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Posted on March 7 at 11:02 a.m.
Very cool! And nicely done short video.
On S.B. Bowl Goes Solar
Posted on March 1 at 11:12 a.m.
Vickers' approach is really a low blow. I was previously part of the Save Las Positas Tennis Committee (the leadership of the opposition to Elings Parks' efforts), but I bowed out about a month ago for lack of time.
I previously thought Vickers and Elings Park were acting honorably, but ultimately against the public interest, with their plans to triple fees and build new facilities. Now I know that Vickers is not an honorable actor.
The allegations in this new report from Elings Park are just silly and wrong. I've played at Elings for over ten years, sometimes as much as three or four times a week, in the morning, mid-day and evenings. I know just about every regular player there.
I've never seen the boorish behavior that Vickers discusses. I've seen some beer drinking on a couple of occasions, but it was completely respectful and not at all "hooligan" behavior. I don't doubt that some people tried to dodge the City monitors who come by to collect fees, but the large majority of players have always paid their fees. Regardless, that's a moot point now b/c Elings has a monitor on court at all times so there's no way to dodge paying fees.
As for a bunch of men resentful about having women and children play on these courts, really?? This accusation is just doltish.
Santa Barbara tennis players deserve a lot better. And it really disappoints me that Vickers and his team would stoop this low.
The ready solution is to phase in higher fees over time, rather than a three times fee that induces immediate sticker shock. And Elings Park has not been at all transparent about their finances with respect to the tennis facilities. From what I can tell so far it looks like Elings decided to make the tennis courts the cash cow for the whole park, but a bit more transparency would allow these kinds of fears to be laid to rest.
The bottomline is that the City giveaway and Elings' management of the Las Posita tennis courts has destroyed a decades-long tennis culture that was really vibrant and important for a lot of people. This is a tragedy. But the tragedy could still be averted if Vickers and/or the City council step up and take some reasonable measures to lower fees, or to phase in higher fees over time.
On No Love on the Courts
Posted on February 12 at 11:20 a.m.
Eckermann, stay tuned for my multi-part series of interviews exploring alternative cosmologies, probably concluding with some big picture thoughts about the future of entropy and our universe. Good dinner table stuff...
On The Rainbow and the Worm
Posted on February 10 at 11:30 p.m.
Eckermann, I feel ya on the aging process and human entropy. I'm not sure, however, that our current notions of entropy are accurate. I'm preparing an essay on the idea that entropy is entirely timeframe-dependent, so the usual framing of the 2nd law of thermodynamics is only partially correct - even though it's viewed by many as the bedrock of modern science. I think it's timeframe-dependent b/c of the role of life in the universe. You may be right that we don't make it out of our solar system and that the sun's death may be the death of our species. But my money is on us leaving our planet and our solar system in the next few decades (maybe longer for leaving the solar system) - if we can get past our current energy and climate challenges. My money is also on the human species spreading life throughout our galaxy and, over the course of billions of years, "en-lifing" all matter in our galaxy by appropriating available matter/energy into our personal ecosystems. And other smart species will do the same in other galaxies, if we don't do it first (it's still a big mystery as to why we haven't seen any evidence of other advanced civilizations yet...). If this vision is correct, and it seems almost certain that it will eventually be correct - even if it's not humans that en-life our galaxy or others - then the larger temporal scale tendency of the universe is actually negentropy rather than entropy. This vision not only resolves the tension between standard framings of entropy and life as negentropic, it also suggests that the universe as a whole is in fact negentropic. But then, in the even longer term, under current cosmological models, we will eventually run out of energy to do anything at all, as universal expansion continues to the point that everything just melts away into nothingness. But that's trillions of years out, and, frankly I'm not sure I buy the current cosmological view of infinite expansion and heat death. More to come in future columns...
Posted on January 5 at 3:31 p.m.
He'll get over it ;)
On Evolving Buddha
Posted on January 2 at 9:12 p.m.
pk, Buddhism and Hinduism come from a tradition that stresses many possible paths to the same goal. Hinduism often stresses different yogas (unions with God) for different types of people: karma yoga (the yoga of works or good actions), bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion to a sacred figure), and jnana yoga (union with god through insight). Raja yoga is often offered as a fourth path but that's always seemed to me essentially the same as jnana. The degree to which the various schools of Buddhism adopt these different paths as their own is debatable, but it seems clear to me that most Buddhists would agree that it is the clarity of intent and the diligence with which one pursues that intent that is important, rather than the particular path one pursues. And of course Buddhism doesn't generally discuss God, per se, so it would substitute awakening or enlightenment in God's stead.
