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This post is a stump to be completed at a later time.


So, all major religions condition their members into obeying a version of the Golden Rule.
Then why are there so many differences in how people behave across the world?

Mainly because most observers concentrate their attention on the available differences, however minute?

The goal of this post is to explore the difference – I’m an observer too, between humans and their closest relatives. Apes, dolphins, … you name it.

‘We are conscious beings’!

Humberto Maturana teaches us that human consciousness – which he defines as “self-awareness“, is something which has co-evolved with our ability to speak and with our increased ‘brain-power’.
Makes a lot of sense, right?

Then what am I still looking for?
I fully agree with his ideas yet – my basic training being that of an engineer, I long for a specific trait which would explain our ‘strange’ behavior.

By ‘strange’ I mean the sometimes huge difference between our words and our actual deeds.

For instance, if enough of the self described ‘religious people’ around the Earth would obey the rule all (surviving) major religions have in common, we’d all be living in a completely different world!

Retracing Maturana’s line of thought, I reached the point where our ape ancestor was unable yet to speak so his self-awareness must not have been, according to Maturana, any different from that of his ‘peers’ – gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans…
I’m going to make an assumption of my own now.

Our ‘cousins’ have evolved a lot less than we did.

I’m not going to enter into details – this would broaden too much the scope of this post, but I have to mention here that evolution is not a linear process – as Darwin thought. It ‘works’ in fits and bounds, influenced mainly by dramatic changes in the environment.
In Ernst Mayr’s words, ‘evolution is not about “survival of the fittest” but about the demise of the unfit‘.
In the last 5.5 million years parts of the African environment had been stable enough to allow our cousins to survive more or less unchanged while our more direct ancestors evolved following the changes in the more ‘active’ parts of Africa.

Back to my original quest.
What was the special trait which allowed our direct ancestors to survive in such diverse conditions?
I must remind you that in those times – when proto-humans, a.k.a. hominins, coexisted with the (proto)chimpanzee, both had approximately the same ‘brain size‘. And probably neither could yet ‘speak’.
Then what was left? ‘Our’ ability to run? Which we’ve made good use of since some two million years ago?
Well, running certainly opened to our forefathers – and mothers, the opportunity to  ‘harvest’ a considerably wider selection of prey than that accessible to present day chimpanzees – and, probably, to their ancestors.
You didn’t know that chimpanzees hunt? In packs?
Well, in at least one place they over-hunted their favorite prey to the tune of having to target a different species…, just as we, their supposedly more reasonable relatives, have done in too many cases…

OK, so we’ve figured out one thing. Having feet at the end of our legs allowed us to hunt, and escape other hunters, in the savanna.
But could this small difference be large enough to explain the huge difference between us and some of our closest genetic relatives, the ‘robust’ chimpanzees?

Shouldn’t we rather focus on the ‘other’ difference?

The manner in which we, humans and bonobos – the ‘other’, less known, chimpanzee, use sex?

For the regular chimps, Pan Troglodytes, as well as for all the other primates except for humans and bonobos, sex is purely a reproductive thing. So much so that it is not unusual for the new ‘ruling male’ to kill some of the babies fathered by his predecessor so that their mothers ‘accept’ him earlier than if he would have waited for the nature to take its course.




The fact that our brains are some three times larger?

Remember what I said about ‘evolution’?
About the demise of the unfit?
Now try to figure out the survival chances of a species whose members have, at birth, such a relative large brain that the delivering mother is basically incapacitated for two or three days after labor. Whose babies need five to seven years to become self sufficient enough for the mother to give birth to another baby.
And which species does not enjoy the evolutionary advantage of being sheltered by a dense jungle!

But what about the other difference that separates us from most of the chimps?


This is a stub.
Thinking meat is how Alan Winfield described the human brain in a HARDtalk interview.

– Just read that no respectable cannibal would ever let himself be caught eating a clown and I cannot figure out why!
– Maybe because most clowns taste funny?

About the future, I mean!

no kids

This ‘piece of information’ keeps bouncing inside the Internet and is interpreted in various manners.

From ‘what to expect from leaders who are ‘this’ selfish’ to “I find it trashy and irrelevant. Merkel’s husband has two sons, btw.
Well… Macron’s wife also has her own children. And a few nephews.

What startled me was this reaction.
I’m under the stark realization that the most intelligent of the population have the fewest children, which might not bode well for voting statistics in the future.”

While the observation is, of course, correct, I’m afraid the interpretation attached to it is somewhat ‘confused’.

