Friday, March 11, 2022

Many worlds, Ukraine and Putin, my mental status

In and out of quantum world stream...original relative state formulation of the theory of the universal wavefunction Ψ, beginning with Hugh Everett in 1957...reality as a many­-branched tree, wherein every possible quantum outcome is realized...afraid to write at times, afraid will inadvertently modify the stream and live another catastrophe. Wake with song unheard in years in head and then have it appear later when switch on radio, or think of particular entity and find it come up on television random programming. Always detested the many worlds proposal, but having seen some look-aheads that did change subtly over the years, I am beginning to wonder at this late date. Recall waking with a start at the age of 9, early 60's shaken with the realization that I was going to have to die eventually, at some point this stream of consciousness would end. 

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause: there's the respect that makes calamity of so long life... (Hamlet soliloquy).

Perhaps I am now the aging and deteriorating god-man, no longer the "great Gary Bentley," as Cheri (my late wife) once told me that she and the other band girls referred to me back in the peak of my guitar-godhood in the 70's. Frazier's Golden Bough recounted the primitive motif of a people executing their king or god-man on a regular cycle or the likely earlier pattern of executing him when he began to age and become suspect in physical virtue. Well, better to have loved and take the ceremonial execution along with the good, from my experience.

Yes, I am well aware of the concept of magical thinking, basically the hope by psychiatrists that their patients are simply mentally ill and cannot actually modify reality by any particular thought or action. 

George Santayana, educated in Catholic schools early on I assume (spent part of his childhood with his father in Spain), knew Catholicism and Christianity well, though he later characterized the record of miracles in the church as founded in "false memories." From Winds of Doctrine, published 1913:

Christianity, being a practical and living faith in a possible eventual redemption from sin, from the punishment for sin, from the thousand circumstances that make the most brilliant worldly life a sham and a failure, essentially involves a faith in a supernatural physics, in such an economy of forces, behind, within, and around the discoverable forces of nature, that the destiny which nature seems to prepare for us may be reversed, that failures may be turned into successes, ignominy into glory, and humble faith into triumphant vision: and this not merely by a change in our point of view or estimation of things, but by an actual historical, physical transformation in the things themselves. To believe this in our day may require courage, even a certain childish simplicity; but were not courage and a certain childish simplicity always requisite for Christian faith? It never was a religion for the rationalist and the worldling; it was based on alienation from the world, from the intellectual world no less than from the economic and political. It flourished in the Oriental imagination that is able to treat all existence with disdain and to hold it superbly at arm's length, and at the same time is subject to visions and false memories, is swayed by the eloquence of private passion, and raises confidently to heaven the cry of the poor, the bereaved, and the distressed. Its daily bread, from the beginning, was hope for a miraculous change of scene, for prison-walls falling to the ground about it, for a heart inwardly comforted, and a shower of good things from the sky.

Santayana's rejection of experience which did not suit his prejudices (he was not a scientist, but neither are most of those employed in that general pursuit these days, where the focus is now more on making everyone feel welcome in science, rather than actually producing the paradigm-breaking breakthroughs of the early 20th century) was a habit which is contemptible to me, as was his accompanying frequent assertion that the mind is simply an illusion created by biological mechanism. From Some Turns of Thought in Modern Philosophy, 1933:

The whole world itself is a sublime accident, in the sense that its existence is contingent, groundless, and precarious...philosophers owe to nature and to the discipline of moral life their capacity to look beyond nature and beyond morality. And while they may look beyond, and take comfort in the vision, they cannot pass beyond....Our minds are therefore naturally dissatisfied with their lot and speculatively directed upon an outspread universe in which our persons count for almost nothing...Spirit is certainly not one of the forces producing spirit, but neither is it a contrary force....Natural beings are perpetually struggling to live only, and not to die; so that their will is in hopeless rebellion against the divine decrees which they must obey notwithstanding. The spiritual man, on the contrary, in so far as he has already passed intellectually into the eternal world, no longer endures unwillingly the continual death involved in living, or the final death involved in having been born...the emphasis which action and passion lend to the passing moment seems to him arbitrary and violent; and as each task or experience is dismissed in turn, he accounts the end of it more blessed than the beginning.

