Happy Thanksgiving Bears
I hope this finds you well, with friends and family, or at least with strangers to celebrate. Be safe.
We will catch up with you on Friday. Feel free to chat below.
I hope this finds you well, with friends and family, or at least with strangers to celebrate. Be safe.
We will catch up with you on Friday. Feel free to chat below.
Thanksgiving every day
Boston Globe – Nov 24 – probably not a free link
The programmers of online gambling platforms understand the dopamine release system better than anyone. Since the pandemic began a great deal of investment capital has flowed from human and drug trafficking to online gambling as evidenced by the falling demand for cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency was a necessary intermediary for the laundering of illegal trafficking capital flow, but online gambling is legal and the use of intermediates such as Apple Pay masque gambling activity transactions on credit card statements allowing credit providers a means of circumventing regulations against gambling with credit where such regulation exists. Of course, there is still way too much sex and drug trafficking, but with the major players now leaving the field of play, then there are no longer such huge incentives for politicians and law enforcement to avoid taking the criminals to prosecution.
i have mixed feelings. in general i support any incentives for law enforcement to avoid taking criminals to prosecution.
i don’t know if i will ever reach a point where i regard private vice as sufficiently threatening to me, or what i would defend if i could, that i will support laws and law enforcement to punish private vice…even in people i don’t like for other reasons.
but i certainly understand the impulse to punish.
fwiw, dopamine notwithstanding i seem to have no desire to acquire the trash that most people can’t seem to live without, which tends to mean i don’t have any friends who do…and hence no peer pressure to join them in neurotic consumption. since i got my learning in the days before neurotransmitters were blamed for everything, i tend to blame neurotic consumption on the lack of love and simple pleasures in early childhood. can’t imagine a controlled experiment to test that hypothesis.
of course people today have far less opportunity to experience simple pleasures than we had when i was young, and less access to love now that parents are all fully empoyed getting the money for less-simple pleasures… or simple survival.
and i am reminded of Diogenes, Diogenes the Cynic as he was called, which means I think, Diogenes the dog. He lived in a rain barrel it is said, and wore no clothes, and became famous anyway. One day Alexander, also called Alexander the Great, visited his city and asked to be taken to meed Diogenes. When he was shown where Diogenes was lying in the sun, he announced, “I am Alexander. What can I do for you?” Diogenes replied, “Move over a little, you are blocking my sun.” Alexander is said to have muttered, “Were I not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.” It is not recorded that Diogenes ever said, “Were I not Diogenes…”
I guess it’s a talent you have to be born with.
The problem with addiction is that it is not free will, but rather the antithesis of free will.
Then of course there is Free Willy, which is a safer addiction than most. My wife loved dolphins. Killer whales are actually dolphins rather than whales although my wife was not taken with killer whales despite that distinction. Seems killer whales sometimes snack on dolphins when they can. Dolphins are quick and generally travel in herds.
some of my best friends are homicidal maniacs. i love them because they are quick and cute and let me join their herd.
i did see a movie clip in which four of them…their close relatives…came around the side of a mountain and saw a bear just sitting down to dinner. They looked at each other and laughed and laughed, then they surrounded the bear…one on each side. one of them bit the bear in the butt. the bear turned around to face him, and his friend (the wolf’s) bit the bear in the butt from the others side. this went on, round and round, until the bear through up his hands and said, ‘you want this ole carcass? fine! take it!” and he ambled off down the hill, and the four wolves laughed laughed before they sat down to eat.
i laughed too. but it was not lost on me that i had seen this movie before. only it was four guys in brown shirts and an old jew.
so, yes, i agree with your wife. i love dolphins. but i also love orcas. go figure.
