Wall Street and Main Street

10,000,000,000 -  3,000,000,000,000 - 700,000,000,000

10 billion for LHC - 3 trillion for Iraq- 700 billion for Bailout

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Sometimes you just have to hold your nose...

and swallow what's good for you 

As I was walking down Polk this morning I reflected on the fact that of all the streets in San Francisco, my street, Polk Street is most like San Francisco's real Main Street. There is one that has the name, but doesn't fit the image. But Polk--from City Hall at one end to Fisherman's Wharf at the other,  Polk Street has had a colorful history and remained true to its character over the three decades that it has been the main street in my life. It has always been a mix of small businesses, groceries, danceries, drinkeries, eateries, some rather upscale some rather not, a bath house, a few theatres, some good, some less so--Mitchell brothers a block away from my place is infamous world wide and used to have the wonderful aquatic mural depicted below--which deteriorated badly and has since been replaced by a mural depicting terrestrial animals--with its  far less evocative imagery  from a strictly Freudian or Jungian point of view.

Old Mural on the outside of Mitchell Bros. Theatre at O'Farrell and Polk

But we also had the Alhambra Theater, San Francisco - a set on Flickr with its splendid faux moorish architecture--which has in recent years been converted to a gymnasium.  Not the greatest thing to happen to it, but at least the building, which had been painstakingly restored not that long ago, was saved.

alhambra theater 6

In any event Polk was as quiet as a local Main street could be in San Francisco on an early Friday morning.

We were far from Wall Street in New York, one of my old haunts--for I used to work summers in the old offices of the Holland America Line close  to the Cunard building on One Bowling Green (shown above)and would often munch my take-out lunch in the restful yard of Trinity church--a stone's throw from the later site of the World Trade Center. 5. Trinity Place. VI. Accomplished Facts. Sandburg, Carl. 1920 ...

 Carl Sandburg once wrote a poem about this church yard:

Carl Sandburg (1878–1967).  Smoke and Steel. 1922.

THE GRAVE of Alexander Hamilton is in Trinity yard at the end of Wall Street.

  
The grave of Robert Fulton likewise is in Trinity yard where Wall Street stops.
  
And in this yard stenogs, bundle boys, scrubwomen, sit on the tombstones, and walk on the grass of graves, speaking of war and weather, of babies, wages and love.
  
An iron picket fence … and streaming thousands along Broadway sidewalks … straw hats, faces, legs … a singing, talking, hustling river … down the great street that ends with a Sea.
  
… easy is the sleep of Alexander Hamilton.         
… easy is the sleep of Robert Fulton.
… easy are the great governments and the great steamboats.

After law school, a few years later, I was employed for a while by the Algemene Bank Nederland, (before it merged into the ABN-AMRO Bank)  in their old building which still carries over its bronze portals the name of  Netherlands Trading Society, Nederlandsche Handelmaatschappij--as the ABN was called in older days. 

This is what that corner of Cedar and William Streets looked like:

Today it has been converted into a cafe, but it looks pretty much the same from the outside

However, what occupied me most of last week was the news that came from Washington about Wall Street and Main Street and how the two seemd to be totally at odds. 

It started with a lecture by Neel Kashkari - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia at some think tank on the diffferences between covered bonds, [cf.: Covered bond - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]  popular in Europoean financial systems  and mortgage backed securities, [cf.  Mortgage-backed security - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ] primarily in the United States. I was somewhat mystified as to what brought on  this sudden interest in converting the U.S. financial system to a European system--but it began to dawn on me that something very serious was happening.  

Henry Paulson   Ben Bernanke  Christopher Dodd  Richard Shelby

From left to right: Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Christopher Dodd and Richard Shelby

Next I saw an interview on C-Span with Henry Paulson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Ben Bernanke - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  (an odd name for which I now use the relevant menomic anangke--Greek for doom or fate) on the one hand and Banking Committtee Chairman  Christopher Dodd - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and his Republican counterpart the Banking Committee Ranking Member  Richard Shelby - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  On Sunday a week ago George Stephanopoulos - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia asked them what was so terribly bad that it might be necessary to come up with a $700 billion bail-out package and what the consequences would be if they didn't. The answers these four ashen faced men gave made me shiver. They said it was not something fit for a Sunday morning family program. The consequences would be so terrible that they thought it would sow panic throughout the country and the world and make things even worse with its psychological impact on the markets. Well that certainly got my attention--and for the week that followed I was riveted to C-Span as I watched the bad news unfold.

It is easy to get lost in all the rhetorical oratory and demagoguery on both sides of the political spectrum--for there has been plenty of that--but we need to keep a sober head in what is clearly a great self-inflicted economic crisis. No one is free from blame, for we have all, as Americans, indulged and benefited from the freeflowing credit driven consumer society. 

 

Both Wall Street and Main Street are selfish streets, where everyone is looking out for number one. And before some of us become too self righteous--those whose objective is to save their individual egoic soul--they too are looking out for number one--for themselves--and damn the rest if need be. It's human nature.