That is a popular doctrine (world is accident, human existence groundless) among the politically correct atheist police today. For example, a politically correct introductory psychology textbook writes "Strange beliefs include Magical thinking such as belief in ESP or telepathy." For a brief but complete and honest history of psychic phenomena (and the notable people involved over the centuries) by an engineer/applied physicist, see The Persistent Paradox of Psychic Phenomena: An Engineering Perspective, by Robert G. Jahn (Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 70, No. 2, February 1982). Such an article as Jahn's would be rigorously suppressed today. As I have written previously"I have a sense of foreboding regarding what the result of this world-view [human existence merely animal story and suppress any contradictory material] will be for mankind. You should consider Who or What (it may be slouching even now towards Bethlehem to be born) will benefit if that program is successful. My own experience persuades me there is some truth in the Persian dualism, i.e., there seems to be a force for good, truth and progress, over against a competing force for evil, lies and destruction."

Probably the best-known of Santayana's words is the statement that "the one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again." I considered that as I read Jean Lang's Preface in A Book of Myths again today:

We have come, in those last long months, to date our happenings as they have never until now been dated by those of our own generation. We speak of things that took place “Before the War”; and between that time and this stands a barrier immeasurable. This book, with its Preface, was completed in 1914—“Before the War...Since August 1914 the finest humanity of our race has been enduring Promethean agonies. But even as Prometheus unflinchingly bore the cruelties of pain, of heat and of cold, of hunger and of thirst, and the tortures inflicted by an obscene bird of prey, so have endured the men of our nation and of those nations with whom we are proud to be allied...And, surely, to all those who are fighting, and suffering, and dying for a noble cause, the  of gods, the God of battles, who is also the God of peace, and the God of Love, has become an ever near and eternally living entity.
And the related, from Outline of U.S. History, a publication of the U.S. Department of State, updated 2007:

Germany, under Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, militarized its economy and reoccupied the Rhineland (demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles) in 1936. In 1938, Hitler incorporated Austria into the German Reich and demanded cession of the German-speaking Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. By then, war seemed imminent. The United States, disillusioned by the failure of the crusade for democracy in World War I, announced that in no circumstances could any country involved in the conflict look to it for aid.

Well, now at least we seem ready to offer moral support and small weapons to the insanely courageous people of Ukraine as they fight outnumbered and outgunned against the hosts of the murderous thug Putin. I was reassured to hear President Biden warn Putin today (March 11, 2022) that if he used chemical and biological weapons to more efficiently slaughter the people of Ukraine (now that it is pretty apparent that the Ukrainians will not go quietly into that good night, i.e., that they will make the Russian soldiers pay a heavy cost; at some point a people are responsible for not eliminating a dictator and putting a stop to the evil), we would vigorously wag another finger or two in his general direction (sarcasm).

No one wants to die, generally speaking (perhaps less true where the climate is overly warm and the amygdala is easily inflamed), but I suppose the difference between courage and cowardice in a particular instance has much to do with the value the individual places on personal honor and feelings about what is right and what is wrong, i.e., justice. That valuation can exceed the instinctive urge for self-survival which has served the ancestors of all who live today, or we would not be here....and that valuation of justice and personal honor can on occasion see the triumph of good over evil, whatever the odds.

I feel guilty every time find myself momentarily pleased or happy, immediately recalling (March 11, 2022) the ongoing desperate fight of the Ukrainians.  The other day I listened to a an interview with a recent Russian expatriate (female, gay, journalist) who had to leave Russia last week after the new Russian law threatening imprisonment for up to 15 years for communicating the truth about the bloody war Putin is prosecuting against the Ukrainians (that includes referring to it as a war). She said she and many others of her colleagues (many journalists have left) felt on the one hand unhappy about having lost their homeland, their familiar surroundings, but immediately on the other hand realized their complaints were trivial compared with the suffering of death and destruction by the Ukrainians at the hands of the larger and better equipped Russian forces.

She said she had realized that "I cannot be here anymore" speaking of what Russia was becoming again. I immediately thought of my own situation, but my "here" is the whole of the planet. There are those who have been and would be my friends, but they are in the minority and must survive as the US rots from within, on the one hand the educational system and media infected by those who reject the founding race and culture (Western civilization, put succinctly--it is ironic that Putin detests what we are now disseminating culturally so much that he is willing to kill every man, woman and child in Ukraine in order to "unite them with Russian culture again"), and on the other hand the mediocre and infantile having united behind a shared detestation of excellence and honor to burn down the republic. 