In spite of the analogy above I need to say I do not love thugs in brown shirts and I do have a soft spot in my heart for old jews, especially the scholarly and religious ones.
and, to continue the anti-analogy, that’s in spite of my dislike for “ritual” which i belive to be a continuation of primitive superstition that we could persuade the gods with sacrifice or even make them obey us with magic words and right ritual. but lately i have come to suspect that ritual may be useful if not necessary for some people to open the doors of perception to deeper things.
not only do my wolfy friends let me join their herd, they made me a kind of consiglieri because i can crack safes and cross streets and know how to talk to cops.
my neighbor died yesterday. he and I did not get along when he first built his house next door. he wanted me to cut my hedge so he could build a nice cedar fence. i was a bit surly about this, especially when he then asked me to help pay for the fence. “Why would I want to do that?!” I asked. ” To be neighborly,” he said. I thought he had gone too far, but I did help him build the fence after I saw he was completely lost with tools, and the expert he hired was making it up as he went along.
We did get along better after that, though gingerly. He had Parkinsons, and I don’t have a good enough memory to hold grudges. Now I wish I had been kinder.
After all, it is Thanksgiving, not “giving Thursday.” but even that, I suppose, can open the doors of perception …just a little and only for a second… if you let it.
somewhere around here you published a comment about the crowd demanding that Jesus be crucified and the criminal (rebel?) Barabas be freed.
I can now tell you what happened. Bar Abbas means son of the father. Jesus was a common name (i am told) in Palestine at the time. So Jesus, Son of the Father, and Jesus Bar-Abbas had the same name.
Pilate interviewed Jesus and found him not guilty, and a scholar and gentleman as well, so he offered to set him free. So he offered the crowd Barabas in exchnage for Jesus. The crowd demanded Jesus be crucified. So Pilate had Barabas crucified and the Son of the Father set free. Since the crowd was just a rent-a-crowd and didn’t know anything about the “facts”, they went away satisfied. and the other jesus went to India to spread the Gospel.
everybody was happy, except of course Barabas, but he was going to be crucified anyway so there was nothing he could say, if he was even told about the bargain made and lost for him.
i have just been told that i got the story of Barabas wrong. Jesus and Barabas [“the son of the father”] were actually the same man. Two names for the same person.
But the crowd did not know that. They had been paid to shout for the crucifixion of Jesus, and so they did. Pilate, being sly, asked them did they want him to free Jesus or Barabas. They chose to free Barabas and crucify Jesus.
So Jesus was handed over to them, but on the way to Golgotha Jesus stumbled and a man from the crowd was forced to carry the cross…he protested of course, but the Romans, like cops everywhere, did not listen. They hit him hard enough that he didn’t want to be hit again and so he picked up the cross.
Now, by the time they reached Golgotha the crowed was no longer the same people who had seen one of their own forced to carry the cross. So when the Romans started to nail that man to the cross, he protested..”No, I am not that man! I was only supposed to carry the cross!” The Romans, like cops everywhere, did not listen. And neither did the mob.
Entertaining, thanks. The Lost Years/Teachings of Jesus book series by Elizabeth Clare Prophet posit that Jesus traveled to India between his adolescent visit with priests and his return to die on the cross. Others believe that his death on the cross was just a matter of Eastern mysticism being used to fake death. Afterwards they say he traveled to America with Phoenicians, which dovetails nicely with the Book of Mormon.
In any case, much of the world will celebrate his birthday on most likely the wrong day, although there really no way to know the correct day, just one of 365 or 366. His year of birth was probably within six years one way or the other from the BC/AD divide.
For me Christmas will never be the same again. It was Kellie’s favorite day of the year.
Were I not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.
His body rots.
His philosophy lives on.
The concept lives in free space.
Thanksgiving, originally a scrounged up menu of small game and other handy calories, shared with the indigenous centurions has morphed into; yes
And a Merry Christmas to you too, Justin
I was thinknig Justice took the onus off me for being the darkest watcher at the feast, but I guess the small game and other handy calories have not yet been heard from.
i was going to add, re conspicuous consumption and all that… that after the Greeks beat the Persians in about year 400 BC or so, the Greek commander took his troops into Xerxes big tent where extravagant dinner was laid out and said to them “look, the Persians with all their wealth came here to steal our poverty.” About a hundred years later Alexander went to Persia to return the favor. sorry not to remember names and dates, but you can read all about it in Herodotus’ histories,and a link i found interesting if i can find the link again.