First if all, it’s not ‘intelligence’ that drives people to give birth to fewer children. Intelligence – coalesced at social level – helps a population to increase its living standard. As such, children no longer die young so parents no longer have to have so many of them. In order to have somebody help you in your older days you no longer have to give birth to more than two or three children.

If intelligence alone would have prevented people from having children Israel and the US would have been at least as ‘childless’ as Japan or most of the European Countries.
On the contrary. The US is still in a better situation than the EU, 1.8 vs 1.6, while Israel thrives at 3.1

Another way of making sense of what’s going on is to consider that people no longer make kids simply because they have reached the conclusion that ‘money’ can just as well help them cope during their older days. Since so few children live with, or at least near, their old parents this no longer seems so farfetched as it may look at first glance…

But what’s going on in Israel? They also have enough money…

The country needs soldiers to defend it’s very existence?

But, you know, Israel is a free country. Those kids could leave anytime before being drafted. As some of them do.

But most of them stay! Freely!

Then how about people giving birth having at least some connection with ‘hope’?
As in people having hope for a better tomorrow? One worth defending?

One worth making children for?

“The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it.” (Rob Norton, Unintended Consequences,

“All your private online data—the websites you visit, the content of your chats and emails, your health info, and your location—just became suddenly less secure. Not because of hackers, but because Congress just blocked crucial privacy regulations. This will allow your internet service provider to collect all your data and sell that info to the highest bidder without asking you first. Welcome to a brave new world.” (Eric Limer, How to Protect your Online Privacy now that Congress Sold You Out,

The rest of Limer’s article, which you can read by clicking on the quote above, is about what each of us might do if he cares enough about the privacy of his browsing data. Instruct your ISP that you do not authorize it to sell your data, change to a more privacy-friendly one – if possible, encrypt your communication, use a VPN, use Tor to browse the Internet or any combination of the above.

Since I already had at least a vague idea about most of those but I had never before even heard of Tor I checked it out first.

“The Tor network is a group of volunteer-operated servers that allows people to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. Tor’s users employ this network by connecting through a series of virtual tunnels rather than making a direct connection, thus allowing both organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy. Along the same line, Tor is an effective censorship circumvention tool, allowing its users to reach otherwise blocked destinations or content. Tor can also be used as a building block for software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features.

Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. Tor’s hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.

Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they’re in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they’re working with that organization.

Groups such as Indymedia recommend Tor for safeguarding their members’ online privacy and security. Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online. Corporations use Tor as a safe way to conduct competitive analysis, and to protect sensitive procurement patterns from eavesdroppers. They also use it to replace traditional VPNs, which reveal the exact amount and timing of communication. Which locations have employees working late? Which locations have employees consulting job-hunting websites? Which research divisions are communicating with the company’s patent lawyers?

A branch of the U.S. Navy uses Tor for open source intelligence gathering, and one of its teams used Tor while deployed in the Middle East recently. Law enforcement uses Tor for visiting or surveilling web sites without leaving government IP addresses in their web logs, and for security during sting operations.

The variety of people who use Tor is actually part of what makes it so secure. Tor hides you among the other users on the network, so the more populous and diverse the user base for Tor is, the more your anonymity will be protected.” (Overview,

Living the first 30 years of my life under communist rule taught me a lot of interesting things. Which seemed specific to that kind of society but which, paradoxically – only in an ostensible manner, are increasingly helpful when I struggle to understand what’s currently going on in the ‘free world’.
Among those things was the fact that ‘blanket surveillance’ doesn’t work. The communists were reputed for shamelessly listening in to our phones but we had learned very fast to talk in a coded manner, to refrain from speaking about certain subjects over a wire AND that they could never hire enough people to listen to everything that was said over the phone.
And this is why most dissidents were ‘smoked’ out almost exclusively by snitches – paid ‘traitors’ employed by Securitate to spy on us and presented by the communists as being ‘concerned citizens’.

Less than thirty years after the fall of most communist regimes we have an almost similar situation. ‘In the mirror’ kind of similar.

The Internet is the medium through which a lot of information is being circulated, some of it of very sensitive nature. Sensitive as in ‘personal’ but also as in potentially very disruptive. For corporations, for political organizations, for states but also for terrorist organizations.

