The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Category: Fund Raising Page 1 of 3

$900 To Final Fundraising Goal

I’m going to bring the fundraiser to an end on Friday. We’re c.$900 short of the final goal. If we reach it I’ll write an article about the Medieval credentials/academic crisis. The remaining chapters of “Creation of Reality” which were part of the fundraiser will be published over the next week or two, in between more topical articles.

I’m very grateful to everyone who has given. Thank you.


“Construction of Reality” Chapter 3: Being Aware

This is the third chapter of my book “The Construction of Reality.” It’s first draft, so not completely edited, and is a reward for reaching a milestone in our fundraiser. The next milestone is $8,350 (a little over $2,000 from the last milestone), and will include chapters:

5. Identity and Identification (how we expand our bodies beyond our physical selves)

6. The Ritual (how we create identification)

7. Interaction ritual (how daily life creates identification and personality)

Being Aware

If you’re like most people, you have a memory which runs as follows. You left your home meaning to go somewhere, only to suddenly realize that you were actually heading to work, school or somewhere else you go often.

During the time you were travelling to the wrong place, you were conscious: your mind was preoccupied with something unrelated to where you were going.

What you weren’t, was aware of what you were doing. If you had been aware of where you were going, you wouldn’t have headed in the wrong direction. The sooner you became aware that you were going to the wrong place, the sooner you corrected.

Our bodies are automating machines. Perhaps you remember learning to tie your shoelaces? I don’t know about you, but I found it hard. Yet I don’t even think about it today. Every day I put on my shoes, and I can’t tell you which shoe I put on first, because I do it automatically.

Deliberate learning is about automating, and so is non-deliberate learning, as when we burn our hand on a stove and learn not to touch hot elements. Our bodies build it in.

The examples we’ve used so far are cases where if you want to be aware of what you’re doing, you can, but experts in how we use our body tell us that the body and brain are even more ruthless: if you aren’t using a perception, the body stops paying attention at a deeper level(x). Body-workers such as massage artists and physical therapists know that many people cannot feel parts of their body without extreme force applied and even when they can feel, it is extremely coarse.

Someone with good body sense may be able to pinpoint a pain exactly, while someone without it may simply have to say “my right upper back”. That’s all they can sense.

For them to learn to use their body in a better way, the first step is to teach them to sense the exact muscles. Thomas Hanna describes, in one example, pressing on the muscle around the shoulder blades, to bring those muscles into conscious awareness(x).

Awareness comes in grades. To really fix something, you need to not just know feel the problem, but to know the mechanics of the problem. “I tend to lean forward and hunch my shoulders.”

Until you know what you’re doing, you can’t change it. And generally, it helps to know why you’re doing something, as well.

Trying to change without awareness is as likely to make the problem worse as better.

This is just as true of what we call mental processes; of thoughts and feelings and beliefs, as it is of those we associate with the body.

We use the words emotion and feeling interchangeably because every emotion is actually a sensation in the body. It will be paired with an interpretation, which might be verbal. It’s quite possible to have a sensation and be confused. “Am I scared? Lightheaded? What is causing this feeling?” In many cases we have to learn what emotion a sensation is, and then we interpret if it’s good or bad. Desire for a carrot, good. Desire for black forest cake, maybe not so good.

Some of this is natural: a fear of heights seems wired in to humans, but most of our fears are learned. No one is born hating or fearing people with a different skin color, for example. No one is born a Muslim, Democrat, socialist or secularist.

Everything you once learned, you can change.

That doesn’t mean it is easy. It is often very hard, though there are techniques which make it easier. (If you really want to end your racism, go live where there are almost no people with your skin color or culture. Make yourself live there for a couple years, make friends with them and so on. That’ll do the trick for almost everyone.)

But before you can change something, you must be aware of it, and in most cases, to change it, you must be aware of its mechanics: of how it works now.

Humans tend to take how things are, for them or for others, as how things should be. Even when we don’t, we lack awareness of the processes which created the world we live in and which sustain it, and we lack belief that we can change those processes.