J.Brad Hicks, for your reading pleasure…and a moral.
They’ve Come to Rob Us of Our Poverty
With somewhere between half a million and a million Persian combat troops marching towards Athens, and the whole Greek speaking world having fewer than 1/10th that, and with Greek-speaking cities in the Balkans and Turkey surrendering almost as fast as the Persians could get there, the Persian invasion of ancient Greece was the longest, ugliest fighting retreat until MacArthur’s retreat from the Chinese in Korea. But one battle accidentally went right for the Greeks partway down the peninsula, and in one of the only land battles the Greeks won they actually managed to briefly over-run the Persian’s advance camp, forced the Persians to retreat (for one day) to a more secure position, and (briefly) captured Emperor Xerxes’ own tent. I forget which of the Athenian generals it was who came up with this idea, but instead of looting it and heading back to the lines (with stuff they’d just have to abandon along the retreat), he turned it into the ultimate propaganda ploy of the whole war. He kept the tent open all night and marched as many Athenians as he could through the tent. There they saw that the Persian emperor literally went camping with more wealth and with more luxury goods than existed in the entire Greek speaking world put together. And on their way out, each Athenian soldier was told: “The Persians, in their wealth, have come to rob us of our poverty.”
I was thinking of that the other day when I heard yet another complaint about the fact that roughly half the population of Athens and the surrounding country of Attika were slaves. And you know what? Athenian slaves lived in what we would recognize as really abject poverty. A scratchy woolen sheet, an improvised felt hat, and heavy socks were all any of them had to wear. They slept on at best a straw pallet and usually outdoors, even in all weather. At least one meal a day was nothing but a cold, thin oatmeal gruel; in lean times, maybe two of the day’s meals, and the main meal of the day probably didn’t have much in the way of meat or fruit. And the Athenians had no problem with that, but not for the reason you’d think: they had no problem with that because for centuries, the wealthiest guy in Athens didn’t live any better than that, either.
You know the joke that Canadian right-wingers tell about why lobster pots in Canada don’t need lids? Because if one lobster tries to climb out of the pot, the other lobsters will pull him back down? The Athenians would have loved that joke. In the aftermath of an ugly tribal war, the Athenians appointed the guy among all of them who had the best reputation for fairness, Solon, to be their lawmaker. And in the first written constitution of the Athenians, Solon “abused” their oath to live up to whatever laws he wrote by breaking up the tribes, redistributing the land, and making it literally illegal for any family to own more than 10 acres of farmland. He set up a system where the poorest, laziest, and unluckiest guy in Athens was unlikely to completely starve, not he nor his family nor even a couple of slaves, although the most determinedly lazy would probably get awfully hungry. And the hardest working, smartest, luckiest and wealthiest man in Athens … was only barely going to live above average. Because he, and everybody else in the top 20% (I’m guessing) income bracket were faced with a choice, under law. They could declare their income, enter a lottery by which every month or so one of them would be “voluntarily” taxed for almost everything they had saved up to cover civic expenses, but in exchange be eligible for almost the only real positions of legal or political authority in the city. Or they could risk the Athenian public voting for them in the annual rite of ostracism, risk being at least temporarily exiled from the country for suspicion of hoarding excessive wealth.