It is of course the essence of capitalism that if everyone looks after number one everyone competes and every one gains in the long run. But the playing field is not level. It never was and it never will be. There has been and still is too much diversity in backgrounds to say that there ever was or will be a level playing field.  We are supposed to be the same before the law, but that is a joke when one baby is born to the rich and another born to the poor--in money or talent. There will always be differences between the rich and the poor, between the gifted and the humdrum--but they need not be as extreme as they are in danger of becoming again in a society that has always prided itself on a constitution that claims we are born equal.

Playing on a level playing field is a fiction of the law and an ideal we claim to hold dear, but rarely a practice we indulge in--if we can help it. We try to play by the rules, but the temptation to bend the rules when we see others do so is very great. We live in a contentious and litigious society where everyone is out for himself.

To deny this would be to deny the obvious. But we also live in a society of checks and balances--a felicitous phrase if ever there was one. I like it better than the French équilibre des pouvoirs, or for that matter the Ducth machtenevenwicht (or evenwicht van machten--even weight of mights) --each  of which means balance of powers .

The English phrase seems to be more dynamic than a mere equilibrium or evenwicht, (even weight)--perhaps even evocative of affirmative action. I am not sure if the French have an exact equivalent to 'checks and balances'--I certainly can't think of one, or for that matter of any  Dutch equivalent.

Checks and balances is also a phrase which very well describes the dynamic way of evolutionary processes and its speeded up, or even explosive version, which we call revolution. Evolution is slow and relatively peaceful, easy to adjust to, even though we rarely want to do so.  If no adjustments are made, however, forces build up until these forces are stronger than the resistance to change, and when that wearing down of resistance to change takes too long what you get is an earth quake, a volcanic eruption,  a landslide, a tidal wave, tsunami, or a social and political revolution--with all the dangerously violent and unpredictable consequences these bring along. Human history is replete with sad and even terrifying examples of the  explosive results of such unduly prolonged adjustment lag--at any level of reality.

Warning: I am going to digress here on the subject of the nature of consciousness, just so you know. But I will eventually come back to my main topic--Wall Street and Main Street--and of course the relationship between the two.  So if you prefer, skip what is in between the v-lines and  just scroll down a bit. But remember this is not entirely off the wall--for it is still within the scope of my primary objective: to examine relationships, verhoudingen in whatever contexts they may occur and find similarities and resonances among them.

Think of it as a kind of preliminary field work. Brain storming. Notes to myself I share with you.

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The problem is that in nature checks and balances do not involve elaborate foresight and calculation, but are simply denktuigelijk, computerlike, mechanical, mostly  reactive processes which acquire complexity only by virtue of its volume and iteration.

Note: my own neologism in Dutch for the word computer is in fact denktuig--on the analogy of werktuig (tool) vaartuig (boat) vliegtuig (airplane) rijtuig (coach) and so on. Hardware would be tuigwaar (toolware) and software would be denkwaar  (thinkware).

In human society, where we can apply conscious foresight it is still a lively issue in science, philosophy and theology whether consciousness itself is the result of emergence. To me the issue is almost moot--as intimated also by the current Bishop of Lund. For instance, she gave a lecture on what theology can do for science at Yale University:  Initiative in Religion, Science & Technology: Past Events

March 2, 2006 - What Theology Can Do for Science - Antje Jackelén, Associate Professor of Sytematic Theology at Lutheran School of Theology and Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science

Bishop Antje Jackelén

Antje Jackelén - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

She served as a priest in Tyresö parish in the Diocese of Stockholm 1981-1988, in Gårdstånga parish in the Diocese of Lund 1988-1994 and in the Cathedral parish of Lund 1995-1996. After finishing her doctorate, she worked at Lund University 1999-2001 and was assistant professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago 2001-2003. From 2003 she was Associate Professor and Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science.   She is also listed in: Speakers 

In discussing the emergence of consciousness from the point of view of neurobiology  and how that approach is different from the theological approach which sees consciousness as primary, Dr. Jackelén  intimated that the two approaches are not in conflict, and that there is indeed a connection between science and theology--just not one that is easily understood, because consciousness itself is not something easily understood, if it can be understood at all. The eye cannot see itself. Ultimately both disciplines must acknowledge the ultimate mystery of reality. In doing so, they can cooperate in getting ever closer to the limits of understanding.

The object of both science and theology is to get nearer to the absolute

As far as which concept is more functional--timeless universal consciousness or individual emergent consciousness--I  myself think that they are two sides of the same coin. Somewhat like predestination and free will are two sides of the same coin. Useless feuds and wars have been faught over such issues. The importance is that there is consciousness--and that is undisputed by both science and theology--of any stripe. That is the common ground.

In this regard I like to think, metaphorically, of the difference in Spanish between televisión and televisór--or in English between a television broadcast and a television set, or receiver.

