eyes of the children that followed them. This was the beast to be stamped upon, and the highest duty of the aristocrat was to stamp upon it. In short, they alone, by their unremitting toil and sacrifice, stood between weak humanity and the all-devouring beast; and they believed it, firmly believed it.
I cannot lay too great stress upon this high ethical righteousness of the whole oligarch class. This has been the strength of the Iron Heel, and too many of the comrades have been slow or loath to realize it. Many of them have ascribed the strength of the Iron Heel to its system of reward and punishment. This is a mistake. Heaven and hell may be the prime factors of zeal in the religion of a fanatic; but for the great majority of the religious, heaven and hell are incidental to right and wrong. Love of the right, desire for the right, unhappiness with anything less than the right - in short, right conduct, is the prime factor of religion. And so with the Oligarchy. Prisons, banishment and degradation, honors and palaces and wonder-cities, are all incidental. The great driving force of the oligarchs is the belief that they are doing right. Never mind the exceptions, and never mind the oppression and injustice in which the Iron Heel was conceived. All is granted. The point is that the strength of the Oligarchy to-day lies in its satisfied conception of its own righteousness.
Self-righteous victimization of the Trmped Conservative

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Warning: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes

Warnings:  Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes by Richard Clarke and RP Eddy
NY:  HarperCollins, 2017
ISBN 978-0-06-248802-2

(3)  What the ancient Greeks called Cassandra behavior today’s social scientists sometimes refer to as sentinel intelligence or sentinel behanvior, the ability to detect danger from warning signs before others see it.  The behavior is observed in a variety of animals, including, we believe, in humans.

(8)  Why we failed to achieve tactical warning is a controversial subject centering on the repeated, conscious decision of senior CIA personnel to prevent the FBI and White House leadership from knowing that the 9/11 hijackers were already in the US.  (A much more detailed discussion of the topic can be found in another of Dick’s previosly published books, Your Government Failed You.)

(170)  The Cassandra Matrix:
The Warning:  Response Availability, Initial Occurrence Syndrome; Erroneus Consensus; Magnitude Overload, Outlandishness, Invisible Obvious
The Decision Makers:  Diffusion of Responsibility, Agenda Inertia, Complexity Mismatch, Idological Response Rejection, Profiles in Cowardice, Satisficing, Inability to Discern the Unusual
The Cassandra:  Proven Technical Expert, Off-Putting Personality, Data DRiven, Orthogonal Thinker, Questioners, Sense of Person Responsability, High Anxiety
The Critics:  Scientific Reticence, Personal of Professional Investment, Non-Expert Rejection, “Now Is Not the Time” Fallacy

Response Availability:  Is this a problem that could be prevented or mitigated with some response?

(171)  In our estimation, no obstacle to action is bigger than Initial Occurrence Syndrome, yet it is the easiest objection to logically assail.

(172)  Most predicted events that would be an initial occurrence suffer from the audience’s availability bias, or lack of past experiences to which to relate the prediction.

(173)  Magnitude Overload:  Overly large-scale events or phenomena can have two negative effects of decision makers.  First, the sheer size of the problem sometimes overwhelms and causes the manager to “shut down.”

… Second, the decision maker may not be able to properly magnify their feelings of dread or empathy for disasters predicated to have massive death and loss.

(174)  This concept is called “scope neglect,” and may best be embodied in Stalin’s dictum, “The death of one man is a tragedy.  The death of millions is a statistic.”

(175)  [Daniel] Simons concluded that even when people are aware or reminded that novel or unusal things can happen, they still do not see them if they are distracted.

(176)  Who owns it?  Frequently, no one wants to own an issue that’s about to become a disaster.  This reluctance creates a “bystander effect,” wherein observers of the problem feel no responibility to act.

(177)  Most organizations and their leadership have an agenda to which they are devotedly attached.  Such groups are subject to Agenda Inertia, a force that concentrates focus on issues already in the plan.

(178)  Complexity mismatch is a looming threat for government.  For the first time, technologists are now building machines that make decisions with rationale that even the creators don’t fully understand.

(179)  If an issue is so complex that no one person fully understands it, there may be an increased likelihood of a Cassandra Event.

(180-181)  The sociologist Herbert Simon coined the term “satisfying” in 1947 to describe searching through the available remedies until an acceptable alternative is found that “addresses” the problem, but doesn’t solve it.  This alternative is usually easy, not requiring significant resources or disruption.