Much of this is poverty of imagination. We accept something like money as natural, though it isn’t. We accept all-day schooling of children by strangers even though the vast majority of humans never did any such thing. We are so used to buying everything we need that we can’t imagine producing it even though small groups of humans for most of human existence produced most of their own needs. If we have a religion it is almost certainly the religion of our parents, whether or not that religion would be best for us as individuals or for the world.

We… accept. And we often don’t really understand that our suffering is optional. We hate our jobs but every other job looks terrible or hard to get and we spend 40 years living for the weekends, then when we’re old, we retire and are often too sick or too used to working to enjoy the sudden influx of free time.

As individuals we have broad latitude to choose what reality we live in. The first step is being aware it is possible. The second step is being aware of how reality was created and chosen for us. The third step is a deep awareness that in most respects, the reality we live in is arbitrary. Other people live or have lived in very different ones. Ones we might like a great deal more. Why not change?

Societies are recipients of the decisions, mostly unaware decisions, of those who came before us. We are often unhappy with our societies, but when we try and change them we often fail, and when we succeed we often change society in ways that make many of us worse off.

Actual awareness of the mechanics which make our societies as they are is lacking. We don’t, as a group, really know. We flail around in the darkness “tax cuts will make the wealthy create more and better jobs!”

We try that.


We rarely ask, for example, “Should we organize our lives around jobs? Is that the best way for humans to live?”

If we wish, as societies, to create a better reality, we must understand how we create the realities we live in today.

This book, then, is about that awareness, both for individuals and groups.

Become aware of how reality is created, and you can change it. This is more true today for individuals than for society, but with enough understanding, we can make it true for society as well.

I’ll publish the next chapter on Monday or Tuesday and if we get to $8, 350, we’ll do the next three. At $10,500, there’ll be three more chapters.

9.The Ritual Masters (How rituals create different types and classes of people)

10. The Ideologues (How identity is tied into story, ideology and meaning)

11. Reign of the Ideologues (How ideology is used to create civilizations and the payoffs for ideologues)

If you’d like to subscribe or donate, I’d appreciate it greatly. This blog is 100% supported by its readers, though it’s free to all to read.

“The Construction of Reality” Introduction & “The Social Facts Which Rule Us”

As part of the annual fundraiser I promised to share some of the chapters of my book “The Construction of Reality.” At $6,200, we have the first four chapters (originally it was 5, but I’ve done some editing and combined two), “The Introduction”, “The Social Facts Which Rule Us”, “Being Aware”, and “Human Alone.”

If we make $8,350 we’ll have:

5. Identity and Identification (how we expand our bodies beyond our physical selves)

6. The Ritual (how we create identification)

7. Interaction ritual (how daily life creates identification and personality)



I wonder if you have a memory of when you first realized many people are miserable or suffering.

I don’t.

I remember the time before. When I was six or younger the world just seemed open and fascinating and almost everyone was really nice. Well, some of the other kids weren’t, but the adults were.

I remember after, around age seven or so. I knew a lot of people were in pain, even if they tried to conceal it. My father and mother were two of the sufferers.

Soon enough I became one of them, because what makes the world good or bad is largely other people. The people closest to me lived in Hell, and they took me with them.

But I do remember the day when I realized humans were making humans suffer.

I grew up in Vancouver, a lovely coastal city on the west coast of Canada. These were the days when it was still a working class port for lumber from the interior of BC and not a third class world city.

Like all cities, essentially everything in it was created by humans. The roads, the houses, the schools. The trees were planted where humans wanted them planted. The teachers were there because of human decisions; the booze my parents drank was made by humans; the jobs my father, a forester went to, because humans had decided to chop down trees.

I liked trees a lot more than humans. No tree had ever done me wrong.

So many of these people were miserable.

But we; we humans, had created all of this. Not just the physical world, with its ugly asphalt roads, but the daily lives that made them miserable: the schools; the businesses; the money they squabbled over; the booze they used to cover the pain.

When I was a teenager, my father took a job in Bangladesh, then possibly the poorest country in the world.

Vancouver and Bangladesh were different levels of Hell. One better than the other, but both Hell

I didn’t get it.

Why, when we made all the decisions, would we choose to create hell for ourselves? Didn’t we all want to be happy? Didn’t we like being around happy people instead of miserable people? Since we made it, if it was making people miserable, why didn’t we make it different? Better?