As television broadcast, awareness does not depend on the televisór, our brain, our 'awareness set'. It is rather a pattern in universal energy which one can either tune in to with the right equipment, or not.  In order for a human being to be aware of something, we need to filter or format universal awareness through our particular brain, our particular awareness set or televisór. What emerges is human consciousness. But consciousness could also arise through non human structures and processes, for other animals and even plants or other living entities (eventities? eventicles? wavicles? ) have their own kind of consciousness and it is postulated by some that even artificial intelligence may eventually develop some kind of emergent awareness.  Artificial man-made life forms already exist, intelligently designed by Dr. Craig Venter.

Universal consciousness itself is postulated to exist prior to its emergence through specific structures. It can not be defined. We don't know what it is and we can't  know what it is--but it arises in each of us. It certainly arises in  myself. I assume it arises in you and others as well. If it does, you could send me an email. Of course the email I  receive could be sent to me by some malin genie, an evil demon out to deceive me--but for what purpose? Or it could be sent by a playful God out to enjoy himself.  Evil old demons will be ignored. Playful young gods will get due attention. Pour me another drink Ganymede! Oh yeah, I will definitely go with the last ones--they just put me in a better mood.

But remember that when scientists speak about consciousness emerging through neurobiological structures and processes--that's different from saying that it emerges from such structures and processess. That last idea at least also puts me in a better mood. Plus it  seems to me more consonant with the idea that energy is prior to matter.

Note: Something here has a familiar ring--remember the famous quaery whether the Holy Spirit proceeds  from the Father and the Son (filioque) or from the Father through the Son (dia tou huios)? That dispute caused the Great Schism in Christianity. People died for it. In modern terms: does the univeral flow of energy proceed from the Absolute  and  the Manifest or from the Absolute through the Manifest? Substitute for the flow of energy the flow of consciousness and you can see the paralel.  l'Histoire se repete... and the schism has not  been resolved.

To encapsulate the above: the picture of,  let's say, Charlie Rose does not emerge from my TV set, but through it--and my awareness of Charlie Rose does not emerge from my brain but through it. If you don't like Charlie Rose but prefer Jerry Springer, or Oprah--same thing--if that blows your skirt. But it all arises and emerges pretty much from the same source and through similar structures and processes. Religion is more involved with the source while science is more involved with the structures and processes.

Psychology or the study of the soul (or relationship) is of course interested in both. Buddhism is a religion which has taught psychologists a great deal--because its world view is all about relationships as well. Relationship among powers masquerading as or personified as deities and demons.

Cf.: Persona - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Persona literally means "mask "

See also : Buddhism And Psychology and  BUDDHIST PSYCHOLOGY . There is also "Christian psychology" of course but according to The End of "Christian Psychology"  --

The reason for the quotes around "Christian Psychology" is because there is no such thing. "Christian psychology" involves the same confusion of contradictory theories and techniques as secular psychology. Professional psychologists who profess Christianity have simply borrowed the theories and techniques from secular psychology. They practice what they consider a perfect blend of psychology and Christianity. However, they use the same psychology as non-Christian psychologists and psychiatrists. They use theories and techniques contrived by such men as Freud, Jung, Adler, Fromm, Maslow, Rogers, Ellis, Glasser, Harris, Janov, all of whom we critique in this book and none of whom embraced Christianity or developed a psychological system from the Word of God.

The Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) is an organization of psychologists who are professing Christians. The following was admitted at one of their meetings:

We are often asked if we are "Christian psychologists" and find it difficult to answer since we don’t know what the question implies. We are Christians who are psychologists but at the present time there is no acceptable Christian psychology that is markedly different from non-Christian psychology. It is difficult to imply that we function in a manner that is fundamentally distinct from our non-Christian colleagues... as yet there is not an acceptable theory, mode of research or treatment methodology that is distinctly Christian.

That's what Christians  say  themselves--I don't. I think a Christian psychology or study of relationships is entirely possible, but must be based on a far more functional Christian theology than is available today. Christian theologians  should go back to the drawing board and see what they can still salvage from the mess of ancient doctrines left them by the Church fathers and reformers. Nothing less than a complete transformation will do--an honest acceptance that theology is part of an amalgam of science, psychology, literature and drama. Part of a world view which is open to evolution and growth.

Note: If you think I exaggerate, I want you click or google yourself on the words "Christian Psychology" and see what you come up with.

In China and Japan such an honest assesment has led to a harmonious blending of philosophy, religion, dance, martial arts and all the other disciplines of human expression.

The same has been true in the Hindu world view, which is ancient, open, all encompassing , and evolving. For more information cf.:  Mental Health & Hindu Psychology 

The author shows us how to reach mental health by applying the classic techniques of his ancient tradition. The author explains how a stable and healthy mind is the starting point for our spiritual quest. He thus brings together psychology and religion in a most universal manner, showing that personality development and the search for ultimate values are one and the same discipline.

