Tradesmen must not (top photo)

Let me begin by saying the sort of discrimination and mentality indicated by the sign above is not my idea of excellent at all – except – by the time I grew familiar with this sign – because it was on the front of one of many buildings I lived in, as a kid – the rules it laid out were long since obsolete.

It wasn’t there as a warning, but as a combination of historical oddity and ironic joke. But my young mind didn’t care about that – I was bothered by that sign every day, and what it said about the way humans so often organize, to do each other down. Some of my earliest political wondering began in that unquiet meditation-beat in every day – so for my growth and empathy, this was an outright helpful discriminating ghost.

Things are so frustrating and chaotic nowadays, that it’s easier than ever to fall prey to the cynical message of those who insist – this is just how humans beings are – competitive to the death in all things and all ages – don’t be a sap, just adjust to it – get your kills in, too.

But not only is our present situation anything but inevitable, it is also in every possible way unnatural – we don’t even abide by our favourite justifying theories. Which means adjusting to something honest, which we could all have a chance of surviving, isn’t a deluded fantasy, it’s a long overdue line of rational planning.

Fortunately, despite all the noise obscuring the signals, a whole lot of excellent work has already been done on how we can do better as a species – what we really need at this point, is a way for everyone to meet at one basic reality.

Not agree – this important – there will always be disagreements about interpretation and priority – but if we can at least agree about physical reality, we can address that in a physically rational way, and hope that such eminently practical arrangements spread more widely, sharpish!

Buckminster Fuller is one of my greatest personal heroes because he never stopped trying to improve the survival odds of humanity – even when humanity seemed gleefully determined to harm itself.

He also refused to resort to fuzzy or emotionalist thinking, but went for science and design, every time – seeking to make things so superior to old wasteful approaches that they’d be adopted spontaneously – in consumerist terms, sell themselves.

As brilliant as many of them are, he’s still far better judged on that and his many other ideas about the world, than the strength of any one of his designs.

Hard-headed optimist! Relentlessly peaceful and world-embracing! Rigorous, unstoppable and notoriously sweet. He also said the single best thing I’ve ever heard about the aspiration of everyone who really loves conversation. (I must paraphrase).

“Ideally, as we converse, each of us comes to new ideas which would not have been possible for us, without the interchange with the others present!”

Uplift from the downdraft – scaling the behemoth with leverage, too.
Check this one out. Best show yet, no kidding.


  1. Some thoughts on another excellent cast.

    The system constructs the ideal conditions for self-delusion. They call it “freedom” – but it’s freedom without responsibility. Or rather, someone else takes responsibility for you. Landlord, boss, etc. And as a solitary individual, a unit of consumption, you feel terrified of them, and don’t question those obligations. Those forces have real power, real authority. It’s structural. Anger may be quite justified, and healthy. It goes without saying – or should – that it can also be self-destructive (i.e. contrary to your best interests).

    Prod the animal long enough, and it will react explosively. But we can also look within, and see that much of our anger is shared and can become a basis for unity in a struggle for real justice. That’s the “big picture” narrative. Perhaps that’s “anger” in a different sense – indignation, rather than rage. (I’m not up on the psychology of hate, but I’d be interested to know where hate fits in there.) True, we also have self-centered narratives that are full of confirmation bias. These are on full display with the more opportunistic types, and many aren’t receptive to any criticism that would call their sense of entitlement into question. Why would they?

    Certainly, anger is a liability when it makes people susceptible to fantasies of consolation. For example, something I appreciate about Americans is their tradition of disobedience to authority. However, when an unprecedented crisis – the pandemic – is upon them, they lack the collective will to have an organized – and effective – response to it. Much doubt has been sown, about science, government mask mandates, and closure of businesses, creating an apocalyptic individualism. Challenges of that scale seem to require collective sacrifice to surmount. Ironically, in many cases these sacrifices probably wouldn’t be very onerous. In fact they would pay dividends sooner than submitting to chaos and stoically going your own way. Leadership means articulating the best course to make people recognize the positive outcomes of their sacrifice – their other-centered work – and the futility of fear.

    A question I’ve been wrestling with for some time is, where does the individual’s self-centered narrative link with the big picture narrative? Maybe if we could locate their points of overlap, we could discover how to reason effectively with people who are habitually deluded. (Or let us say, neurotically repeating the same ineffectual habits and self-fulfilling prophecies.) In some contexts, those beliefs can be very gratifying – particularly when it’s everyone-for-themselves.

    Colonialism is part of this kind of arbitrary power – entitlement, subjugation, and enslavement. It requires “othering” – perhaps by way of hate, or some way of channeling the anger of the colonizing people (often carried out, of course, by mobilizing the oppressed class of the colonizing country militarily). So there is the fundamental division of self / community, and the secondary division of us / them. How do we foster dignity in individuals, and non-toxic forms of attachment? How do we do that without seeming to threaten or attack them? And who the hell are “we” anyway?

    Your content is some of the best I’ve seen online. You tackle the issues with a combination of intensity and good humor that is rather rare and certainly welcome.

    Best of health to you and yours!

    • Thank you so much for that reaction feedback and encouragement – it is really great (and downright motivating) to be so thoughtfully listened to!
      Agree with you completely about the devil’s bargain we’ve constructed around consumerism as a cosmology – the delegation of responsibility we pay almost as an entry fee, is way too steep (and sadly a part of why so many feel helpless, because they’ve never even tried to think of themselves as citizens with duty, rather than consumers with privilidge).
      The point about qualities which are admirable in some situations and ruinous in others is a really crucial one – this is the exact place where I had to leave all narrow dogmas behind, because they insist on lying their way past it. A couple of examples of American intransigence helping Canada include American farmers who moved here for better (cheap) land, and helped fuel both the Upper Canada Rebellion (which we all won, by losing) and also Medicare (begun in the prarie provinces, full of resoundingly practical rebels, domestic and imported both). Another example – French students always look overdramatic when they burn cars in the streets – but no one in government there would think of raising tuition without consultation and many concessions. Our students are by comparison meek and mild as can be – and entirely and in every way screwed, in part as a result of compliance.
      Your best points of all are your concluding questions – especially about belief systems, barriers between ego and society (personal and shared narrative) and best of all – what can we do to advance the result we desire!
      Tilting at all – strongly reccomend “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” one of the most creatively packed and inspiring books of all time. Describes ways of thinking before our modern alienation in ways so memorable that we begin to see a continuum around us, and understand awareness itself, differently.
      (If this stupid virus ever lets up, I’ll lend you a copy – you won’t forget it)
      Cheers most of all for the encouragement. I’m always so pleased when I can impress family (I know for sure you’ve heard the themes before, so I must have put a decent shape and arc on the whole, to keep you awake through the whole thing!)
      Love and hugs, man! ;o)

      • Paul

I am always curious about what you are thinking

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