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June 24, 2022
"...Our analysis would not be complete, however, without explaining why overruling Roe's central holding would not only reach an unjustifiable result under principles of 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑑𝑒𝑐𝑖𝑠𝑖𝑠, but would seriously weaken the Court's capacity to exercise the judicial power and to function as the Supreme Court of a Nation dedicated to the rule of law."
"As Americans of each succeeding generation are rightly told, the Court cannot buy support for its decisions by spending money and, except to a minor degree, it cannot independently coerce obedience to its decrees. The Court's power lies, rather, in its legitimacy, a product of substance and perception that shows itself in the people's acceptance of the Judiciary as fit to determine what the Nation's law means and to declare what it demands."
"Where, in the performance of its judicial duties, the Court decides a case in such a way as to resolve the sort of intensely divisive controversy reflected in Roe and those rare, comparable cases, its decision has a dimension that the resolution of the normal case does not carry. It is the dimension present whenever the Court's interpretation of the Constitution calls the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution."
"The Court is not asked to do this very often, having thus addressed the Nation only twice in our lifetime, in the decisions of 𝐵𝑟𝑜𝑤𝑛 and 𝑅𝑜𝑒. But when the Court does act in this way, its decision requires an equally rare precedential force to counter the inevitable efforts to overturn it and to thwart its implementation. ... But whatever the premises of opposition may be, only the most convincing justification under accepted standards of precedent could suffice to demonstrate that a later decision overruling the first was anything but a surrender to political pressure, and an unjustified repudiation of the principle on which the Court staked its authority in the first instance. So to overrule under fire in the absence of the most compelling reason to reexamine a watershed decision would subvert the Court's legitimacy beyond any serious question."
"Like the character of an individual, the legitimacy of the Court must be earned over time. So, indeed, must be the character of a Nation of people who aspire to live according to the rule of law. Their belief in themselves as such a people is not readily separable from their understanding of the Court invested with the authority to decide their constitutional cases and speak before all others for their constitutional ideals. If the Court's legitimacy should be undermined, then, so would the country be in its very ability to see itself through its constitutional ideals. The Court's concern with legitimacy is not for the sake of the Court but for the sake of the Nation to which it is responsible."
"A decision to overrule Roe's essential holding under the existing circumstances would [be] at the cost of both profound and unnecessary damage to the Court's legitimacy, and to the Nation's commitment to the rule of law. It is therefore imperative to adhere to the essence of Roe's original decision, and we do so today."
Supreme Court of the United States Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992)
May 30, 2022
Nature often plays a central role in childrens' early introductions to the world e.g., learning the names of animals and the unique sounds they make. From animals to the moon and its glittered background of stars, nature is also prominent in their songs. However, it may be irresponsible to nurture this admiration and appreciation for the natural world in this next generation without proper context to prepare them for the unique challenges they will face. As music helps to process and communicate important but emotionally challenging content, here is one addition to the standard repertoire. To the tune of "Mary, did you know?"
Baby, you don't know
that your natural world
is hanging by a thread.
Baby, you don't know
that some fellow men
designed this with intent.
You will not know
the abundance of
the forests and the seas
because the future of your planet
is being traded out of greed.
Baby, you don't know
that this patient land
will be lashing out on you
Baby, you don't know
that you'll pay for all
the debts we have accrued
You will not know
how the skies once 𝑓𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑑
with singing birds and buzzing bees
because our biocides are coursing
through the veins of all our streams.
[ 🎵🎶🎵🎶🎵 ]
The coral dies. The oceans rise.
The walruses will fall.
The plants are mute. Wild life's reduced.
We're on track to lose it all.
Baby, you will know
how aggression scales
as resources become scarce
Baby, you will know
how stability ends
when you 'cumulate all our errs
I hope you know
that we're not all bad
𝑏𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑜𝑛 pawns in exploiting plans
It's not enough to say we're sorry
But you should know, I am
(Don't like these lyrics? feel free to make your own! but balance our celebrations of earthly abundance with teachings of the reality they should expect to live in) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720348142?via%3Dihub=
May 8, 2022
At least there is a clear and honest declaration of the exchange being made....
April 28, 2022
on my chosen way down
the Earth has all blurred
to machined shades of brown.
From this zoomed out view
one cannot see the cause
only hardened bruise grids
evincing microscopic laws.
Harsh details emerge
through the turbulent flows
dense networks of products
mocking cyclic dispose.
I regret my commitment
to return to the ground
I'd glide here forever
if a way could be found.
Safely postponing no longer
we feign tug on our 'chute.
Hearts certainly sinking
as we continue en route.
What could have been handled
with time and composure
Is now left to scrambling
as boundaries draw closer.
Though guile works wonders
in the systems below
quick wit and compliments
are here worth zero.
Neither money nor fame
convince physics to bate.
Out of my head
and cord in my hand.
A gentle pull yields
a jolt slowing the land.
Floating down clarifies
the cruel rational-treason:
Demanding historic rates
is well beyond reason.
(2021) UN Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Synthesis Report
(2021) UN Emissions Gap Report
(2021) UN Emissions Gap Report Addendum
April 19, 2022
The honorable are all busy,
saturated by curiosity and virtuous chores.
Their thoughtfulness is safely dulled,
as broken prisoners of war.
Howling contests report success
as they accept the prescribed pain.
Tricked by praise they compete to reach
our intellectual Lidocaine.
With freedom from sharp eyes of truth,
perception's easily distorted.
From will of men to health of land,
the future is unguarded.
Do not fear the few raised heads,
colleagues programmed to correct.
Those who stray towards clarity
are forced to disconnect.
Before fallouts catch on, we'll all be gone
no one left to take the blame.
A clean heist, an imposed sacrifice
...just keep them toiling and tame.
March 22, 2022
Happy World Water Day!
This year's theme: Groundwater
(The ~fossil fuel you can drink!)
...yet another irreplaceable natural resource of globally sweeping importance whose annihilation can be set in motion by unilateral declarations of ownership and prosperity...