Also, Buddhism has always stressed an empirical approach to realization: "try this and see if it works. If not, let's try something different." It's not a cookie-cutter approach to spirituality.
On non-self, again, it's a non-permanent self, not no-self at all. It's a crucial difference.
As for compassion arising naturally from Buddhism's insights, check out Being Upright by Reb Anderson.
My take on this issue is this: understanding the nature of reality, through study, discussion and meditation, naturally leads to greater compassion for those around us just as any kind of study does. We have more compassion for things we understand, and this is a traditional objective of better education in a secular context. Less traditionally, Buddhist training emphasizes mutual arising and the interdependence of all things. If all things are interdependent then each of us is as much or more all things, we are part and whole at the same time, and it is a misunderstanding of our true identity to place the emphasis on the part when it should more accurately be placed on the whole. This understanding will of course lead to greater compassion for the gazillion other parts that comprise the whole universe. The tricky part of this understanding is living it: where does natural and traditional self-interest give in to the interest of the whole and vice versa? This is why I write that all life should be viewed as praxis b/c all life becomes a training ground for this essential problem.
Last, you write: "Or are we to take it that there is an infinite series of incomprehensible minds, each incomprehensible to the ones below it, each of which can be called God?" Yes.
Posted on December 30 at 4:27 p.m.
pk, I've never come across a Buddhist statement or teacher who claims that their particular methods are the only path to enlightenment or happiness. Let me know if you find anything that does.
Re the doctrine of no self, Buddhism doesn't claim there is no self at all, but rather that there is no permanent self, as I stress above and in the essay I link to in this present essay. Clearly there is a self who is an actor and is aware. But the no self doctrine urges us to contemplate what this self consists of, and we find ultimately that there is no essential permanent self or soul that IS us. Rather, we are nothing more than the sum of our sensations and history, which are constantly changing. We are a constantly changing pattern of awareness and nothing more. A better name would the doctrine of "no permanent self"
Last, I know you're just giving me a hard time with the Dyson quote, but if you're curious as to what he was getting at read his excellent book, Infinite in All Directions. What he is referring to is the idea that consciousness probably doesn't stop at the human level in that there are very likely higher levels of consciousness. These higher levels of consciousness may simply be more technologically or evolutionarily-advanced alien species elsewhere in the universe, or there may be processes that allow higher levels of mind to come into being in a hierarchical process of nested minds. Just as the cells of our bodies combine to form our bodies without losing their individual identity, perhaps there are processes by which humans and other types of consciousness can combine to form supra-human types of consciousness. This is of course speculative but under the panpsychist process view of mind there is no reason that higher levels of consciousness can't be formed in this manner, as I've written about in my essays on The Anatomy of God.
Posted on December 30 at 4:18 p.m.
Dr Dan, Alan Watts' The Book on the Taboo... is my favorite of his and it was pretty influential on my personal development from when I first read it at the age of 20 or so. Yes, some of his ideas and presentation are a bit dated now, but in general I think his views translate very well 40 years into the future from when he died, and will very likely maintain relevance in perpetuity. His vision was very similar to mine, though he didn't seem very well-acquainted with the process philosophy school of thought that I find pretty compelling.
Posted on December 30 at 4:15 p.m.
Thanks Binky. You're right that I goofed on the stats and should have written "a little more" rather than "a little less." You've pulled up old stats, however. The link I provide shows the 2012 stats.
Posted on December 1 at 12:46 p.m.
I should have been more clear on what I meant by driving a car - the implied potential harm was the car becoming a weapon akin to a fist, but worse, in terms of someone or something being hit by a car. So to be clear: if I drive my car into your home, this is clearly in the same category but worse to me punching you in the nose. The broader point is that the actions each of us take inevitably have consequences, both good and bad, and the key challenge facing libertarian political theory is to determine when our actions should be constrained to avoid harm to others.
On Something New Under the Sun
Australian trio Atlas Genius performs with opening performances by The ... Read More
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