What I’m reading
I’m still reading In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality. It’s not exactly leisure reading but it is interesting. What I’ve read so far has been a good history of how quantum physics developed in the last 19th and early 20th centuries. And it hasn’t been overly technical or filled with mathematical formulas.
Concept I’m toying with
This is something that I’ve given though to many times. In Newtonian physics we deal with large objects and forces we can see and easily measure. Quantum physics deals with very small things like atoms and subatomic particles and forces that we can’t easily measure. Might there also be matter and energy that is even more subtle that the laws of quantum physics no longer apply, where even time and space are no longer applicable. In this realm, matter and energy could exist in more than one place in time and space simultaneously.
Tech I’m working with
I apparently got my hosted email working in Thunderbird on the HP. Mail is coming in and I was able to send test mail to my gmail account. I’d been having email issues in the Thunderbird client on all machines for quite a while.
I made another minor modification to my conky script that displays system information on my screen. One piece of information it displays is my public IP address but the script I’d been working from showed it on in the IPv6 format. I was researching ways to obtain the public IP from the Linux command line and I found several so I slight modification to the address from which the script obtained the address so that it displays it in the more familiar 4-octet form.
Even though I don’t need to do it, I’m considering upgrading my laptop and a desktop to Linux Mint 18.1 Serena. I currently have 17.3 on them which is supported until 2019 but these computers have few data files or extra applications on them so the upgrade wouldn’t be difficult. I’m planning to leave my HP desktop as it is for now because of the amount of data on it and uncertainties about Ubuntu support for the AMD CPU and GPU with the newer kernel.
Quotes I’m pondering
“When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.” – C.P. Snow
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” – Jim Morrison
“You are never dedicated to something that you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.” – Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
What I’m reading
I finished Co-ed Naked Philosophy by Will Forest. About halfway through the book I began to find that many of the clichéd nudist slogans, some of the improbable scenarios, and unbelievable conflict resolutions were getting a bit tiresome. I put my Kindle aside and thought about it a while. I began to think of the novel as kind of a “what-if” scenario and a possibility that I could envision. I suspended the rationality of the current reality and let this alternate reality take hold in my imagination. That renewed my interest and I followed the story to its inevitable happy ending where everything worked out and everyone lived happily ever after. I hope I didn’t spoil it for anyone.
It seemed logical to start Forest’s most recent novel, Aglow which I finished in a day. Admittedly, it took me a few chapters to get into it but once I did, it turned out to be quite interesting. In many ways, I enjoyed Aglow more than Co-ed Naked Philosophy.
On Wednesday I read The Timebound Traveler by David Newman, a kirtan artist and a Bhakti yogi. Although I’m not particularly spiritual, spirituality is an area I like to explore and this book was a wonderful exploration.
Yesterday I got started on In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality by John Gribbin. It’s not light reading but quantum physics is interesting.
Healthy stuff I’m doing
I’ve been faithful to the treadmill and I’ve found that the time passes much more quickly whilst I’m walking. I set up my Kindle on the treadmill’s shelf and start walking and reading. Before I know it, the workout is done. I’m also starting to work some yoga into my workout.
I’m making an effort to track what I eat and log the carbohydrates I consume. In 2008 I was diagnosed as per-diabetic and urged to count carbohydrates as means of managing my blood glucose. After doing this a while I noticed that I was also shedding weight since I was consuming fewer carbohydrates to be turned into fat. Of course, it’s too early to see any effects but fewer carbohydrates and more exercise should work well.
Movie I enjoyed
I watched the Mel Brooks classic, Blazing Saddles, a movie that never gets old. It probably never will grow old as long as bigotry, prejudice, and racism exist.
There’s another DWB house party on Saturday night and although I’ve RSVP’d the hosts, I’m not sure I’ll attend. Social nudity doesn’t seem to have as high a priority in my life as it once did. Being nude is my preferred state and I enjoy the freedom and comfort as well as the other benefits one derives from being nude but sharing it with others is not a necessity. Oftentimes it’s not even sought. I tend to be introspective so nude solitude seems to be a natural preference.
Sunday will likely be taken up with the Sayaw dance practice. I’m not a dancer but I support my granddaughter’s participation. I love that she’s embracing that part of her heritage.