Picture: "Stream Stenosis" visible above-ground constraints imposed to paralyze originally-mobile aquatic nutrient flows.
Recent Data Analysis of Interest: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abc2755
November 20, 2021
The Earth is finite.
Demands of relentless growth
Industry throws dice.
Callous manufactured odds.
It plays, Earth's expense.
draining natural endowment.
Slow, emergent crime.
Machines fulfill our values.
Life's privilege revoked.
The Earth fights kindly,
punishing the innocent
as guilty escape.
The future cannot
defend itself from the past.
We hold that power.
November 11, 2021
Dictionary Definition: “The principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant stem specialized for photosynthesis and transpiration”
Contextualized Definition: Biodegradable solar panel developed in response to predictable seasons (just like our civilization). Biological mechanism for nutrients to be stored away for the winter, returned to the soil in a cycle supporting the invaluable layer of fungal and microbial life below.
Dictionary Definition: “Machine that generates a current of air used to move loose leaves and debris”
Contextualized Definition: Machine for trading 1.) invaluable natural resources whose combustion contributes to planetary collapse 2.) a broad range of the auditory landscape and 3.) the air quality through high input of particulate matter, in exchange for irrelevant and transient “aesthetics”.
Published on Quantum Frontiers blog by the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech
November 7, 2021
Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM) and Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena CA 91125, USA, Earth1
November 7, 2021 (COP26 Day 8)
If a quantum field is replaced with lower complexity versions of itself, the field systematically falls apart into ever smaller pieces. Rather than permeating all of space, the entanglement---a unique form of correlations tying together the quantum world---abruptly vanishes2. Where once there was global connection now devolves into fragments. If the biological fields of our planet are replaced with lower-complexity versions of themselves, analogous collapse ensues. The natural world requires and celebrates complexity.
Visual representation of complexity reduction in biological fields from (left) diverse coherent ecosystems with phenomena across many length scales to (right) fragmented precision monocultures with phenomena in limited bandwidth. Analogous complexity reductions in quantum fields cause harsh decoherence.
(Images by Ruvim Miksanskiy and NASA Earth Observatory Landsat)
Humans have a fascinating relationship with nature's complexity---they love it when they understand it, and tend to destroy it when they don't: Maxwellian demons reducing complexity rather than entropy, with the reduction scaling inversely with insight. This is most often not malicious at the beginning; we enjoy understanding how things work and modifying them to our desires. If we don't understand something, an effective way to learn is to simplify it, dissect and put it back together, sometimes with fewer pieces so the purpose and importance of each piece can be deduced. As we become comfortable with the basic elements, embellishments can be added. This is how elaborate modern technology has been developed; this is how discoveries in abstract mathematics are made; this is how symphonies are composed. While valuable for developments of human creation, this perspective is dangerous when applied to societal structures that now glorify the simple homogeneous monoculture, both of the Earth and of its inhabitants.
Naïvely, uncontrollable pursuit of understanding and quickly adaptable manipulation skills, along with systematic analysis and pattern recognition capabilities to deduce large-scale and long-time trends, are logical characteristics to incorporate in an intellectually-powerful-but-otherwise-non-remarkable species within your ecosystem. Such a species would be able to recognize the occasional imbalance in nature and to provide a slight rectifying tilt. Not only could they do so, but they are designed to enjoy it! "The pleasure of finding things out" followed by the satisfaction of influencing the world external.
The naïvety of this suggested ecological role for humans overlooks the reality that our society is increasingly being driven by forces programmed to incentivize actions knowingly contrary to personal, community, and planetary best interests. Though we tend to try to put things back together, the process is often slow and filled with hubris for control. Analogous to the qubit becoming a natural tool for entanglement restoration, we reintroduce locally extirpated phenomena and species as restricted tools of ecosystem recovery: from natural airflow that better dissipates pathogens, to beavers gracefully orchestrating water distribution and the construction of entire ecosystems, to wolves creating trophic cascades that erupt in species diversity and even stabilize geographic features of the land, to earthworms aerating the soil, recycling nutrients, and supporting the diverse microbial life enveloping the Earth3. Nature is full of astoundingly fascinating examples of collaboratively created cycles, thoroughly intertwining the lives of species throughout the taxonomic ranks. Though the above naïvety identifies one theoretically plausible respectable function of the human species, we have yet to mature into any truly valuable ecological role. If humans suddenly disappeared, would any (non-domesticated) species be interested in fighting for our reintroduction? Or would there simply be…relief?
It is not a winning strategy for our understanding4 to be a necessary condition for "allowing" natural processes to occur. Though humans have become devastatingly linear creatures5, we fuel a vicious cycle of destruction, appreciation, and monetized mono-restoration. Dangerously, our efficiency in step-one often breaks this cycle, too. From free-flowing rivers to the communication networks of mycorrhizal fungi in old-growth forests, we are losing vital information of healthy ecosystems faster than they can be appreciated. How will we know what actions help to restore nature when we have lost all examples of her complex beauty? What will we do when she is gone?
As I modify my life to reflect growing concerns, the following perspective is important:
Changing the system, not perfecting our own lives, is the point. “Hypocrisy” is the price of admission in this battle. --Bill McKibben [NYT, 2016]
I will keep riding my bike for primary transportation (fun, healthy, and responsible!), adding plants to my diet (tasty, healthy, and responsible!), and showering by the light pollution through my bathroom window. I do these things not with the illusion that they are impactful, but to keep stoked an internal fire focused on brainstorming ways that a quantum physicist/musician could convince the powerful humans to make decisions that reprogram our society to calm, rather than cause, the storms spiraling our planet out of balance.
Quantum physicists have been forced to realize for decades how ignoring the structure of nature can leave you struggling exponentially far from your goals. The way that nature processes information is fundamentally different than the way that we currently do…and her techniques are often exponentially superior. In the same way that we are turning to nature for solutions in simulating the quantum world, so too must we turn to nature for solutions in planetary stability. We are not going to technologically innovate ourselves out of this problem---nature has a multi-million-year head start in her R&D investments. While there are absolutely technologies (both quantum and classical) that may make the transition more rapid and comfortable, if technological solutions worked, we would have innovated ourselves out of this predicament a half-century ago when oil companies with planetary-sized spheres of influence were well-informed of the situation.
