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Aaron Swartz 2 at Boston Wikipedia Meetup, 2009-08-18.jpg
Aaron H. Swartz known as AaronSw on Wikipedia
Departed January 11, 2013

"I just can't believe someone so brilliant is gone so soon." /ƒETCHCOMMS/

This is an irreconcilable loss for humanity! We were fortunate to share his association, and as stewards, responsible to adopt his endeavors into our care, and conservancy. RIP (condolences)

"The Truth, I Imagine..."
~Solomon, a friend

Words Along The Way[edit]

"Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor. The ancient philosophers, Chinese, Hindoo, Persian, and Greek, were a class than which none has been poorer in outward riches, none so rich in inward. We know not much about them. It is remarkable that we know so much of them as we do. The same is true of the more modern reformers and benefactors of their race. None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty. Of a life of luxury the fruit is luxury, whether in agriculture, or commerce, or literature, or art."

Pause. Breathe. Continue.

"There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live. To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically. The success of great scholars and thinkers is commonly a courtier-like success, not kingly, not manly. They make shift to live merely by conformity, practically as their fathers did, and are in no sense the progenitors of a nobler race of men. But why do men degenerate ever? What makes families run out? What is the nature of the luxury which enervates and destroys nations? Are we sure that there is none of it in our own lives? The philosopher is in advance of his age even in the outward form of his life. He is not fed, sheltered, clothed, warmed, like his contemporaries. How can a man be a philosopher and not maintain his vital heat by better methods than other men?"

-an excerpt from Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Words of Interest[edit]

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?


  • "Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions, yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both." (emphasis added) -Frederick Douglass, American abolitionist and author, born a slave.

Cognitive Dissonance[edit]

  • “...develop a tolerance for cognitive dissonance, a greater subtlety of consciousness.” -Robert Thurman from The Jewel Tree of Tibet: A Complete Course on Essential Tibetan Buddhism
  • "When I asked him how a meditative Buddhist type could handle so much action, Thurman said, 'There's a stereotype that Buddhism is quietistic: leave the world, drop out -- drop dead basically.' Then he laughed and talked about how meditation can also release enormous amounts of energy. Thurman enjoys his contradictions. To him, Buddhist enlightenment is 'the tolerance of cognitive dissonance, the ability to cope with the beauty of complexity.'" -Rodger Kamenetz quoting Robert Thurman in a New York Times Magazine article on May 5, 1996
  • "Um... I-I-I personally see the learning process as a movement closer and closer to an unattainable truth-- like you're walking--going through a deep tunnel, and as you get deeper into it you see how much more there is to learn. Um... so I don't have any--"
(interviewer) "Does that make you happy or sad?"
"That makes me happy."
(interviewer) "Okay."
"I think that, that's a--I mean-- (chuckle) I like that. I think that's beautiful. That's quite--that, that's kind of the... My favorite definition of, of wisdom is Robert Thurman's which is tolerance of cognitive dissonance."
(interviewer) "Hmmh"
"Um... It really makes sense to me, and that's how I, I view the learning process and, and life in general." (emphasis added) -Joshua Waitzkin in an interview on April 10, 2008

Social Norms[edit]

  • The Encyclopedia Britannica Online defines a social norm as a "rule or standard of behaviour shared by members of a social group. Norms may be internalized—i.e., incorporated within the individual so that there is conformity without external rewards or punishments, or they may be enforced by positive or negative sanctions from without. The social unit sharing particular norms may be small (e.g., a clique of friends) or may include all adult members of a society. 'Norms are more specific than values or ideals: honesty is a general value, but the rules defining what is honest behaviour in a particular situation are norms." (emphasis added)


  • "Everything was better back when everything was worse. The truth in this is that when everything was worse, people's expectations were lower, so that it was possible occasionally to have an experience that exceeded expectations. ... We tend to romanticize poverty. ... People are not happy in stinking hell holes of abject poverty. What is true is that once you cross subsistence, whatever subsistence is in your society, additional increases in wealth have virtually no affect on well-being. There's a huge, steep curve going from zero to subsistence, but once you cross that line the curve flattens out. This is worth knowing in case you have a choice between x and making more money. Almost certainly x is what you should choose." (emphasis added) -Barry Schwartz in a presentation given on April 27, 2006 summarizing themes from his book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less


