Friday, 26 October 2012

Natural Navigation

A perfect example of natural navigation from the Vikings!

If you are interested in how to get about without satnavel-gazing or compass, then look to Tristan Gooley who runs courses and has a great website of resources

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Rising Rumour : Overpopulation

The purpose of this piece is to encourage thoughtfulness with regard to an issue the chattering classes are gaining interest in. 
Especially on facebook now too. 
Some people are wishing we were all dead or didnt exist - or lots of us - but not themselves I don't think.
They want to save the planet for the future generations and animals - as long as they can say how many of us there will be in the future : Less, or certainly not more.

Are they thinking about numbers  ? - which can be useful to get the measure of things, but sometimes a blunt instrument for basing conclusions on alone. 

This article is not about Yellowhammer's view although obviously it's hard to resist adding it in.  I traditionally have steered clear of group issues too, but think it worth getting involved.
However, it is for the most part unsubstantiated as I am not a professional author writing an advisory policy document, or selling this to newspapers with a view to shaping opinion.
There are more questions than answers here.

I am human and Im glad to be part of life on earth. And it follows I have a duty to think about issues raised that concern us.  So do you. I did a little research to get the brain juices flowing where  'overpopulation' is concerned.

SO, disclaimer over, let's have some food for thought. 

Defining Overpopulation :
Excessive population of an area to the point of overcrowding, depletion of natural resources, or environmental deterioration. In this case the area is defined as the planet Earth. 

Setting the table: In the eighties I remember my English teacher Mrs Gaye [she wasnt] drawing our attention to the sudden introduction of the word 'Consumer',  as a label that crossed from the corporate world to general parlance, and is now used freely to describe us all in many situations.
Alongside this, there came the work place switch from the 'Personnel Department' to the 'Human Resources' department.
This use of language has always upset me slightly when I have time to think - as somewhere inside I feel slightly reduced and objectified, but also degraded, and frankly insulted....yes I do consume things like food, and I am in some ways a resource, but not in the same way as an inaminate widget as the phrase implies...and thats just part of me - not the whole, and hopefully not the even defining features.  
Yet this language has an impact on the psyche and self respect.  Words have power.

I much prefer the use of language from a few centuries ago:

What a piece of work is a man, How noble in
Reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving

how express and admirable, In action how like an Angel!

in apprehension how like a god, the beauty of the

world, the paragon of animals.
' seems to inspire pride, confidence and hope.

But in the c21, the popular thought process, here at least, in the press, and in the dark suspicions of our hearts is one of GUILT and FEAR.  
These often underlay the thoughts on overpopulation.
Guilt that we are 'consuming' everything, and Fear we will consume it up and implode ourselves and everything we love. 
And as we know from Yoda (who better to quote than a fictional laser wielding buddhist) :
Fear (and Guilt) leads to Anger, 
which leads to hate (and self loathing), 
which leads to rash decision making at the very least, or the Dark Side if you're feeling more dramatic.

Starter: This is being fed constantly now - the fight for resources by resources is continually highlighted, the consumption at all cost, or low cost for short term gain is a hot topic. 
Combined with the inability of people to have time to think logically and critically, or just for themselves - we are heading for a mighty showdown with our own being.
We think we are all in it together , we are should take the blame - we should in fact just suicide ourselves and stop being so horrible perhaps...we are giving up on ourselves.

But I would argue we are good people led astray. Are your friends not nice kind people?
Maybe you just dislike the masses whilst forgetting they are someone else's nice kind friend?

We may just have been led astray by the system we inhabit, which is in turn supposed to be led by honest people whilst we are busy trying to pay the mortgage, but is, it would seem being led by dishonest greedy people who have led us astray and dont seem to have our collective interests at heart. This is not to shirk personal responsibilty, just give us the space to stop thinking through guilt.  Im sure most people in the middle management sphere do some good and some bad.  But leadership and example must come from the top in a hierarchical system.
...I mean - what does it say if the EU and Obama win the nobel piece prize.? Well quite a lot about politics for a start, but also how we will swallow just about anything these days without defending our honour. The type of people deciding this, are also the type of people ruling generally -  A quiet moan from the sidelines is supressed as being over serious.
Afterall, nothing really matters right ? Except it does, which is why many face inner turmoil over this issue. 

Lovely David Attenborough, the polar bear hugger, has joined forces with the powers that be to state that we are overpopulated, and soon to be unmanageable. Surely if he says so, it must be true - right ?

Here is his speech chaired by none other than eugenics lover Prince Philip:

In it we see some saddening truths about the way we currently are.

But has Prince Phillip encouraged Wills and Kate to desist from bearing consumer children I wonder? Which peoples are we hoping to have less of - or is it equal opportunities non existence ?  Here we start to get some inkling as to the difficulties presented from the conclusion drawn.

