PUBG

Player Unknown, Battle Ground.

Why am I, a Pacifist, playing on line battle Royale war games? Because I can’t find a good Dungeons and Dragons game. I miss the social interaction. In PUBG, twenty five teams of four fly into a battle zone, and must find resources, defend themselves and defeat the other teams. Last team (or person) standing wins. Unless you set up a team, the game chooses three random team mates for you. You may get kids who haven’t a clue and drop you in the shyte straight away, or good players who have skills. I’m still learning.

The game algorithm has already labelled me a pacifist, because I have a low kill rate. I try to avoid combat and kill only when the alternative is to be killed. The time I’m not hiding or fighting I spend gathering medi packs, etc, and trying to revive injured team mates. Much as I did as a healer in D&D.

Despite my low kill rate, in over a hundred games already I have achieved an excellent survival rate of 72%. I’ve made it into the last five several times, and collected three chicken dinners. That’s three wins. I’ve been playing only eight days. It’s not an easy game.

In that eight days I’ve made friends with an Inuit in the far north of Canada, a man almost my own age in Ohio, a young woman in Hawaii, another in Cambodia, and a young man from Vava’u, Tonga, who is currently in Nelson, New Zealand. Those are the ones who speak English. I’ve also had invitations to rejoin others with whom I have no language in common.

We aren’t always all on line together, but there are two players I have been meeting regularly, to team up with. The young woman is reserved, not chatty, but an excellent player. I don’t blame her for being circumspect with an older male on line. My friend in Ohio is just a little younger than me and we have already exchanged email addresses and phone numbers. We talk as we play. He’s in it for fun, and is always cheerful win or lose. I enjoy his company.

I’m not going to write a full critical review of the game. I don’t know enough to to critique it. I will only say that the action and movements, are amazingly good, the scenery details and avatars are photo realistic. Mastering the movements on an iPad is not impossible, as the screen can be customised to suit. I suspect it may be easier than using a mouse or joystick and keyboard.

In any case, it is a fun way to spend a few hours, and it is socially distant interaction at its best. Except for the killing part.

That’s kinda fun too. Because it’s all pretend.

l

Book Preview

Skeptic magazine recommends reading this book.

Author Judith Finlayson writes about her research in a new book that takes conventional wisdom about the origins of chronic disease and turns it upside down. Rooted in the work of the late epidemiologist Dr. David Barker, it highlights the research showing that heredity involves much more than the genes your parents passed on to you. Thanks to the relatively new science of epigenetics, we now know that the experiences of previous generations may show up in your health and well-being. 

I probably won’t read it, but it does seem to suggest that World War One could very well account for my current condition.

Thesis Proposal

They are strange creatures. I have studied them for some time, and still find their behaviour inexplicable. Despite almost constantly killing each other in various Skirmishes, battles and wars, anywhere, and at any time, around their planet, they rarely eat each other, even after mating. They don’t even eat their own young, although they can catch them easily.

Their genetic code differs greatly from ours. I have been unable to learn anything from those I have eaten. Thus I must learn from studying their behaviour, a task that seems dauntingly difficult.

They have no claws or ovipositors, but have developed an astonishing array of synthetic weapons with which to attack each other.   So far I have not determined the criteria on which they base their decision to attack, nor on their choice of weapon, which ranges from sharpened objects of various types and hand held projectile throwers, to extremely large mobile devices, having cooperative crews of many individuals and capable of throwing  projectiles and explosive devices over a great distance.

This interesting social construct of cooperative communities is a most alien concept, difficult to grasp. It consists of numbers of individuals, from small groups to large area-wide populations, and of any gender working together to construct habitats and also to craft these various devices with which to attack each other. In some areas, these attacks are ritual in nature, and death rarely results. In other areas whole communities attack and slaughter other communities, with devices designed to make holes in vital organs, or to disintegrate them entirely.

How they learn the skills required without eating each other I have yet to discover.

How individuals decide to cooperate with some, yet attack and destroy other groups, I have been unable to determine. It may involve territoriality. There appears to be some form of genetically coded ritual involved. They may not be able to consciously choose, despite the appearance of rational behaviour on occasion.

A difficult ritual to understand, from my perspective, takes place on designated pathways where individuals or small cooperative groups enter various forms of mobile device and ritually pass each other at high speed, apparently seeking suitable prey. These pathways cover most of the land mass where terrain permits and cross territorial boundaries.

At seemingly random intervals, somewhere along these paths one device will crash into another, or into some feature of the environment. This may result in injury or death of some or all participants. For some reason, survivors rarely attempt to finish off and eat any others still alive. In fact they cooperate to ensure any injured or damaged individuals are taken away to places where they can be repaired.