  • "The students are aware of meaningful activity going on outside the university. For there is some meaningful activity going on in America today – in the civil-rights movement, certainly. At the same time, but much more dimly, each student is aware of how barren of essential meaning and direction is the activity in which he is primarily involved, as a card-carrying student. I write “each student is aware” but I realize that this is to express more hope than fact. In less than a tenth of the students at the University of California, Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement is this “awareness” a “consciousness.” This consciousness of the poverty of one’s immediate environment is a difficult thing to come by. In most it must remain a dim awareness. It is far easier to become aware of (and angry at) the victimization of others than to perceive one’s own victimization. It is far easier to become angry when others are hurt. This is so for a number of reasons. Fighting for others’ rights cannot engender nearly so great a guilt as striking rebelliously at one’s own immediate environment. Also, it is simply easier to see the injustice done others – it’s “out there.” Many of us came to college with what we later acknowledge were rather romantic expectations, perhaps mostly unexpressed at first, about what a delight and adventure learning would be. We really did have unanswered questions searching for words, though to say so sounds almost corny. But once at college we quickly lose much of the romantic vision; although, fortunately, some never give in to the disappointment. Discovering that college is really high school grown up and not significantly more challenging, many console themselves with the realization that it is not much more either." (emphasis added) -Mario Savio, author of the Introduction of Berkeley: The New Student Revolt by Hal Draper published in 1965

Epicurus, Ataraxia, and the Stoics[edit]

For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia, peace and freedom from fear, and "aponia", the absence of pain, and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that pleasure and pain are the measures of what is good and bad, that death is the end of the body and the soul and should therefore not be feared, that the gods do not reward or punish humans, that the universe is infinite and eternal, and that events in the world are ultimately based on the motions and interactions of atoms moving in empty space.

— from Epicurus Wikipedia article as of 09:15, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

Ataraxia (Ἀταραξία) is a Greek term used by Pyrrho and Epicurus for a limpid state, characterized by freedom from worry or any other preoccupation.

For the Epicureans, ataraxia was synonymous with the only true happiness possible for a person. It signifies the state of robust tranquility that derives from eschewing faith in an afterlife, not fearing the gods because they are distant and unconcerned with us, avoiding politics and vexatious people, surrounding oneself with trustworthy and affectionate friends and, most importantly, being an affectionate, virtuous person, worthy of trust.

For the Pyrrhonians, owing to one's inability to say which sense impressions are true and which ones are false, it is the quietude that arises from suspending judgment on dogmatic beliefs or anything non-evident and continuing to inquire.
— from Ataraxia Wikipedia article as of 09:15, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

The stoics considered destructive emotions to be the result of errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not undergo such emotions. Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual's philosophy was not what a person said but how he or she behaved. Later Roman Stoics, such as Seneca and Epictetus, emphasized that because "virtue is sufficient for happiness," a sage was immune to misfortune.

— from Stoicism Wikipedia article as of 09:15, 14 October 2009 (UTC)


The KNIGHT is kneeling before a small altar. It is dark and quiet around him.
The air is cool and musty. Pictures of saints look down on him with stony 
eyes. Christ's face is turned upwards, His mouth open as if in a cry of 
anguish. On the ceiling beam there is a representation of a hideous devil 
spying on a miserable human being. The KNIGHT hears a sound from the 
confession booth and approaches it. The face of DEATH appears behind the 
grille for an instant, but the KNIGHT doesn't see him. 

        I want to talk to you as openly as I can, but 
        my heart is empty.

DEATH doesn't answer.

        The emptiness is a mirror turned towards my 
        own face. I see myself in it, and I am filled 
        with fear and disgust. 

DEATH doesn't answer.

        Through my indifference to my fellow men, I 
        have isolated myself from their company. Now I 
        live in a world of phantoms. I am imprisoned in 
        my dreams and fantasies. 

        And yet you don't want to die. 

        Yes, I do.

        What are you waiting for? 

        I want knowledge. 

        You want guarantees?

        Call it whatever you like. Is it so cruelly 
        inconceivable to grasp God with the senses? Why 
        should He hide himself in a mist of half-spoken 
        promises and unseen miracles? 

DEATH doesn't answer.

        How can we have faith in those who believe when 
        we can't have faith in ourselves? What is going 
        to happen to those of us who want to believe 
        but aren't able to? And what is to become of 
        those who neither want to nor are capable of 

The KNIGHT stops and waits for a reply, but no one speaks or answers him. 
There is complete silence. 