 Or also:  Hindu psychology - Psychology Wiki 

The meaning of life: The debate about the true nature of the world typically boils down to materialism or idealism. Idealism espouses the view that consciousness, which at its root emanates from God, is the essence or meaning of the punity with the infinite love of the God-consciousness.
henomenal
reality. The existence has a purpose that transcends any particular life. The evolving soul, by reincarnating in a life-form appropritate to its stage of development, connects the lifetimes. Even if each expressed living entity holds itself to be unique, it is an expression of an immortal soul on an evolutionary journey towards the God-concisousness. The driving force of evolution is the desire for love. Actually, it is the pain of separation from Gods love, for which all beings long but few have attained, that is the driving force. This longing for love and happiness is initially expressed as mostly attachment to others. Due to inability to restrain human desires, selfish acts cause the severance of bonds of affection or attachment. Such outcomes in the life are explained by the law of Karma whereby bad acts result in pain but altruistic actions lead to happiness. The recurring painful or happy experiences increase the understanding and longing for union with God. The consciousness of human beings, the most evolved form of consciousness on this planet, is a reflection of the God-consciousness. The more developed the soul, the more clearly reflected the consciousness. For this reason, the moral discrimination and wisdom of actions for any person will depend on their spiritual development, or attunement with the divine. Through spiritual practices and righteous conduct, the development of the reflected consciousness is believed to be accelerated towards

Liberation: The essence of Hindu Idealism is captured by such modern spiritual teachers as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Sri Aurobindo and Sri Anandamurti, also known as P.R. Sarkar. Sri Nisargadatta advocated discovery of the real self. By establishing oneself in the earnestness of spiritual pursuits, it is possible to transcend the temporal self, limited by desires, fears, memories and mental constructs, and gain blissful immersion in the pure consciousness of God. Sarkar went further by emphasising that liberation was best achieved through service to self and society.

What about islamic psychology? Here's a view from the above link on Islam and Science:

There has never been a split/ schism in the Islamic tradition, between religion and science as in the West. Indeed Islamic civilisation began to flourish in the 8th century A.D. The Persian and Roman civilisations were in decline and Europe was still in the dark ages. Interestingly it was not until the Renaissance (around the 15th century) that Western scholars had access to the Arabic material, which was then taught at Universities several centuries after the original work had been carried out. Many principles of modern scientific method had already been established by Muslims. For example, the employment of doubt, by Al- Ghazzali, as a prelude to reaching certain knowledge; the founding of the philosophy of history by Ibn Khaldun; medical and surgical advances which formed the basis of medical study in Western institutions for several centuries- contributions of Razi (called Rhazes in the west), Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Abul-Qasim (Abucassis), the mathematical concepts of algebra, zero, ciphenas espoused by the likes of al- Khayyam, and al- Birund. You name it, Muslim scholars made some contribution.

Sufi psychology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are three central concepts in Sufi Psychology, which are the ego, the heart and the soul. The origin and basis of these terms is Quranic and they have been expounded upon by centuries of Sufic commentaries. Nafs is considered to be the lowest principle of man. Higher than the nafs is the Qalb (heart), and the Ruh(spirit). This tripartition forms the foundation of later, more complicated systems; it is found as early as the Koranic commentary by Jafar Sadiq. He holds that the nafs is peculiar to the zalim (tyrant), the qalb to the muqtasid(moderate), and the rūh to the sābiq(preceding one, winner); the zālim loves God for his own sake, the muqtasid loves Him for Himself, and the sābiq annihilates his own will in God's will. Bayezid Bistami, Hakīm at-Tirmidhī, and Junayd have followed this tripartition. Kharrāz, however, inserts between nafs and qalb the element tab', "nature," the natural functions of man

Western science has had relatively little influence from theology since the enlightenment, which liberated both from each other. But since then science has evolved, and theology to great extent has not.  

Clearly, in some branches of science the separation from religion and theology is more difficult to maintain than in other. Psychology competes with theology in that they both deal with disciplines that study the soul--or try to heal the soul, as in psychiatry  (psyche= soul; iatros=healer) Strangely, and perhaps tongue in cheek, this is denied  to be the case in psyche-iatros | moftasa.net - but that assesment was written by a 27 year old physician in Egypt who gave us  this very un-islamic picture of the human form--so how serious can he be?

Parbleu! Is there no Fatwa against this?

O.K., let's enlighten up and fast forward a bit:

As Kant once observed--cf:  Kritik der reinen Vernunft by Immanuel Kant - Project Gutenberg„Gedanken ohne Inhalt sind leer, Anschauungen ohne Begriffe sind blind.“ (B 75). "Thoughts without content are empty, views without concepts are blind".

Televison broadcasts without a receiver appear empty and when you look at a receiver which is turned off or not tuned in, you don't see anything, your view  is blind even though the broadcast is still on the air.

I think that may be the way it is with awareness or consciousness, gewaarzijn of bewustzijn  (I am using these two expressions as essentially equivalent--in both English and Dutch)

Awareness without categories  is universal--therefore empty of concepts. It is like saying that a world without boundaries has no countries-- but that  doesn't mean there is no world--just no divisions.

