Christmas Surprise

Israel Shamir

I promised you Christmas wouldn’t be dull! In a surprising move, for the first time in 40 years, the US voted in the UN Security Council against official Tel Aviv’s wishes. The miracle friends of Palestine and progressive Israelis prayed for – occurred, after all. This is one of the first benefits of Donald Trump’s victory – the long stretch of American subservience to Jews has been broken. Yes, it was done by Obama administration – but this wouldn’t have happened if Ms Clinton were the President-Elect.

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Life is self-organizing signals

Life signals can be biological and unconscious or biological and conscious.*

If conscious, signals can be variously interpreted by the sender, the receiver, or both.

If unconscious, signals are interpreted in only one way or in a limited number of ways.

Consciously organized signals make up such things as psychology and sociology, both of which have many variations.

Human beings generate, learn, send, receive, and interpret signals.

All signals have valence. If conscious, valences (like signals themselves) can be variously interpreted.

It is very beneficial when thinking about any complex matter to pay attention to the valences of its individual signals and signal networks.

For example, if you want to buy or rent a home the various factors that you may consider can all be thought of as signals with valences.

A “small place” is a signal that may have positive valences because it is cozy and easy to keep clean. And it may have negative valences because it is cramped and has no room to store stuff.

With some degree of rationality, we can assess these valences and decide which ones are important to us. If you are going to share the place with another person, you can both do assessments and compare.

Your conclusions won’t be perfectly rational but they will be clearer to you than if you did not do assessments like that.

Besides the size of the place, you will also want to analyze in a similar fashion its location, floor plan, cost, what’s nearby and so on.

The same is true for how to assess your own psychology or the sociology of your group, company, or nation.

If you do this often enough, you may decide to replace the idea of having a personality or identity with the idea of having an operating system that generates, learns, sends, receives, and interprets signals.

Notice that interpreting yourself (the signal of self) as an operating system that employs these few rules is a kind of self-organization. As such, it is concise (Occam’s razor), accounts for all data, has clearly identified parts, has explanatory power (you can use it as we did above), can be applied to all life including human psychology.

This is not the only explanation or description of life, but it is a good one with many uses.

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A few notes:

*Surely there are other bases for consciousness than biology as we know it.

Life self-organization is “anti-entropic.”

Politics runs on simple signals because they are readily grasped by large numbers of people. Importing simple political signals into your operating system and keeping their strong public valences is not a good idea.

Politics teeters between left and right and there is no good middle. The middle is no good because the true middle needs to be a middle of complexity against two extremes.

Reason and rational thought are in many respects organizing principles, maybe that’s all they are. Same can be said for logic.

Personality and identity are also organizing principles, here applied to self and others.  Seeing yourself as “an operating system that generates, learns, sends, receives, and interprets signals” is also an organizing principle, but the data is clearer and more useful than that which goes into identity and personality.

US religious freedom law protects atheists and non-theistic beliefs

This is a good thing. Many consider Buddhism a non-theistic belief system.

Besides this law’s (probably insignificant) effect on Buddhism, which is generally considered a religion, it’s good because belief systems professed or adhered to by individuals should all be protected by the first amendment.

This law will also affect US policy toward nations that have regulations requiring citizens to belong to state approved religions.

Narcissistic power trip

I think a core piece of narcissism is the narcissistic power trip.

Very simply, I define a narcissistic power trip as “the power to define other(s) and act on that definition.”

It is narcissistic because the narcissist defines others based on self-centered criteria and acts on that definition either with excessive cruelty or callous disregard. Or excessive “kindness,” rewarding the defined person based on their “supplying” the narcissist with what they want (praise, adulation, attention, etc.).

Before I go into more detail, let me say that I believe an important foundation of social and psychological understanding must be the understanding that pretty much all human behaviors exist on a spectrum that encompasses all people and all societies everywhere.

For example, using the definition of narcissism above, we should be able to say that all people and all societies define others. A narcissist is characterized by the degree to which they do this.

A glaring example of this is the NKVD Bolshevik officer who daily interrogated people who had been arrested for “offenses against the state.” This officer would have demanded a signed confession from his victim after which they would personally have shot the victim in the back of their head.

This process could have lasted a few minutes, several hours, or even many days. It always involved psychological torture and frequently involved physical torture.

It is narcissistic sociologically because the real reason for it was to terrorize the population while removing potential enemies. It is narcissistic psychologically for the individual Bolshevik officer because that officer knew the sociological reasons for what they were  doing. There is no doubt in my mind that a great many of those officers derived narcissistic pleasure from the power they held over their victims. In those days it was said you were drafted into the Red Army but you had to volunteer to join the secret police.

A minor example of a narcissistic power trip comes from someone I know. He is alcoholic and as with so many alcoholics also exhibits narcissistic traits. What happened was he asked a woman out on a date and she refused, so he slit her tires. Most people when rejected feel bad, maybe they will cuss out the person in their own mind, but only a narcissist will act vengefully on their definition of the other.

It is very important to recognize that narcissism is defined by the person going too far, by their being on a power trip. Just imagine psychologically torturing a frightened prisoner, knowing that you are going to kill them with your own hand once you have played with them long enough to satisfy your narcissistic rage. That really happened many times and not just in the Soviet Union. It was a defining feature of communism almost everywhere it was practiced.

Complex system are defined as systems with a lot of factors any one of which, no matter how small, can affect the entire system. Our minds are complex systems.

In this respect, notice that FIML practice focuses especially on small details to prevent partners from forming false impressions of each other or the world around them.

By removing false impressions or interpretations from our minds, we avoid many problems, not least of which is the narcissistic power trip.