The book you are reading today is part of a life-long quest to find out the answer.

We create the reality we live in.

Since we created it, we can change it, but first we have to understand what it is, why and how we made it the way it is.

Let’s start with what. Let’s look at what we’ve constructed in more detail.

Chapter 2: The Social Facts Which Rule Us

Reality is constructed first by our bodies. By our senses and universal emotions like fear and lust, anger and love. Being human orders the world for us before we take our first breath.

This is true of all animals, who, like humans, also change the environment to suit themselves. But humans have created a reality far, far from that of our forebears who ran in bands on the Savannah.

We have created a human world. Most of us live in cities; artificial environments created by us. We walk on streets laid out by humans, work and sleep and cook in buildings, drive in cars or take buses, trains and planes. We talk on cell phones and surf the internet. Even those who live in the country live on land which has been altered by agriculture and pasturing of animals humans domesticated. A farmer grows wheat which was bred over millennia (or genetically altered recently). The farmer raises animals humans have been raising for thousands of years. We eat the meat of cows and pigs and chicken; we dine on rice or wheat or vegetables we have tended for millennia and which we have bred to suit us.

As individuals we did not create almost any part of this physical world. We did not invent the techniques for caring for domesticated animals, growing vegetables or making smart phones.

We live in a physical world created by humans, many of whom are dead. Human life is human in a way that animal life is not animal. Animals have an effect on the environment, but it is minor compared to what humans have done to our world.

And this is just the physical side of the world. Just as important is the world of ideas: of social facts.

Look at the words you are reading right now. You didn’t invent writing, typing, any of these words or language itself. You spend your life thinking most of your thoughts in a language or languages created by humans, for humans and mostly by dead humans. The very structure of your thoughts was imposed on you.

You almost certainly receive your daily food in exchange for something called money which is probably either plastic woven to look like paper or electronic bits. Money has no intrinsic value, a million dollars in the middle of Antarctica would do nothing for you, most money isn’t even paper any more: you couldn’t burn it for heat. Yet most of us spend most of our waking day working for someone who gives us “money” and exchange it for most everything else we want.

In times of war and famine money may lose most of its value. Food, or cigarettes or sex may be worth more. Money’s value is a social fact.

When someone is killed by another human being, whether it was murder or not is a social fact. In war, if a soldier kills someone it is probably not murder. If the state is executing someone it is not murder. When police kill someone it is usually not considered murder. Social facts.

The quality and amount of health care provided to individuals is a social fact. It depends on where they live. In some countries it depends on how much money they have. In other countries it depends on how much power they have.

The amount of melanin in someone’s skin is a physical fact. That having a “black” name in America leads to half the interview requests for an identical resume compared to someone with a “white” name is a social fact(x).

Cannabis is almost certainly less physically harmful than tobacco or alcohol, but selling or possessing cannabis is far more likely to get you thrown in jail. In the US, during alcohol prohibition, this was not true. Alcohol is alcohol, its legal status is a social fact.

Social facts rule most of your life. They are layered on top of physical facts and tell you how to understand those facts, and how to act towards them. There are few more consequential decisions than “when should I kill someone?” or “when should someone receive health care and how good should it be? or, “should I hire someone and for how much?”

Not all ideas are social facts. You may believe something “ought” to be true, but often other people do not agree. You think your girlfriend or boyfriend shouldn’t cheat, they don’t agree; the state doesn’t care. But if you act on that idea, and so do other people, it’s a social fact. They may call her a cheater, ostracize her and so on. If no one acts on it, it is not a social fact.

A gang or mafia may believe that their members shouldn’t inform, and they may enforce this as best they can, but obviously the state does not. It is still a social fact if they can make it one, however.

You may also believe in ideas which are contrary to the ideas currently enforced by the state or other people. Perhaps you do not believe in intellectual property. Perhaps you think confessions obtained by torture shouldn’t be used in criminal proceedings. Perhaps you believe that women should or shouldn’t be able to have abortions.

These ideas may fall short of being social facts if no one acts on them. They are just ideas: how the world “ought” to be.