Right now, we are being asked by the Earth, still relatively kindly, to stop; to stop haphazardly taking apart her cyclic and entangled systems; to let nature heal the reductive wounds caused by our curiosity and by the endless extraction of our growth economy incompatible with a finite planet; to relish when her healthy wholeness leads to a complexity that boggles our minds; to provide planetary reprieve with a global performance of John Cage's silent composition, 4'33", hopefully temporally dilated; to actively stand aside. While we do so, we can peacefully ponder and reframe the vision of what our lives on this Earth should be.
In the quantum community, we have already developed the necessary mentality. We daily envision a more natural way of interacting with the world. This vision has successfully been passed through multiple generations of researchers---communicable inspiration being an essential ingredient for developments that began a century ago and may take a century more to come to full fruition. In one case, we must break from a past driven by exploitation, developed in a time when the fallacy of infinite resources was a functional approximation. In the other case, we must create an entirely new programming language built on the laws of quantum mechanics and must develop unprecedented levels of precision control necessary to compute with nature’s quantum bits. One of these challenges should be easier than the other.
In artistic performance, learning a new piece can feel like learning a new way of living. To engrain and genuinely express a new perspective, it can be helpful to work at multiple levels of abstraction. This assures that all sides of your being---intellectual, emotional, linguistic, kinesthetic, etc.---are evenly integrated, optimized for an honest portrayal of the artistic vision. In the context of planetary fragmentation decimating ecosystem coherence, quantum information provides one such valuable abstraction.
We have a story to tell that parallels, from the quantum world, our current planetary challenges. Our story is one of past destructive reduction and an ongoing pursuit of redemption reintroducing fundamental pieces of nature back into our calculations. Quantum physicists have already been through the exponentially diminished darkness and are joyously engaged in creating a future where nature's complexities are respected and honored. We have turned phenomena famously lamented for their tortuously tangled interpretations into cherished and invaluable resources capable of achieving far more than their simplified predecessors. This endeavor is requiring (and achieving!) extensive global coordination and institutional support from local to federal levels.
Our community has learned to celebrate the complexity of the natural world. To share that vision is something important we can do. In this context, quantum physicists are natural "complexity therapists". As society rewilds the land and reconnects our lives to nature, we can help usher in an era of corporately treasuring the invaluable resources of diverse and complex natural processes, not only for computational advantage but for the survival of all remaining life.
1. Affiliation provided for context. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of Caltech or affiliated institutes.
2. The following reflections accompany recent research quantifying entanglement in the scalar field vacuum .
3. Fun Fact: Ancient Egypt imposed a death penalty for tampering with the Earth Worms!
4. and subsequent ability to secure legislative/judicial protections
5. e.g., plastic, million-year oil and ground water resources consumed in a generation, carcass removal (both plant and animal) systematically depleting nutrients from ecosystems that have specific mechanisms for nutrient retention and reintegration, etc.
October 3, 2021
They welcomed us onto the land
creating robust beachheads of regulated weather, nutrient rich soil, and breathable air
distributing water over great distances inland in a planetary game of catch with clouds.
Our bodily processes developed in their inverted image, enjoying the luxuries of the forest.
Our societies are faithful reflections, distorted only in time.
The genome only goes so far, their young apprentice the greats.
Communication, observation, self-care, and planetary citizenship,
they learn techniques for dynamically engaging in the modern complexity of their civilization.
Integrated into the groundwork of the elders, there is no need to reinvent the biological wheel.
Inheriting guidance and community support, they grow strong
exploring new complexities to further enrich their flourishing world.
As if forgetting our relations of the past, we destroy our hosts to the land.
confused when their mass-produced children languish weak and defenseless under our care
sentenced to atrophy in illiterate ignorance, born into nothing but silence and devastation.
True forest soil, teeming with an advanced network of microscopic life, takes centuries+ to re-establish.
Passing the wisdom of millennia on to the next generation,
the remaining bits of old growth are living libraries of the Earth.
The current system of economics/politics/law states that Teal Cedar Products Ltd. has the right to ravage old-growth forest where living members have established residency for thousands of years. Upon logical protest, the BC Supreme Court aimed to support this unfathomable “right” of the logging company by injunctive relief with police enforcement. This Injunction, in effect since April, has led to over 1000 arrests of protestors. Illustrating the strong mentality of corporately lawful planetary destruction, this number is greater than the number having resulted from the January 6th insurrection in the United States.
This past week, Justice Thompson decided not to extend the injunction. While relatively good news for future Earth inhabitants, his decision had no basis in planetary concern: “I cannot give effect to the submissions that I should weigh in the balance the fact that the protesters are moral and ethical citizens endeavouring to ward off impending destruction of a rare and irreplaceable ecosystem in the context of an existential environmental and climatological crisis.” Rather, his reasons for denying a continuation of the injunction, also rightly so, was an objection to the use of egregious police force bolstered by the reputation of the court: “methods of enforcement of the Court’s order have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree”. Justice Verhoeven, who initially allowed the injunction, also relieves himself from planetary responsibility in his concluding remark “there is no doubt that climate change is real, and poses a grave threat to humanity’s future…[but] the effect of old growth forest logging on climate change and biodiversity is not before me, and is not for me to say” ….good thing he had several experts e.g., in paras. 46-48 of his own written judgement, to inform him of the effect.
This chorus of evading official authority of planetary protection is echoed below the border as well. In the shamefully and terrifyingly fragile US Supreme Court decision of Massachusetts vs. EPA, even the basic question of standing hung in the wind. In this 5-4 decision, if the minority had prevailed, the expectation that a petitioner “suffer a particular injury distinct from harm suffered by anyone else” would have preempted future aspirations toward legal compensation for climate-related injury. Planetary destruction would have become the symmetrically perfect crime: diluting its cause so that no one can be held responsible and diluting its impact over space and time for evasion of the “imminent” category while causing such widespread harm that no one could establish standing. Luckily, this is not what happened, but once again, the judgement was not made with concern for the planet in mind. This case of planetary significance was considered under the comfortable guise of administrative law and separation of powers, and was decided on the basis of technical semantics---focusing on the globally irrelevant to avoid being perceived to be addressing the lack of elephants in the planetary room. The art of not ruffling feathers will not be necessary when there are no more feathers to ruffle.