Similarly, when you see pure light, you don't see separate colors, but that does not mean there is no light.

But enough of this philosophical outburst, genoeg van deze wijsgerige uitbarsting.

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Fooled you--what follows has to do with science more than the economy, but bear with me:

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A simple rule that differentiates, when repeatedly applied, quickly exhibits patterns of great complexity, as examplified in Conway's Game of Life - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia --John Horton Conway (born December 26, 1937, Liverpool, England) is a prolific mathematician active in the theory of finite groups, knot theory, number theory, combinatorial game theory and coding theory. He has also contributed to many branches of recreational mathematics, notably the invention of the Game of Life (the cellular automaton, not the board game).

See also:

Cellular automaton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - In the 1970s a two-state, two-dimensional cellular automaton named Game of Life became very widely known, particularly among the early computing community. Invented by John Conway, and popularized by Martin Gardner in a Scientific American article, its rules are as follows: If a black cell has 2 or 3 black neighbors, it stays black. If a black cell has less than 2 or more than 3 black neighbors it becomes white. If a white cell has 3 black neighbors, it becomes black. Despite its simplicity, the system achieves an impressive diversity of behavior, fluctuating between apparent randomness and order. One of the most apparent features of the Game of Life is the frequent occurrence of gliders, arrangements of cells that essentially move themselves across the grid. It is possible to arrange the automaton so that the gliders interact to perform computations, and after much effort it has been shown that the Game of Life can emulate a universal Turing machine. Possibly because it was viewed as a largely recreational topic, little follow-up work was done outside of investigating the particularities of the Game of Life and a few related rules.

The Emergence of complexity is one of the latest wrinkles in scientific research and discipline:

In philosophy, systems theory and the sciences, emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems.

Within a second after the Big Bang the rules for further evolution had been set and the pattern that emerged was essentially predictable under those rules. The replication of the conditions that prevailed during that first second is in fact what the billion dollar investment in the Large Hadron Collider is all about.

What's a hadron? Tour the particle zoo - Technology & science ...

The Standard Model of particle physics is one of science's most successful theories, enabling the development of devices ranging from light bulbs, to microwave ovens and television, to quantum computing devices.
 
The Standard Model is also one of the oddest theories, because it lays out a dizzying menagerie of hundreds of subatomic particles.

 
At its heart are 16 types of elementary particles:

Image: Elementary particles

The first second after the Big Bang is called the Hadron epoch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and during this epoch, which lasted less than a second after the Big Bang, the socalled Hadron Zoo of some hundred different kinds of subnuclear hadron particles manifested.

CERN - The Large Hadron Collider  is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.

Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.

There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe.

CNN Student News Transcript: September 9, 2008 - CNN.com  [The plan is to] beam particles around 27 kilometers, or 17 miles, of underground track at nearly the speed of light to smash them together and recreate conditions less than a microsecond after the Big Bang. Massive detectors will try and track down subatomic particles released from the collision. The most highly anticipated: the Higgs Boson, also known as "The God particle," theorized, but not yet proven to exist. Scientists believe it gives matter its mass, allowing for the formation of stars, planets and whole galaxies. Researches also hope to find evidence of new particles, new dimensions and possibly the elusive "dark energy" and "dark matter" that scientists believe make up most of the universe.

There are detractors. Go on YouTube and you get this: Some fear the experiment will create a black hole that will swallow the earth. But CERN says this will not happen. Scientists say a microscopic black hole is possible and this is what it might look like. But it would be too small and too unstable, winking out of existence in a matter of seconds. Critics also question what they see as astronomical billions of dollars in cost. But for many physicists, there is no question:

In a recent interview Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia pontificated: I think you are culturally deprived if you can't appreciate the amazing chain of events that led from some mysterious beginning 13 or 14 billion years ago through atoms, stars, galaxies, planets and biospheres.

He's got a point. But then, there are so many distractions in our culture. 

The 10 billion dollar investment in the LHC has been questioned but may bring great benefits to humanity, for a deeper understanding of the laws of nature will be necessary to continue the evolutionary process of scientific knowledge which has so signally improved the condition of the human scpecies over the millenia.

Reality check: without the work done at CERN:

 

there would have been no world wide web:

and no cell phones!

 

Now thank we all our Tim:

Tim Berners-Lee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

PC World - Web Inventor Likes Apple  Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1990 while working at CERN, the European laboratory for Particle Physics. He designed the universal resource locator, or URL, which gives each Web page a unique address, as well as HTML, the basic language that allowed Web pages to be created.

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OK, now let's go back to my main topic:

Ten billion dollars compared to the cost of the war in Iraq or the Wall Street bail out is actually peanuts. Certainly one does not have to be culturally deprived to think that the $3,000,000,000,000 spent on the war in Iraq was a total waste--or that the $700,000,000,000 about to be invested in near worthless mortgage backed securities by the taxpayers just might be a questionable investment.

