The Best We Can With What We Got

There is certainly a lot of smart in the TAE cohort , but I suspect a lot of years as well. I, for one, am definitely a geezer (72).

Advanced age changes both perspective and skin in the game, both of which then necessarily change the strategy. My strategy is unavoidably different than the strategy of a young couple with toddlers (and on top of that my own life has been so extremely unconventional that it’s utterly unusable as a model for anyone .) Some of the specific skills acquired, however, are very much applicable by anyone at any time.

Foremost among the implements in this modest tool bag is the certain knowledge that the present moment (and all of its conditions) are the absolutely inevitable consequence of previous actions by someone or other. In other words, the present is the result of the past and you can’t change the past. But being totally honest about what the past really was can help direct the little bit of power we have to shape the present ( and the future consequence of the things we do in shaping the present with some goal in mind.)

If there is a present lack of resources like time, money, possessions or mobility to achieve an immediately desired objective then that is just a fact. And that fact is the consequence of earlier actions by self and others. It’s worth noting, too, that no matter where someone is on the scale of ‘have and have not’ there will still be the feeling of lacking resources needed to get some particular wanted thing’

All you can do then (in fact all any of us can do, at any time ) is to recalculate the problem into terms of “what must I achieve that is within the capacity of the resources which I either have now or can get my hands on in time to help.”

The bitter irony is that this problem is the SAME problem faced by both Bill Gates, and the Ethiopian herdsman who is one goat away from death by starvation.

Sure wish I could paint a kinder picture of the clockwork we live in, but to the absolute best of my knowledge the only bright spot is that we demonstrably do have awareness and free will. With them we not only will but shall do the best we can with what we’ve got.

Two rules for happy surviving

Let’s first stipulate upfront that we ARE now in a situation which poses a significant threat to our lives and/or well being in one way or another.

In any disaster that’s serious enough to significantly threaten your life there are just TWO immediate objectives:

#1. Do whatever it takes to remain alive. If there is mortal danger, then don’t fall victim. In other words, Don’t get dead. If it’s a false alarm then make your call on whether it is or not and proceed accordingly. In either case, you HAVE TO BE ALIVE in order to move on to the next vitally important step.

#2. Do whatever it takes to prevent this sort of shit from ever happening to you again.

Now there is one additional major point to make, which is also painfully simple (although not at all obvious) and that is the plain fact that . . .

. . . those places (or systems) that come through the crisis with the least amount of damage are going to have a distinct advantage (at least temporarily) over those people that get the stuffings kicked out of them. (example: New York and Paris had a much nicer 1946 than Berlin and Hiroshima.)

If you need or want to know what is going to happen next in this house of mirrors then look to those places (and systems) that are traversing and emerging from the crisis in relatively undamaged condition. Those places are simply the ‘who/what/where’ that they are, and probably not at all who you expected.

Senegal, Africa, for example.

And why are these types of enclaves of reason the right places to look for role models and crystal ball into the future? Because they are the ones best applying objectives #1 and #2 (above.)

I can tell you with extremely high probability (like 100%) that having just been through a more or less existential threat to existence everybody is going to do their damnedest to make sure nothing like this ever happens to them again. If the Covid 19 debacle was any kind of serious then bet the farm that the people who emerge from it are going to be even MORE serious. No more bullshit.

They are going to at least try do whatever it takes to never have a replay of this pandemic, or any similar threat to their physical and financial health. Those two objectives SHALL be the narrow focus of everybody’s actions going forward, and until further notice.

I strongly recommend re-examining the information and projections and solutions in terms of the above facts. Is the WHO a dead monster walking (thus safely now ignored) or does it require a proactive coups de grace? Is electro-finance (as per usual) going to recover or is the smart money moving into local agriculture and cottage industry?

The answers to both questions are already out there, in usually overlooked places. Heads up.

A call to (cognitive) arms

The World Health Organization is a consortium of stakeholders who envision themselves as the developers, manufacturers and distributors of the vaccine. They want to be seen as the indispensable solvers of a problem, so the problem must be ( and must be seen to be) as big as possible.