This social world is layered on top of the physical world created by our bodies and how they perceive and interact with objects around us. No amount of social facts will alter the solidity of a rock, or our need to breath.

Each of us lives inside these two worlds, worlds which were largely given to us.

Imposed on us.

At most we made a few choices from available worlds; available realities, but most of our choices were made for us.

The reality, I, a Canadian urban man live in is different from that of a woman Mexican subsistence farmer, let alone that of a plains Indian 700 years ago; a prole in the Roman Republic, or an Egyptian priest under the Pharoahs.

This is before we get to more differences that seem important to us today: say the difference between a conservative Republican Christian and his counterpart progressive Democratic atheist. A thousand years from now, those may seem like similar people, today they seem quite different.

Our bodies make us alive, but they make us different as well: to be tall or short is to experience the world differently. To have a strong constitution or a sickly one is to experience the world differently, as well.

And to be a woman or a man, likewise; so much so that men and women in some societies (Saudi Arabia today, Victorian England, or Manchu China) can be said to have such different experiences in life that they might as well live in different worlds: different realities.

Reality is inside-out, first, because we have bodies and senses which organize our experience of the world, and do so before the first drop of parental interference, training or culture.

But it is outside-in in most of the ways which make us different from each other and from other humans who have lived in the past.

Each of us is formed by time, place and position. Even if we were both male, with similar bodies, in Republican Rome, were I born to a Plebian family and you to a Patrician family, our worlds would part, and even if both of us were born to Patrician families the particulars of our parents, tutors and other incidentals would leave us different. Position within a place and time, added to different bodies makes up most of the individuality which divides us from our peers.

Even the thoughts we think, and many of the emotions we feel happen because of social facts and ideals. No one was born loving God and Country, or hating certain religions, or believing that people have a right to happiness or that we should obey teacher.

Our thoughts, our emotions, come from other people. From social facts and learning and conditioning. They may be the most intimate things we own, sometimes even more than our bodies, and yet… in a real way, they are not ours.

So to understand how reality has been constructed we will have to swoop from the heights of macro-history; of the effects of great ideas, of technologies like gunpowder and farming, or organization and vast tribal identities, to the depths of our inner experience: our thoughts, our feelings, our urges and beliefs.

Reality is an experience. Each of us lives in a reality, feels it and thinks about it. As we live we change the reality we live in, or it changes around us, and again, our experience of the world changes.

To write a book on the construction of reality while neglecting how we can change reality would be barren. Though careful examination reveals that most of human reality is imposed on us from outside, by time place and position: none of which we chose, we do not have to accept this passively.

While even the great struggle to change our shared world; our shared reality; all of us can change the reality we live in, by taking some control of our circumstances; or denied that: by changing how our bodies and brains interpret the world.

So we will cover the vast currents of history and pre-history. Of identity, organization, technology and ideology. We will speak of human empathy, human violence, and human limits, because it is human limits which have the greatest affect on the world we create and our acceptance of the world that we are given.

But in so doing, we will not neglect the personal.

Let us then, start from the inside. Let us start with you.

I’ll publish the next two chapters this week and if we get to $8, 350, we’ll do the next two. At $10,500, there’ll be three more chapters.

9.The Ritual Masters (How rituals create different types and classes of people)

10. The Ideologues (How identity is tied into story, ideology and meaning)

11. Reign of the Ideologues (How ideology is used to create civilizations and the payoffs for ideologues)

If you’d like to subscribe or donate, I’d appreciate it greatly. This blog is 100% supported by its readers, though it’s free to all to read.

Fundraising Update & New Rewards

We’ve raised approximately $4,200.

I’ve recently been revising my book “The Creation of Reality” and it occurred to me that I’d like to release some chapters as part of this fundraiser. The book is written, just not completely edited, so rewards will be released during the fundraiser as the goals are reached.

The first five chapters at $6,200:

1. Introduction (why this matters);

2. Why do our societies make so many miserable?

3. The Social Facts Which Rule Us (Why and how the reality we created bends us to its will.)

4. Being Aware (Until you understand how reality is being created you can’t change it in beneficial ways.)

5. Human Alone (How are our personal reality is created)

Some of these chapters are short, thus five of them rather than the three in the other two tranches.