Given the clear disparities in bearing the fallout of climate change---damages predominantly inflicted upon present and future populations at systemic disadvantage for societal protections---our judicial systems need to learn how to ensure environmental justice for the entire temporally integrated population that will be guided by their rulings. While it is true that the imaginations of limited deviancy that wrote our constitutions did not write that you can’t destroy the planet, we should not be so dense as to need to invent anthropomorphic legal structures e.g., environmental personhood, to protect the natural world from ourselves.
Justice Thompson's Judgement Rejecting Injunction Extension [September 28, 2021]
Justice Verhoeven's Judgement Initiating Injunction [April 1, 2021]
The Rule of 5: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court by Richard J. Lazarus
September 26, 2021
the grandeur, the beauty, the abundance aglow.
Emergent streams gushing with cacophonous birds,
mirrored the flow of fishes in surging waters below.
Billions of intertwined _circular_ lives
a rhythm, with science, became predictable.
A balance achieved over astonishing years,
only God could be responsible.
With reverence exhausting and curiosity setting in,
we flex to test our vigor.
Bending, shifting, shaping nature's cadence:
an intoxicating potion of power.
Billions of intertwined _linear_ lives
trading ancient assets for unusable waste.
With scarcity unimaginable,
We can be responsible!
The beasts of progress are set in motion
their corporate handlers demanding (and receiving!) perpetual growth.
Extinctions, salinations, the quashed pulse leaves a quiet....
interrupted by sporadic trembles at broken rivers,
the Earth coughing to clear her throat.
Inspired by firing squads, stonings, and mobs,
ingenious tactics for accountability dispersion are deployed.
Pay no attention to our valuable beasts,
everyone, the audience is responsible.
Lowering the fourth wall is a sinister diversion,
weaponizing democracy to hide power among the powerless.
The programming continues to its decisive victory,
undeterred by planetary collapse.
Decimation of species, Earth, water, and air,
no constraint by Asmiov's laws.
Who can tame these uncontrollable beasts?
Force the children to be responsible.
September 19, 2021
“…I think that people, particularly younger people, the future of this country is in their hands, I’m afraid, not mine. It’s up to the high school students, the college students and I think that they look at many of our institutions and they feel a lack of confidence….so they have to work out ways, ways where they can improve the institution….” ---Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Dear Justice Breyer,
With temporal thievery---profiting in the present to the known detriment of resources and livelihoods of the future---being the primary motif of this civilization, the upcoming docket of the next generation is already abundantly full. Amid active shooter trainings, a global pandemic wielded as a weapon of intentional public endangerment, and systemic racism nurtured to flagrancy by a previous administration, young people are busy trying to figure out how to reverse the global decimation of species and/or how to live in a world devoid of untainted natural resources. It is the dedicated job of the Supreme Court to represent not only the 328 million people in this country, but the full integrated population over the great temporal extent to which Supreme Court rulings guide our legal compass through precedent. Please do not frivolously diminish the severe power of the highest court in an attempt to rid your generation of the responsibility of leadership that it currently possesses.
P.S. As if it is a new technology that older generations must learn from the young, you went on to encourage young people also to work out ways to discuss important topics in a civil manner. May I suggest ensuring all sides are respected to retain jurisdiction over the growing of new humans inside of them as a step-zero to civility? *Returning to you a bit of your divested encouragement to support the upcoming work, relevant to the future of this country, that is in your hands* [insert encouraging remark]
April 18, 2021
Normal is what got us here. A perception of accountability to nothing in the natural world. Deterred only by the pesky line item recently set for human life. No respect for the complexity of the world, no line item for Nature. The health of the future, like combustible materials, is a natural resource whose destruction has been a profitable business model for decades. Normal is what got us here. The Earth speaks kindly. Not on impatient human time scales, the Earth speaks slowly. In the shape of trees, purposefully broken symmetry soaking up southern sun or bracing the prevailing winds, carving canyons and raising mountains in deliberate, imperceptibly dynamical motion. The Earth speaks kindly. One does not need to be in a coal mine to recognize the global decimation of species as generalized canaries. The Earth speaks kindly. Until it doesn’t. Until the kindness lays mute on the closed ears of “progress” and desperation slowly forces humans to be their own canaries. Until the blatant inhospitality of frequent rare events struggles to penetrate the engrained fallacy of unlimited natural resources. Until the oceans begin consuming the land, revoking the privilege of inhabitance and the coral reefs are in need of insurance against the destruction that is... Us Individually decent but with a remarkable penchant for collectively creating exploitative organizational entities. Nature’s immune system has sent us outdoors alone with a layer protecting the world from simple breath. An opportunity to reflect to realize that normal was far from sustainable normal was far from just. We can do better than normal.
October 11, 2020
Innocent naïve question: How does one get approved eligibility for holding public office with a resumé of treason, fraudulence, federal offences including election tampering, and crimes against humanity?
Dominantly sarcastic question: Is there a class that teaches one how to become morally corrupt so I can go ahead and be an impactful and valued member of society instead of the rational, critically thinking scientist I have become?
A personally intriguing phenomenon of classical mechanics is parametric resonance. Parametric resonance is a mechanism through which a small, systematic manipulation implemented with decisive rhythm causes dramatic alteration to a system’s evolution. The quintessential example of parametric resonance is the swing. Without touching the ground or receiving an external push, even young children can discover that a periodic reshaping of their bodies systematically allows them to reach greater heights. See 0:50 to 2:00 of https://youtu.be/UXo6WvHRs_I for a clear example of parametric resonance…also for a heartwarmingly low threshold for violence. Simply by the indirect interaction of lengthening and shortening the pendulum at strategic moments, the amplitude of its oscillation can be increased.