Should they accomplish their objective that means not only would they have powerful authority to direct unimaginable sums of money towards the people & organizations tasked with developing, making and selling the drug, they would actually BE those recipient individuals and organizations. Nice. Talk about having your cake and eating it, too. (Of course all of the above would be done within the framework of profitable business, so those same stakeholders would also be claiming any profits that might accidentally slip though the cracks along the way.) Inextricable rat-lines to, from, and through China are woven throughout this scheme. As are banking and OLD old money (Think European dynasties). As are numerous official intelligence agencies stretching back to (at least) the run up to WW2.

In addition to the above mentioned benefits, is a very special bonus prize : once established as the sole controller of a thing that people must receive in order to live, then this consortium becomes the de facto owner of the whole shootin’ match. Not duke; not earl; not prince. King of the hill, and the globe it rode in on. So you see now how they really do want to have that, right ? And have you seen any of them do any really big, consequential, actions towards achieving it ?

The above described consortium of stakeholders is not the only consortium of stakeholders on the field. I see at least three others, and maybe a fourth if you count the extremely loose-knit cohort of “wild card” independent thinkers and doers. The disorganization of this fourth quasi-group defies description.

The thing of it is, this isn’t a spat or jostling for better seating at the shit show. This is a war. It has already been twice as disruptive of human activity as world wars one and two put together. Hey, people, the WORLD is in lockdown. Wake up and smell the gun smoke . And remember, it’s always the noncombatants who suffer the most casualties. Call this a call to cognitive arms. You must choose sides and start thinking. Then you best start doing , based on your absolute best damned estimate of what really IS , and what the hell is actually going on around you. Time’s wasting.

Might as well go All In . . . because there is no way out

This old world seems to be having an existentialism crisis. Sure hope it’s the mid-life sort of crisis, and not the, you know, ‘bucket list’ kind.

In either case, I trust that you will keep on doing the best you can with what you’ve got. I sure intend to. That’s all any of us can do, right ? All 7.5 billion of us, just do the best we can with whatever we got at the time. Trouble is, every single one of us billions has got a slightly different opinion about what constitutes “best”. Is that best for me or best for thee? Whatever, and no matter. We are still going to do it.

A very strong argument could be made for the statement that the world we now inhabit (precisely as it truly is right this second) is merely the sum total of a very long history of everybody doing the best they could with what they had. Talk about democracy! That’s PURE democracy. Every single living thing on the rock. Free to wade in and get our hands bloody any bloody time we want.

The intricately intertwined crises we are currently experiencing ( take your pick) are simply the underlying problem made manifest.

We have been lying to each other (for justifiable personal advantage) just a wee bit too much, and this is what we got. ( I do hope you’re not blaming this mess on some other species) We must tip the balance just a smidgen back the other way now.

Now is the time to talk, people. Now is the time to BARGAIN. Now is a time for putting as much out there on the table as humanly possible, so that we can be as aware as humanly possible, of what actually IS and what the hell is going on around us. So what actually is going on around us ?

A gambling contest, and your own awareness is the only chip you’ve got. Might as well go all in, because there is no way out.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wants a job

The World Health Organization wants to help fight the pandemic; fine and good. All real help is appreciated. However, they are asking for funds in order to provide this twice-promised twice-betrayed help from their old desk of Authoritative Responsibility. This shall not be. They betrayed that trust and performed very badly at a time when implicit trust and selfless performance were not just the essence of their responsibility (and what they were paid for) but were also vitally necessary to the health and well being of the whole world.

Yes their help is acceptable, but NO; it shall not be from a position of leadership of any kind.
It will only be accepted in the form of good results produced as tangible contributions by individuals at personal risk and no thought for personal gain.

I understand that Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Director General of the World Health Organization) wants a job . Good. He can scrounge up PPE from where ever he can find it and serve in the Intensive Care unit of a hospital in a hot spot. Somewhere in Ethiopia would be a good choice. I am not joking in the least. If he will serve with his life on the line then I will consider trusting him. Otherwise, no, never.

If the WHO wants to regain the world’s trust then it’s individual employees will have to earn it with good works and good faith. No more cash in advance.

Is any of this real?

In one way or another the big problem, the one we are all definitely running out of patience with, is right there in plain sight. No one can’t avoid it. Some people talk about it right there in public, openly.