Quotes I’m pondering
“You can’t manage to avoid your own true nature forever. It’s a wonder anybody manages it at all.” – Jed McKenna
“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” – Alan Watts
“Waking up is not a spiritual path, but the simple recognition of who we are. “ – David Newman, aka Durga Das, The Timebound Traveler
The quotes are all from David Newman’s book, The Timebound Traveler: How My Journey as a Seeker Came to an End. For me, these quotes, as well as the book itself, appealed to me in a couple of different ways. It resonates with the thoughts I’ve expressed recently about how we are at war with our natural selves which includes our physical, mental and spiritual natures. The book helped me clarify some things about my own spiritual path. In many of my yoga classes and workshops that dealt with yoga philosophy there was always the idea of being a spiritual seeker. Yet in The Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells us to act without expectations. Doesn’t the very nature of seeking imply the expectation of finding what you seek? And if we don’t find it, don’t we become frustrated and we suffer? Maybe we just need to follow our practice, let go of our expectations, and trust that through grace, when the time is right, you’ll awaken?
What I’m reading
- I finished reading The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England by Mark Morris. The book was a good historical account of the events leading up to and following William the Conqueror’s invasion of England to take the crown promised him by his cousin, Edward the Confessor. For me it was of historical and genealogical interest. I’m a fan of English history and William the Conqueror is quite likely my 29th great-grandfather.
- Next, I read The Tower of London by Alison Weir. The book was a bit shorter than expected given the Tower’s nearly 950 year history. It seemed to be an overview of the Tower’s history, leaving me yearning to learn more about many of the events that took place within its walls.
- I’m currently reading Co-ed Naked Philosophy by Will Forest. I’d been hearing about this work of naturist fiction for a number of years and decided to read it. It’s apparently based on actual events and deals with a group of college professors and students who disrobe for a philosophy class. It also deals with the characters’ experiences with public nudity at an unofficial nude beach, streaking on campus, and other situations. Throughout the story the author echoes many of my own ideas about naturism, body acceptance, and nudity.
Concepts and ideas I’m toying with
- Nudity as our natural state. After all, we come into this world naked so it’s our default state. Clothing is something we add to the default so it’s an aberration. All clothing is manufacture, it’s not natural. Therefore, wearing clothing is not natural, though we’ve been been conditioned to believe that it is. Wearing clothes may have become normal but that doesn’t make it natural.
- Man’s war against himself. Actually, this idea germinated with the previous concept. If nudity is our natural state then it seems reasonable to assume that being nude is, at some level, a primal part of our nature that has been culturally suppressed over many millenia. When we look at the history of the world, we see that civilization has generally been a conflict with Nature. As civilization has advanced, we’ve escalated the war on Nature and separated ourselves more from it. But we are a part of nature so the more we try to separate ourselves from it, the more we separate ourselves from our own nature and our humanity. At some point the war against Nature escalated to include humanity and ourselves among the enemy, making us the enemy we seek to destroy. Ultimately, we are the war’s casualties. I’m certain the mankind will fight the war until we bring about our own extinction and Nature will prevail as it always does.
Parties I’ve attended
- I first learned about Dayton Warm Breezes (DWB) back in October but it was only this last Saturday that I attended on of their events, a house party at a member’s home. Other than everyone being naked, it wasn’t any different than any other house party. A masseuse was available to give massages and the host had a hot tub all warmed up but I didn’t partake of either. It was the first time I’d participated in social nudity in quite a while (having been exclusively a home nudist for the past few years) and I realized that I had, indeed, missed to social aspects. I still enjoy my nude solitude but there needs to be a balance. There’s another house party coming up soon and I’m planning to attend and formally join the club.
Games I’m playing
- Words With Friends. I’ve been playing this Scrabble-based game on my mobile phone for a couple weeks now and it constantly reminds me how much my vocabulary, which I had believed to be above average, have slipped over the years. My 14-year-old granddaughter trounces me. But she’s never shown me any mercy in games.
Quotes I’m pondering
- “Dangerous does not mean exciting or bold. It means likely to cause great harm. The most dangerous idea is the only dangerous idea: The idea that ideas can be dangerous.” – Daniel Gilbert
- “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That’s our problem.” – Howard Zinn, Failure to Quit
These quotes have particular relevance as the extremist conservatives who have infested our government at the highest levels work to destroy every great accomplishment our nation has made in the last century. Ironically, they’re doing it under the battle cry of “Make America Great”. If anything, these people are destroying America’s greatness.
In my email, I get an email from Tim Ferris called “5 Bullet Friday” in which he talks about five things he’s reading, watching, listening to, using, or pondering. I think it might be a fun thing to try for myself.
