Dogged by confused realities… the spirit of the hunt?

It’s easy to notice that our society is enjoying the great benefits of “an information age”,

..but also suffering from lots of “bad information”.

I remember the first day I heard what the future internet would be like, I think it was in the summer of 1978.   My immediate response was that it would quickly drown in misinformation.   It has not happened quite the way I expected, as a “massive database pollution” of facts that could not be checked disconnected from their origins.

What has polluted the information network that way is torrential storms of unfounded beliefs, seeming to threaten our whole complex society.

I think we need a “spiritual” solution, the spirit of the hunt for our own errors and for what realities connect disparate views and beliefs.   Another name for it as an “information disease” is a “multiplication of languages”.   Disparate belief systems come from social networks, only unhealthy when they become increasingly disconnected with each other and the natural world subjects their beliefs are about.    All of us can make a list of groups that increasingly define reality in terms of their own social religion, the “fiscal conservatives” and “radicalized Islam” for example. Continue reading Dogged by confused realities… the spirit of the hunt?

Urges, arousal, and Keynes’ “animal spirits”

This is a comment on  The Concept of “Animal Spirits” is a Red Herring, a June 27, 2011 blog post, by the blogger “Lord Keynes”, on exploring what Keynes really meant by people needing the urge to act, as well as a rational expectation…


Thanks for helping clarify the original meaning of “animal spirits” and helping bring out “the real J.M. Keynes”.    I agree:

Keynes uses “animal spirits” in the sense of “a spontaneous [human] urge to action rather than inaction.”

The sense in which his use and Descartes’, as

“the fiery particles of the blood”

are consistent is seen when observing that both would be referring to how people need to be aroused and have inspiration to act, i.e. to make emotional leaps in decision making, and not just form rational expectations.

That is indeed quite different from our having to be subjective in forming expectations with uncertainties.   As you say “The concept of “animal spirits” as used by Keynes is not even necessary to the modern subjective expectations theory. “   But then that is the subject you discuss, and seem to drop the question of what Keynes really thought was important about the need for “animal spirits” to allow people to act.

A related puzzle for understanding “the real J.M. Keynes” is his mysterious Chapter 16 of The General Theory.  It’s his concluding chapter to his grand theory of how to stabilize growth.  He oddly spends the whole chapter on the natural limits of his own model, however.    Continue reading Urges, arousal, and Keynes’ “animal spirits”

Making love, the great gift of Mother Nature

Having sex is the one thing Mother Nature knows best.   She is subtle and patient, and simply loves it.   She takes deposits of “true seed” or sometimes of “magic multiplying juice” and returns multiplied bounties in return.

Making love to Mother Nature produces new generations, variations on things to produce new seed, to then perhaps deposit within her womb to return multiplied again. Those deposits of seed or magic juice get her pregnant, in actual fact.   It’s what’s going on virtually anywhere you see her womb swelling all out of proportion, as if to burst.

Her womb does then burst, no illusions, with her new offspring.  There is no such thing as being “half pregnant”, “having sex without consequences”, or for man’s worst habit, investing in nature to multiply her returns and not having responsibility for the pregnancy involved.

The gestation after sex gives her new children to release, to enrich the lives of her older children, who found having sex with her a delight and whose seed she returns multiplied.   It’s her one promise, to be fruitful and to multiply the seed planted within her, while making only one simple request:

If you plant your seed in me, I will bear your children and they can plant their seed in me too.  It’s a promise and I will keep it.  But I need you and your offspring to stick around, to care for your generations and for me.   Will you care for them?   Will you care for me, and give me rest?   It’s all I ask for these gifts.  – m.n.

(click and see)

Our great love affair with change

Love affairs begin with the thrill of an infatuation, and there’s always a risk of neglecting what’s more important.   We’ve had a long growing infatuation with technology, and reinventing our lives over and over, for example.    Such infatuations become just fond memories for how a true love began, if it’s true love that emerges from it, of course.   Whether it’s the beginning of a true love or not, is the question, as for any dream of expanding promises.

life is a love affair, a burst of investments followed by refinements

Write your own story of a love, a dream of promises either kept or not, as hasty as a smile shining light into two lives or as drawn out as the dreams of mankind and our many centuries of wandering from one wilderness to another in search of why some loves do last. but so many just don’t.

Getting lost in infatuations is one way, as with dreams of wealth, and so making the great errors of expectation and so losing it all.  Our infatuation with rearranging our planet ever more rapidly, consuming it as we go, has really gotten the best of us, and it has to do with money.  What would get us to commit to being its partner rather than its ruler?  That seems to be the question.

Continue reading Our great love affair with change

My most disturbing finding

The origin of this post, fyi, was a truly exciting insight, in the 1970’s as I started developing my new scientific methods for studying the organization of natural of systems.   I discovered how to recognize the eruption of new forms of organization in nature.   It’s a locally distributed process of contagious development, that people tend not to notice at all, or to call “growth” for the superficial changes in scale it is also associated with.  

It was quite exciting, to find that one could identify individual instances of nature’s general process of invention, from the self-patterned erupting changes identifying its internal and external relationships producing transformative changes in design.   You need to look for where there’s a distributed “falling together”, not a “pushing together”.  I had some training in improvisation that gave me a window of insight on how to open my perceptions up to observing it in the world around me.  

