On Fires and Fungus

I did not understand the position of public utilities regarding fire safety until I visited Headwaters Forest Reserve in Humboldt County.

Headwaters was the last private preserve held by Pacific Lumber that had not been completely clear-cut The north side of the reserve was harvested, but the central and southern sections include undisturbed old-growth forest. Headwaters was purchased by conservationists for $480 million dollars.

The southern groves are closed in the winter, leaving me with a five-mile prelude to communion with the ancient trees in the center of the Reserve. The first mile of the hike explains the history and botany of the Reserve. Harvesting began over 100 years ago. When a tree is harvested, it sprouts burls that grow into new trunks. As they grow, the open space around the stump becomes populated by rapidly growing deciduous pioneers.

The result is a dense thicket of kindling. When a tree falls naturally, that hazard is localized. Prior burns have culled the tinder around the ancient giants, whose lower limbs have also been consumed. Fire-resistant bark prevents spread to the upper limbs. When a forest is logged systematically, the hazard of the understory kindling becomes a death trap. The pioneers and burls act as wicks, carrying the flames up to the crowns of the older trees. As seen in California during recent years, the forest burns to the ground.

The public utilities are blamed for such disasters, but the true perpetrators are the logging companies that harvested and then went out of business, leaving behind a time bomb. Less direct than pumping hazardous waste into groundwater, but no less irresponsible.

Ten years ago, when I went to visit the State Redwood Preserve north of Eureka, I was alarmed to see the hills turning bare. Two types of fungus coated the trees, one of them an invader from Japan. Most of the stands resembled the mangrove forests coated with Spanish moss, but the true culprit may be sudden oak death, endemic to California. The draped branches cannot produce leaves, and the Japanese moss comes in to coat the weakened trunk.

I had seen some of the first fungus on the redwoods when I last visited Humboldt, so I choose to drive up this time overnight, hoping to avoid the depressing sight. Sadly, the initial stages of my hike proved that it was still active. Hoping that it had no penetrated deeply, I noticed that few of the redwoods were affected. Hit hard were the deciduous pioneers, a pattern proven the next day when I drove back to San Francisco in mid-afternoon. Where redwoods were attacked, the infestation seldom travelled to the upper limbs.

A light turned on in my head as I neared the parking lot. The fungus was clearing the understory. Then I noticed that lower branches on healthy trees were burdened by leaves dropped from above. The redwoods themselves suppressed understory growth by choking the lower layers. The fungus was doing that function as the forest recovered.

I did make it up to the old growth forest, and the density and feel was different from the slopes that had been harvested. It was worth the trip. But I also gained an insight into the ancestry of the politics of privilege that is destroyed our country. Tall trees drop choking leaves to protect from fire in the understory. Is this also how McConnel and his cronies see themselves? Just trying to keep the kindling from reaching into their mansions as the lower classes confront destruction in the conflagration that is COVID

No End in Sight

If you are holding out hope for a permanent COVID-19 vaccine, please read this. We already know that the body does not develop permanent resistance to coronavirus. This means that we will need to get a vaccination every nine months or so. Unless something innovative happens in vaccine development, “herd immunity” will never develop, and our social adaptations may last for years.

Therapeutics also require some major advancements. Remdesivir, the highly touted antiviral, has not been shown effective in reducing mortality – it only reduces hospital stays for those that will recover. Some effective therapeutics require a drip feed – they cannot be administered by injection.

COVID Symptoms Explained

Scientists have compared 17,000 patient outcomes to their genes, and it appears that COVID attacks the body’s ability to maintain low blood pressure. A failure to regulate bradykinin, a protein, is specifically harmful. The blood-brain barrier fails, causing mental failure. The lungs produce a water-absorbing chemical that swells (somewhat like Jello), preventing gas from being exchanged.

Poor regulation of bradykinin is a common cause of high blood pressure, and existing drugs can be used to help COVID-19 patients. But Vitamin D is also helpful, as I promoted back in April. The report states that 20% of all Americans have a vitamin D deficiency. See your doctor or functional medicine specialist for recommendations on supplementation.

The ‘D’ Factor

No, this isn’t a post about breast size.

Psychologists from the University of Copenhagen have identified a core trait in personalities that project the “dark side” of human behavior. These include narcissism, psychopathy, sadism and spitefulness.