(181)  They [big organizations] often cannot tell the difference between the routine and the dramatic.

(186)  In 2012, psychiatrist Jeremy Coplan, of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, found that generalized anxiety disorder was associated with higher intelligence levels and was not necessarily correlated with neuroses or dysfunctional behavior.  In Israel, Dr Tsachi Ein-Dor drew a similar conclusion, that people with higher anxiety levels tended to detect threats sooner and warn others. 

…  Scientific Reticence:  For some issues, a high scientific standard of proof cannot be met in time to act. 

(195)  The lesson of the Y2K case study is that, if the Cassandra is right and averts the problem by action, there will be those who decry overreaction.  Once cannot always prove such critics wrong, but experiments and models can be used to demonstrate what might have happened in the absence of the response.
NB:  Some climate skeptics and deniers are using the successful avoidance of more acid rain damage as an excuse not to take climate change seriously.

(233)  Laurie Garrett:  “Every single time I try to draw attention to an outbreak, I can tell you the particular time when I will be attacked.  It is always a white male who combines his attack with a comment about my appearance and usually something related to me being a female.  When I was on NPR the other day, someone tweeted about how fat I am.  That is how they discredit my point.  You have to be wearing a skin of steel and be willing to take the barbs and arrows.”

(249)  Hansen believes his latest warning is the most important he has ever issued.  Earth’s current climate is beginning to look a lot like the way it did during the Eemian interglacial, a warm period from about 130,000 to 115,000 years ago.  Then, when the temperature was less tha 1ºC warmer than today, “there is evidence of ice melt, sea-level rise to 5-9 meters [beyond current levels], and extreme storms.”  It gets worse.  Further evidence of rapid sea-level rise in the late Eemian, “[suggests] the possibility that a critical stability threshold was crossed that caused polar ice sheet collapse."

(266)  India detonated its first nuclear weapon in 1974 (Operation Smiling Buddha)…
(271)  One thing that most experts agree on is that Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons faster than any other nation onf Earth.  Four hundred warheads would mean that Pakistan’s nuclear  inventory would surpass not only India’s, but also France’s, the United Kingdom’s, and China’s.  This would mean that Pakistan would have fewer than only the United States and Russia.

(286)  Joe Weiss…. wrote the book… Protecting Industrial Control Systems from Electronic Threats….

(294)  Joe Weiss:  “The Internet of Things introduces new vulnerabilities even without malicious actors.”

(300)  Joe Weiss:  “I have 750 incidents in my database now that have killed over a thousand people [in all]… There have been cyber incidents in almost all of the industrial infrastructures:  electric distribution system, transmission systems, hydro plants, fossil plants, nuclear, combustion-turbine plants, oil and gas pipelines, water and water treatment systems, manufacturing facilities, and transportation.  These are woldwide, not just in the US.  None of this is hypothetical.  It has already occurred."

(316)  David Morrison now says that we can be fairly confident that those extinction-size rocks [asteroids] will not hit us, at least not in the next century or so.

(330)  Scientists have known for decades how to paste together different strands of DNA once they’ve already been cut using an enzyme called DNA ligase.  What was previously missing was a method of easily, accurately, and cheaply cutting existing strands of DNA.  CRISPR/Cas9 is that method, and it can be used successfully to edit the DNA of any type of cell, including plant and animal.
(333)  After its discovery, researchers found that CRISPR/Cas9 complex sometimes bonds to and cuts the target DNA at unintended locations.   Particularly when dealing with human cells, they found that sometimes as many as five nucleotides were mismatched between the guide and the target DNA.

(340)  Of the eighty-six embryos they started with, the Chinese researchers found the CRISPR/Cas9 made the correct edits in only four of them.  All four were found to have off-target events, suggesting that the treatment would not have worked if they had been trying to edit viable human embryos.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Mask of Command

The Mask of Command by John Keegan
NY:  Penguin Books, 1987
ISBN 0 14 09.1406 8

Pre-Heroic Leadership
(5)  If the new military class was not to hold governments under permanent threat of blackmail, displacement or supplantation - Professor Samuel Finer’s famous categorization of the levels at which soldiers intervene in politics - it must, then, both be excluded from politics and denied political skills.
NB:  Politics is people, office politics to electoral politics.  Bureaucracy is another lever of power, too.