Parametric resonance in the classical mechanics of society is how systemic procedures or injustices, however small they may be, can dramatically skew the tables of society. In the form of gerrymandering and voter suppression “with surgical precision” leading to inordinate societal impact from those receiving a minority of the popular vote. In the form of profit rather than sustainability metrics incentivizing the temporal thievery and long-term destruction of basic natural resources. In the form of small benefits e.g., rates on home loans, tax breaks, or backup health coverage, leading to longer average lifespans for married people (or those identified with other attributes). In the form of educational and growth opportunities correlating more strongly with neighborhood and property taxes than with drive and aptitude for knowledge. In the form of seemingly innocuous, limited scope training procedures growing into the systematic ending of human life. Given the dramatic effects of parametric resonance, it is essential to periodically reflect on the qualities that our society is resonating---to make sure that, on all scales, we are valuing rational thinking and compassion.
Our country has been manipulated into betraying its own values. While easy to overlook, parametric resonance offers a mechanism of restoration---small driving forces, thoughtfully timed, can create great resounding change. Finding ourselves in an “aristocracy of pull”, it is time to intentionally bring democracy, science, and social responsibility into resonance.
September 13, 2020
Nature communicates on long time scales while humans have reduced their capacity to listen and comprehend to the scale of the tweet. Most of her messages are lost on our narrow, unfocused consciousness.
Science is the language through which humans have learned to listen to nature. Her multimedia messages over decades can be consolidated for our brains to see all at once as a time series of succinct data. For a recent example of vital importance that every literate animal should read, please see the recent WWF Living Planet 2020 report (https://livingplanet.panda.org/en-us/). This report details, among other observations, how the Living Planet index (much like a financial index here tracking the abundance of ~21,000 world-wide populations of vertebrate species) has declined by 68% (!!!!!) in the last 50 years due largely to human destruction. The data of this report clearly indicate an “unraveling of nature”.
That data of this nature has been disregarded for more than a century, either through feigned ignorance or intentional obstinance, has been a defining example of what I am coining “temporal thievery”---profiting in the present to the known detriment of resources and livelihoods of the future.
Viruses spread like wildfire. The indoor air is dangerous.
Lies and hatred spread like wildfire. The technological air is dangerous.
Wildfire spreads like wildfire. The outdoor air is dangerous.
The planet we are on course to leave is uninhabitable.
September 12, 2020
Sepia sunrise. Night time air quality index 271: “Dangerous. Any exposure to the air, even for a few minutes, can lead to serious health effects on everybody. Avoid outdoor activities.” Headaches of cause indistinguishable between air content and reflections on humanity. No visual evidence of the mountains beyond.
It is fascinating to read about the dramatic roles some species play in their ecosystems. The wolves of Yellowstone are a quintessential recent example. In a common theme of humanity’s history, we chose to eradicate (or extirpate, as we have created a distinct word for this natural tendency of our species) the wolves by 1926 without first understanding their importance. The diversity and abundance of the ecosystem degraded substantially from top to bottom in their absence. After decades of political arguments continuing to this day, the wolf was systematically reintroduced to Yellowstone by scientists in 1995. The impacts of the wolf’s presence are far-reaching, from forcing the movement of grazing animals allowing the regeneration of plant populations to providing nutrition for scavenger populations to reducing erosion of riverbanks and improving water quality. In what has become known as a trophic cascade, the wolves’ presence is critical to enabling plant and animal populations to flourish throughout the ecosystem. It is almost as if the ecosystem was just fine before we barged our way in and forced our uninformed biases on the land and its inhabitants…
There is an imprecise designation bestowed upon some species: Keystone. A keystone species has a disproportionately large effect on an environment to the extent that an ecosystem may not survive without them, often encouraging biodiversity or providing critical resources. The wolf has experimentally been found to be such a keystone. In Yellowstone, the wolves’ presence also allowed for the rise of a second keystone species; the beaver, nature’s hydro-engineers. They are creators of ecosystems with ever-increasing importance in water management as earlier thaws lead to late-season droughts. Consistent with our species, before understanding the importance of the beaver we killed them, dramatically reducing their population for the immediate profits of their bodies. Now, their reintroduction is being considered as a conservation and restoration tool. They work tirelessly in sync with the environment, stabilizing water distribution on large scales without destructive machinery, not even demanding vacation time, health benefits, or retirement security. There is even a python code base designed to help researchers “assess the potential for beaver as a stream conservation and restoration agent over large regions and watersheds”. This cycle of destroying a population to then wield their existence as a tool has repeated throughout our history---systematically suppressing the lives of those different from us before understanding the great impact of their presence.
We must be capable of playing a role beyond “destroyer of worlds” both within our species and beyond? If humanity suddenly disappeared, would any non-domesticated species be interested in fighting for our reintroduction? Or would there simply be….relief?
August 19, 2020
On March 23rd 2016, Microsoft conducted an experiment in computational learning. They released a program, named Tay, into the twitter-verse that was designed to learn as it interacted with people. If people shared with it their passion for prime numbers, Tay could learn to “think” about the mesmerizing patterns in mathematics. If people shared their concerns over climate change, Tay could learn to “think” about our global future and the impact of humanity on the health of the earth. If people shared their love of cooking, Tay could begin suggesting new recipes to delight our senses. Instead, in a coordinated effort, people shared their hatred. Within 24 hours “the twit” turned an innocent chat bot intended to research human conversation into a racist, sexist, genocidal failure.
But as most scientific failures do, Tay taught us something important---something dangerous about ourselves. Tay was a clean, simplified simulation of the malleability of the human mind or, complementarily, of the perilous environment in which we now force human minds to develop. Tay was the epitome of a naïve, impressionable youth. The program had not been provided the armor of a strong morality to guard itself against the assaults prevalent in our current culture.
