Email about “right” and “left”


From: Friend#6

Subject: Barriers To Black Progress: Structural, Cultural, Or Both? 

Thank you for your response on sending you the Black Hills speech.

And Move on email.

I sent you the typed speech , in case you might see it’s meaning with out the speakers voice. ( and your request to read more) . As you can see I look at things from many angles. 

Help me understand how telling and making a group , permanent dependents , is a successful strategy . I find it evil. I left a political party when that light came on for me. 


Positive short

[a video about a “Basketball cop” who ignores a noise complaint and plays basketball with a bunch of black youths — and then comes back a week later with Shaquille O’Neill, who gives the kids a basketball clinic, life advice, and $100 each for sinking a free throw (which everyone did)] 

From: Ray Gangarosa

Presented as a public service, specially chosen from the voluminous self-help resources of the Dr. Lassie library: 

  • The answer you’ve always been waiting for: The egg came first
  • The answer you’ve always been waiting for, volume 2: No, wait, the chicken came first
  • The half-dozen or so bad habits of minimally effective people
  • The ultimate self-help book: How to finally quit always trying to keep improving yourself all the damn time!! 

musical interlude: 

Maurice Ravel: Alborada del gracioso (“Morning song of the jester”), movement 4 from “Miroirs” (1905): 

Judging from these two performances, this song is uncommonly hard on pianos! I once heard Lois Reitzes of Atlanta’s public radio station, WABE-FM, describe this piece as a courtyard serenade performed way too early in the morning to an unwilling audience full of sleepy residents. According to her interpretation, at the final crescendo, someone finally hauls off and throws a flowerpot from an upper-floor window at the, by-then, extremely unpopular jester! 

That’s where these two pianos break down under the intense pounding! In the first performance, a strut breaks loose at 6:33 and adds seamlessly to the percussive effect of the climax; in the second, a piano string breaks at 6:21, rattling the pianist until he resumes the finale at 6:40. Don’t cheat, though! It’s worth listening to the whole song to appreciate the full range of expression in Ravel’s legendary palette. 

1. Anastasia Gromoglasova — (see especially at 6:33)

2. (see especially at 6:21-6:40)

Shasta (Carrie’s song) 

3. Vienna Teng (studio video recording):

This lovely and lively song, written and performed by a pro-choice progressive, is about a fictitious woman who chooses at the last moment not to have an abortion. 

I wish instead that I could have sent a link to an especially heartfelt live performance that Vienna Teng gave in the latter of two shows on November 25, 2016 for the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, when in her supreme disappointment with the outcome of the presidential election, she played this song as a peace offering to the other side. This is the kind of respect opposing ideological factions should show each other all the time. 

If you’re interested in listening to that performance or maybe even splurging by hearing two long Vienna Teng sets — along with reminiscing about on the poignant dread we felt then about a future Trump administration, hanging over our nation like a sword of Damocles — here are those links: 

Vienna Teng – November 25, 2016 (6PM show):

Vienna Teng – November 25, 2016 (9PM show, part 1):

Vienna Teng – November 25, 2016 (9PM show, part 2):

P.S. Listen at 47:10 – 50:39 for a gorgeous rendition of “Shasta” offered “in the spirit of bipartisan dialog.”

Hi Friend#6

I think we’ve turned a corner in this conversation with your question and video. You’ve given me a perfect entry to explain my position, embellished with a few new key observations about the mathematics of life! 

Maslow’s hierarchy illustrates in one way how life stratifies its challenges into prioritized subsets of problems manifesting at different levels. Progressives are attentive to common interests and humanity’s shared fate but underemphasize individual responsibility, while conservatives have good intuition about self-control and personal initiative but have recently followed a path that has completely trashed the critically important concept of collective responsibility. 

As you may have surmised from my criticism that “leftists” can only drive in circles, I agree with conservatives that progressives’ chosen operating paradigm has a fatal design defect of fomenting dependency in its intended beneficiaries. In fact, I’ll go you one better — given how sports have distorted black culture, even good basketball role models often represent a tyranny of low expectations. Why shouldn’t minorities excel in sciences and mathematics without the intermediary of sports? 

However, viewed from the other perspective, “rightists” can only drive in circles in the opposite direction, manifesting the complementary design defect of destructive materialism, harmful commerce, corporate welfare, and (bilaterally) soul-crushing wealth disparities. I came from a progressive background because if I had to choose the sin that fits my character, it would be compassion, not productivity. Also, my family background, training, experiences, and activism in epidemiology and public health give me a keen sense of everybody’s common interests and shared fate. 

Obviously, then, neither progressivism nor conservatism has the answer by itself. Nor can they work out their differences between themselves, in equal parts because that interaction will always degenerate into a tug-of-war and because there’s another, much bigger, design defect that needs to be addressed. As Maslow’s hierarchy shows, the plight of the poor has much higher priority in life than do the posturing of those who are well-off and already self-actualized. 