The Founders feared that the general masses might reject the principles given to them along with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in favor of their own base instincts, whereupon the Republic would soon descend into chaos and then despotism. Freed from the moral and spiritual principle that Americans seek to elect leaders of commendable character, we find instead ludicrous parodies of the ideal supported. The conduct of men at every level is deteriorating into animal pack society rather than anything normally associated with human beings. The situation is so bad, like an individual with so much pathology in play that it is impossible to restore the original health, that only a cataclysm in the world at large, an apocalypse, holds out any hope, and that a slim one (as the result may well be the extinction or final devolution of the remnant of mankind). We must be reborn, but there is no guarantee of a viable offspring...

But returning to Ukraine, it is disgraceful and downright stupid to say that we cannot fight Russians to stop their aggression in Ukraine because "we don't want WWIII."  Really? What do you think that tells Putin about our willingness, our resolve to help our allies in Europe? Does the NATO legalese make fighting potential WWIII with another nuclear power somehow more palatable than putting a stop to what is becoming genocide in Ukraine? When was the last time in history that sacrificing a country to the aggression of a neighboring totalitarian state preserved the peace for any length of time? (see discussion of Hitler's early activities 1936 - 1938 and our lack of reaction above) 

We intentionally did not allow Ukraine into NATO in order to placate Putin---how did that turn out? Putin has already said clearly that he does not regard Ukraine as the end of his ambitions in Europe, but merely the beginning of an attempt to restore the old Soviet Union (and expand it, if able). 

Putin is a bully, hoping threats will suffice to cow adversaries into standing aside while he terrorizes his neighbors. Do you really believe he would not have attacked the US with nuclear weapons already if he was not aware that this would result in the certain destruction of his country and thereby the certain end of his reign and his life, once the avengers of blood caught up with him (the numbers of those with a blood debt to avenge is growing by the hour).  Even if he thought he and select ground forces could somehow survive US nuclear retaliation, would he believe that without his advanced weapons (which we would surely destroy) he would be well-positioned to resist a billion Chinese able to march on foot from next door, ruled by a similarly ruthless dictator with unrestrained appetite (not to mention the fact that the Chinese would be smart enough to sit that one out and so end up with their weapons intact)?

If we had begun flying NATO air patrols over Ukraine prior to the Russian invasion, moved troops and weaponry close to the Ukrainian border and made it clear they would be operating the moment a Russian solder set foot on Ukrainian soil, Putin would have had no choice but to back off (it is unlikely that he is under any illusions about what would be the result of taking on US and NATO forces). He would have perhaps tested our resolve and it would have been critical to give our pilots freedom to shoot down any threatening aircraft, or disable any threatening SAM's, wherever they might be located if near enough to threaten Ukrainian air space. We could have simultaneously fast-tracked Ukraine entry to NATO and begun upgrading their air and ground forces for 21st century defensive capability.

I, like some others, was concerned that Putin was potentially on steroids (face puffy or shape changing last few years) or some other medication causing him to be extremely violent and unhinged. However, I suddenly realized that he was still the coldly calculating KGB man in the months leading up to the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. He amassed troops and weaponry on the borders of Ukraine for months, while playing with the West with counterfeit negotiations. He was clearly gauging our likely response. Once he was sure that would not include combat forces of the US or NATO he went ahead. So it is less likely that Putin has become completely irrational, on the evidence just given of systematic planning and evaluation prior to the invasion. That does not mean he is not increasingly brutal in response to the bravery of the Ukrainians, to the point of ordering the slaughter of Ukrainian civilians. His reasoning ability remains intact, whatever his degree of psychic/personality disorder that permits such spilling of blood not justified by a fight for survival. I note as an aside, that if there were good evidence that Putin was psychiatrically unstable, we would have only one choice (that should be obvious, but I refrain from stating it, keeping in mind my initial comments above).

Now that I mention it, you might say, "what about your own psychiatric state?" Well, I would reassure the reader that I have been working on the capacity to honestly self-observe since at least 1965, when I first read Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. I learned more in later years after reading the works of mystics, as well as studying psychology, among other fields useful in the understanding of human existence and behavior (the years themselves teach the man who would learn, though that is often as a spectator, as Schopenhauer suggested).  I note that it is appalling that many people are now so comfortable with their repression mechanisms that they assume it also prevents others from recalling the obvious inconsistencies (or this is merely another symptom of widespread sociopathy).