Amuse bouche: BUT dear reader, do not despair, because he makes some quite silly assumptions, although one can't deny some of the problems faced:

One is that there is not enough food or land to go around.
Two is that the monetary and markets system must stay as it is and we can't think outside the box.
Three is that nothing but our own actions will stop us from swallowing ourselves.

Let's take dish number one. 
Remember EU Mountains of food, and the stats on waste food we throw out of fridges? 

Isnt that a monetary issue - we don't share or use what we overproduce because of markets and money ? The way we farm and what we produce is at the mercy of policy. Maybe the conclusion could be that there is enough food to go around, but the systems we deploy just dont let it go around ?
May be we could eat other types of food that dont use up traditional animal habitats?
What about frying up some of the millions of ants with some sugar and making something like ricicles ???  Easier to farm than metameat.?

Are you seriously telling me, we dont have the stomach for it if it means we may all ruin everything we care about - or are people's rights and preferences to eat meat so important. I hate the idea of meta-meat but you've got to hand it to science for at least coming up with something, however dystopian.  Surely however we should be encouraged moreso to live lightly if anything - for one it feels better.  This is happening a little, but not making the impact required.  A combined approach and investment is missing.
May be we don't want to prevent the developing nations from living like us if that's what they want...

There are plenty of credible people who think the world is NOT overpopulated, and that the growth rate is another malthusian miscalculation in contrast to David and co.

The bridge between one and two:
When you put your money in the bank, another part of that bank, in your name, will use money to gamble on food prices. As I understand it, If there is a shortage of grain for example due to drought, the prices will then be driven up by speculation. The starving folk in Africa who's crops have just failed, then get the double whammy of what's left being twice the price, whilst the rich in the west just see their weekly supermarket bill go up a little and get the lion's share. Cos the lawyers say so - it's in the contract we still get what we want. This is not fair - but it is again the system that then inspires the idea that there are too many brown people who cant feed themselves. Someone else rakes in the profits, whilst we are then asked to dig deep for charities, who kindly attempt to patch things up.
Cue a helping hand with drought resistant and high yield strains of crops etc- not ideal to the organic eye, but may be a better option than assuming the world is overcrowded and people must die ?  
In the second world war it became unpatriotic to NOT use fertiliser - shock horror propoganda - but really? It depends what the other options were.
In this green fertile country, if everyone lived off the land we would need .3 hectare each to live through the year providing the crops were ok.  We have that and more spare despite being 'densely populated'. But we'd like to save enough land for the animals and trees, and what about climate disruption... and more of us to come.
Science could help by steering us to efficiency of uses of what we produce more than ever before, if we really dont want to go with the ham fisted approach of fertilizers et al which cause other issues often too. 
[apologies to pigs out there for the ham thing]

And has anyone got stats on how much land is needed in other countries or ideas on how to rearrange living out there in the debate ? There's more about problems than solutions coming from on high.

Main course - Dish Two.. 
WE make the system, and the concept of money which drives it. WE set the laws and decide how we want to live. WHEN DID IT BECOME THE OTHER WAY ROUND? When did we get trapped in our own system? When people started to believe that the world is the way it is and always shall be and always has been. 
Wrong . Anyone heard of
They've got lots of ideas how we could still have money and capitalism if you want it, but it could work better. They're educated and they're not idealists, they represent what we all really want, and that starts with understanding how supply, demand and money work currently. 

Dessert and coffee - Dish Three:

Mother nature is already rebelling.  Fertility and male sperm counts are dropping around the globe - many blame toxins eg pesticides and plastics. There is real research to show this -
So maybe the governments grow us in labs, or we unnaturally decline due to events already taken place. 

Now - surely an educated man like Attenborough knows about this decline in fertility - do the figures take this into account ? If he does/they do, then I would wager that this whole debate is designed with the idea of carrying on the feeling of fear, and thus reliance on decision makers to 'rescue us'. Many conspiracists would yelp with pleasure at this point. Or sadness.  Some would say it is a way of ensuring if/when there is a virus for example, that we'll take it on the chin as good for us all. Where has this virus come from ? Just chance (we're due one), or something more sinister ?...yikes Ive just been put on the secret list of potential trouble makers!

After the black death here in early medieval times, the population was very low,  thousands of wild boar roamed free, which is why hunting became accepted as just sport later on by Henry 8th and his ilk. Prince Philip is quoted as saying if reincarnation exists he would like to come back as a virus to 'solve' overpopulation. Again - would he go for Wills n kate, and if indiscriminatory what does that say about his thought processes as a grandfather too.?
We should NOT wish for a virus - Why ? because we have other tricks up our sleeve now to help instead like scientific invention...we're just not investing in these projects or rollouts as much as we'd hope because there are quicker ways to make a buck.