Heroic Leadership
(30)  There is, however, a variation on linear confrontation which, though difficult to implement, is open to well-drilled troops and can be deadly if delivered unexpectedly.  It was to become the hallmark of Frederick the Great’s battlecraft in the eighteenth century when it was known as the “Oblique Order.”  It had first been employed by the Thebans against the Spartans at Leuctra in 371, and across the intervening forty years it now recommended itself to Alexander.  Its essence was that the advancing line should, at a moment when the enemy no longer had time to adjust the layout of his own force, shift the angle of its march to one flank or the other, thus threatening to overwhelm it.

(38)  … the stirrup was unknown to the Greeks;  it has not even started its evolutionary migration , as a simple toe loop, from far-away India, where it was invented about the first century AD.

(67)  Alexander, we may guess from his later reactions, guessed from their [Thracians] attempt to strengthen their position that they had no stomach for a fight and could be devastated if brought under physical attack.  Certainly it would be the case in all his subsequent engagements that he took any improvisation of field defences as an invitation to boldness and always attacked precisely at the pont the enemy had sought to make attack most difficult.

(69)  He had therefore to devise that most difficult of operations, a fighting disengagement.

(71)  It is perhaps not going too far to say that Alexander, without benefit of Adlerian theory, had hit upon the concept of the inferiority complex and made its exploitation the kernel of his war-making philosophy.

(80)  The battle at Granicus:  "They stood," says Arrian, “rather rooted to the spot by the unexpected catastrophe than from serious resolution.”  That is a phenomenon reported time and again from battlefields:  the rabbit-like paralysis of soldiers in the face of a predator’s unanticipated onslaught.

(89)  Power corrupts, but its real corruption is among those who wait upon it, seeking place, jostling with rivals, nursing jealousies, forming expedient cabals, flaunting preferment, crowing at the humiliation of a demoted favorite.  The life of the camp corrupts less than that of the court:  battle tests the real worth of a man as politics never can.

The Anti-Hero
(139)  Given their quite unusual capacity to absorb and organize information, the suggestion presents itself that both [Napoleon and Wellington] may have been exposed to the mnemonic “theatre of memory” technique so influential in the Europe of revived classical learning.

(142-143)  Alexander was a king, Wellington a gentleman, perhaps the most perfect embodiment of the gentlemanly ideal England has ever produced.  It had no counterpart in the Greek world because the values on which it rested - reticence, sensitivity, unselfseeking, personal discipline and sobreity in dress conduct and speech, all married to total self-assurance - were  at extreme variance with the extrovert style of the hero.

(143)  Wellington deplored feeling;  it was only by separating it from the act of government that equity and respect for law - the antithesis of the system prevailing under heroic kingship - had been established and could be maintained.

(157-158)  Ducking heads or an exaggerated forward lean - the latter instinctive in soldiers advancing against fire - would have suggested potentially disabling nervousness.  So, too, would a hasty pace;  for some reason, a firm and unhurried tread is far more intimidating in an attacker than a trot or run.

(161)  To Lady Shelley, a month after Waterloo, he tried to summarize the range of sensations that command inflicted upon him:

His eye glistening and his voice broken as he spoke of the losses sustained at Waterloo, he said, “I hope to God I have fought my last battle.  It is a bad thing always to be fighting. While I am in the thick of it I am too much occupied to feel anything;  but it is wretched just after.  It is quite impossible to think of glory.  Both mind and feelings are exhausted.  I am wretched at the moment of victory, and I always say that next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.  Not only do you lose those dear friends with whom you have been living, but you are forced to leave the wounded behind you.  To be sure one tries to do the best for them, but how little that is!  At such moments every feeling in your breast is deadened.  I am now just beginning to regain my natural spirits, but I never wish for any more fighting.”
NB:  Wellington and Eisenhower as generals and politicians.

Unheroic Leadership
(170)  Drill was no more than the institutionalization of such an arrangement.  It ensured that each of the steps neceesary to fill a musket with powder and ball - Maurice of Nassau, pioneer drillmaster, stipulated forty-two - would be performed simultaneously so that the culminating, act, the pulling of the trigger, would occur only when each musketeer was standing upright and looking at the enemy.
NB:  Drill as programming

(173)  The Romans had, over several centuries, transformed a militia of cultivators into a professional force.  And the Islamic world had devised the unique institution of the slave army whose soldiers, until they took power for themselves, were sustained through the income of the Caliph’s household.  In almost every other warmaking society, however, land-holding and arms-bearing had always gone hand in hand.