Up to a few weeks ago the Internet was divided in two, very unequal, sections.
A mostly open one, where most of us – who do not have much to hide – used to dwell and one which was a lot more ‘walled in’. (A.K.A. heavily encrypted and tortuously rerouted)
The mostly open section was the hunting ground for the ‘advertisers’ while the ‘encrypted’ one was the playing ground where the ‘dissidents’ (of all ‘persuasions’) played cat and mouse with the ‘law enforcers’ (again, of all ‘persuasions’).

For the ‘free world’ this was a workable arrangement. The advertisers could do their job – as long as they stayed inside the rules, the individuals had their most sensitive data protected, the bona-fide dissidents had a reasonably safe opportunity to express themselves and the bona-fide law enforcers had a reasonably small traffic to sift through when searching for terrorists and all other sorts of law breakers.
For the authoritarian regimes it was not – the very advent of Internet was an abomination for them, but I couldn’t care less. Especially since most of the really proficient people sooner or later realize that authoritarianism simply doesn’t work and eventually ‘change colors’.

I’m afraid the recent changes enforced by the US Congress will unsettle this fragile equilibrium.

As more and more technologically savvy people will start using more and more the ‘walled in’ section of the Interned – not because they have anything really important to hide but to spite the more and more intrusive ‘data thieves’, the bona-fide law enforcers will have more and more difficulties in smoking out the really bad law-breakers. Including the terrorists.

The authoritarian regimes tend to solve these kind of problems by shutting down, or by ‘maiming’, entire systems.
If we, in the free world, will have to resort, even temporarily, to the same solution it will be – including for the advertisers – yet another instance of the golden goose being massacred by the excessively greedy.

“The only one you can really trust to protect you is you.

The short and uncomfortable truth is this: Until more robust privacy protections are put in place, the burden of protecting your online data falls on you. Keep it in mind, do your research, and remember that your monopolized ISP has every reason in the world to sell you out and wring your data for every dime that it is worth. The only one you can really trust to protect you is you.”

Dis de dimineață, în hală la Obor, o ‘babă PSD-istă’ le povestea unor vânzătoare impresii de la manifestația împotriva lui Iohannis.
Vânzătoarele, cu vreo 25 de ani mai tinere dar mult mai puțin ‘hotarâte’, i-au promis totuși ‘sprijin moral’.
Rămași între noi, le cunosc de cel puțin 5 ani și glumim de fiecare dată când cumpar de acolo, am continuat discuția. Prima pe teme politice, în toți anii ăștia. Foarte repede a devenit clar că ele nu se uită niciodată la știri și că se informează doar din ‘gură în gură’. Cu toate astea știau câte case are Iohannis și li se părea extrem de ciudat ‘cum de a putut el să strângă 6 case din meditații?’. ‘Sigur a mai făcut și altceva’. Adică ‘ceva necurat!’

Pe de altă parte au fost foarte receptive la observația mea ‘Păi da, dar pe el nu l-au prins încă!’
‘Da, aveți dreptate’, a spus una dintre ele. ‘Hoțul neprins, negustor cinstit’, a recunoscut ‘precupeața’.

De unde și nedumerirea care face obiectul postării de astăzi.

Segmentul +60ani a votat masiv cu Năstase 4 case și împotriva lui Iohannis 6 case.
Care să fie explicația?

Să fi fost OK să ai 4 case dar prea mult să te lăcomești la 6?

Au învățat între timp să nu mai accepte nici măcar un pic de corupție?
Ce bine ar fi…

Aș explora totuși și alte variante.

În primul rând trebuie să ținem cont de faptul că această categorie de oameni depinde în mod hotărâtor de ‘bunăvoința’ statului.
Și de ‘amănuntul’ că dinspre dreapta vin tot felul de mesaje cel puțin amestecate. De la ‘statul nu are de unde să dea pensii mai mari’ până la ‘voi l-ați făcut pe Iliescu președinte, acum tăceți odată din gură’.

Numai că astea două sunt insuficiente. Mai este ceva.

„Bogatul nu crede săracului” dar nici invers.

Oamenii de rând știu foarte bine ce este acela un profesor de liceu. Aproape toți au avut copii și au plătit meditații. Dacă nu ei, atunci măcar prietenii și/sau cunoscuții lor.
Nu e chiar același lucru ca un instalator sau un zugrav, dar tot cam pe-acolo. Un meseriaș ceva mai spălat.
Idea că un astfel de om – nu foarte diferit de ei, până la urmă, poate să ‘strângă’ 6 case e un fel de afront personal.
‘Dacă el a putut înseamnă că eu am fost un prost toată viața. Trebuie că a făcut el ceva necurat, altfel n-ar fi reușit!’