But the coronavirus pandemic now puts that much higher priority in a starkly concrete perspective, both from the progressives’ collective standpoint and the conservatives’ individual perception. Poverty and discrimination set up oppressed minorities to be the weak link in human societies, where outbreaks and pandemics that eventually cause everyone great suffering find their most fertile incubation chambers. From an individual standpoint, conservatives should think about the encroachment of deadly infectious disease on life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, but they have become so corrupted by libertarianism that such ideals characteristically are only interpreted in terms of how they apply to “only me and me alone”. 

What this means is that there’s a huge error in a prevailing, quintessentially cynical and unicellular-like, attitude that “your illness is my herd immunity”. Civilization unfolds through the application of human potential. The Swedish approach to the COVID-19 pandemic — let the disease spread among young people until 60 to 70% of the population has been infected because their illnesses are less severe — ignores the cost of the 0.5 to 4% infection fatality rate in lost human potential. Think of all the creativity and inventiveness that has been robbed from our nation’s future by Donald Trump’s gross mismanagement of this pandemic, which other countries have easily avoided simply by confronting viral dynamics in coordinated fashion. The huge investments of so many relatives, friends, mentors, and colleagues get lost with every death to SARS-CoV-2. 

That’s a significant distinction between what I consider to be misplaced compassion of the antiabortion movement. Not only is there no past investment in fetal life but there’s one last chance to decide whether or not to make that investment. I think abortion is a preventable sin, but I don’t think it’s the government’s right to take away that option. Seeing how antiabortion zealots have committed egregious civilizational sins following Donald Trump and Republicanism in a dangerous race-to-the-bottom, I think God has signaled clearly that He values responsibility to building His kingdom more than an uncommitted, self-righteous advocacy for some abstract notion of future life. By making just about everyone celibate through social distancing, the coronavirus pandemic was God’s rather brilliant message, far beyond any human agency, that the “right to life movement” is an issue for a later era. 

I think we are in such a pivotal inflection point in human civilization that all the design options and past flaws are highlighted by unfolding events. God and nature seem to have signaled in so many ways what they need of human civilization in these crucial times, as a matter of setting intentional, conscious civilizational design and transformation on the right path: Even Donald Trump, the embodiment and enculturation of everything humanity has been doing wrong, has made his own sordid life and career so well documented that everyone will know everything that’s the wrong direction. 

But let me not belabor those points. What I promised was applications of the mathematics of life to understanding how we might get around the problems of dependency in progressive policy. 

The prevailing unicellular mode doesn’t provide enough degrees of freedom to make everybody prosperous and satisfied. Fractals might — and they also can build structures, including those that percolate fluids, like a circulatory system. As it turns out, there’s a connection between “fractional calculus” (where derivatives and integrals are raised to noninteger orders), percolation processes, and fractals, which have all the ingredients of memory, power laws, and inheritance that characterize my multilevel dynamic theory of civilizational design and transformation. Imagine fractals unfolding eddy currents of contextual awareness, where the equations of life map locally to rich implementations and provide enormous surface area that corresponds to economic opportunity. The use of tax base feedforward would crank up regenerative gain early in the process, but also could later set up bistable circuits that soon should lead to sharp-transition digital circuits that would eliminate the phase errors of gradual tradeoffs. Technology has already introduced us to a predefined path that corrects first the design flaws of linear circuits with lifelike sigmoidal tradeoffs, and then the gradual tradeoffs with sharp digital circuits, and then digital hardware with much more flexible software, and then expands software applications with algorithms, and then applies algorithms widely to establish vast repertoires and libraries, and then develops fluency by interacting different tools and technological realms, and ultimately keeps expanding horizons with ever-higher-level applications and ever-more sophisticated artificial intelligence, including knowledge engineering and deep learning. Because self-organized criticality is ubiquitous and manifests in many diverse ways, I feel fairly confident that this whole progression exhibits the same kind of diversity. If we want to open up economic opportunities and build especially efficient structures, we might emphasize fractal implementations. 

Furthermore, embryogenesis informs another dimension for civilizational unfolding. In life as well as technology, fractal structures play important roles, e.g., in the lung, liver, spleen, and circulatory system.

But knowing these progressions for technology and life, we don’t have to get carried away — and, more to the point, can stay on the path and avoid design pitfalls and catastrophic collapses. The advantages of my perspective of intentional self-organized criticality over ubiquitous examples in nature are (1) it is based on first principles of chemical affinities, life’s priorities, and resource distribution, (2) we can set up optimization problems for design | implementation | navigation | and transformation, (3) we can envision a network for our civilization in structural and functional space and time, with design seams and defects exposed as nodes, which can be successively refined through societal interactions, (4) we can even imagine a longitudinal optimal control problem for conceptualizing the entire expanse of human civilization over all time. Since so much life extends into eras far in the future, the multicellular mode requires new kinds of dedication to this new kind of process — emulating the commitment that cells in a multicellular organism take on. 

Most, notably, the triad of 

past: minorities’ protection of society’s weakest links | 

present: progressives’ collective responsibility | 

future: conservatives’ individual responsibility 

are boundary conditions for solving the equations of life, starting in my earliest version of this theory with 

past: needs. Schrödinger’s equations for chemical reactivity | 

present: wants. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs | 

future: possibilities. conservation laws (wherein the decision space for resource distribution establishes a multidimensional performance envelope). 