(182)  His propensity to judge the politics of warmaking is an index of the changes in the commander’s role that set Grant apart from Alexander on the one hand, and Wellington on the other….

Grant?:  "The Confederates proclaimed themselves aliens, and thereby disbarred themselves of all right to claim protection under the Constitution of the United States, [becoming] like people of any other foreign state who make war upon an independent nation.”

(185)  The United States, as he saw it, was a country morally different from those of Europe.  It should never incur the stain neither of aggression in foreign relations nor of infidelity to the Union in domestic politics.  The Mexican War had been a bad war for the first reason.  For the second, a war against the “Southern rebellion,” as he called the secession of the slave states, would be a good war, even though the cold eye told him that war was a thing bad in itself.
NB:  Northern aggression, Southern rebellion

(186)  “The Southern rebellion,” Grant wrote in his Memoirs, “was largely the outcome of the Mexican War.”

(194)  Battle is the swiftest of all schools of military instruction and Grant’s philosophy of war - “Find out where your enemy is.  Get at him as soon as you can.  Strike at him as hard as you can and as soon as you can, and keep movin’ on” - had made veterans out of his amateurs in two years of campaigning.

(203)  Grant observed in 1864:  “He smokes almost constantly, and, as I have then and since observed, he has a habit of whittlilng with a small knife.  He cuts a small stick into small chips, making nothing.  It us evidently mere occupation of his fingers, his mind all the while upon other things.”

(206)  The attitude [of almost never making speeches] was partly temperamental;  but it may have been reinforced by his low opinion of most of the political generals, great speechifiers, whom the party system inflicted on him, as well as by the feeling that talking had got the country into much of the difficulty out of which he was called to fight it free.  Ceremony and theatre may have repelled him for the same reason.  Both, in unmonarchical America, meant politics.

(207)  Where others dabbled in remembered classroom theory, aped their European counterparts, even sought to reincarnate Napoleon, he confined himself to practicalities:  carrying the war into the enemy’s heartland, making its people bear the real burdens of the conflict they had brought on the republic and meanwhile sustaining the spirits of an army of electors in a struggle for constitutional orthodoxy.

(213)  Campaign study had helped him develop the most valuable of all his aptitudes, that of seeing into the mentality of his opponents.
NB:  Leading into the story about his first engagement when he saw the enemy was just as afraid of him as he was of it.

(225)  The last of the Confederates, bar a few thousand who escaped otherwise, surrendered to Grant on his terms.  They were unconditional, as he would insist throughout the war, thereby making the first of his distinctive contributions to its waging.

(233)  Generalship is bad for people.  As anyone intimate with military society knows only too well, the most reasonable of men suffuse with pomposity when stars touch their soulders.  Because “general’ is a word which literature uses to inlcude in the same stable Alexander the Great and the dimmest Pentagon paper-pusher, perfectly well-balanced colonels begin to demand the deference due to the Diadochi when promotion carries them to the next step in rank.  And military society, that last surviving model of the courts of heroic war leaders, regularly does them the forour of indulging their fantasies

False Heroic
(246)  Rifled weapons fired projectiles - explosive if from cannon - out to unprededented ranges and with an accuracy never before acheived.  An immediate effect was to drive cavalry, the bulkiest of tactial targets, clean off the battlefield.  Apart from the engagement between the Union and Confederates at Brandy Station in June 1863, there were to be no cavalry battles in the American Civil War at all.  But rifled firepower also markedly altered the character of infantry fighting.

(252)  But we do know that, in his [Hitler’s] years of power, it was a constant refrain of his reproaches to his generals that he knew more about war than they did.  And such was often the exact truth.

(253)  For Hiter was, in a sense, an anti-clerical in the church of war, a devotee of its practices but a root-and branch critic of its high priests.  He had witnessed at firsthand the bloody outcome of their rituals - the taking of omens, the dedication of victims, the performance of sacrifice - and he had seen that the god of victory was not propitiated.   He was in consequence to give high priests short shrift after 1939.

… Whether Hitler should be regarded as a fascist in the ideological sense is extremely doubtful.  The construction of a corporate state was to him clearly a paltry thing beside the re-creation of a triumphal Germany.  But to the aesthetics and dynamism of fascism he gave the fullest assent.  Marinetti’s manifesto of the Futurist creed, central to the fascist Weltanschauung, might have been written by Hitler himself.