Năstase, pe de altă parte, a fost văzut cu totul altfel.
Ceea ce Iliescu îi reproșa ca fiind ‘aroganță’ a fost perceput ca ‘prestanță’.
Impresie întărită de abilitatea lui Năstase de a vorbi foarte elegant și, în același timp, suficient de inteligibil.
Pe cînd maniera oarecum ‘didactică’ folosită de către ‘sas’ îi indispune pe câte unii. ‘Ce ne tot dă asta lecții?’
Trecând la lucrurile care ‘nu se văd’, destul de mulți dintre oamenii din acest segment de vârstă nu prea înțeleg ei foarte bine cu ce se ocupă, și mai ales ce venituri are, un profesor universitar. Sau un ministru. Fie el și prim.
Pentru că Năstase așa a intrat în conștiința populară. Ca ministru de externe – care a repurtat câteva succese destul de notabile, ca prim-ministru pe vremea căruia lucrurile au mers – din punctul lor de vedere, destul de bine și, în tot acest timp, ca profesor universitar și om de cultură.
Oamenilor nu li s-a mai părut chiar atât de exagerat ca cineva cu o asemenea ‘statură’ să aibe 4 case. Sau, în orice caz, nu chiar atăt de greu de acceptat din punct de vedere emoțional.

OK, și dacă am ajuns la concluzia asta… acuma ce?

Păi hai să începem prin a nu le mai ‘înjura’ atâta pe ‘babele PSD-iste’. Nu de alta ci pentru că asta este echivalent cu a-l ‘înjura’ pe Iohannis pentru cele 6 case. Nu știm cum le-a agonisit – deocamdată e încă ‘negustor cinstit’, așa că ar fi mai normal să îl lăsăm în pace până ce situația va fi lămurită de cei ‘în temă’.
Tot așa nu e cazul să-i ‘înjurăm’ pe cei care au o părere diferită față de a noastră. Putem să fim în dezacord cu ei dar dacă vrem să asculte argumentele noastre am face mai bine să îi tratam cu respect, nu cu ironie sau chiar cu dispreț.

Abia după ce vom fi învățat să ne respectăm cu adevărat unii pe ceilalți, din ce în ce mai mulți dintre noi vor avea curajul de a încerca să își depășească condiția.

Și va înceta să li se pară ciudat ca unul dintre ei să aibă 4 sau chiar 6 case.
Dar vor veghea ca acestea să fi fost agonisite cinstit.

‘He just says what he has to say in order to get himself elected. Once he will get there he will do like all the others, he will mellow down. Besides that, the system of checks and balances is too strong for one man to upset it.’

The first, and most obvious, problem with this line of reasoning is ‘why on Earth have we grown so accustomed with being lied that we find it acceptable’? Why do we brush aside so easily the lies professed by ‘our’ candidate – along with many other indiscretions, while we meticulously and vehemently point out those committed by the ‘opposition’? Weren’t we supposed to be making ‘rational choices’ when it comes to who governs the country?

The sad fact that there isn’t much to choose from doesn’t exonerate us from the consequences of our mistakes.

But our laziness has yet another – and even more malignant, ‘after-growth’.

By voting for a candidate who promises rather ‘unsavory’ things in order to get elected we not only encourage him to ‘make good’ those promises but we actually ask him, imperatively ( 😉 ), to do his ‘best’ in order to achieve as many of those promises as he possibly can.

Hoping that once elected he will ‘forget’ about (some of) them is both near-sighted and ‘double-standard’.


Besides the fact that calling someone an “ignorant” is a very ‘Trump’ thing to do in the first place, what if the real problem is that we allowed ‘it’ to become a ‘system’ in the first place?

This way, after the process of learning and teaching – gathering new information and understanding about the world and passing it further to your contemporaries and to the next generations – has become a ‘system’, the ‘open market’ for ideas has become a very well – actually very badly – controlled oligopoly.

Trump, as a social phenomenon, is nothing but yet another symptom of this ‘malaise’ – the incapacity of the contemporary society to make room for everybody. Among other reasons, simply because information no longer flows freely around but is, tighter and tighter, by the ‘system’.
The simple fact that Trump, if elected, would only make things worse… almost doesn’t matter anymore…

Coming back to the ‘system’, the only way to fix it is to open it up, widely. If we continue to allow ‘it’ to divide us into ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ (read ‘ignorants’) we will actually perpetuate ‘the problem’.