The problem is the absolutely stunning and incessant stream of crappy information. There are proposed ‘facts’ ( and I use the term very very loosely ) coming at us from everywhere. What the hell’s up with that, anyway? Never seen it so bad.

Gawd !!! What I would give for even one scrap of trustworthy information. And there’s the problem, see ? We all DEPEND FOR VERY LIVES on the data that other people give us. As individuals we can only see, hear, and touch reality from as far away as our eyes can see, our ears can hear or our hands touch. Beyond that range we are blind deaf mutes, dependent as a baby upon others to be our eyes and ears. Ya can’t be everywhere at once, now can ya? We need other people to report what’s going on over there in their neck of the woods.

We all have this little model of the world in our heads. It’s not the real world of course (the solid one) it’s our IDEA of the solid one. We all know that. That little model is our best guess of what actually really and truly IS and what is going on around us.

Since most of what we know to be true is based on information we got from someone else it is immediately obvious that our model has a fatal flaw: the weakness is that a false datum from someone else could sneak through our logic and become part of our trusted belief. These beliefs may be our own personal property now, but we built them from largely second hand information. So if someone else manages to convince me about a part of my trusted perception of what is even REAL in the first place, then , well, . . . you see where I’m going with this.

Is hypnosis real ? You tell me. We’ve all seen the stage hypnotist make volunteers do dumb stuff at his command, for your entertainment. Was it real? Were the volunteers actually hypnotized? Well, if the hypnotist convinces viewers that the volunteers were indeed, really and truly, hypnotized then the hypnotists has successful in hypnotized THE AUDIENCE.

All I’m trying to say here is that YOU and only you, are the last arbiter and final decider about what really IS. But that the “model” you are using to make that decision, has one hell of a lot of Second Hand parts in it, so be careful.

Dear similarly afflicted,

When the math gets tough the tough get calculators.

I am forced to concede that mathematical computer models have their place ( might I suggest the septic tank ?) Seriously, computer modeling is just too easily manipulated to suit whatever the modelers want and so cannot be trusted when the stakes are this high ( too many conflicting wants).

Arithmetic, on the other hand, has stood the test of time and won’t try to change your mind about anything, only inform it.

So I ran the numbers the old fashioned way, using the ever shifting “Fog Of War” numbers being thrown hither and yon by indistinguishable saints and sinners since 6 weeks ago, and now.

High ball, low ball, no balls at all. Run ’em all, says I. (why not? all I’ve got these days is time .)

Here is what the numbers said (ice blooded little sociopaths ):

Within all ranges of presently hypothesized numbers (from highest to lowest) describing infection rate, lethality rate, doubling rate, proportion of non symptomatic carriers and effects of mitigation, the bottom line(s) was conclusive and stark.

If lock-downs (such as they were) had not been done, and the WHOhan virus was allowed to just burn through the populace freely, there would have resulted a minimum of one hundred million virtually simultaneous human deaths somewhere around the middle of May. Way more probably half a billion. Silent Spring indeed. There’s nothing to compare that to in human history. I’m unable to construct any scenario in which technological civilization continued. Anywhere.

Nuclear power plants and weapons (for example) require skilled maintenance ( i.e., a functional civilization) to avoid cataclysmic failure. There are 450 nuke plants and 4,000 bombs. How many failures equals an extinction level event ?

So, yeah, I’ld have to say that was a quite a bullet we just dodged.

Please keep these facts in mind when investigating the totally weird combination of good guys/bad guys/whothehellknows guys who just prevented our extinction.

Nor the folks who nearly caused it in the first place.

Folks, I’m afraid this IS normal . . . we’re just seeing it for the first time, momentarily, before being put back to comforting sleep

I long wondered why apocalyptic predictions never come to pass (evidence : here we are despite uncountable numbers of dire predictions made in the past. Not extinct. Apocalypse pending, I guess. Knock on wood.)
Then I gave it some brain searing concentrated cogitation and came up with what I think is one small part of the answer.