I assess these three issues as follows:

LHC - unnecessary, but great potential to benefit mankind for a relatively small sum: 10,000,000,000 

Iraq - unecessary and absolutely no net advantage to be gained from the $3,000,000,000,000

Bailout - unavoidable investment of $700,000,000 even though it may not work very well--to do nothing would be worse. It is however a judgment call better left to the most sophisticated experts.

If you count in all the government funds spent on Bear Stearns, Fanny May, Freddy Mac and AIG, WaMu and the Detroit Automakers the total Wall Street bailout will amount to  is $1,000,000,000,000--but much of this money may be recovered if confidence in the markets is restored. In a credit driven society, when people loose faith in the system it is like stopping the flow of society's life blood. The whole world economy could collapse and what aweful spectre might arise from its ruins no one could say. It might make the Great Depression look like merely a bad cold. Or not--but do we want to take those odds to Las Vegas?

So what does this have to do with Wall Street and Main Street?

It has to do with credit and confidence. Do we believe the experts in particle physics when they say that 10 billion dollars for a large hadron collider will be money well spent--and that there will be great dividends down the road for all of humanity?  Apparently society in general had enough faith in science--and scientists were sufficiently confident to invest that sum, for it is generally agreed that we stand to gain a great deal from  acquiring greater understanding in the material nature of our reality. On the other hand, some people would say that it is the nature of our spiritual reality that we should be more concerned about.

Fair enough. But every week sermons are preached from millions of pulpits--and I ask--should we believe the makers of those sermons?

I don't know...

 who she?

And this??? Whoa...scare me!

What have they got to show for their view of reality--material or spiritual? If it had not been for the Enlightenment, Mediaeval Christendom would have made no more progress than Mediaeval Islam, which was far superior at the time in any event. The Enlightenment brought forth the liberation of science and science brough us material well being--unenlightened religion brought us mostly strife and warfare.

It the spirit of enlightenment imbued religion and theology these disciplines could bring us greater spiritual well being just as science has brought us greater material well being.

Martial arts for instance, in honing your fighting skills also can bring about great spiriutual well being--since the skills are based in the flow of energy and show that we are all, always already a part of that flow. When you consciously identify with energy itself you will  always be at peace.

Are science and theology  really so separate that there is no connection at all?

Is the separation of science and religion that absolute? Of course not. That functional separation was important to allow each discipline freedom from interference by its rival discipline. But can we really say that the Absolute does not encompass both the material and the spiritual? Like the separation of powers in a a government, there is an overarching connection. What connects science and theology is that both are human disciplines, expression of the human condition, slowly evolving as humanity itself evolves and ever reaching further to approach the limit of discovery.

The only absolute limit to discovery is the Absolute itself.  

In the Absolute the two are not differentiable. The distinction is artificial and man-made. Einstein showed us that matter and energy are mutually convertible. Matter and energy may appear to us to be entirely different, but that has to do with the relatively low resolution of our pereception.

Spirituality, like materiality, is a flow of energy. High level energy can assume specific forms to minds of higher resolution which lower resolution minds cannot perceive and therefore often dismiss as impossible.

Still, all such mind forms, from highest heavens to lowest hells, from gods and devils to angels and demons--all  are in the end illusions of perception, plays of the imagination: the persona, mask, image, icon, idol and concept making of the  mind--higher, lower or in between--the mind which is restlessly compulsive to connect the dots of tiny flashes emitted by subnuclear particles of light and all the other animalculae in the The Sub-Atomic Zoo.

Our mind is the culprit creator of all we see and believe to be real--but isn't--other than as illusions.

One might say that the square of the speed of light is the factor which differentiates energy from matter.

Since the speed of light is 299,792,458 metres per sec or roughtly 300,000 km per second the square of that speed would be 90,000,o00,000 km per second--90 billion km per second. However, if the speed of light is considered absolute, the idea of the square of an absolute makes absolutely no sense.

Besides, you can't just take a number, because which number you apply (in the equation) depends on what measurements of distance and time you use--90 billion km per second would be (90 x 1,000) billion meters per second--or (90x60) billion km per hour, etc., as you switch your diverse units of distance and time.

And what would be the square of absolute zero--presumably the polar opposite of the square of the speed of light, for at absolute zero molecular motion is minimal. Can you get any colder or slower than that?

Absolute zero - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia By international agreement, absolute zero is defined as precisely 0 K on the Kelvin scale, which is a thermodynamic (absolute) temperature scale, and −273.15° on the Celsius (centigrade)

All of this might seem totally irrelevant--until you see the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb or the pictures of its victims. If there is so much energy in a tiny speck of matter--than how much energy must there be in the  vaccum of space--where energy is not tied up in any matter at all? I knew this guy who used to work at Lawrence Livermore in Berkely doing research on energy available from a vacuum--but he said his papers were snatched by the FBI. Hmmm. Maybe I should be careful--Big Brother is watching.