1 – A wealthy and immensely powerful earthly ruler decides that his only child, a boy, should be protected from having any contact with the misery predominant under his dominion.
His efforts are successful, for a while, but at some point the young lad finds out that he was living in a bubble and rebels – as all young people do at some point.
The young man, like all mythological heroes before and after him, embarks on an initiation voyage during which he not only comes of age but also discovers a way out of the erstwhile inescapable cycle that keeps us human beings immersed in apparently endless suffering.
The not so young anymore prince shares his findings to those who recognize him as their guru and fades into the endless folds of time…

2 – Unable to find a way to bring himself happiness to his subjects a powerful ruler decides to sacrifice his own son in order to achieve this self imposed task.
For his son to experience unblemished bliss – so that he would be familiar with the feeling towards which he was meant to lead the inhabitants of the kingdom – the king raises him completely isolated from the vagaries experienced by the commoners.
When the young prince is considered mature enough, he is ‘accidentally’ led to find out the dire reality that is haunting both the king and his subjects.
As expected of him, the lad refuses to return to the comforts of the gilded nest and embarks on the task he was raised to fulfill.
After a labored voyage that somewhat mirrored his erstwhile existence our hero eventually solves the problem entrusted to him by his father.
The story ends with the hero taking the trouble to share his findings with those who bother to listen to him.

3 – Unable to convince his contemporaries of what he had understood about this world an otherwise skilled storyteller concocted a rather convoluted narrative about an young prince who accidentally found out about how much misery existed – and still does – in the world. Impressed by the horrible fate of his subjects the soon to become hero starts looking for a way to deliver his people from their sufferance. After a long struggle, mainly with himself, he found out that in order escape the cycle of suffering a man must. above all. make peace with himself. By refraining from making excesses of any kind and by first considering the thoughts that cross his head and only then putting them into practice.
After refining his story in the shade of the proverbial fig tree our story teller started sharing his teachings to anybody wise enough to lend him an ear.

So, is there anything to be learned from these stories?

For starters, no one can be saved from suffering against his will or without him being aware of what’s going on.
Secondly that there is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ solution to be put in practice by a benevolent ‘deus ex machina’. Had this been possible the generous and caring ruler would have solved the problem without having to sacrifice his own son in the first place.
Thirdly, is no way lastly and less evident than the first two, ‘salvation’ is a collective effort. Besides the fact that in all three versions the ‘hero’/story-teller who finds the way feels an irrepressible urge to share his findings we have to consider that none of the above at no moment delved in a complete void. Each of them was raised/conducted their search in circumstances shaped by those living in their close proximity.

“The bodhisattva ideal is central to the Mahayana Buddhist tradition as the individual who seeks enlightenment both for him- or herself and for others. Compassion, an empathetic sharing of the sufferings of others, is the bodhisattva’s greatest characteristic. It is shown in the following incident from the Vimalakirti Sutra which concerns a prominent lay follower of the Buddha who had fallen ill. When questioned about his illness, Vimalakirti replied, “Because the beings are ill, the bodhisattva is ill. The sickness of the bodhisattva arises from his great compassion.”

Contrary to what one might think at first glance, Buddhism is not about a selfish quest for individual escape. Buddha himself couldn’t leave this valley of tears without first sharing his newly acquired understandings with those around him.

As amply, but not readily evident, proven by all three variations, becoming aware of, and cherishing, one’s own individuality is an absolute must for all who seek deliverance but reaching that stage is only a necessary step towards the understanding that deliverance can only be achieved by carefully balancing one’s own ego against ‘the need to belong’ which allows us to cooperate towards our common goal:

Survival as an opportunity to reach deliverance.

Matthew Tontonoz

The recent decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to endorse circumcision as a prophylactic measure against disease has once again drawn media attention to America’s most controversial surgery. In draft guidelines issued in December, the CDC emphasized that the most up-to-date medical science indicates clear health benefits of circumcision—including a 50%-60% reduced risk of female-to-male HIV transmission, a 30% reduced risk of transmission of the human papilloma virus (HPV), and lower risk of urinary tract infections during infancy. On the basis of these data, the CDC is recommending that health care workers counsel uncircumcised adolescent boys and men, as well as the parents of newborn males, on the potential benefits and risks of circumcision. The guidelines are currently undergoing a 45-day review period, during which the CDC is actively soliciting feedback.

According to the CDC, 80% of American males are circumcised. According to the CDC, roughly 80% of American men are circumcised.

The CDC guidelines follow similar…

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