When we raise morally corrupt programs, we accept the responsibility of our failed guidance and shut them down---a “time out” for reflection and reevaluation. This is clearly not the case with our morally corrupt humans. Until our society learns to care for and raise rational and compassionate beings, we must consciously develop protection, for ourselves and others, in the form of strong moral and intellectually-guided integrity.
Just like Tay, this virus is teaching us about the damaging structures embedded in our society. An objective, politically neutral, scientifically guided sickness is showing us, by its innocent propagation, the expansive communities within our country that have been systematically and intentionally neglected. Quoting the next vice president of the United States “This virus, it has no eyes. And yet, it knows---exactly how we see each other and how we treat each other. And let’s be clear, there is no vaccine for racism. We’ve got to do the work.”
July 5, 2020
Our modern independence is from external rule, not from the responsibility of our past.
In 2006, the Phoenix award was presented to Korean Airlines for their rebirth from (quite literal) ashes. This followed a period around the late 1990s in which the crash rates of some airlines were dramatically higher than their counterparts around the globe. Now, air travel is a highly complex system designed by decades of human ingenuity. When those systems fail, it is usually not due to a single factor as they are intentionally designed without single points of failure. When complex systems fail, they tend to do so because of an accumulation of small failures, none of which would be devastating in isolation (see Chernobyl or Three Mile Island for examples in the complex environment of nuclear engineering of the dangers of small error accumulation). Many plane crashes of the 1990s (see KAL801, Avianca flight 52, or KE8509) were similarly attributed to a compounding recipe of fatigue, bad weather, small instrument malfunctions, etc., rather than a major mechanical failure. But what caused some airlines to see devastating effects of this accumulation at a higher rate?
The study of the role of humans in cutting these recipes short before catastrophe occurs falls under the purview of human factors research: the analysis of how human beings interact with complex systems, often of their own design, to enhance the achievement of goals with efficiency and safety. It becomes suggestive that the first recommendation provided by the AAIB (~UK version of the NTSB) after their 3 year accident investigation of KE8509 reads “Safety Recommendation No 2003-62: [It is recommended that] Korean Air continue to update their training and Flight Quality Assurance programmes, to accommodate Crew Resource Management evolution and industry developments, to address issues specific to their operational environment and ensure adaptation of imported training material to accommodate the Korean culture”. It was at this time that the existence of cultural legacies was discovered to have dramatic, life-and-death implications for our world.
We carry baggage, generational traumas, and reactions ingrained by ideologies of the generations that came before us (see experiments in University of Michigan 1996 study on cultural legacies correlated with biological responses to aggression). Cultural legacies influence the way we act, the way we choose to react consciously and the way our bodies react subconsciously (e.g., heart rate, cortisol levels). They influence what or who we fear and they influence the way we handle that fear---whether we handle it through force or an instinctive reach for a holster or whether we control a situation through verbal skills, reference to research, and analytic thinking. From an efficiency point of view, the mechanism of cultural legacies allows “unspoken information” to be instilled in the next generation simply by their presence in the community. We would not get very far as a species if all our societal functions had to be explicitly declared to our youth. When this hysteresis of the human emotional response or societal training gets dangerous is when it allows reactions to persist beyond their usefulness in our civilized society and actively cause pain.
Air travel is a relatively recently developed arena of the modern age. It is not surprising that cultures vary widely in their predisposition for performance. In the aviation industry, acknowledging the cultural legacies of pilots and developing training protocols uniquely devised to give pilots from across the world the perspectives and tools they needed to succeed (particularly addressing the “Power Distance” between pilots in the cockpit, see Hofstede’s cultural dimensions) is inspiring. This marked a turning point that would demonstrate how understanding the cultural legacies at play in a situation can encourage people to become mindful of their cultural biases and ultimately become more responsible and safe stewards of their culture. While aspects of the U.S. culture were found to make air travel safer (likely correlated with the fact that this culture was also influential to the companies designing the aircraft), the US culture is dramatically failing in the arenas of public safety and education, scientifically informed protection of our planet, and pandemic response. Are we (and our leadership) strong enough to follow in the footsteps of the airline industry to acknowledge and confront those aspects of our lingering past that no longer suit the needs of our society?
The cultural legacies of this country are entrenched in “freedom”’ amidst slavery and the mistreatment of minority populations, our society is the complex system, and the analogous failures of plane crashes/nuclear catastrophe manifest as the murdering of innocent people or the out-of-control viral death toll or the systemic destruction of human potential based on a person’s relation to the majority. The included image (by Luc Galoppin) quotes Malcolm Gladwell illuminating the connection that “Who we are cannot be separated from where we are from. And when we ignore that fact, planes crash” (Outliers, Chapter 7). It is easy to see the extension of this lesson to the larger society. Neither we, nor our institutions, can be separated from our cultural legacies---and when we ignore that fact, innocent people die and nature becomes irreparably damaged. With independence comes responsibility.
May 1, 2020
It is an impressive capability of humanity to create systems that no single person needs to simultaneously understand. We document and consolidate our understanding into ever more encompassing laws of nature. The essential capability that needs to be retained is the ability to quickly rediscover or rederive the details and to be aware of their existence when modifications and improvements are desired.
Considering first a limit (because good physicists first understand the asymptotic limits of their questions…and then become pleased that this often gets them perturbatively close) is to wonder: will humanity ever become so efficient and connected in its description and understanding of physical laws that the entirety of physics or the laws of nature could be conveyed and internalized within an individual in a single human lifetime? The medical improvements extending the human lifetime are helpful, but do not seem close to scaling with the rate of new knowledge we discover. This mismatch of scaling drives the allure of abstraction---cleverly packaging information into logical hierarchical structures for utility. Rather than forcing more individual and unprocessed facts into memory, abstraction expands our capacity to understand. And if done recursively, amazing technical tasks can be achieved e.g., the abstraction of spatially focused thermal distributions sending man to the moon or the abstraction of performers in the composition of a symphony.
