The Critical Mass Blog

The purpose of this blog is to share my thoughts on the state of our civilization. New posts go at the top and people can dig down as far as they want.

The purpose of the Critical Mass Machine is to meet the basic needs of all people, to preserve and restore the planet. And end war.

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June 16, 2016
   

Common Sense
Gun Control


The Sig Sauer MCX used by the Orlando shooter was developed by U.S. Special forces and was known as the "Black Mamba." Watch the video and explore the Sig Sauer website. Don't tell me that the Sig MCX is not an assault weapon. If thousands of these are sold legally it is likely that hundreds will end up in the hands of some of our worst criminals. We know that there are vast numbers of people who can now legally own these weapons, but should not. It is extremely likely that we will have an increasing number of terror attacks and other mass shootings. Polls indicate that a significant majority of Americans favor increased gun control and a ban on assault weapons. I know that some want to make a semantic point about what we call these weapons. They are clearly weapons designed for assault, for killing people. They practice with human silhouettes for targets. We the people should not have to suffer the inevitable carnage so that a few should have the right to own these kinds of weapons.

May 31, 2016
   

"The trillion dollar question nobody is asking the presidential candidates."

"Should we spend a trillion dollars to replace each of our thousands of nuclear warheads with a more sophisticated substitute attached to a more lethal delivery system? Or should we keep only enough nuclear weapons needed for a devastatingly effective deterrence against any nuclear aggressor, investing the money saved into other means of making our nation more secure? The first option would allow us to initiate and wage nuclear war. The second would allow us to deter it. These are very different tasks."

The risk of a accidental nuclear war is much greater than most assume. Why is it that the subject is taboo?

May 30, 2016
 

The empty brain

by Robert Epstein

"Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer."

Epstein demonstrates that our brains don't function like computers. It is often a misleading metaphor.

"In his book In Our Own Image (2015), the artificial intelligence expert George Zarkadakis describes six different metaphors people have employed over the past 2,000 years to try to explain human intelligence."

This is a very challenging article. It details the many ways in which the "information processing" (IP) model is embedded in how we think of the brain. Eptstein leaves us with this:

"We are organisms, not computers. Get over it. Let’s get on with the business of trying to understand ourselves, but without being encumbered by unnecessary intellectual baggage. The IP metaphor has had a half-century run, producing few, if any, insights along the way. The time has come to hit the DELETE key."

 

May 18, 2016
 

RIP
Guy Clark 1941-2016

Guy was a prolific song writer, a luthier and an experienced entertainer. Here are a couple of my favorites. Take a careful listen.

   /td>
May 12, 2016
   

Jeremy Rifkin

"The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis" (Dec 2009)

Rifkin is a best selling author who has an almost compulsive need to solve the planets environmental problems. This is a 600+ page history of the evolution of empathy and consciousness. In economics he sees an emergence of distributed capitalism. His next book, "The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy" (Jan 2013), the Economy, and the World proposes:

" The five pillars of the Third Industrial Revolution are (1) shifting to renewable energy; (2) transforming the building stock of every continent into green micro–power plants to collect renewable energies on-site; (3) deploying hydrogen and other storage technologies in every building and throughout the infrastructure to store intermittent energies; (4) using Internet technology to transform the power grid of every continent into an energy internet that acts just like the Internet (when millions of buildings are generating a small amount of renewable energy locally, on-site, they can sell surplus green electricity back to the grid and share it with their continental neighbors); and (5) transitioning the transport fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell green electricity on a smart, continental, interactive power grid."

In "The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism" argues that emerging technologies, communications, networking and distributed manufacturing coupled with the existence in capitalism of near zero marginal costs opens the possibility of abundance for all.

May 3, 2016
 

PATHWAYS TO THE REALITY OF GOD

BY RUFUS M. JONES
Professor of Philosophy in Haverford College.

Rufus Jones was a scholar and a man of action. In 1917 he helped found the American Friends Service Committee. In 1938 in the month after the "Day of Broken Glass" he met with the Gestapo in Germany, as described in his article OUR DAY in THE GERMAN GESTAPO

This is a very good book for finding new ways to know God. Read it online.

 
PATHWAYS TO THE REALITY OF GOD

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
I. FAITH AS A PATHWAY TO GOD
II. THE GOD OF MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE
III. AN INTERPRETATION OF THE UNIVERSE AND OF GOD
IV. GOD AND EVOLUTION
V. THE TESTIMONY OF HISTORY
VI. THE DIVINE-HUMAN IN CHRIST
VII. THE NATURE OF REVELATION
VIII. SPIRITUAL IMPLICATIONS FROM THE NATURE OF EXPERIENCE
IX. THE IMMANENCE OF GOD
X. THE GOD OF PHILOSOPHY
XI. PRAYER AS A PATHWAY TO GOD

April 30, 2016
   

Amory Lovins

Rocky Mountain Institute

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, the book that Amory co-authored with L. Hunter Lovins and Paul Hawken is no longer cutting edge, but it remains relevant and still one of the best examples of how we can apply whole systems design principles to save resources and preserve our planet.

April 29, 2016
 

A Blackout Tavern

Study in 1960s Folklore

It is with mixed emotions that I read this article about my favorite college bar. Strange to find that it was published in Midwestern Folklore, Spring 1997. Folk lore already? Reading this article was for me a very real step back in time. Long dormant memories were rekindled. For most of my college years I was full time, both at school & work. I didn't have much time to hang out at bars. The Blackout was close to school. A good place to meet people for a beer or two. O'Connor really captures the environment and the culture. His book Tales From A Blackout provides greater detail. I don't recollect Pat O'Connor. His picture looks familiar, but I can't quite make a memory connection.

April 28, 2016
   

Project Drawdown

"DRAWDOWN: The point at which greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begin to decline on a year-to-year basis."

Project Drawdown is a large scale operation that appears to be our best hope at turning the corner on global warming.

April 27, 2016
 
Greetings & welcome to my world!

Hi, I'm David Watkins, born in Nashville, Kansas, 1941. I've had a front-row seat to some fascinating history and encountered some fine domains. Stay tuned for historic accounts and tall tales.

This picture was taken at the Blue Mountain Brewery in Virginia, just after coming down Skyline Drive with some friends. It was a perfect time to do the brew sampler while waiting for our upscale pizza. It was a very fine day.