What I’m reading this week
Bash Guide for Beginners by Machtelt Garrels. I first got my feet wet with Bash scripting about a year ago because I wanted to write a couple of scripts to simplify a routine multi-step computer task. I had plenty of experience with Windows/DOS batch files but I hadn’t really done any scripting in a Linux environment. I found several books online in PDF format and worked my way though a few of them. This week I felt the urge to keep my skills up and, hopefully, learn more.
This book, like most of the of the books I’d found, assumes a more than casual knowledge of Linux commands. Like the other books, it spends several chapters discussing grep, sed, and awk which are handy tools to use within scripts and like many others, uses rather trivial examples. I wish these Bash guides would include code examples for the chapter exercises to give me some idea of how to proceed since my intimacy with Linux commands is probably only a bit above the beginner level.
Purchase I’m loving
New mattress. Last week my wife saw a sales flyer in the paper advertising $200 per piece for a queen-size mattress set. She’d been wanting to replace our mattress anyway because it was getting soft and she kept rolling into the center because of my weight. The timing was right because I’d just gotten the income tax refund. It was delivered this past Wednesday and we’re both sleeping much better.
Training gear I’m using
Welso Cadent G 5.9i treadmill. My wife was missing her walks either in the park or in the mall and felt the need to get more exercise so she began hinting about getting a treadmill for some time. As usual, what Mama wants, Mama usually gets. We looked around and finally found this treadmill at Walmart for $287 ($307.81 after taxes). I got it set up the next day and she’s been using it everyday since. I’ve been using it regularly too. I think its something we both needed to maintain our health.
Technology I’m checking out
VirtualBox. Actually, I’ve been checking it out for a couple of weeks. I put in on my main computer as a means of checking out different Linux distributions and potentially move the few tasks I still do on Windows to a virtual machine. I’ve also been trying out Linux distributions on a couple older machines that I had siting around. In the process I’ve been learning about changes in the newest Linux kernels such as the deprecation of many of the standby networking commands and common device names. For now I’m sticking with the distributions I’m currently using until I need to upgrade.
Quotes I’m pondering
At their best, the world’s great religions are the collective unconscious of humanity, the beating heart of our species. At their worst, they will be our demise. On one hand, they invite us into a deeper realization of who we truly are, and on the other hand, they actively suppress the voice of our true Self.
— Benjamin Riggs
How many people long for that ‘past, simpler, and better world’, I wonder, without ever recognizing the truth that perhaps it was they who were simpler and better, and not the world about them?
— Drizzt Do’Urden
We are all soldiers in a war that has endured for countless millenia and we are the enemy that we seek to destroy. We are the combatants, the prisoners, and the casualties. We are at war with Nature and by implication we are also at war with Humanity since Humanity is a part of Nature. And if we are at war with Humanity then we are also at war with ourselves as we are part of Humanity. We are at war with ourselves, our humanity, and our nature.
All peoples have confrontations with Nature but people who have learned to live in harmony with Nature rather than confront it, have also learned to live with their own humanity and their own nature. We refer to these people as primitive, aboriginal, indigenous, backwards, and uncivilized.
Civilized people, on the other hand, see Nature as something which must be conquered, tamed, and made to do our will. Civilized people see themselves as striving to gain mastery of Nature and as apart from it. By denying Nature, we deny our own nature and seek to suppress it. Civilization is is essentially the denial and suppression of Nature. Because civilized peoples see themselves as separate from Nature, they feel they are superior to it. This notion extends to other peoples whom we deem as less civilized than we are. We see them as inferior and separate from us. Anyone or anything we deem to be inferior must be controlled, suppressed, or destroyed. Thus, we declare war on them.
War is about power and control over people, territory, and ideas. So are civilization, religion, commerce, and politics.
From the Book of Genesis:
23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.
25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground after their kind; and God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
29 The God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for for food’; and it was so.
31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1:23 -31 (Updated New American Standard Bible)
Genesis is the root of the three major Western religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These verses justify our war on Nature, Humanity, and Ourselves as a Holy crusade. According to this scripture God told us to subdue the Earth and rule over everything that lives upon it. But to subdue the Earth and rule over it, we must separate ourselves from nature and see everyone and everything as separate form ourselves. We also see ourselves as separate from our God.
But we are not separate from nature or humanity. Nor are we separate from God. And we are certainly not separate from ourselves or our nature.