Chapters six through eight at $8,350.

6. Identity and Identification (how we expand our bodies beyond our physical selves)

7. The Ritual (how we create identification)

8. Interaction ritual (how daily life creates identification and personality)

Chapters nine thru eleven at $10,500

9.The Ritual Masters (How rituals create different types and classes of people)

10. The Ideologues (How identity is tied into story, ideology and meaning)

11. Reign of the Ideologues (How ideology is used to create civilizations and the payoffs for ideologues)

The book has 42 chapters, so this is about a quarter of it and includes about half of the fundamental principles.

If you’d like to read these pieces and support my writing in general please subscribe or donate.

2023 Fundraiser

If you regularly read this blog you learn what you need to know before others do. Let’s run thru just a few, many are common knowledge now, but they weren’t when I wrote them.

  1. That Covid was airborne. Everyone knows it now, but it was disputed by WHO when I asserted it.
  2. That Covid becomes more dangerous each time you get it and that Long Covid is the thing to be scared of.
  3. That schools were a primary vector for infection, long before authorities would admit it (most still don’t.)
  4. That Russia would win the Ukraine war.
  5. That Europe would be badly economically damaged by the Ukraine War and sanctions.
  6. That China would win most from the Ukraine war, and that the US would benefit in some ways.
  7. That most of inflation over the last few years was driven by pure market power jacking up prices.
  8. That an age of war of revolution was soon to be upon us. (It has begun.)
  9. That the IPC reports on climate change were vast understatements. (Said this long ago.)
  10. That the political point of no return on climate change was reached long ago.
  11. That the US would eventually lose dollar privilege due to abusing it. (Wrote the first article about that 20 years ago.)
  12. That China would be the new strongest power (many years ago.)
  13. That we would move to a two polar or multipolar world (everyone knows this now, but I wrote it years ago.)
  14. That China would first take over manufacturing then take over the scientific lead (again, a very old prediction.)
  15. For a couple decades I’ve noted that Israel was looking for a final solution for the Palestinian problem: ethnic cleansing ideally, but genocide was not out of the question.
  16. Again, for a couple decades I’ve noted that the Israeli army was far weaker than it used to be in terms of competence: proven in the last month.
  17. The decline of the UK would be faster and more serious than that of the EU.

And far more.

Of course I’ve gotten some important things wrong, but my hit/miss ratio is good.

A lot of what is written here isn’t predictive. I write about morals and ethics, or how to live the good life, or just lamentations of evil. There are also plenty of explainers of how things work now or have in the past, though I tend to do fewer of those than I once did.

Generally speaking, what you get by reading this site is more correct knowledge of the present and the future than any “reports” or think tanks I know of, and everyone can read for free: no multi-hundred or thousand dollar subscription gate.

That said, my work does need to be paid for because I need to eat and sleep in a warm place, and it’s paid for by people who donate or subscribe. Through their generosity, everyone is able to read. Because I have specific ethical views (rape is bad, Palestinians shouldn’t be treated like animals in a slaughtering pen) last year some saw some large donors depart for places where they could be told that clear evil is sometimes OK.

So, I’m asking my readers who can (if you would go hungry or forego health care or anything important because you give to me, don’t) to donate or subscribe (monthly subscriptions are very helpful but either is great.) You help me and you keep my writing available to everyone and I damn well appreciate it.

This years goal is $12,500. At that level I’ll write an article about the Middle Ages scholastic crisis, where the universities produces way too many people with degrees. This has some relevance to current circumstances and I’ve been eyeing writing it for years without quite committing.

But mostly, again, you are helping me and keeping my writing free and available to everyone.

Thank you, and again, if you are in financial trouble don’t give and I hope your circumstances improve (imagine a hug here. I know what poverty is like.)


(Afterword. If you had a subscription and think it’s still running, please check. When credit cards change, the subscription ends. I always let people know, but email messages don’t always get thru.)

Fundraiser Update

We’ve raised approximately $8,400, when including the $2,300 from the emergency fundraiser earlier in 2022. That puts us past $6,500 and a summary article on the world’s position and prospects, and $1,600 from the $11,000 final goal and threshold for an article on reasons for hope. I’ll end the fundraiser sometime next week, whether we’ve achieved the goal or not.