As it became easier and easier to identify, I began finding strong evidence of these “bursts of self-organization” seeming to be the “glue” of all transient organization and design in nature!   Then the question switched, to wondering: “Why in the world don’t other people see it??”.   Our modern world happens to be organized around sustaining its own ever more expansive self-organization… seen in our minds, as being a “constant”.    For more on the story, fyi, also see “a World SDG“, a proposed whole system balancing plan, using the first true scientific measure of sustainability  4/14/14  jlh   :-)


How to escape the mental traps causing mankind to destroy its own future and much of our living planet, is not so hard…

…but takes exceptional willingness to discover how nature works that you might have been missing.   It takes learning to observe nature making new sense of things by herself, i.e. real change .

Watching organized change develop in ways that clearly can’t be following human rules or theories, and so intricate they could never be fully explained, frees a mind to drop its assumptions and attempts explain.  It lets you just study and marvel at what you find, giving you fresh ideas unpolluted with the self-serving social conventions people mostly live by, that are the problem.

Watching nature work, beyond the limits of theory, builds fresh awareness, letting us put our own perception in perspective, to see and correct our misconceptions. Continue reading My most disturbing finding

Henshaw, King paper awarded prize

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

$500 prize for best paper, 2010 Energy Sustainability conference, paper ES2010-90414.

“Defining a standard measure for whole system EROI combining economic “top-down” and LCA “bottom-up” accounting”

authors: Carey W. King, P. F. Henshaw, Jay Zarnika – Link to Paper

“On behalf of the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME and the Organizing Committee of the ES2010 conference I am pleased to inform you that your paper has been selected for the Best Paper Award in the ES2010 Conference.

This Award is recognized by a certificate for each author and a $500 check to be divided among you and your co-authors. This award will be given during the banquet at the ESFuelCell2011 conference in Washington, D.C., August 9, 2011. Please notify me if you plan to attend the ESFuelCell2011.

Congratulations for your excellent work and we hope you are able to join us in Washington D.C. next month.”  Mansour Zenouzi, Ph.D., P.E. ES2010 & ESFuelCell 2011 – General Conference Chair

The paper was then expanded and validated for publication with a group of related papers being edited by Charlie Hall, with the final draft currently recorded in the Cornell physics pre-publication archive as:

System Energy Assessment (SEA), Defining a Standard Measure of EROI for Energy Businesses as Whole Systems,

with a resource website for illustrating slides, notes and discussions of the subject at .

Where do you find the natural world??

That’s something of a trick question, actually, as throughout history the natural world has had a “made up” appearance, and people have struggled a lot with establishing whether any perception they have is “real” or not.

People have created a great variety of ways to say that nature is a projection from “the mind of God“, in one way or another, for example.   Modern science represents nature as a projection from the “invariant laws” that evolved from a starting point in “the big bang” beyond our view.  That’s almost as unsatisfying as the religious view, though.

Lots of people have noticed how very strongly people influence their own perception of reality, resulting in our own views at least being largely just a “human mirage” created by each observer.    The philosopher/scientist, Gottfried Liebniz pictured a complex image of nature as composed of self-defining worlds that are whole and imutable unto themselves, sometimes pictured as mirror balls, that he called “windowless monads“.

Another approach combines parts of all the others, by allowing each to have some variety of its own “built in mistakes“.   Most of what our minds are able to conceive of nature is rather imperfect, including our belief in “idealized realities“.   They could be as full of mistakes in our own thinking about them as any other, and overlook the complexities of the real natural world and reflect just going overboard in simplifying things.

A “combined view” would retain the perception of the views of individuals being naturally subjective, somewhat like mirror balls of perception which reflect their “own system’s internal logic“.   What a camera sees is always colored by its own lens.   From that starting point a learning process would let them discover some of the important gaps in the initial natural view of reality our minds create for us.

Much the same applies to mathematical models.  Once you have the view of reality a model represents, reflecting the question asked that generated it, then you can “peer into the matrix” of how nature’s far more complex and changing other ways of doing things affect it. Continue reading Where do you find the natural world??

What Happens when time runs out?

Thomas Fischbacher, in an interview by John Baez, discussed the resource problems of agriculture, and the deep conflicts caused by our endless soil depletion, as well as increasing depletion of fuel an water resources, saying

“So, we pretty much know that something will happen there.”

Giampiero Campa askedSo what will it look like when “something will happen” ? Suggesting that it might not seem like trouble for the rich world, only for the poor… Fishbacher’s answer is good too, but misses the powerful evidence that resource depletion has already caused a quite dramatic shift in how the earth responds to us, that has largely gone unnoticed.   The real question, then, is why we’re not getting nature’s signals, and not even the environmentalists are seeing what changed, — we’d have to “break some eggs” in terms of our own thinking and are hesitating, unsure what to do.

A related ReTweet by Revkin from Shoudaknown@Revkin Environmentalists also impressively ignore the actual source of demand, that overpowers their own efforts to protect the earth.”

Continue reading What Happens when time runs out?

Organic thinking and making things whole

Walter Hosack AIA posted on the AIA Environment forum to which I replied, about organic thinking as something architects could advance as a key to the survival of our place on earth, noting that design is always two things: “…The first is a gift. The second is a responsibility”, and suggesting architects have a broader responsibility to learn how to think and design organically, and help bring about a Symbiotic Period of life on earth.


In principle I couldn’t agree with you more, but to escape long standing habits of linear thinking in our culture we would need lots of true examples of organic thinking, and develop an awareness, motivation and technique.   The surprise answer I come to is that architects are already quite good at it, but have not quite understood how their approach to design could widely apply. Continue reading Organic thinking and making things whole