(259)  But Blitzkrief compounded that advantage.  Essentially a doctrine of attack on a narrow front by concentrated armour, trained to drive forward through the gap it forced without concern for its flanks, Blitzkrieg was a formula for victory which owned no single father.  
NB:  Guderian, Lantz, Liddell Hart

(305)  Hitler had had an acute grasp of the importance of propaganda from an early age, had appauded the superiority of Allied over German propaganda in the First World War in Mein Kampf and had there singled out its didactic essentials:   the selection of a few simple messages for endless repetition.  “The receptivity of the masses is very limited,” he wrote, “their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous;  in consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan."

(310)  The human connection between the holocaust of the First World War and the holocaust of the concentration camps must seem undeniable to anyone who can confront the visual evidence;  without the anterior conditioning of the trenches to accustom men to the physical fact of industrialized killing, how would the necessary numbers have been found to supervise the processes of extermination?
NB:  Grant says the Mexican-American War led directly to the Civil War, the trenches of WWI led to the death camps of WWII

Post-Heroic Command
(311)  It is of overriding importance to recognize that military achievement is not an end in itself.

(312)  But it was in that cyclic rededication of the warrior ruler to legitimization by battle that the sterility of the heroic society lay.  No development for it - political, cultural, intellectual or economic - was possible as long as its elite’s preoccupations were consumed by the repetitive and ultimately narcissistic activity of combat.

(315)  Government is complex;  its practice requires an endless and subtle manipulation of the skills of inducement, persuasion, coercion, compormise, threat and bluff.  Command, by contrast, is ultimately quite straightforward;  its exercise turns on the recognition that those who are asked to die must not be left to feel that they die alone.  

(315-316)  Orders derive much of their force from the aura of mystery, more or less strong, with which the successful commander, more or less deliberately, surrounds himself;  the purpose of such mystification is to heighten the uncertainty which ought to attach to the consequences of disobeying him.

(320)  What German classical scholars call the Feldherrnrede - the general’s speech before battle - was a well-known literary form in antiquity.  In the modern world Raimundo Montecuccoli, the imperial general of the Thirty Years’ War, is almost the only writer to have addressed the subject.

(321)  "The first quality of an officer,” wrote the future Marshal Lyautey in 1894, “is gaiety,” independently echoing the point that Montecuccoli makes.

(322)  The Legion d’Honneur, instituted in 1802, was the first decoration for bravery to be created in any army for which all soldiers, irrespective of rank, were eligible.

(327)  Armies have either been too small for a commander seized with a vision of outcome to achieve it;  or too large for any commander, however elaborate his information-gathering means, to grasp where the opportunity for outcome lay.  Strategic indecision - by far the most common end of all campaigns - results in the first case;   painful and bloody attrition, the all too frequent product of modern warmaking, in the second.

(329)  The first and greatest imperative of command is to be present in person.

(343-344)  Let us briefly remind ourselves of the imperatives that have combined to define leadership in the past:  they have comprised an element of kinship, by which the leader surrounded himself with intimates identifiable by his followers as common spirits with themselves, thus guaranteeing that their mutual humanity, in all its strength and weakness, wil be constantly represented to each other;  kinship has been bolstered by sanction, the reward - or punishment - of followers according to a jointly accepted value system;  sanction has been reinforced by example, the demonstration of the personal acceptance of risk by the authority who requires others to bear it at his behest;  example has been amplified by prescription, the explanation of the need for risk-taking by the leader, in direct speech, to his followers;  and prescription has finally been made concrete - reifed would be the technical term - by action, the translation of leadership into effect, of which victory was the desired result.

(347)  The nature of the decision-making appears, in retrospect, the most impressive and significant feature of the crisis [Cuban missile crisis].  The Ex Comm decided at the outset not to organize itself in a heirarchical way;  it forswore “leadership” from the start.  “We all spoke as equals,” Rovert Kennedy recalled.  “There was no rank… we did not even have a Chairman…  the conversations were completely unstructured and uninhibited.  Everyone had equal opportuithy to express himself or to be heard directly.”

(350)  Mankind needs not new hardware but a change of heart.  It needs an end to the ethic of heroism in its leadership for good and all.

(351)  Indeed, what is asked first of a leader in the nuclear world is that he should not act, in any traditionally heroic sense, at all.

(358)  N Dixon On the Psychology of Military Incompetence,  London, 1976;  Topsfield, MA, 1984 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Being Peace

Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh
Berkeley, CA:  Parallax Press, 1987, 1996
ISBN 0-938077-00-7

(6)  A smile makes you master of yourself.