It is this custom of repairing themselves that I find the most inexplicable of all. After doing their best to kill and maim each other, they then go to great lengths to to repair damaged individual survivors, rather than eat them. Without that, how do they learn from each other?

How the individuals who carry out the repairs are able to restrain themselves from eating those damaged ones needs to be studied further. Perhaps they use some form of inhibitor to suppress the natural cannibal instinct. They may be a separate sub-species genetically primed to repair rather than attack. If their genes have somehow combined with those of the general population, it may explain the strange dichotomy of behaviour planetwide. How it helps with the continuation of the species will take considerable further study. I may be witnessing some new evolution of the Survival Directive.

I shall not return to mate and be eaten until I have incorporated a satisfactory explanation of the above phenomena into my matrix.

Protest

Yglesias writes: “The mechanisms through which protest works seem multifaceted, with some of the impact driven by direct personal participation, some driven by witnessing the protest themselves, and some driven by media coverage which serves to rebroadcast key elements of the protest message. The key to it all, however, is that bothering to show up to a march is a moderately costly investment of time and energy. When a bunch of people do that, it serves as a powerful signal to the rest of society that something extraordinary is happening.”

And it seems to piss off a lot of people.

Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns

Land and water resources around the globe are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, threatening the ability of humanity to feed itself.

The report warns that climate change will exacerbate the dangers, as extreme weather threatens to disrupt and shrink the global food supply.

Food shortages could also increase a flow of immigration that is already redefining politics in North America, Europe and other regions. From 2010 to 2015, the number of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who traveled to the U.S. increased fivefold, coinciding with an unusually dry period that left many without enough food.

The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.

The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.

Greenland’s ice wasn’t supposed to melt like last week until 2070

Article Source Here

During the past week, temperatures at the highest reaches of the Greenland ice sheet rose above freezing, melting snow at the Summit Station (10,550 feet above sea level) for the first time since July 2012 and perhaps only the third time in the last seven centuries

Across lower elevations around the margins of the ice sheet, bare glacial ice melted at an unprecedented rate, losing 12.5 billion tons of water on Thursday alone, with daily losses likely exceeding any point in at least the past 70 years. 

The Greenland ice sheet covers an area the size of Alaska with enough ice to raise global sea level by more than 20 feet. Greenland gains ice each winter from compacting snow accumulation and loses ice from melt water and icebergs discharged to the ocean. A dry, warm spring this year left a thin snow cover over bare glacial ice. Spring warming followed by a large melt event in June led scientist Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Greenland to predict record ice losses this year. The peak of the melt season passed in mid-July with more typical summer conditions, but the past week again saw a large increase in the area and intensity of melt across the Northern Hemisphere’s remaining ice sheet.

This latest heat wave was particularly unusual as a dome of warm air arrived from the east, associated with the remnants of the record-setting European heat wave last month. Most large melt events on Greenland involve warm, humid air masses arriving from North America and the western Atlantic Ocean. This surge of warm air started in North Africa, traveled north across Europe and then westward across the North Atlantic Ocean toward and across Greenland. Air masses originating over North Africa are known to reach Greenland — Saharan dust has been traced to the ice sheet— but this recent air mass was exceptionally warm. By following the path of the heat wave, scientists predicted the extensive melt several days in advance. Air temperatures at Summit hovered near or above freezing for more than 11 hours on Wednesday, which is nearly twice as long as the last melt event there in 2012.

Satellite data that I process for the National Snow and Ice Data Center showed more than 60 percent of the surface area of the ice sheet melting last Wednesday. While this is a smaller melt area than in mid-July 2012, the melt extent was second only to 2012 for late July. More detailed satellite images show that snow has melted from a large area along the western edge of the ice sheet, leaving more exposed ice than in 2012 in several areas. Numerous meltwater rivers and lakes, and dark, dust-encrusted ice reached areas higher on the ice sheet. Images comparing summer 2018 and summer 2019 show a larger area of bare ice and meltwater lakes this summer. Several of the Danish Meteorological Institute weather stations on the ice sheet have recorded greater melt rates in 2019 than in 2012.

In July 2012, the public watched video of melt water runoff raging down the Watson River, near Greenland’s main international airport at Kangerlussuaq. The flood waters destroyed the bridge’s approaches and prevented travel across the river, which have since been rebuilt. This past week, journalist Laurie Garrett recorded similar images of Watson River flooding. Meanwhile, further north near the U.S. Thule Air Force Base, less than 1,000 miles from the North Pole, scientist Pete Akers at the Institute of Geosciences and Environment in Grenoble reported temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, ice margin collapse, meltwater pouring into new channels and into the ocean.