The Speed of light - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  (expressed as the c in E=Mc2 or in its equivalent: M=E/c2) was believed to be the absolute speed and that nothing could go faster--except that now a pair of German physicists claim 'We have broken speed of light' - Telegraph -

The implications for the distant future may be enormous--for now, I suppose it means very little, except to theoretical physicists and lay people like myself whose imaginations get easily titilated by such stuff.

The idea that the speed of light could be considered an absolute is not univerally accepted anyway--cf:

Can the speed of light be considered an absolute? Text - Physics ...

I think I better leave that topic alone for now--for there are more immediate concerns. The Wall street bail out for instance. Even the two presidential candidates were manifestly uneasy in talking about it. I have to give both of them credit however, for not making more of a political one upmanship out of it than the overwhelmingly negative reactions from the electorate might have tempted them to do. I guess both know that partisanship at such a time of need would be a self defeating strategy in the long term.

Besides, what is a billion here, a trillion there after the experience of the last eight years with Little Boy George in the White House? We should be enured to astronomical amounts preceeded by a dollar sign.

Thus, as  I was walking up and down Polk,
all these astronomical figures spake to me
and they made me quake in my sneakers.
 
After all I am just another guy on main street living uneasily on a monthly check  automatically deposited in my checking account at WaMu, which has just been gobbled up by J.P. Morgan Chase:
 
Washington Mutual, the giant lender that came to symbolize the excesses of the mortgage boom, was seized by federal regulators on Thursday night, in what is by far the largest bank failure in American history.
 
Accordingly I made sure last week--after warning the teller of all the bad news to come--that I took all my money out of that bank except for 22 cents, but I  hope that with the acquisition of its deposits by JP Morgan Chase my next check will be safe. I could not possibly mention the amount of my check without invoking undeserved pity, so I won't. There are billions of people that live on far less. But compare that to the amounts that are being juggled and haggled about these days in the news. Let's review them again:
 

LHC has so far cost an estimated $10 billion to build, while its annual operating cost remains a “secret.” FEWW Moderators believe the philosophy, direction and reasons for creating this white [super] elephant are entirely misplaced.

On a planet whose ability to support life is eroding daily, caused by the human onslaught on her ecosystems, and where the probability of finding any named living individual being still alive in a few years time is truly minuscule, the $10billion could have been better invested to:

  • Conduct research into low-energy technology in air quality improvement, water purification, food production, clean energy, health and hygiene, learning and education, sustainable living … and communication sectors.
  • Create working blueprints for low-energy, low-impact intelligent communities, providing about 1,500,000 people with a realistic chance of crossing the precarious “life bridge” into a possible future.

Studies: Iraq a $12 billion-a-month war - Conflict in Iraq- msnbc.com

Iraq war cost estimates run into the trillions | csmonitor.com

How Big Is One Trillion? (1000000000000) | Economist Blog

That is a million million dollars folks: 1,000,000,000,000--I could live on that for billions of  years.

All of the people in China could live on it for many millions of years. Do the math yourself, for I may have my figures wrong. I have always been bad with cyphering. But surely you get my point.

China's national per capita income reaches $1740(08/18/06)

In astronomical units, an AU being 149,597,870.691 kilometers or approximately the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun, you could throw out a cool 150 billion dollars, or a dollar per kilometer as you travel from the earth to the sun and do the same on the way back (300 billion) and then repeat the trip a dozen times just to make sure all the money Bush wasted in his term in office was properly disposed off.

Or you could just make one trip and throw the whole kit and caboodle into the nuclear furnace of the sun god.

An Astronomical Amount

700,000,000,000,000.22

Those were my 22 cents, left in that bank formerly  known as WaMu, now taken over by FDIC and JPMC.

I just threw that in hoping my puny personal offering to the sun god may  save my assets as well as those of the tycoons and high priests of Wall Street. 

But I am not holding my breath.

Now comes the really bad news: I think it may actually be necessary to do this terrible thing, to bail out Wall Street, because, while wealth only trickles down--if at all--vedy, vedy, vedy slowly--misery on the other hand would crash down on us Main Street and Polk Street folks like an immense tsunami.

I have seen left wingers rail against the plan--and I have heard right wingers  rail against the plan--but without some kind of bailout plan misery will assume tsunami like proportions if my instincts are right. And I have a bad feeling about this situation. A foreboding of no good things to come. 2012 is looming....

I am no expert on anything, least of all economics. But I know a thing or two about Rube Goldberg contraptions. I built a few myself. And the financial instruments that caused the collapse of credit were complicated Rube Goldberg contraptions built out of inferior materials--secured by mortgages that had no financial life in them when they were conceived and were therefor born dead on arrival. The obstetricians still got their fees, of course, the embalmers got their due, the grave diggers got paid, everybody listened to the funeral orations  but after all is said and done the families have to go home to Main Street and Polk Street and deal with their grief themselves--and adjust to the fact that they just lost their life time savings. I know first hand how that feels. I've been there myself--and I don't wish it on anyone else.