Our own experiences are the only model of “normal” that we have to go on. It is literally all we have ever known and the only things we have ever done. This reality may not exactly be heaven on earth but at least it is a hell on earth that we have more or less learned how to cope with. The model is probably tinted with aspirations for a better normal, but the fact is that at least we have acquired the skills and illusions about “how things work around here” to have survived up through the present moment. Sure, it’s chock full of both “feel good” narratives, self-delusions, and cynical justifications. It’s a crock, but it’s the crock we know
When earth shaking “series of unfortunate events” like global war, financial collapses or world wide pandemics just rip the living shit out of everything, what happens next? What happens to our comfortable normal then?

Well there are only two possibilities. In the event that we go extinct then that’s that. The piles of dead will neither complain nor worry, and scavengers of all sizes and description will have a long field day. Then some other species of critter gets a crack at being king of the jungle. Good luck to ’em and please tidy up after us. If the place is a mess that’s because we had to leave in a bit of a rush.

In the alternative scenario ( in which we don’t go the way of the dinosaurs, and is the one I’m personally rooting for) then whoever is still here will work like never before, like obsessed maniacs, like bankers at a bailout . . . . . to put it back together into something as close to the old “normal” as they possibly can, and as quickly as they possibly can. Why ? Because the old thing is the only thing they ever knew how to do. It is their only model they’ve got, and so that is the one they will try to build.

If the “new normal” is a bit skewed from the old one I don’t think very many people will even notice. Those who do notice will be regarded by everyone else as quaint old geezers nostalgically yearning for “the good old days.”

So do make plans but don’t over-worry it . Predict and prepare to the degree you think you should and then just get on with living, until further notice.

The Unsolvable Problem . . . isn’t

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the most extremely difficult to explain. For example the word “in”. Just try to define what the word “in” means, but without using the word itself as part of the description. I’m serious, try it. Not easy. It is such a confounding head scratcher that I bet you’ll laugh before eventually becoming annoyed and then finally hopeless or angry. But it’s not impossible.

Anyway, back to my apology. The concept I’m about to describe is so fundamentally simple and basic that it’s really hard to articulate without using the concept itself as part of the description. But I’ll give it a shot, because it’s an important skill and surprisingly simple once you get the hang of it. (I said “simple” , noteasy.”)

We have all encountered “problems” that seem to have no solution. Like how can you elect an honest politician when any politician who speaks truth will be rejected by roughly half of voters on any particular issue. By the time you’re up to a dozen different issues, therefore, the number of voters who strongly disagree on at least one of them starts to approach 100%. To win election, then, it seems inescapable that a successful politician has to be skilled at either lying outright, or lying by avoidance and doublespeak. Ironically, honest applicants don’t even make it that far. They get rejected before the starting line, during the nomination process, as being naively unrealistic idealists. Go figure.

Nevertheless, there is no such thing as an unsolvable problem because it is not the problem which is unsolvable; it’s the truth underneath the problem that’s causing the trouble, and that truth is unknown . Or maybe a better description is that there is some truth underneath that is unthinkable. What makes it unthinkable comes down to some variation of the fact that you deeply, earnestly and emotionally don’t want to think it.

Hmmm. Well that’s tough. How the hell do you get past an obstacle that you don’t want to get around?

Simple. ( remember, I said simple not easy) The way you do it is stop trying to solve the problem. Pull your dog out of the fight. Take your bet off the table. Divest your vested interest . Pretend , if that’s what it takes, to just not care any more.

In other words, consider that whatever truths or lies formed the original (former) problem just aren’t your problem any more, and at that point you’ll be able to see them. So do that. Just see them. Don’t be overly judgmental, just be observant. Whatever is, is , so see it that way. Then dig deeper and see more.

In other words, become more aware. In fact, this process is going to make you more aware whether you want it to or not. True facts have a way of doing that.

The hard part is getting past the emotional strategies you have previously employed to avoid those very truths which you are now revisiting, and believe you me you have tried them all. Grief, Anger, denial, horror and obliviousness are just some of the ploys used in the avoidance of reality. You will meet them all again, on your way up from the abyss of self inflicted ignorance.

Oh, and those unsolvable problems? Gone. They were never there in the first place. Problems, you see, are just another strategically employed delusion helping you not see some reality which was sitting there all along, waiting for you to be aware of it. Like I said, simple.