While the ice losses on any individual day make only modest contributions to global sea level, the increasing frequency of heat waves and large melt events across Greenland during the past two decades contribute significantly to sea level rise. When the entire surface of the ice sheet melted in July 2012, climatologists and glaciologists told the public that these melt events will become more common in the future. While some recent years, such as 2017, have seen more modest melt seasons, we again witnessed record-setting losses from the ice sheet this summer. 

Mass losses from Greenland this past week were already approaching levels not expected until 2070 based on the best available models. It is still too early to tell if the ice losses for the summer will exceed the losses in 2012, but it is clear that the Greenland ice sheet is rapidly responding to climate change, even faster than many scientists expected. These rapid changes point to the necessity for action on climate change and for improved observing systems to monitor the ice sheet.

Thomas Mote is a distinguished research professor of Geography and Atmospheric Science at the University of Georgia. He has published research for the past 25 years on Arctic climate change and the use of regional climate models and remote sensing to monitor the Greenland ice sheet. He provides the processed satellite data for the Greenland Today website at the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Changes.

At the end of the 1960s, and the mystical hippie dawning of the Aquarius age, we were all still searching for meaning.

The big four philosophers when I was 18 were Hesse, Vonnegut, Brautigan and Tolkien.

Of course I read other influential writers, but at the time I really believed everything I needed to know about being a decent human being was in the works of those four, though it took me another 50 years to really begin to understand why.

There was another influential book I encountered.

In the course of exploring the world I came upon the I Ching. inevitably. It had a great deal of credibility amongst the hippies of my generation. Of course I looked into it. I still have, in my lock-up in New Zealand, a beautiful translation from Chinese through German to English, of the I Ching by Richard Wilhelm.

Yarrow sticks were hard to come by where I grew up, but I was a numismatist, and had in my collection several of those fascinating old Chinese coins with square holes. It seemed appropriate to use them. Having designated which side was heads and which was tails, I had a culturally acceptable method of obtaining a randomly generated hexagram, in accordance with the instructions accompanying the book.

My youthful, hopeful self was quite surprised to find how seemingly accurate and appropriate was the advice I gleaned from the wise words of the Tao. The last remnants of my Roman Catholic superstition we’re slowly fading at the time (now only the guilt remains) and I could possibly have easily fallen into the woo mentality of believing some spiritual power, something beyond myself, was guiding me, through the words of the book.

But I read something – I don’t recall exactly where – some scientific article, perhaps, that said our brains were hard-wired to look for patterns. We look for visual patterns, such as potentially threatening animal or human shapes hiding in the trees, and we look for patterns of events and try to make some sense, often wrong, of the coincidences and causality.

The evolutionary advantage of this pattern recognition behaviour is in the significance of the value of the false positive over the false negative.

If I see what looks like a lion lurking in the bushes, and run, the likelihood of staying alive is increased, whether it is a real or imagined lion. If I decide it’s a trick of the light, and ignore it, my chances of survival are decreased if I am wrong.

The same principle applies if we recognise a pattern of events that seem to coincide. Should it rain enough times after we ask nature politely for a shower to water the crop, we may come to believe that asking causes rain.

The downside of this, is that as there is, or was, an evolutionary advantage to being superstitious. We suffered from pareidolia. It became an affliction. We came to see those shapes and faces in the bark of trees, as beings, and ascribed to them powers and motives. We recognised patterns of events, some like the celestial movements, or the seasons, quite real. Then some smart arse recognised the patterns of our own behaviour, saw an opportunity for power and put himself forward as an intermediary between the common people and the spiritual world. And we got religion.

But I digress. I was speaking of the I Ching. I recognised that my brain was looking for patterns in the events of my own life. I was taking the words from an ancient book written in Chinese, translate first to German then to English, and gleaning valuable meaning from them. But this was not superstition. The advice the book was giving me was good. Why? Because it was written in such a way that it was inevitable that the reader would apply the general advice in such a way that it would most benefit him. Because the Tau was the way of the upright, it had to be good advice. For a few formative years the I Ching helped me make decisions that brought me to where I am now. I have few regrets.

These musings were inspired by coming upon this following little piece in one of the philosophical emails that turn up in my in-box from time to time.

After a few more hours swimming up and down the Bribie Island pool, I may have more to write on the subject.

The following is borrowed from Psychology Today.

Impact of the I Ching on Carl G. Jung & its implications

Jung, Taoist psychology, and cross-cultural communications

Posted Mar 01, 2017 

Although research has examined how world cultures (e.g., independent vs. interdependent ones) each uniquely shaped psychological experiences, few investigations focus on how cultures influence one another in the psychological domains. This issue is important, because cross-cultural information and knowledge exchange, contacts, and influences, though moderate in the past, have transformed all cultures, including the field of psychology. For example, Taoist psychology is one of the main cultural inspirations for Jungian psychology.