        Why can't I kill God within me? Why does He 
        live on in this painful and humiliating way 
        even though I curse Him and want to tear Him 
        out of my heart? Why, in spite of everything, 
        is He a baffling reality that I can't shake 
        off? Do you hear me? 

        Yes, I hear you.

        I want knowledge, not faith, not suppositions, 
        but knowledge. I want God to stretch out His 
        hand towards me, reveal Himself and speak to 

        But He remains silent.

        I call out to Him in the dark but no one seems 
        to be there.

        Perhaps no one is there.

        Then life is an outrageous horror. No one can 
        live in the face of death, knowing that all is 

        Most people never reflect about either death or 
        the futility of life.

        But one day they will have to stand at that 
        last moment of life and look towards the 

        When that day comes ...

        In our fear, we make an image, and that image 
        we call God.

        You are worrying ...

        Death visited me this morning. We are playing 
        chess together. This reprieve gives me the 
        chance to arrange an urgent matter.

        What matter is that?

        My life has been a futile pursuit, a wandering, 
        a great deal of talk without meaning. I feel no 
        bitterness or self-reproach because the lives 
        of most people are very much like this. But I 
        will use my reprieve for one meaningful deed. 

        Is that why you are playing chess with Death? 

        He is a clever opponent, but up to now I 
        haven't lost a single man.

        How will you outwit Death in your game? 

        I use a combination of the bishop and the 
        knight which he hasn't yet discovered. In the 
        next move I'll shatter one of his flanks.

        I'll remember that.

DEATH shows his face at the grill of the confession booth for a moment but 
disappears instantly.

        You've tricked and cheated me! But we'll meet 
        again, and I'll find a way.

        We'll meet at the inn, and there we'll continue 

The KNIGHT raises his hand and looks at it in the sunlight which comes 
through the tiny window. 

        This is my hand. I can move it, feel the blood 
        pulsing through it. The sun is still high in 
        the sky and I, Antonius Block, am playing 
        chess with Death. 

He makes a fist of his hand and lifts it to his temple.

-an excerpt from Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal), a film by Ingmar Bergman}}

Energy 1[edit]

Here are some thoughts and links about energy. These are merely my thoughts attempting to organize a bit.

Preface: the US EIA "Energy Information Administration" has some great highlights of world energy use. Note that the British Thermal Unit (BTUs) seem to be the standard unit of energy used, but I converted to Joules below because I'm more familiar with them (1 BTU = 1,055.05585 Joules or about 1 kilojoule).

Some of this data is from wikipedia, so be sure to add salt and a bit of healthy skepticism.

Population of Earth's human race: ~6.7 billion

Energy consumption of humans on Earth: ~500 exajoules (5 x 10^20 Joules) or as average instantaneous power consumption (AIPC, let's call it): ~16 terawatts (16 x 10^12 Watts)

Population of Africa: ~900 million

Energy consumption of Africa per year: ~15 exajoules or as AIPC: ~0.5 terawatts

Population of United States: ~300 million

Energy consumption of United States: ~102 exajoules or as AIPC: ~3.2 terawatts

Population of California: ~36 million

Energy consumption of California: ~9 exajoules or as AIPC: ~0.3 terawatts

From the above data:

Earth's human race power per capita: ~2,390 Watts per person

Africa's power per capita: ~556 Watts per person

United States power per capita: ~10,800 Watts per person --wow!

California power per capita: ~8,330 Watts per person

Looks like we Californians are ~20% below the national average, but still 3 to 4 times the world average.

These figures include all sectors of energy use, which can be denominated as follows:

~40% - industrial (~27% via oil derivatives)

~20% - transportation (~66.6% via oil derivatives)

~10% - residential

~ 5% - commercial

~75% - total

Where is the other 25%? Wikipedia says it's "lost in energy transmission and generation" but I'm not sure exactly what that applies to each sector.