Religion can be an instrument of war and throughout history has often been used as such. Religions are often instituted among men as a means to establish power over others and to acquire wealth, territory, and resources. Isn’t that also the purpose of war? Religion is often used in the war against ourselves. Religions demand obedience and use guilt and shame to force us into submission and conformance.
According to Genesis, God provided us with everything we needed for life but left it up to us to sustain it. If we look back on our progress in the great war with Nature, it should be obvious that Nature is victorious in the end. We are fighting a war we cannot win. It seems that the Holy mandate of Genesis 1:26 has doomed mankind to bring about its own extinction. When our time on Earth has passed, the earth that God created for our benefit will once again flourish, at least until the Sun dies out or the Earth is struck by a gigantic meteor.
I’m not surprised by the findings in the Washington Post article, You have to be Christian to truly be American? Many people in the U.S. say so. I’ve never underestimated the ignorance of the average American so thirty-two percent of Americans believing that you must be Christian to be an American only confirms my observations. I know that being a Christian can’t be a requirement for being an American. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says otherwise, along with my knowledge of American history and the writings of the founding fathers. There is also one fact this disproves American equals Christian — I’m an American and I am not a Christian and there other many other Americans who are not Christians, among them Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, pagans, Satanists, and countless others who do not wear the Christian label.The First Amendment grants me freedom of religion which means I can choose to not be a Christian.
The same article claimed that 70% of Americans believe that being American means speaking English. I’ve given thought to brushing up on my Spanish and German, and learning Tagalog just so that when I’m speaking one of these languages and someone tells me that I’m in American and I need to speak English, I can respond with: “Yes, we are in America. The First Amendment grants me freedom of speech which means I can speak any language I choose.”
The end of the world was quieter than expected. It seemed that I had somehow slept through it. As I walked through the house, I noticed that the power seemed to be out and even battery operated devices no longer worked. I looked out the windows and saw no sign of my neighbors or any of the ordinary activities outside.
Stil naked, I opened my front door and took a tentative step out. I looked around me and took a few tentative steps into the yard. I had never before experienced silence to this degree. The sounds of humanity were absent – no voices, no radios, no cars – only absolute quiet. Not even animals or insects could be heard nor could I hear any natural sounds such as the rustling of leaves. The only sounds I could hear in the slightest were my breathing and the internal chatter in my mind which in comparison with the silence around me was almost deafening.
The silence seemed to enhance my other senses, particularly my sense of touch. I could detect the ever so slight breeze as it silently caressed my exposed skin and my bare feet intensely felt the dampness of the dew on the grass.
It was as if I was now the only living being on the planet and perhaps I was. Had every other living creature departed Earth without notifying me or leaving a forwarding address? The only evidence I could see that humanity had ever existed was what they had created and left behind.
Were there others who, like me, had survived the end of the world? Or was I the last remnant of sentient life? If that was the case, how long could I expect to survive? As that thought popped into my head, panic set in. It lasted but a moment before reason took over. I needed to think about this turn of events.
Silently, I sat down on the cool, damp grass. I assumed the lotus posture and rested my hands upon my knees in Gyan Mudra. I closed my eyes and began to meditate. At first, the frantic voices of my monkey mind careened about inside my skull, their echoes drowning out my silent mantra. But after a few minutes of controlled breathing and gently but persistently repeating my mantra, the mental chatter died down until all that remained was the mantra. Soon, even the mantra itself slipped away and I was at peace as I became one with the silence that surrounded me and, shortly thereafter, I became one with the Universe.
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
Henry Louis Mencken
Today was Inauguration Day and Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President. He’s the President and I respect the office but respecting the man occupying the office is another thing entirely. That respect is going to very hard to earn. In reference to the above quote by M.L. Mencken, it’s evident that the “plain folks” have gotten their heart’s desire. What will be their heart’s desire when the government programs and institutions that they take for granted are taken away? Is a return to 15th Century feudalism too far fetched? I can see it happening; it’s not as improbable as one might think.
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.”
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President
Our new President, all of our elected officials, and all officials in every capacity and every level of government need to be held accountable to all American citizens. It is our patriotic duty as citizens, to demand openness and transparency. Never forget that they all work for us. We elect them and our taxes pay them. We have the power, through the ballot and other legal means to make them accountable.
I think it’s reasonable to speculate that most heterosexual men think about penises other than their own and will at least sneak a peek at them if they can do so unobtrusively. The penis is the predominant symbol of a man’s masculinity and virility so it only seems natural that men are curious about them and, at least at an unconscious level, compare them to see how they measure up.
