psychics and income myths, the physical precedes the metaphysical, the last big tree

depression era psychic readings, photograph by russell lee. difficult to see in the thumbnail, but it says all “readers” are certified. Certified in what by whom exactly. Was there an actual psychic reading institute that made sure everyone could tell the future. How did they test that exactly. Did certification mean that members were held to higher standards of supernatural insight than non-certified psychics. Did they have to buy malpractice insurance – for say instances where someone was advised to marry and the marriage turned out badly. Russell Lee was trained as a chemists, but because of the lack of work during the depression he went to work in 1936 as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration documentation project.

It is amazing the things people will believe, like the myths about income and who earns what and why. The Best Reasons for the Very Rich to be Paying a Lot More in Taxes

Before getting into the best reason, here are some of the usual — and always good — reasons. First of all, for every dollar the richest 1% earned in 1980, they’ve added three more dollars. The poorest 90% have added ONE CENT.

The richest million families have not worked three times (let alone 300 times) harder than the other 99 million families.

The richest 10% own 80% of the stock market, providing billions in “unearned income” that is taxed at less than half the rate of income earned through real work. The richest million families may have actually worked LESS than the other 99 million families.

A number of individuals have had one-year incomes over a billion dollars, enough to pay the salaries of 25,000 teachers or health care workers or emergency responders. It’s questionable whether a guy who makes a billion betting on a mortgage collapse is worth even one teacher or health care worker or emergency responder.

Massive inequality in wages is not the only issue wrapped up in wage disparity. The very wealthy and their apologists – inexplicably many of whom are much further down the economic ladder –  are not living up to the social contract that makes the middle-class possible.

The super-rich like to believe their own initiative and creativity have been the primary drivers of growth in technology and science and business and medicine. Some innovative business leaders deserve credit for putting the pieces together on specific initiatives. But the pieces themselves were put together over many years by thousands of less conspicuous people. As Elizabeth Warren said, “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.”

Consider just a simple communications device. The pieces were put together by a procession of chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production-line workers, market analysts, testers, troubleshooters, etc., etc. They, in turn, couldn’t have succeeded without another layer of people providing sustenance and medical support and security and administrative assistance and transportation and office maintenance for the technologists. ALL of them contributed to the final product.

You say a lot of them DID get paid? Well, then, something’s wrong, because few of the profits over the last 30 years went to this “middle class” of people to keep them financially secure, and to keep them educated in all the new technologies that are replacing their jobs.

The long-term dependency on the supporting members of society is the best reason for the most fortunate among us to care about everyone else. Sadly, research suggests that wealthy people have less empathy for people unlike themselves, because they no longer have reason to associate with them.

country road, old trees

the last big tree

Depending on how one processes information, this might be enough to make one give up blogging – Jane Austen by name, Badass Hipster Rebel by Nature

By the time Jane Austen reached 23 years of age, she had accomplished many things. This includes writing some short works known as her Juvenilia, working on the first draft of ‘Elinor and Marianne’, that was later to become Sense and Sensibility, and the first draft of ‘First Impressions’ that was later to become Pride and Prejudice, and she also managed to complete her novel ‘Susan’ that was to be published after her death as Northanger Abbey.

By the time I was 23 I worked an average of 12 hours a day. I did a lot and what I accomplished were the kinds of things that paid the rent, the utilities and food. That is generally what modern civilization has brought us – the capacity to have lives that are relatively comfortable – yet lacking frequently in genuine accomplishment. Which is one of the reasons that a certain kind of envy is an undeserved self-inflicted kick in the ass. In Northanger Abbey, Austen used her considerable talents to focus on, not envy of the very wealthy, but how much so many of them prided themselves on their shallow understanding of humanity, all the while dropping hints about how well read they were. It was one thing to read, another to understand. Austen would probably still be read today if she was a little more shallow just for the mastery of prose, but she used her talents to show us the world the way it was beneath the veneer.

polaroids walking madison lane

Neuroscience and philosophy must work together Theories of consciousness are challenged by recent research into the impact of brain function on the sense of self

Human beings are part of nature. They are made of flesh and blood, brain and bone; but for much of the time they are also conscious. The puzzling thing is how the intricate sequences of nerve cells and tissue that make up a person’s brain and body can generate the special subjective feel of conscious experience.

Consciousness creates, in each of us, an inner life where we think and feel; a realm where we experience the sights, sounds, feels, tastes and smells that inform us of the world around us.

To many philosophers the central problem of consciousness is, how can the facts of conscious mental life be part of the world of facts described by the natural sciences?

[  ]…There may be no single answer to what consciousness is, but we may still be able to find ways to explain what is going on in the brain. This would help resolve why our conscious experience takes the shape and form it does, and elucidate what happens to consciousness when one of the interacting systems that make possible the self-knowing mind breaks down.

I generally liked this article – it was written by a philosopher, but he stays mostly with the science of consciousness. He thinks and has a passion for the subject, which is further than many people are willing to go. I wish that he would do one thing. Rather than back-up and reevaluate, use this mysterious consciousness to flash forward to his death. At that point there will be no consciousness. All the atoms he is of which he is made – as well as you and I – came from the universe, lots of carbon with some hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and some traces of other elements. According to quantum mechanics – the part that seems to be holding up fairly well, the matter we’re composed of mostly consists of light. The physical us will once again return to – eventually – the unbound atoms that made us in the first place. Though there will be no human consciousness. Since there is no consciousness without physical being. Our consciousness, however mysterious it may be, is firmly rooted in the real world of biology and physics – how macromolecules work together to generate experience and knowledge of self. We might, and I tend to feel we do, need philosophers to help us sort out things like applied ethics, logic and art, but not consciousness.

Bird – The Whole World Knows

Off Bird’s debut album ‘La Notte’