I am still working at a pretty high level academically, to the extent that is evidence of rationality (Nash does come to mind though, grin). Today I made some progress with the R statistical environment in support of my ongoing study of association measures:

dalton@dalton-Precision-3541:$ R

R version 3.6.1 (2019-07-05) -- "Action of the Toes"
Copyright (C) 2019 The R Foundation for Statistical Computing
Platform: x86_64-conda_cos6-linux-gnu (64-bit)

> library("DescTools")
> GendPol_tab <- matrix( c(762, 327, 468, 484, 239, 477), 2, 3, byrow=TRUE)
> GendPol_tab
     [,1] [,2] [,3]
[1,]  762  327  468
[2,]  484  239  477

> dimnames(GendPol_tab) <- list( "Gender" = c("Females", "Males"), "Party Idenfication" = c("Democrat", "Independent", "Republican") )
> GendPol_tab
         Party Idenfication
Gender    Democrat Independent Republican
  Females      762         327        468
  Males        484         239        477

> (GendPol_Xsq <- chisq.test(GendPol_tab))

Pearson's Chi-squared test

data:  GendPol_tab
X-squared = 30.07, df = 2, p-value = 2.954e-07

> GendPol_Xsq$stdres
         Party Idenfication
Gender     Democrat Independent Republican
  Females  4.502054   0.6994517  -5.315946
  Males   -4.502054  -0.6994517   5.315946

> OddsRatio(GendPol_tab[,-2], method="wald", conf.level=0.95)
odds ratio 
  1.604657   1.352444   1.903904 

> Desc(GendPol_tab, verbose = 3)
GendPol_tab (matrix)

n: 2'757, rows: 2, columns: 3

Pearson's Chi-squared test:
  X-squared = 30.07, df = 2, p-value = 2.954e-07
Pearson's Chi-squared test (cont. adj):
  X-squared = 30.07, df = 2, p-value = 2.954e-07
Log likelihood ratio (G-test) test of independence:
  G = 30.017, X-squared df = 2, p-value = 3.034e-07
Mantel-Haenszel Chi-squared:
  X-squared = 28.98, df = 1, p-value = 7.314e-08

Phi Coeff.               0.1044       -       -
Contingency Coeff.       0.1039       -       -
Cramer V                 0.1044  0.0649  0.1403
Goodman Kruskal Gamma    0.1710  0.1093  0.2328
Kendall Tau-b            0.0964  0.0611  0.1317
Stuart Tau-c             0.1078  0.0683  0.1473
Somers D C|R             0.1097  0.0695  0.1498
Somers D R|C             0.0848  0.0529  0.1167
Pearson Correlation      0.1025  0.0655  0.1393
Spearman Correlation     0.1016  0.0646  0.1384
Lambda C|R               0.0000  0.0000  0.0000
Lambda R|C               0.0075  0.0000  0.0575
Lambda sym               0.0033  0.0000  0.0255
Uncertainty Coeff. C|R   0.0052  0.0015  0.0089
Uncertainty Coeff. R|C   0.0080  0.0023  0.0136
Uncertainty Coeff. sym   0.0063  0.0018  0.0108
Mutual Information       0.0079       -       -

          Party Idenfication   Democrat   Independent   Republican    Sum
Females   freq                      762           327          468  1'557
          perc                    27.6%         11.9%        17.0%  56.5%
          p.row                   48.9%         21.0%        30.1%      .
          p.col                   61.2%         57.8%        49.5%      .
Males     freq                      484           239          477  1'200
          perc                    17.6%          8.7%        17.3%  43.5%
          p.row                   40.3%         19.9%        39.8%      .
          p.col                   38.8%         42.2%        50.5%      .
Sum       freq                    1'246           566          945  2'757
          perc                    45.2%         20.5%        34.3% 100.0%
          p.row                       .             .            .      .
          p.col                       .             .            .      .

' 95% conf. level

 That function invocation also gave me a nice mosaic plot demonstrating the relative effect of the gender on party affiliation:

In any case, unlike Putin, I don't have any nuclear weapons, or any other weapons, saying, like my boy Chuck Norris, "I don't need no stinkin' machine gun." Norris is quite a tough guy though. I recall him telling the story about the time he was bitten by a cobra. He said it took several days for the poor snake to die. Good night and good luck.