… Therefore, the technique, if we have to speak of a technique, is to be in the present moment, to be aware that we are here and now, and the only moment to be alive is the present moment.

(32)  Happiness is available.  Please help yourself to it.  All of us have the capacity of transforming neutral feelings into pleasant feelings, very pleasant feelings that can last a long time.

…  When we practice sitting or walking, we have the means to do it perfectly.

(36)  I have to take care of myself, knowing that I am responsible for your happiness, and if you do the same, everything will be all right.  This is the Buddha’s teaching about perception, based on the principle of dependent co-arising.  Buddhism is easy to learn!

(40)  If you cannot be compassionate to yourself, you will not be able to be compassionate to others.  When we get angry, we have to produce awareness:  “I am angry.  Anger is in me.  I am anger.”  That is the first thing to do.
NB:  Embodied Peacemaking

(53)  If you practice one hour of sitting a day, that hour should be all twenty-four hours, and not just for that hour.  One smile, one breath should be for the benefit of the whole day, not just for that moment.  We must practice in a way that removes the barrier between practice and non-practice.

(57)  The problem is not to do a lot, but to do it correctly.  If you do it correctly, you become kinder, nicer, more understanding and loving.

(63)  There is a Zen story about a man riding a horse that is galloping very quickly.  Another man, standing alongside the road, yells at him, “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse yells back, “I don’t know.  Ask the horse.”  I think that is our situation.

(68)  If you are a mountain climber or someone who enjoys the countryside, or the green forest, you know that the forests are our lungs outside of our bodies.

(69) Sometimes we had to burn ourselves alive to get the message across, but even then the world could not hear us.  They thought we were supporting a kind of political act.  They didn’t know that it was a purely human action to be heard, to be understood.  We wanted reconciliation, we did not want a victory.

(74)  Our daily lives, the way we drink, what we eat, has to do with the world’s political situation.  Meditation is to see deeply into things, to see how we can change, how we can transform our situation.  To transform our situation is also to transform our minds.  To transform our minds is also to transform our situation, because the situation is mind, and mind is situation.  Awakening is important.  The nature of the bombs, the nature of injustice, the nature of the weapons, and the nature of our own beings are the same.   This is the real meaning of engaged Buddhism.

(75)  [seven practices of reconciliation]
The first practice is Face-to-Face Sitting.  In a convocation of the whole sangha, everyone sits together mindfully, breathing and smiling, with the willingness to help, and not with the willingness to fight.  This is basic….

The second practice is Remembrance.  Both monks try to remember the whole history of the conflict, every detail having to do with the conflict, while the whole assembly just sits patiently and listens…

(76)  The third principle is Non-stubbornness. Everyone in the community expects the two monks not to be stubborn, to try their best for reconciliation.

(77)  The fourth practice is Covering Mud with Straw.  You know when you walk in the countryside after a rain.  It is very muddy.  If you have straw to spread over the mud, you can walk safely.  One respected senior monk is appointed to represent each side of the conflict.  These two monks then address the assembly, trying to say something to de-escalate the feeling in the concerned people…. Putting straw on mud - the mud is the dispute, and the straw is the lovingkindess of the Dharma.

… The next stage is Voluntary Confession.  Each monk reveals his own shortcomings, without waiting for others to say them.  If others say them, you feel differently.  If you yourself say them, it is wonderful.

(78)  The sixth and seventh practices are Decision by Consensus and Accepting the Verdict.  It is agreed in advance that the two monks will accept whatever verdict is pronounced by the whole assembly, or they will have to leave the community.  So, after exploring every detail of the conflict, after realizing the maximum of reconciliation, a committee presents a verdict.

(79)  These seven methods of settling disputes have been adopted by Buddhist monks and nuns in India, China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and many other countries for more than 2,500 years.  I think we can learn something from them to apply in our own households and society.

…The peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write a love letter.

(86)  We do not practice for the sake of the future, to be reborn in a paradise, but to be peace, to be compassion, to be joy right now.

(88)  The Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing - Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings

(89)  First:  Aware of the suffering created by fanacticism and intolerance we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones.  Buddhists teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to deveop our understanding and compassion.  They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.

(90)  Second:  Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views.  We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to others’ insights and experiences.  We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth.  Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

… The Buddha said, “If you cling to something as absolute truth and are caught in it, when truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will refuse to let it in.”