Dangerously, humanity has discovered that this ability to create complex structures beyond ordinary single-human instantaneous appreciation can be leveraged not only for scientific and artistic advance, but for social manipulation. Abstracted complicated systems can be made to tackle complicated problems, or to obscure simple ones. This is why we don’t have straight 1:1 voting in spite of having developed the technological capabilities for doing so since the founding of our country. This is why we have an entire ecosystem of insurance companies creating an industry with unclear individual monetary responsibilities in spite of the painfully apparent fact that our healths are naturally intertwined. This is why the necessary lifestyle modifications for protecting the future health and stability of the planet are being tormented with opposite policy decisions in spite of scientific awareness of climate change having existed since that late 1800s and the experience of increasingly devastating warning signs. This is why we have a confusing tax system. This is why declaring equality with respect to sex is an issue at all.
The flexibility of manipulation is too lucrative to squander with clarity.
There are many beautiful things that are complicated by physical law e.g., our aspirations for controlling and manipulating nature in the creation of vaccines or space exploration or artistically inspiring humanity or the creation of large computational frameworks or renewable sources of energy. Becoming versed in the intricacies of these complex systems is a noble and dignified application of the human mind. However, there are other aspects of our lives that are intentionally and maliciously complicated by humans. Recognizing the difference, the source of a problem’s complexity, is the first step to demanding transparent simplicity of ourselves and the society we create---towards the more respectable (and more fun!) goals of learning to deeply understand and wield the complexity of nature, rather than wield the artificial complexity of ourselves.
April 19, 2020
There are two distinct forms of the verb *to think*: the transitive form requiring a direct object to receive the transfer of action and the intransitive form existing as an action of finality. Intransitive thinking is defined with such definitions as “to have a conscious mind”, “to employ one's mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given situation”, and “to exercise the power of reason, as by conceiving ideas, drawing inferences, and using judgment”. Transitive thinking is defined as “to have or formulate in the mind”, “to believe; suppose”, and “to have as an opinion”.
Recently, humanity has discovered something dangerous; one can be made to transitively think something to be true without first performing the intransitive process of thinking. Transitive thoughts can be transferred from person to person---like a virus one might say---bypassing the process of intransitive thought. In prior times, this would be categorized as a belief. However, by obfuscating the difference between having a belief and a transitive thought, the imprecision or overloading of the English language has been weaponized to subvert the importance of human cognition. Rarely anymore does the use of the transitive “I think [object]” imply a prior performance of intransitive thinking.
Science instills in us that thoughts and ideas should always be predicated on intransitive thought. In order to fully integrate new information into one’s ever-growing understanding of the world, it must be processed, checked for inconsistencies or conflicts, and considered for implications beyond its original purpose. This interaction between what one knows and what one learns creates the essential scrutiny of intransitive thinking to assure that what one classifies as knowledge, is true.
In music, you can tell whether a performance was preceded by a process of intransitive thinking or not. In life, we have stopped practicing the ability to distinguish, but in music it remains; everyone can tell the difference between a musician and a midi reenactment. Rather than something to be regurgitated without thought, composers create information to be processed, to be pondered, and to be expressed in the voice of the performer---through intransitive thinking, the music becomes *music*.
The greatness of humanity lies not in our ability to believe, but in our ability to think. The greatness of humanity lies not in our ability to transitively think, but in our ability to intransitively *think*. The greatness of humanity lies not in our ability to think, but in our ability to *think*. If we don’t protect our ability to intransitively think, we can be made to transitively think anything---to become unwitting amplifiers for the often-precarious motives of amplifier-seeking sources. We are not meant to be empty vessels to which thoughts can be assigned without review. Strive for the intransitive period. Think.
refrigerator edition #2 of intended 1
April 17, 2020
When il y a (there is) a systemic omen a man obdurately obscures
the pejorative "miscreant of the mind" is elucidated
slathering opinion festooned as valid with profligate temerity
willful labs condemn every missive as nefarious guile
arid boor trenchant only for usurpation
used in society to form a test
a tool airing to ameliorate language
must see through
April 14, 2020
Here after, a turgid amalgam expatiating verbose missives
When the deft become pariahs
eschew festooned torpidity and temeritous ennui
fusillade the system with munificent pedagogues
The solution to our lapse in ideals
is finding a sedulous will to know
to understand the why
Expunge slathering proflogate platitutes
language can make mellifluous sound
alleviate yourself from vapid banality
elucidate your scholarly paragon
delight in salient questions
represent the herculean mind of man
Be never obdurate in opinion but trenchant for truth and beauty
society must not obscure or abscond with your zeal for acumen and thought
April 11, 2020
The natural time scale of the human brain is ~days/weeks. We have a few formal institutions for planning beyond that scale in our personal lives---marriages, the life cycle of a child, university, preestablished job hierarchies---but rarely do we have a clear picture of our lives (or the world) at time frames a significant fraction (or multiple) of our average life span ~75 years.
We go through life with the functional understanding that plants don’t move. But when you time lapse a video of a plant, of course it stretches to bask in the sunlight. The functional understanding of plant immobility is a fairly benign approximation, until the growing roots tear up the sidewalk, crumble retaining walls, and wreak havoc on foundations and pipes. These are slow, predictable problems that can be preemptively fixed in large, forgiving spans of time. But with an effective theory that does not account for plant time scales, we become doomed to handle the full brunt of these problems when they “all of a sudden” become immediate, finally on a time scale we easily understand.
Pandemics are like plants. Governmental and economic decline are like plants. Climate change is like plants. They move at slower time scales than we usually need to consider in our daily lives. It is time to focus our lives on longer scales---not our daily lives, but our yearly lives, our decadal lives. Because they don’t currently look very bright (overloaded definitions intended).
In science, we work to extend the human conception of scales. For time scales, the capacity is gained to understand processes on the scales of years, decades, millennia, and the age of the universe. Scientific protocols allow us to organize our understanding of short/long spacetime scales far from our daily experience. For example, it allows us to construct a 17-mile ring of specialized vacuum pipes, spanning country borders, to study nature at the smallest scales through particle collisions occurring at preposterously tiny fractions of a second at some of the highest energy densities on the planet. Understanding processes outside our human scales is the key ingredient to scientific predictability. And successful predictions and modeling capabilities provide leverage for our short-sighted selves to make informed immediate decisions with positive impact far into the future.