Generally speaking, money simply tells me, like everyone, that what I do is valued and I should do more of it. As always, if you are in a position where money is short for essentials like food, housing or medical care, please don’t donate or subscribe.

But if you have some extra and you value my writing…


Donate or Subscribe To My 2022 Fundraiser

2022 Fundraiser

It’s been a tough year for the world and a tough year at Chez Ian (cancer, housing issues, blah.) Personally, I’m just beginning to recover from cancer treatment, though some of it will be ongoing, and sucking, for another six to twelve months. China, deciding to the right thing (Zero Covid) stupid, is now releasing some restrictions and that’s going to go badly. Russia invaded Ukraine, ground forward and will likely wind up with less than it’d like and more than the West wanted.

Europe has been the big loser in the Ukraine war, which many of us predicted, and is looking forward to a brrrrrr, and very expensive winter, hosting a few million more Ukrainian refugees and watching some of its most important industries move away, while in America they’re looking forward to receiving said industry and smiling happily about how the EU is now firmly in the US camp.

It’s been a busy and important year, and I have covered, ummm, some of it, and said some things that needed to be said.

So it’s fundraising time. I did an emergency fundraiser earlier in this year, and I’m grateful at how people helped me. About $2,300 was raised, so that’s where the fundraising total for the annual fundraiser starts, as the intention was never to raise more money, just to move it to where I needed it.

The goal this year is $11,000.

If we hit $6,500, I’ll write a big summary article on the world’s current position and outlook, and if we hit $11,000 I’ll write an article on reasons for hope for humanity’s future.

Most years I have more tiers than that, but I have articles left from last years fundraiser. They’ll get done, my word on it, and I’ll excuse myself by mumbling “ummm, cancer and radiation and so on”. I don’t want to add too much to the pile, but the articles above are the highest level summary articles I can write.

It’s also true that if you like my writing and want to see more of it, it’s donating or subscribing (like everyone I like subscriptions) that tells me “write more at the blog.”

My current plans for the blog include more articles about what can be done, along with more book reviews.

Anyway, it’s been a lousy year, but I hope it’s been a good one for you personally. As always, if your financial situation is such that you’re worried about your own necessities, please don’t give!


2021 Fundraiser Successful and Over

We reached all four goals, and I’m very grateful.

THANK YOU to all who donated or subscribed.

Those goals were:

1 – A longer article on the collapse of the USSR, putting everything I’m aware of together. In particular, I want to discuss the steps Gorbachev took which seem like either gross stupidity or intentional destruction. The fall of the Soviet Union was studied in great detail by the Chinese Communist Party, and has informed their actions since

2 – A summary of world system analysis as practiced mainly by Immanuel Wallerstein, with a look at what it means for the future. World system analysis takes capitalism as a world system, and looks at how it has re-ordered the entire relationship of nations, subordinating them to its needs, through about five centuries. We can see clearly that most countries today are not sovereign, but subject to the system as a whole, this is true to some extent even of the hegemonic power, the US. Wallerstein thinks this world system is played out, and we’ll look at why. (Wallerstein, like Randall Collins predicted the collapse of the USSR in advance, using his model, when almost all specialists in the USSR did not see it coming.)

3 – A longish look at the theory of revolutions: When do revolutions happen and why? This will draw on people like Randall Collins and Michael Mann. Most of what they have is based on the experience of agrarian empires, so I’ll try and extend it a bit to industrial nations, and also look at what it means for a world system to collapse. World systems prior to capitalism didn’t include the entire world (and capitalism didn’t till the mid-19th century), so we can see what happened, for example, when the Roman Empire collapsed.

4 – An essay on the effect of computer and telecom technology on humanity. Neil Postman, in Technopoly, back in the 1990s predicted it would be bad for most people, and I would argue it has or will be, but we’ll take a look at the ups and downs, the affects on economics, geopolitics, and daily life. As with writing, printing, and firearms, the early results may not be the same as those in the longer term, so we’ll try and figure out some of those.

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