Vidas, Muertos, Familias, Circulos…

Noche De Muertos, Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico

Daper DeathAltar MaxAltarOfferingsObsceneryEmpty Chair
The villageOf faith and sorrowCold feet at the gatesCircle of lifeCircle of lifeFamily Affair
Night of lightOh the pretty lightsPeaking Through...

Noche de Muertos… an old dream of mine that finally came to reality. Mexicans, have a way with a variety of things and death is no exception. A very rich, varied colorful and meaningful set of traditions reaching way back to to pre-colonial times… mingling with, battling against and mostly losing to the commercial and ephemeral.

Months later, of my journey (mainly around Patzcuaro, Michoacan) 2 things remain strikingly fresh in my memory:

– The beauty and strength of grasping of time and life through family ties and traditions
– The inescapable feeling of loss and loneliness

I am particularly fond of these three scenes:

Empty Chair

Of faith and sorrow

Circle of life

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Basic Universal Principles – Iguanas “r” Us (or Them?)

For those not familiar with iguanas, they look rather unbecoming… and one day I had to “usher” a particularly large and ugly one out of the house. It looked ferocious and seemed like it came out specifically to get me. The solution I chose consisted in strategically placing pieces of cardboard and other objects to make a path out of the house. Then I put the animal under pressure and it fled. Done deal. “Easy”.

Being older now, it’s even clearer how much of that “fight” was only in my head. But as a general rule how do you deal with things/people you don’t know/trust and especially who’s intention you have to guess from their outward appearance (or from a report on tv). Is this entity rational, moral, dangerous, God fearing? What are its true intentions?

Continue reading

Basic Universal Principles – Core Axioms

Being a work in progress, this list and organization of this list is bound to be updated as I write the articles supporting it. It is also bound to refer directly or indirectly to existing and well documented body of studies or school of thoughts. Hence, I do not claim them to be original per se (incidentally, not unlike what is described below ) .

Note that what follows immediately below, is necessarily more opaque than some would want (including me).  Fortunately, it will quickly be followed by articles that I expect the reader will find light hearted and easy to follow (in comparison).

Axioms

  1. All things are existential and functional variations of everything else.  This is NOT a statement of connectedness. Rather it is a statement of similarity.
  2. All things exist as a change in state relative to something else.
  3. The degree and nature of change is a direct reflection of the influence of opposing forces.
  4. Changes are aimed at conserving/establishing/re-establishing some degree of equilibrium.

Corollary  Principles

  1. Since all things are and work in a similar fashion, isolating similarities is extremely useful and powerful.  Solutions in one area maybe portable to another area and understanding of one phenomenon help understand another whether such phenomena seem related or not.

Propositions:

On the true nature of things (See Iguanas are Us)

  1. All beings/systems act completely logically and predictably with respect to properly understood circumstances.
  2. Circumstances can be divided in 2 broad categories: a) internal/internalized constraints (i.e. true nature) b) external stress
  3. The relative strength/weight/importance of individual constraints characteristics will vary in function of stress (see Axioms 2, 3)
  4. The higher priority constraints (what is commonly referred to as true/essential nature) at any given time are put in evidence when the system is under higher stress situations.
  5. Desired outcome/behaviors can be induced by playing to those constraints under the right stress situation

On the true nature of our activities

  1. Societies, cultures, companies and individual act in similar ways (see axioms 1)
  2. All of what we do consists in either investing or protecting an investment
  3. Models used to manage financial investment strategies are suitable for understanding / predicting human behavior (see Corollary 1)

(To be Continued…. )


Note: This is article is part of the series “Basic Universal Principles” for more information click here.

Basic Universal Princples – Intro

Gang violence, Immigration, The role of the government in the economy, Education,  Moral decline, Couple relationships,  Privacy issues, Substance abuse, Population growth control and Unemployment  are all topics that are generally not part of the same discussion. Yet, I contented, they are all related.  Their solutions, or at least tools enabling more fruitful national and transnational discussion are also related.

In this series i try to explore and summarize in  a few sentences (Basic Principles) what I think best describes everything is in the world or how everything works in the world.

I know, tall order. But hopefully the outcome will be useful enough to help model complex situation effectively and simple enough to be conveyed to a large audience.

As a result topics which might seem intractable and  viscerally doomed can be put in a context that can show both: what’s happening and what can possibly be a way out.

Big “Caveat”: In no way, this should be construed as a search for “THE TRUTH”. This is only an attempt to find “THE TOOLS” to handle what surrounds us.

NEXT UP: Core Axioms

Challenge to Personal Virtues: What is Evil?

Here is my challenge: Is there any situation where the following definition does not apply?

1) Evil is to indulge in excess into what comes to us the easiest (or just easily)
2) The effort required to overcome Evil IS Good

Note that I am not attempting to define Good or Goodness. Also I am not trying to define Evil in the context of society. Just on a personal level when the main concern is nobody else but oneself and one’s own values.

For example: cheating on a spouse is a valid situation as long as the merits of the decision are solely based on the motives, drives, “morality” and decisions of the individual. As a result a valid question would be “Am I violating my own vows”. An invalid question would be “Will my spouse be hurt”.

The reason for the distinction is that involves principles of relativity and makes definitions more complex.

I have previously made some comments such as “Satan is Us”.  Which a rough equivalent to: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing“.  For a while that was satisfying.

In talking to more religiously minded people I realized that the belief in some overarching plan either from God or Satan is so strong that my original statement does not make a difference in positioning the personal **practical** implication on Evil.

Originally my contention was that no matter your belief in the existence of such overarching plans/forces or not, it would not change what you are to do in order to live a reasonably non Evil life.  But given the skepticism I faced, I thought I should dig a bit deeper and at least come up with a clearer definition of what I thought evil was on a *Personal* level.  So… there you have it.

Any takers?

Travel is fatal to prejudice…. Might it also be to Love?

Coming back home, being the only one having gotten the benefit of extensive travel  can prove to be an issue…

First, we have the general Socrates’ Cave effect: For as much as travel gets you closer to former strangers, it can distance you from your home environment. For home wherever it is, means shared values as much as shared prejudices….

Second, we have  intimate repercussions: Love hopefully implies respect and esteem… How does one esteem that which one might no longer share?

It seems clear that enlightenment requires a much greater reflection and sense of self than one might originally imagine.  Otherwise one might be forced to choose between the enjoyment its full benefits  and avoiding feeling alienated from loved ones or ones that could be loved.

Traveler beware!