In May 1930, Jung gave the Eulogy at a memorial service in Munich for Richard Wilhelm. Jung integrated the Eastern philosophy into his principles of psychotherapy and human psyche through his study of Richard Wilhelm’s translations of I Ching (The Book of Changes), The Secret of the Golden Flower, and their frequent interactions that lasted from the early 1920’s until Wilhelm’s death in 1930 (Goulding, 2015; Karcher, 1999; Stein, 2005).

Jung said that Wilhelm “inoculated us with the living germ of the Chinese spirit and we found ourselves partaking of the spirit of the East as we experience the living power of the I Ching. It is capable of working a profound transformation of our thought.” Jung said that Wilhelm’s work was of such immense importance to him because it confirmed what he had been seeking in his efforts to alleviate the psychic suffering of Europeans. The book was both a carrier of human experience and a door to the energy of the archetypes. “I heard from him in clear language the things I had dimly divined in the confusion of the European subconscious. I received more from him than from any other man” (cited in Karcher, 1999; also see Goulding, 2015; Stein, 2005).

Jung expressed his deep gratitude for what he received from Wilhelm, because through his translations and teaching, Taoist psychology influenced Jung’s theoretical frameworks by facilitating the formation of his chief conceptions: synchronicity and individuation, in addition to confirming his views about the unconscious and nonlinear or circular psychological development for adult (Goulding, 2015; Karcher, 1999; Stein, 2005).

Jung’s comprehension of Tao is much deeper than the conventional translation “the way.” As he commented, Tao is the interaction between the mind and reality. The essential Taoist idea in I Ching suggests that all of the ingredients make up the observed moment. Understanding human experiences involves recognizing a special interdependence of objective events among themselves, as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers (Jung, 1967). In other words, according to I Ching, psychological experiences are determined by the interaction of the mind, time, space, situations, and action or non-action. The mind and reality interaction, rather than being an isolated or independent event, symbolically represents the person’s dialogue with a broad reality transcending a specific moment and space. It is the interactions that serve as the parameter for deciphering psychological experiences.

In short, Jung’s achievements in integrating the East and West demonstrate that psychological phenomena and principles are both cultural and universal.

References:

Goulding, J. (2015). The forgotten Frankfurt school: Richard Wilhelm’s China Institute. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 41:1-2 (March–June 2014) 170–186

Jung, C. G. (1967). Foreword. In The I Ching or Book of changes (C. F. Baynes, Trans.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Karcher, S. (1999). Jung, the Tao and the Classic of Change. Journal of Religion and Health, 38, 287-304.

Stein, M. (2005). Some reflections on the influence of Chinese thought on Jung and his  psychological theory. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 50(2), 209-222. doi:10.1111/j.0021-8774.2005.00524

Jungle Urban Legend

I came upon a short article about the “urban myth” of the lost, or relic, Japanese soldier who fought on alone long after the end of WWI.

It seems the story’s spread was due more to an episode of Gilligan’s Island than to the facts about Lt Onoda, who was finally found and repatriated from the Philippines in 1974.

In 1984 I was building small village water supplies in Western Province of Solomon Islands. In the jungle on the island of Vella Lavella I found plasticised paper notes in Japanese.

Come Home. The War is Over.

These had been dropped a few years before to convince one such soldier, believed at the time to be on Vella Lavella, to surrender himself.    
It turned out there had been a local legend of a lost soldier on the island, but I could not establish for certain how long the story had existed 
My enquiries and conversations with local people and expats who had lived there for a long time finally led me to believe that the claims of his existence may have been made up, probably after the news of Lt Onoda being found in the Philippines.  Someone saw the business opportunity, perhaps.
What is certainly true is that quite a lot of money was spent locally hiring guides for, and accommodating  search parties to look for the lost soldier and for the airdrops of leaflets that were made.
No one was ever found.  Nor, as far as I am aware was any evidence of his existence.

Fuck

This graphic tells it all. look at Antarctica.  (seriously, follow this link)

Had I known how fast climate change was going to come about, I would never have had children. I do not regret having them – how could I? I love them dearly. But I regret that the world they are growing into is going to be apocalyptic in a way only science fiction writers envisioned when I was young. I will be dead before it happens. I will not see the horrors I am imaging will come about. They will. That frightens and depresses me.

At the moment the Arctic and Antarctic are acting as heat sinks, absorbing a great deal of the energy. When the ice is diminished the temperatures will rise faster. We are entering the “Fuck” phase in the timeline below.

Laugh all you like. I’ll back the highly qualified scientists over the mindless deniers and corporate shills. The evidence is incontrovertible and the data do not require your belief to be true.

 

(Diagram – Stolen from the internet without permission)