Other side dishes : cans of worms

Im assuming people who are pro population reduction are also pro abortion.? or not?Is that a false dichotomy ? Critical thinking training would help us understand if this is an unfair question.
The two may or may not go together. This is not a comment on abortion, simply a reminder to scan your other viewpoints on other issues and try to be consistent in an overall approach. Often people will wax lyrical on one thing, and hold a contrasting collision point alongside, without even realising, as they have the topics all neatly filed separately.  Just part of being imperfect.

If one is pro population reduction, is one also against extending the lives of the elderly or sick with medicine ? 

Just another possibly fallacial question.

If we limited how many children each family unit could have , then how many ? 
China prooved one was bad because it forced people to choose preferred gender, and has left a very skewed population. The national psyche has not benefited.

Are you educated in the difference between Depopulation (killing people who exist now eg genocide) and future reduction of population (stopping too many more people being born eg forced sterilisation) ?
Bill gates thinks by vaccinating the 'third world' that culturally the need for having lots of children will go down - thus vaccination and free condoms = better less crowded future for brown people.
There's quite a lot of internet chatter about this topic.  Yellowhammer is undecided.

Also - look up Eugenics.   Eugenics was a popular science which has had to go in disguise since the Nazi's proudly used much of the research to try to create a master race.

Like I said at the start. Think about it before you agree with David that the world is overpopulated. I still like him - he may be right too but then think about the other factors involved in deciding what to do about it.  That is where I get very nervous indeed.
My view is that the system and global behaviour is wrong, not the numbers of us. 
And we dont really know what other factors will shape growth for sure.  whatever is decided remember the goal is peace and love for all and everything - will some of the decisions made lead to less of us, but also break our hearts.?

Form your OWN opinion based on clarity not fear.  
Use the Force of your heart and mind !

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Caitlin Moran and her waffle chops.

Yellowhammer is on the look out for bad logic - see other critical thinking articles on this blog.

Caitlin Moran [too easy to distort the surname so I wont stoop] 
Feminist Author and general  know-it-all - gives a perfect example of many fallacies at once - problem is Im not quite sure which is dominant - help me out if you can !
begging the question , Fallacy of false cause, hasty generalization, affirming the consequent, denying the antecendent, straw man, cause and effect assumption ....:

".. believing in an afterlife totally negates your current existence. It’s like an insidious and destabilising mental illness. ....Only when the majority of people on this planet believe - absolutely - that they are dying, minute by minute, will we actually start behaving like fully sentient, rational and compassionate beings...."

full passage

Surely it is because of man's capacity for understanding one's own mortality that afterlife works as a concept in the first place.   ie it is because we realise we are going to die that the afterlife is useful to help us consider how to live well.   
To build Heaven on earth used to be one of the foundations for utopian thought - heck, Belinda Carlisle even wrote a song about it - so imagining perfection gives one a template of what end result to aim for here.
Unlike many/all other animals, we learn very early on that death is inevitable. 
Coping with that is quite traumatic for our species!  Denial of ones mortality is of course a problem, that could lead to complacency.

---But that is not to say that believing or not believing in an afterlife is the cause of complacency.  

The afterlife surely could be considered a place of comfort after a hard life of trying to do the right thing.  Some even would think it a reward for being moral. Some will be scared and thus prevented from wrongdoing - or atleast that was the Catholic churches intention at one point in history. Caitlin assumes that those believing in an afterlife do so to get them out of problems in this one, rather than an incentive.

Take some of those with a belief system including an afterlife -  Mother theresa, Ghandi etc- they all got things done because of their faiths  - would they be considered mentally ill ???? How rude.
Plenty of people who do not believe in an afterlife can be cruel and useless - take chairman mao.  This is not to say they have realised they are going to die though.

For those who have no where to go after this life then longevity becomes the key focus of purpose potentially.  This is one of the biggest mental problems modern society faces. 

A lack of logical thought and analysis is in my book a dangerous form of 'mental illness', yet she accuses those with an imagination and belief in more than the material of that very thing.

Everyone in the world is never going to believe the same thing and nor should they so it is pointless ranting about Everyone being something one person wants. Everyone in history who has tried that trips up, as in my opinion it's more how you reconcile the differences that counts, not being 'right'.

There's probably a few fallacies in my counter arguments - and of course she can write what she wants in her own book - but it behooves any author writing a book to sell, knowing young women are following every word, to go through it with a fine tooth comb.
Im sure female emancipation didn't simply mean having the right to be as flaky as some of the men out there. [eg. that means you, Dawkins]

Comments welcome as ever. 

And a final musing from Voltaire:
"If God did not exist it would be necessary for man to invent him"
The same could be applied to an afterlife generally. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


The term Siddhi is most often applied to a variety of spritual-related psychic capabilities or powers manifested by adherents in the Hindu and Buddhist realms.