Much worse things can happen if nothing is done and the market is allowed to sort things out. Yeah. Like why worry? Nature too will always sort itself out. You may lose much of Louisiana and half of Florida when the tsunamis come, but that's alright, nature will sort itself out. Why worry. That's what they say in the houses built on sturdy stelts, or safely on a hilltop, with security walls around them, and with yachts that can take their owners to safety.

But the people on Main Street and Polk Street--when the tsunami comes--should we just shrug our shoulders and say:  it was the fault of those crooks on Wall Street--they had it coming. I don't think so, for it would be coming to everyone, and more to the little guys then to the guys who already made enormous fortunes.

It was reported that in an email many months ago one tycoon wrote to another:

Let's hope we will both be wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards comes tumbling down.

Them's fighting words, enough to bring back ye old guillotine.

oh no!

I don't know if this is at all relevant but the original wall on Wall Street was erected to keep the pigs out of town. I guess it didn't work too well.

oink!

The way I see it is like this: imagine you live in the basement of a mansion greatly envying the rich folks who live in the lap of luxury upstairs. You could not care less about them. You know they deserve the worst.

A fire breaks out due to their negligence, first it starts in the basement kitchen due to serious fire code violations, but it only affects a few people, then it spreads to the upstairs area, and soon the upper floors are up in flames. They call you: Hey you guys downstairs, help us put out the fires up here. You wanna say, Die you dogs, you idiots deserved all the misery you will get--you are responsible for these damn kitchens! The upper structure burns down, the basement is left in ruins without a roof, the building is declared unlivable and everyone ends up on the street--except the folks upstairs, who move into the Waldorf, to the Hamptons  or to their comfy cottages in New Port Beach.

Should we not help put out the fires upstairs on Wall Street just because we have no sympathy for these bastards for what they did to the folks downstairs on Main Street and Polk Street?

I say--lets face the fire upstairs, put it out, save the house and then change the rules. Punish the bastards and change the rules. Regulate the unregulated and dereaganize the reaganizers. Do to them--who so richly deserve it--what the Reverend Jackson wanted to do to Barack Obama, who did not deserve it:

YouTube - Jesse Jackson on Barack Obama * I wanna cut his nuts off!

next!

Or at least vote them out of office and save them from their own stupidity. Re-educate them in what is good for them and for the rest of us. Save them from that guillotine that is being erected in some people's minds.  

But first we must put out the fire--whatever it may cost. Too much is at stake.

Credit means faith, It comes from the verb credere--to believe, to have faith in.

Bush lost the faith of the American electorate because of his compulsive lying.

Wall Street also lost credit with those who trusted their money to its manipulations.

Scientists still have some credit left with those who put our faith in the great mystery.

If we act out of sheer despair and are unable to give any faith or credit to anyone in Washington, that would be quite understandable--and the vast majority of our countrymen on Main Street and Polk Street are ready to storm the Bastille like the French did back in 1789--and what followed was a bloody revolution that in the end was counterproductive. With the collapse of the communist party the last vestige of that violent epoch seemed to have died.

Are we now to revive it because of the greedy arrogance of a few Wall Street folks and some undereducated nouveau riche types who refused to learn from history and thought they could outlive the next deluge? 

I refuse to be that cynical and that negative. I think there are intelligent well educated people in Washington we can still trust. For instance, Bernanke is particularly interested in the economic and political causes of the Great Depression, on which he has written extensively: 3 Academic and government career 

 We really have little choice but to trust the experts, for we have very little time to fix the problem. Time is of the essence.

I think that there is a real science of political economy that still has some students and practitioners of integrity and  among those there seems to be a concensus that we are in terrible straights and that the house of cards Wall Street built is about to collapse if we don't do something about it. There is no concesnsus as to what the best strategy is to deal with it--but to not do anything and just let the market deal with it at this stage is not a good option.

While we can do little to prevent socalled acts of God we can try to protect ourselves from its dire consequences. When it comes to this economic crisis, not an act of God but an act of man--it was entirely  preventable--but now that it did take us by surprise, we simply must  try to protect ourselves from its worst consequences--and not sit idly by to let the market god do its will.

Too many people will get hurt all over the world. Maybe my faith in  the experts is misplaced. But I don't know who or what else to put my faith in--certainly not in that market god! Let's hope humanity will prevail for a little while longer.

There are no guarantees it will work. But if we don't even try, we know the consequences will be terrible.  Let's lookj beyond the picket fences of our own back yard: millions of lives are at stake around the world if a global crisis is allowed to runb its course unimpeded. People already living on the fringe will fall ver the edge.

Our society is too complex to let it collapse--to rebuilt it would take forever--and due to climate warming, overpopulation and shortages of water, food and energy we don't have forever. Our time is limited--hence  it is of the essence. 

So I say, put out the fire upstairs, bail the bastards out and thrown them in jail afterwards if possible.

But Disraeli once said:

Life is too short to be small

We can't be small at this time--especially not at this time--we are all in the same boat now.

 

 and there's a whole biosphere to save

so get that pesky pecker outa there