This so enraged the wealthy Athenians that poor Solon had to spend years hiding from their hired assassins … but after a couple of years, the wealthiest and hardest working Athenians learned that the system actually worked better for them. It left the hardest working, smartest, luckiest people in Athens in positions of at least some authority, it let them have enough status symbols to compete among each other for status and to live better than the people who weren’t as well off, and it saved them from any prospect whatsoever of resentment leading to revolution and robbery. What’s more, it even more importantly also freed them from having to be afraid of each other, because after a few years under that system not even the wealthiest man in Athens could afford to raise a private army or bribe an entire government. It meant that they could invest everything in their land or their other businesses and feel perfectly safe that neither the resentful masses nor their corrupt competitors were going to steal it all away from them by armed force. That slaves were entitled to the same luxuries as their masters gave the Athenians the moral high ground in time of war, rendered their enemies (the source of most slaves) unafraid to surrender. What’s more, they discovered that there was something that working really hard and smart and being lucky could get you that couldn’t be taxed away: leisure. Time with your family, time with your friends, time with your lovers, time for your hobbies, time to volunteer for civic duty, time to train for the prospect of foreign war … time.
And you know what? I’m not an expert on iron-age Persia, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out that the poorest slave, that even the most hated prisoner in the Persian capital wore nicer clothes, wore more jewelry, slept on a more comfortable bed in a warmer, more comfortable building, and I all but guarantee ate better daily meals than even the richest guy in Athens before the Persian War. If the Athenians had been willing to surrender early enough in the war, what might well have come to Athens is an awful lot of what a modern person would have recognized as civilization: buildings that weren’t glorified mud huts and that maybe even went taller than two stories, clothes that weren’t rags, hot running water, improved sanitation, lighted streets, and food from across the Persian empire. Sure, there would have been taxes, but they paid taxes now. Freedom? A Persian satrapy that far from the capital was going to have an awful lot of local independence and get to keep an awful lot of their own customs. What did the Athenians fight so hard to keep? Their way of life: the poverty that the Persians, in their wealth, had come to steal from them.
Their ancestors, at least, remembered why. The original Athenians feared that if anybody started accumulating a whole lot more wealth than his neighbors, he’d abuse it: usurious loan terms to strip them further down, paid mercenaries to put him beyond the reach of their justice, bribed public officials to keep the law on his side. And if you look at the history of the so-called “golden age” of Athens, the imperial period when Athens was living off of the looted temple treasuries of what the Athenians still euphemistically called their “allies” and off of the ever-increasing number of prisoners “sentenced” to work in the silver mines and off of what foreign governments were willing to pay in salary for a couple of shiploads of heavily armed Athenian mercenary marines? Money that was pouring into a city where the land-ownership limitations fell by the wayside in the tangle of complicated inheritances after the great Athenian plague? You see that what their ancestors feared is exactly what happened. As a handful of families started to accumulate nearly all the wealth in Athens, they used that wealth to bribe juries, to sway elections, to bribe public officials, and to hire the best orators in the Greek-speaking world to twist ideas around in the public’s head so that they’d go along with all of this. And the generation that did all of this found out, the hard way, that Solon was right, and Hesiod before him, and Euripedes in their own time, when they were warned not to let people accumulate vast amounts of wealth if they wanted to keep their peace and freedom.
.entertaining is the word. the way i am going, someone will take it seriously and the Gospel of Barabas will appear and found a megachrch which will fund charismatic TV evangelists who will support the next coup of closet fascists who might be smart enough to succeed.
as for the rest of that, I was foolish enoughone to take DaVinci code seriously..not as a true story, but as based on real medieval stories.
the only story that matters is the one told in Matthew etc with all of its faults and contradictions and misinterpretations….and, I suppose, some of the Christmas Carols inspired by it.
It has been a bad year for deaths around here. Seems none of us get out of it alive…but the afore mentioned story does suggest it is not the end of the story, with better reasons to believe it than any other story I know of. Hang onto that if you need it, You are not alone.
sure – thx
I am thankful to spend Thanksgiving with my daughters, son in laws and grandchildren, but I would still like to smoke cigarettes to release the dopemine that is triggered by nicotine. Not good for my lungs, but as Keynes said “ in the long run we are all dead” so it is a constant struggle.
It’s taken a long time to get down to four or five a day.
All things considered, that’s good enough …
if i remember (it’s been a long time) tobacco was a gift of the indians…a kind of revenge, you might say.
still, a recent poll shows that most people would rather not be dead yet.