We can imagine the interaction of minorities | progressives | and conservatives as a balancing act to keep any of their blind spots and design defects from causing the whole system to derail. Under those circumstances the development of fluency takes on special importance that has no counterpart in the unicellular mode — a bacterial cell couldn’t imagine the utility of riding a bicycle! But in this case, that balancing act involves the most important aspects of life. 

And with a new dedication to the whole, the differential equations from Schrödinger, Maslow, and conservation laws become a membrane for fully stressed design. Again, the function of the whole | the emergence of new capabilities | and the fate of all life over all time | and sensitivity to initial conditions highlight the great opportunity and staggering responsibility we have at this critical juncture in human civilization. 

If we understand 

Trump as doing everything wrong | 

progressives as only understanding collective responsibility | 

conservatives as only understanding individual responsibility | and 

minorities as pointing out how to shore up the weakest links

and then use the equations of life, from 

Schrödinger | Maslow | conservation laws

to emulate embryogenesis, 

we might identify fractal methods that would 

allow everyone to exert entrepreneurial action | 

to build “the body of Christ” into human civilization | and 

use tax base feedforward to lift our economy by its bootstraps. 

Imagining that this is such a critical time that all of life is signaling what humanity needs to do to keep our fragile planet inhabitable, we might consider that God and nature designed the novel coronavirus …

past: … to suppress humanity’s encroachments, especially the United States’ remote commercial exploitation of developing countries | 

present: … to show us that the price for herd immunity, just for this one infectious pathogen, is too high in lost human potential | 

future: … to force us into a multicellular mode of thought || action || and development | 

irreversibility: … to prove that any attempts (e.g., with intensive vaccine development and new immune technologies) to go back to unicellular mode operation will bankrupt our civilization

Can we devise some kind of positive lesson from Donald Trump’s efforts at distraction, since they are so effective at engaging useless activity? If the focus and mission were different — building complex, multilevel structures in a multicellular-like civilization — then could that Trump-like proliferation of engagement introduce fractal construction methods, e.g., for evaluating conflicting tradeoffs | and using life’s equations | to come up with localized resolving contexts? 

Anyway, I can’t end this on a concluding note, because that’s just what I’ve come up with so far. I know some of these ideas are rough and they don’t all fit well together yet. 

But by way of summary, the unicellular mode we’ve been experiencing lacks the dimensionality of multicellular-like life, so instead of balancing protection | common interests | and initiative in a dynamic cycle where all are clearly and independently and robustly present and can even respond dynamically to changing conditions, we’ve been forced to crash our bicycle in some limited and static mixture. Early Christian doctrine anticipated this “dance of the Trinity” or perichoresis, but now, finally, there’s a way to understand it physically and mathematically. I think it can be implemented in any of the ubiquitous manifestations of self-organized criticality, but my theory establishes an “optimal” and theoretical framework that hasn’t existed before and fractal representations may be the ones that maximally open new opportunities and new kinds of structures and functions. 

It’s late and I haven’t eaten dinner and I have to get up early, so I’m going to break with my usual practice and not proofread, correct, and refine this email. So, good news and bad news: you’re reading this blog in its raw form, hot off the press, but as you’ve seen, it has a lot of rough edges. Stay tuned to my website for the revised and corrected version. 

Best wishes and thanks for listening, 

Ray G


I forgot to paste these lyrics in my email: 

Shasta (Carrie’s Song)

Vienna Teng

so far so good
you’re coming to the bend at the end of the road
you put a hand to the belly that’s foreign more
with every day like an oversize load

and you’re thinking about clouds the color of fire
and the scent of an orange peel
the way Mt. Shasta explodes into windshield view
and your hands steady on the wheel

so far so good
coffee motel coffee diner coffee go on
styrofoam is drying like the tears that once did flow
starting 10 o’clock and ending at dawn

and you can’t go back but you’re going back
and you don’t know what you’ll say
you’ve got half-formed sentences
explanations for a life half-broken away
and they just may
they’ll take you in their arms and then take out their knives
so you drive on thinking

so far so good
but you can’t go on much longer like this you know
you’re all alone in this world no that’s not true
the nice Christian lady told you so

she was handing out pamphlets by the clinic door
saying “Jesus knows what you’ve been through
take the Savior into your heart my child
there’s love waiting for the both of you”

well you don’t believe but you have to believe
it’s still crumpled there in your back seat
were you the hero or the worst kind of coward back there
putting pavement back under your feet
couldn’t stand the heat
couldn’t stand the thought of ghosts with a negative age
turn the page

so far so good
you try to sing along to the radio
but it’s not your language not your song
it’s from some other time ago

and you’re thinking about how someone died that day
the you that was so carefully planned
but then again maybe this life is like a sleeping mountain
waking up to shape the land

calm calm let it come let it come back to you
calm calm breathe on out you know you know what to do


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