There was a time when men more openly, albeit very casually and with no overt homosexual overtones, compared penises. This was a time when men regularly swam naked together and routinely walked about naked in locker rooms and showered together. There may have been some good-natured ribbing about one’s equipment but one soon got over any embarrassment. Being too embarrassed to be seen naked in the locker room or shower inevitably invited ridicule.
Perhaps it in the latter part of the 1960s or early 1970s that this began to change. This would have been around the time that women began to seek opportunities in areas that were once considered the exclusive domain of men. With women becoming more liberated and more common in the workplace, men began to feel that their masculinity was being threatened. They felt less secure about their manliness and this carried over to places where there were no women, namely male locker rooms.
Feeling less secure in their manliness, they began to avoid even inadvertently glancing at another man’s genitals, lest he be thought of as gay. Nowadays, this has gone to extremes. Now in locker rooms, men cover themselves with a towel as they change. Many men don’t shower at all after a workout and, if they do, they will shower in a swimsuit or in underwear. Many schools no longer require students to shower after a Physical Education class. When I went to school it was mandatory.
Now gyms and pools will have enclosed private changing cubicles and showers. Almost no one sees anyone casually naked anymore outside of nudist events and venues. It’s no wonder men and women alike loathe their own bodies. Advertising and entertainment media have sold us the idea of perfect bodies which, in real life don’t exist. Everything in our culture tells us that we can never measure up to the ridiculous standards they’ve created while demanding that we aggressively pursue our efforts to reach them.
There is nothing wrong with seeing a penis that’s not your own and there’s nothing wrong with anyone seeing your penis. Having a penis is quite common and, in the vast majority of cases, they all work the same. The differences in appearance are individual and have no bearing on your own penis or on your manliness. It’s just a penis.
It’s my considered opinion that all the rhetoric I’m hearing about clinging to conventional gender and sexual identities is a sign that they are becoming outdated, irrelevant, and meaningless. Many people are afraid of change and don’t want to give up the comfort of the old, traditional binary identities of male and female, masculine and feminine, and straight and gay. The binary paradigms are becoming more fluid and more analog. Despite our dependence on binary technologies, we live in an analog world, a world that offers infinitely more options than those offered by binary logic.
The long established patriarchies are beginning to crumble and the identities and paradigms they’ve created are falling by the wayside. Men are afraid of losing their power and their dominion over whatever they’ve felt they’ve had power over. That’s a good thing for humanity.
Power is simply Work over Time. Power as related to dominance is an illusion and maybe we are starting to finally sufficiently evolve to realize that.
Today is December 30, 2016, the penultimate day of the year, a day I review and contemplate the events of the year and, hopefully, set goals and intentions for the coming year. There really aren’t really any events to be reviewed. Many of my posts this year were commentary on religion, politics, and American society and culture.
I wrote several pieces expressing my views about religion. Over the past year, they really haven’t changed much though I think I’ve become more tolerant in my outlook. I still find the practice of religion a fascinating subject. Aside from the obvious inconsistencies and contradictions I see in The Bible and in church doctrines, I am continually confounded by those who claim to be believers and followers of their faith who have so little apparent regard for the basic teachings. For some it seems to be out of ignorance of the teachings while others are indifferent to the teachings.
I made some commentary on the state of our political system. The incoming administration does not bode well for our country so I expect that I will have much more to comment about in the next few years. There seems to be much that needs to be addressed in this arena.
I commented on a few societal and cultural changes that I noticed, particularly in regard to sexual and gender identities and my views have evolved considerably. The ultra-conservative ruling parties that are poised to come into power will undoubtedly make every effort they can to suppress and repress these changes but the toothpaste is out of the tube. These changes in attitudes toward the LGBTQ community and others have taken root and they will eventually flourish. Progressive change might be slowed down but it can’t be stopped. We either move forward or we fall behind; we can’t stand still. Trying to maintain the status quo or go back to a fictitious previous time is falling behind and it’s quite dangerous and quite foolish.
Other posts were experiments dealing with personal stuff and tentative probes into my own darkness. I hope I was able to avoid revealing too much information in that regard. One problem with exploring one’s own darkness is that while total disclosure might be ideal, the reality is that there’s going to be shit in that darkness that others might not want to or need to deal with. Despite my abhorrence of secrets, I still keep a lot of secrets and I will probably keep them in the shadows for many years to come, if not to my grave.
What’s in store for 2017? Hopefully, more of the same kind of commentary and probably more exploratory probes into my own darkness. I would hate to disappoint my anonymous readership.