(91)  The way of nonattchment from views i the basic teaching of Buddhism concerning understanding.

…  We are commited ot finding ways, cinldying personal contact, images, and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so we can udnerstand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace, and joy.

(93)  The Eight Realizations of Great Beings Sutra says, “The human mind is always searching for possessions, and never feels fulfilled.  Bodhisattvas move in the opposite directon and follow the principle of self-sufficiency.  They live a simple life in order to practice the Way, and consider the realization of perfect understanding as their only career.”

(94)  “Learn to look at other beings with the eyes of compassion” is a quote from the Lotus Sutra chapter on Avalokiteshvara.  You might like to put this down and put it in your sitting rooom.  The original Chinkese is only five words:  “comapssionate eyes looking living beings.”  The first tme I recited the Lotus Sutra , when I came to these five words, I was silenced.  I knew that these five words are enough to guide my whole life.

Seventh:  Aware that life is available only in the present moment and that it is possile to live happily in the hera and now, we are committed to training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life.

(95)  The first seven trainings deal with mind, then two with speech, and five with body.  This mindfulness training is about reconciliation, the effort to make peace, not only in your family, but in society as well.  In order to help reconcile a conflict, we have to be in touch with both sides and understand.  The world needs people like this for the work of reconciliation, people with the capacity of understanding and compassion.

NInth:  Aware that words can create suffering or happiness we are committed to learning to speak truthfully and constructively, using only words that inspire hope and confidence.  We are determined not to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred.  We will not spread news hat we do not know to be certain nor criticize or condemn things of which we are not sure.  WE will do our best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so many threaten our safety.

(96)  There is a gatha that can be recited before picking up the telephone:
Words can travel across thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems,
as lovely as flowers.

(98)  If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north.  That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star.  I just want to go in that direction.

(99)  Preventing war is much better than protesting against the war.  Protesting the war is too late.

(100)  In sexual relations, we must be aware of future suffering that may be caused.

(101)  We are aware that loneliness and suffering cannot be alleviated by the coming together of two bodies in a sexual relationship, but by the practice of true understanding and compassion.

… Is our world safe enough to bring in more children?  If you want to bring more children into the world, then do something for the world.

(102)  In the religious and medical traditions of Asia, the human person was said to have three sources of energy:  sexual, breath, and spirit.  Sexual energy is what you spend during sexual intercourse.  Breath energy is the kind of energy you spend when you talk too much and breathe too little.  Spirit energy is energy that you spend when you worry too much and do not sleep well.  If you spend these three sources of energy, your body will not be strong enough to penetrate deeply into reality and realize the Way.  Buddhist monks observed ccelibacy, not because or moral admonition, but to conserve energy.  Someone on a long fast knows how important it is to preserve these three sources of energy.

… To be reborn means first to be reborn in your children.

(103)  If you wish to have children, please do something for the world you will bring them into.  That will make you someone who works for peace, in one way or another.

(111)  The Buddha’s basic Dharma talk concerning meditation, the Satipatthana Sutta, is available in Pali, Chinese, and many other languages, including English and French.  According to this text, to meditate is to be aware of what is going on in your body, in your feelings, in your mind, and in the objects of your mind, which are the world.  If you are aware of what is going on, then you can see problems as they unfold, and you can help prevent many of them.

(114)  A flower is a Buddha.  A flower has Buddha nature.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Background Information for Energy Hackathon

Islands Energy Playbook

D-Lab Off-grid energy checklist

Solar lighting database - D-Lab

RMI Islands Energy Program

They are working with Anguilla, Aruba, Bahamas, Belize, Colombia (San Andrés and Providencia), Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos, and The Seychelles

There have been 9 Caribbean Renewable Energy Forums

Small Island Developing Nations just started a island renewable energy initiative

Daily updates on Puerto Rico

Jigar Shah role of solar in rebuilding after disaster

Solar Lanterns – there are over 1,000,000 of them in inventory that could be air frighted for about $25m. These are crucial because these lanterns reduce how scared people are, charge mobile phones, and provide basic services

Batteries on existing solar installations – there are thousands of solar projects in Puerto Rico and all of them should be retrofitted with battery back-up so they can serve as emergency hubs for the community and commerce.