They label this core trait the ‘D’ factor, ‘D’ presumably standing for ‘dark.’

Out at Love Returns, in developing a definition of “sin” by contrast against a mature description of the nature of love, I came up with another term. A term that was also promoted by the Catholic theologian Thomas Merton.

How much money was spent discovering the obvious fact that SELFISHNESS is the root of all evil? And why the adoption of obscure terminology?

So that the researchers can “maximize personal utility?”

Are We Alone?

Universe Today summarizes a study that concludes that we are probably the only “advanced” civilization in our galaxy.

The result is reached under assumptions of materialism: intelligence is an emergent quality of large brains. Large brains arise from biological evolution, which requires certain chemical conditions on the host planet (water, minerals and carbon in narrow proportions) and stability of the star about which it revolves.

Of course, what I propose here is that intelligence is the play of ideas between souls, and the brain is only an interface. On vastly larger scales, galaxies are civilizations. They just evolve new forms more slowly than we do – which makes us incredibly dangerous.

But galaxies “think”, and store experience. I trust that we’ll know whether we’re alone when we’re mature enough to receive the answer.

Caution: Psychology May be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

In his lecture on dream therapy on Monday, HMI director George Kappas opined that we should teach children about sleep when they are in junior high. The need seems obvious, when one stops to consider that we spend far less of our lives procreating than we do sleeping.

The problem, of course, is the same problem we have with religion: if you start kids talking about their dreams, you are going to have kids talking about abuse in the family, and somebody is going to have to confront the damage.

In professional terms, the front line in that trauma ward shouldn’t be teachers, it should be psychologists. But the psychologists confront the same problem that religious leaders do: they don’t have the strength to deal with the scope of the problem. There simply aren’t enough resources in society to treat all those in need.

In part, that’s because the psychologists have used licensing to restrict supply: becoming a practicing family therapist requires six years of schooling and 8000 hours of supervised practice – a total of ten years. But it’s also because psychotic behavior is both contagious and difficult to cure.

War, for example, creates deep and lasting scars on the mind as well as the body. Those scars are passed from warrior to child and take generations to heal. Even in non-combatants: female survivors of the Holocaust feared to bond with their children. Early maternal intimacy is essential to establishing the assumption of trust in human relations. In withholding it, mothers unwittingly raise sociopaths. This was a pattern observed by Judith Hermann in her treatment of Holocaust survivors and their children, but also in survivors of torture.

In the workplace, the metaphor of war creates the psychic damage without leaving physical scars. Lacking the exterior evidence, we tend to ignore the wounds.

The industrial scale of the problem has led psychology to seek industrial solutions – pharmacology. The belief is that healing can begin only when the patient’s behavior is stabilized. But the psychiatrists have created a culture of zombies based upon an erroneous model of the mind. It is obvious to those of us that understand spiritual experience that they are ceding the battlefield to the enemy.

Psychologists believe in a material model of the mind: they look at synapses firing and see logic networks like those in computers. When confronted with exceptional behavior (musical or mathematical savants), they look for explanations in structural differences in the brain: the density of synapses in certain regions, or increased blood flow. The difficulty is that none of their correlations hold up.

I am confident that this is because the seat of cognition is not the brain. The brain is, in fact, simply an interface to a complex intentional field shared with all living creatures (much like a modem is an interface to a network of computers). Our bodies are metaphors through which the elements of that field negotiate new relationships – relationships that often entail conflict.

That negotiation will take place in one context or another. So in medicating us, psychiatrists are simply displacing the problem – they are forcing the spiritual elements to seek another context in which their conflict can be resolved. Which creates another patient on medication, causing another displacement, and another patient, and another displacement…

At one point, psychologists (perhaps foremost among them Jung) sought to characterize and negotiate spiritual conflict. They quickly discovered that the forces at play are too vast for any single individual or subculture to manage. To succeed in disciplining the forces of conflict, we must distribute throughout society the competence to recognize and manage the symptoms of spiritual conflict.

Of course, this is religion. Religion is explicitly spiritual, and the religions that endure hold that there is a higher power that sustains us in the struggle for mental health – which is to say to exhibit behaviors that create mutually satisfying relationships. Those behaviors are known colloquially as “love.”