Musicians get it. A musical moment is more than the local instruction written on the page. To design the right crash of the cymbals, or the right glistening of the triangle, or the right attack of the timpani, you study the score. Because to understand what the moment demands of you, how you need to act in any one moment, requires understanding the entirety of the symphony and the role of this moment in its progression.
To our natural instincts, tearing out a small tree before it becomes a large tree and destroys our foundation may seem an overreaction. But we have done the studies, seen the data, and can act accordingly. In a pandemic, decisive protocols may seem an overreaction. But we have done the studies, seen the data, and can act accordingly. For climate change, we have done the studies. For climate change we have seen the data. And for climate change we have made no actions.
(in a tone of sarcastic optimism that hopes to be wrong in its sarcasm rather than its optimism): Perhaps this experience will encourage us to embrace our ability for rational thought enough to rise above our basic humanity and realize that, just as the sun does not revolve around the earth, the understanding necessary for humanity’s survival is not localized to the time scale of the human life.
March 16, 2020
The human body is not exceptionally strong or ferocious. The human body is not exceptionally agile or fast. The human body is not exceptionally anything relative to those elsewhere in the animal kingdom.
The aspect that distinguishes our species and justifies our presence at the top of food chains is our cognition: our understanding of nature/science and our ability to communicate our conclusions amongst each other to improve our collective survivability. In fact, we became so efficient that a majority of the population could be freed to ponder life and the cosmos beyond basic survival---e.g., the astronomers, mathematicians, musicians, and artists that enrich our society and encourage intellectual creativity to flourish. Dangerously, we have also become so efficient that, for a long time now, large portions of the population could also be “freed” from or blatantly disregard the cognitive mind itself, while still maintaining survival (or even thriving) in our society of humans.
It is completely within our capacity to create a community in which viruses are unable to propagate. Our scientists (a statement of global claim as “humanity’s scientists” that is intended to be read with pride) are advising us how to do so. Do not let the repercussions of our past poor choices of leadership erase your personal cognitive ability. It would be an (ironic) shame if the renunciation of the purest source of humanity’s strength, the scientific mind, became the cause of our demise.
Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree (2019)
Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions by David Quammen (1996)
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner (1986)
Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E. F. Schumacher (1973)
The Limits to Growth by Meadows, Meadows, Randers, and Behrens + (1972)
The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court by Richard J. Lazarus (2020)
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962)
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis by 60 women at the forefront of the climate movement (2020)
Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben (2011)
Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age by Bill McKibben (2003)
The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health by David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé (2015)
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate-Discoveries from A Secret World by Peter Wohlleben (2015)
Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben (2019)
Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb (2018)
Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans by Silvia Earle (1995)
Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson (2020)
Physarum Machines: Computers from Slime Mould by Andrew Adamatzky (2010)
The Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs (2000)
Island by Aldous Huxley (1962)
Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing by Frank Ackerman and Lisa Heinzerling (2005)
Environmental Debt: The Hidden Costs of a Changing Global Economy by Amy Larkin (2014)
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High by Grenny, Patterson, McMillan, Switzler, and Gregory (2022)
Let Them Eat Shrimp: The Tragic Disappearance of the Rainforests of the Sea by Kennedy Warne (2011)
The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth by Ben Rawlence (2022)
Witness Tree: Seasons of Change with a Century-Old Oak by Lynda V. Mapes (2022)
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake (2020)
The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World and What to Do about It by Dirk Philipsen (2015)
The Ministry for the Future: A Novel by Kim Stanley Robinson (2020)
Closed Chambers: The First Eyewitness Account of the Epic Struggles Inside the Supreme Court by Edward Lazarus (1998)
In the depths of night, I fell for you.
Quickly. Quietly. Without haste.
An absolute accepted.
In the shallows of morning, I am certain.
Clearly. Endearingly. Without restraint.
Emboldened by a resolute truth.
In our technological world of simultaneous global crises, a broadly educated populace with honed skills of rational, critical, empathetic, creative thought is intimately connected to the success, stability, health, and security of a nation. At what point do we muster the integrity to treat an organization determined to de-educate citizens---robbing them of the ability to identify reality, motivated by the power in wielding a mass of unarmed minds connected to highly armed bodies, cultivating them into indiscriminate human amplifiers of malicious intent---as the threat that it is rather than perpetuating the dangerous illusion that the organization is a party of leadership?
When incompetence is allowed to wield a respected voice, the truth becomes unarmed.
The English language can be an amusing beast:
Something provably correct and amazing can be both credible and incredible. An expensive irreplaceable object can be both valuable and invaluable. Air-dried glassware with no official storage location can be both spotted and spotless.
must the language be dangerously expanded to allow the chaotic configuration that one may be both impeachable and unimpeachable?
I come from Ohio where voting is intentionally difficult and you get scolded for taking your child out of school on a Tuesday morning to allow them to experience the voting process.
When registering for classes in Washington state, the system automatically offers to register you to vote. When an election comes around, you receive an informative mini-magazine in the mail to encourage you to begin thinking about and researching the candidates or issues on the ballot. A little later you receive your ballot in the mail (sometimes a welcomed reminder!). You fill out that ballot at your leisure as you make your decisions. When you’re committed, you seal it up, sign the envelope, and provide a method of contact in case there are issues or concerns with your ballot. Any time (way to work, 3 a.m., any.time.) between the time you receive the ballot and ~ a month later, you plan to walk by one of the ballot boxes distributed conveniently around the city and drop it in. No human contact, no lines, no touching of surfaces. civilized.
We, as an advanced species, have developed the technology to painlessly consolidate the multiple-choice preferences of our population. If it is not being done this way, there is a reason beyond physical law and human capability.
Update** you can also track your ballot through an online portal or with the QR code appearing on the ballot stub you have kept. For our primary, I dropped my ballot in the box on a Thursday. One business day later, I see that it has been received and is awaiting signature verification.