Microgrids for essential infrastructure – there are many hotels, government buildings, schools and other places that are deemed by FEMA as critical infrastructure so that the relief workers and other essential functions can operate. Instead of using diesel generators that will run out of fuel, we should be putting in place microgrids to run these buildings which will also reduce electricity costs long-term in islands like Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Solar emergency generators – bring those in to power critical infrastructure (water pumps, telecom towers, etc). Azimuth Solar has been promoting this as a long-term solution to help provide power to on-the-ground humanitarian organizations on island communities who have sustained damage from recent hurricanes with their Portable Solar Generator Systems. You can support them here.

Modular Microgrids

Renewable at all scales from basic - light, phone, radio, battery charging to household, business, and enterprise microgrids (hospitals first). 

Most islands going majority renewable are at the 10 - 15,000 population scale.  Hawaii is planning for 70% renewables by 2030 but Puerto Rico is 3.5 million.  

There are, perhaps, some lessons to be learned from Bangladesh, in relation to renewables deployment and climate change adaptation:

Individual and family scale:  Solar Electric Light Fund
crowd funding campaign today on    
d.light's S300 mobile charger + solar light, LED Rechargeable Lantern distributed through Catholic Charities USA 

Family, institution, and neighborhood scale:  Joseph Mangum of Sunnyside Solar of Brattleboro, VT:
Mangum on the ground in PR

Institution, neighborhood, and town scale:
Sunnova is coordinating getting supplies and batteries to Puerto Rico so they can repair close to 10,000 customers' systems in Puerto Rico

Elizabeth Yeampierre, Climate Justice Alliance - Democracy Now! 10/24/17

Greenpeace + Our Power Our Future campaign for Puerto Rico sending a ship of PV panels to protest Johnson Act

Resilience of Dominican Republic grid

Kau'ai's Renewable Energy Projects 

Make a Mini-Grid: Resilience through Massive Small Change in Appropriate Technology - UPDATED 22/12/2015 

April 23, 2015 Zero Net Energy:  Prototype 4x positive energy portable classroom for Hawaii


Design Brief

This mission is time sensitive, as people who are affected by these disasters are in immediate need of solutions. We’ll be closing this mission and implementing the solutions devised November 08th, 2017.

Field Ready has pinpointed eight categories of top-priority challenges that you can help with. We ask that you identify a problem where your unique maker powers could make a difference, then contribute your solutions as projects here. Field Ready can disseminate your instructions to its experts in the field who can get prototypes into production, and into the hands of those who really need it.

Choose a category of challenge from the list below. When creating a project, state in the first line which category you’re solving for so it can be easily forwarded on to the proper channels. All viable entries will be reviewed by experts on site and put into use as needed.

Challenge #1 Desalinated Water
Propose reliable means of obtaining usable water through desalination techniques. 

Challenge #2 Sustainable Means of Cooking
Propose a safe way of converting seawater and non-potable water to cooking fuel.

Challenge #3 Water Storage
Propose techniques to pump water up two stories (10 meters) using found or upcycled materials.

Challenge #4 Sustainable Food & Medicine Storage
Power existing refrigerators, using found/upcycled materials like solar panels, to keep milk, medicines and perishables cold.

Challenge #5 Replacement Parts
Propose a small, portable casting system that can safely melt found metals into replacement parts. Assume the use of recovered wood from fallen trees as a fuel source.

Challenge #6 Telecommunications
Propose a system for connecting neighborhoods with local fire/police departments when the communications infrastructure is damaged.

Challenge #7 Maintaining Cleanliness for the Elderly and Disabled
Propose a method of rapidly drying clothes and other belongings using little or no power when rain storms, high humidity, windy conditions, and lack of space hinder line-drying.

Challenge #8 Traffic Control
Propose a temporary traffic control system when traffic signals are out of commission. Assume a lack of personnel to post at most intersections. Your solution should be easily dropped into any intersection and simple enough to program to direct traffic to specific patterns and include a self-contained power source that could last for up to 6 months at a time.

Field Ready has access to fabrication tools (including woodworking, 3D printers, laser cutters, metal casting) that can be leveraged in the final solutions of projects, though upcycled and easily accessible materials are preferred. If creating an electronic/smart solution, Arduino and Raspberry Pi are preferred as they are both readily available and well known. 

The Make: team will make sure that all makers whose solutions are selected for testing or use by Field Ready teams are kept informed of the impact of their work. The results will be showcased on Maker Share and in Make: Magazine.

Consult the Rules & Instructions for additional details pertaining to each of the categories listed above.