Psychology buys into the Golden Rule, but for some reason chooses to treat religion as a problem rather than an asset. The dominant rationale is materialism: in a material world, the soul doesn’t exist, and so all religion is a hoax. But the hidden rationale is economic: when you have a hammer for hire, every problem is a nail, and someone with a screwdriver is competition to be eliminated.

The dominant tool in this age is protection of the “public welfare.” This is the justification for onerous training requirements. The mind is a tangled web of influences, and treatment occurs in a constricted and artificial environment. The energies built in the psyche of a patient accumulate for decades (or millennia) before entering therapy. Here potent psychotic alchemies can evolve: bad ideas in the minds of the practitioner (such as the behavioral psychologists who promised the Catholic Church that their pedophiles could be cured) combine with bad ideas in the mind of the patient, and the outcome is uncertain and sometimes counter to the goal of creating mental health.

But the regulation doesn’t stop there. Psychiatrists would like priests and ministers to stop counseling parishioners and have fought strenuously to restrict the activities of lay hypnotherapists.

But psychology fails because it operates on an invalid model of the mind; because it relies upon rigorous categorizations of behavior that are stimulated by the treatment system; because it uses arcane language that disintermediates the individual from management of their own mind and the minds of those they love. The public is left only with the role of creating problems, not solving them.

In watching videos of John Kappas speak of the relationship between psychology and hypnotherapy, I have often been struck by the implied hostility of a licensed professional to his own discipline. Kappas believed in individual potential and was motivated by the joy evidenced by those that received healing. He understood that love was the most potent element in the spiritual realm, and so trusted that providing people with tools for healing would be beneficial, even if some mistakes were made that caused individual pain.

Kappas spent his life fighting for the right for people to care for one another.

Can psychology claim the same?

President on the Couch

It was obvious during the second Bush presidency that Jr was working out his father-figure-issues in the Oval Office. He was fortunate to have a mother and wife experienced in managing fragile men, and it wasn’t until retirement that he began to paint pictures of himself in the bath tub.

As we watch ethics and legal issues whittle down Trump’s inner circle, we are seeing a narcissist exposed to the world. Trump lacks the resources of the Bush clan. He’s going to have a psychotic break.

Heaven help us.

Wake Up!

When all the channels broadcast messages that promise satisfaction but lead only to disappointment and suffering:

  • privilege
  • novelty
  • lust
  • violence
  • addictive substances

The abused loyalist has no place to turn for truth but inward.

How do I feel?

It is in that moment that the quiet, still voice of the Holy Spirit enters.

If you still seek love, here we are.

All other messages are then recognized as meaningless clamoring for attention from those that have no power other than to steal strength from the weak.

Those that hunger for love follow the dictates of the Holy Spirit because once that assurance is tendered, the greatest desire is to sustain the connection. Each of us walks in the world open to its suffering, and healing enters in our wake because we do not attempt to monopolize its energy.

There is far more power available to us than is necessary to solve the problems we have created. We simply need to accept that we can’t control it – we can only recognize those that wish to share it with us, and so heal us in turn.

The shadow of darkness hangs over this age, but the dawn will dispel it.

Quantum Inversion

In modeling large-scale systems, wave equations are often useful approximations. So, while water at the quantum scale is made up of molecules that bounce around like billiard balls, in our swimming pool waves look perfectly smooth, and we can predict their behavior using wave theory.

A researcher at Cal Tech has applied this approximation to the modeling of very large astronomical objects: super-massive black holes and their entourage of stars and planetoids. In pursuing the mathematics, he discovered that the system behaves according to a wave equation that looks just like the equation that governs slowly-moving subatomic particles: Schrödinger’s equation.

But the equation alone does not generate “quantum” behavior in the objects described by the equation. That is generated by Fermi’s “exclusion” rules. In Fermi’s rules, the particles that make up stable matter all obey this rule: all particles of any one type (such as an electron) are indistinguishable, and therefore the equation describing the behavior of the system must be the same if any two particles are exchanged, with one exception: the amplitude of the wave changes sign.

Going back to our swimming pool, this is like saying that if we exchanged any two water molecules, the wave would turn into its mirror image: where there were peaks in the wave, now there would be troughs (and visce-versa).

I am absolutely certain that this makes as little sense in describing the behavior of supermassive black holes as it does in describing the behavior of pools of water.

That a working physicist could so casually misrepresent the nature of the system reflects the subtlety of quantum concepts, and the tempting ease with which those concepts are used to manipulate public fascination.