So what are the sources of all this energy? Well...the sun! But we extract most of it in a form much different from its initial age-old recipients:

~37% - Oil

~25% - Coal

~23% - Natural Gas

(total: ~85%)

~6% - Nuclear

~4% - Biomass

~3% - Hydroelectric

(total: ~98%)

~0.5% - Solar thermal

~0.3% - Wind

~0.2% - Geothermal

~0.2% - Biofuel

~0.04% - Solar photovoltaic

~0.76% - Unknown

100% - Total

A bit on solar energy. The highest efficiency for photovoltaics (solar panels) in the lab is ~40% but these systems are rarely mass-produced. 10% - 15% efficiency is typical of most photovoltaic arrays. The majority of direct-sunlight electric energy production does not come from photovoltaic electrochemical conversion, but from concentrated solar thermal conversion. In fact, the highest capacity solar power plants on Earth were built in the mid-80's in the Mojave Desert in California. The 9 installations together are called Solar Energy Generating Systems (SEGS). The array's efficiency is ~20% and total capacity is ~350 megawatts ( ). For comparison, a small nuclear power plant or a typical coal power plant produces about 500 megawatts.

Another example of concentrated sunlight generation are the two arrays of large parabolic mirrors being developed and built by Stirling Energy Systems ( SES, ) in California. One is a 300 megawatt system in Imperial City, California and the other is a 500 megawatt system being build in the Mojave Desert, east of Barstow. Each unit produces 25 kilowatts of power with 30% efficiency. SES has "project and technical development offices" in Tustin, California. Here's some video: .

The first energy independent city in America is Rock Port, Missouri, via wind power. Cost them a pretty penny...

Energy 2[edit]

  • The human body radiates on the order of 100 Joules per second, or 100 Watts. It does this to the keep-a-kindle the inner fire, to maintain body temperature. This estimate is reasonable since 2000 food Calories (kilocalories) consumed in the period of 1 day, 2000 kilocalories / 1 day, equals ~96.85 Watts, meaning that you radiate energy at about the same rate as a 100 Watt incandescent light bulb. The difference is that the incandescent light bulb converts around 10% of that energy into visible light, and about 90% into heat, whereas, while a rest, the body converts almost all of its energy into heat.
  • When traveling long distances, an increasing number of humans use an artificially energized vehicle. They want this for several reasons. They may want to get to their destination in a very short time. They might not want to get sweaty. They may not be physically able to transport themselves the desired distance. If the human does not use their own energy for travel, from what energy source does the vehicle derive? There are several:


Survival of an American[edit]


Typical American disconnected from food and water supply.

Typical American offered loan from banks. Debt results. Buys car and other things to facilitate employment to pay debt. Works to make interest payments. From where do the banks get their lending power?


Hopes, desires, values, behavior originate from media consumption. Advertisements appeal to subconscious urges and emotions resulting in see, want, envy, buy. Climb social status latter through materialism. Repeat. Real values and principles have no chance to develop.

To be continued...

Book List (and other media)[edit]

Read (and other actions, past tense)

  • Así como hoy matan negros (Just as today they kill blacks) Pablo Neruda
"The Facts" page
"Albert Camus' speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1957"
Regarding the threat posed by the spread in the 20th century of the Soviet Bloc,
"We stand on the cusp of one of humanity's most dangerous moments."
The Responsibility of Intellectuals Noam Chomsky

Unread (and other actions)

Zechariah 8 (New International Version translation)
Sermon on the Mount Jesus
Matthew 22
Matthew 25
Acts of the Apostles 4 (New International Version translation)
Acts of the Apostles 13 (New International Version translation)
Ephesians 4 (New International Version translation)

circus pirade by jim tully *claytons list begins liquid gold: the lore and logic of using urine to grow plants by carol steinfeld frostbite by arno rafael minkkinen alone at sea by hannes lindemann a language older than words by derrick jensen hunger by knut hamsun the thiefs journal by jean genet prison writings in 20th century america by h bruce franklin together alone by ron falconer sea kayaking: a manual for long distance touring by john dowd rolling nowhere by ted conover alone by richard byrd stone hotel by raegan butcher willard and his bowling trophies by richard brautigan you cant win by jack black boat building and boating by daniel beard stories of eva luna by isabel allende the american dream and zoo story by edward albee desert solitaire by edward abbey *end of claytons list for you

Introduction: The Third Emancipatory Phase of History
Volume Seventy-seven : (Oct 16, 1939 - Feb 22, 1940)
Anarchism: "What It Really Stands For"
"Stranger in the Village"
"No Name in the Street"

Anarchism & Anarchy Errico Malatesta

Reform the International Financial System
“The Construction of Masculinity and the Triad of Men’s Violence” Michael Kaufman
"Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference"
"The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action"

Satira X (Satira X) (original Latin) Juvenal