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In Flux – Examining What We Know We Know And What We Know We Don’t Know, To Find Out More About What We Don’t Know We Don’t Know. Sound Confusing? It is and it’s not.

There is a song by DJ Shadow called “In Flux”. The “lyrics” comprise different audio samples. The MP3 can be found here. We recommend downloading the song and playing it while reading the rest of the entry. Call it the soundtrack to this text. Or don’t. Whatever works.

Here is a slightly lacking but thorough enough transcription:

This is a song about life, death, love, hate, wealth, poverty, racism… just a few things been runnin’ through my head… listen… we call on you… listen… now, we call on you… be strong… hear us now… when you speak of overthrowing these conditions i think is what frightens people… the average american, when you simply say the word overthrow, may see this as something very, very bad… i know you’re not responsible for his feelings, but, when you say these things, are you threatening someone? …right now… (people’s power) x 3

…detroit in ’42… new york in ’64… blinding by a hundred watts… the naked, black, white truth… we have to tear down the [(?)] of stupidity and corruption and put up, in it’s place, an edifice of truth… unite in struggle for people’s power… unite… truth… unite in struggle for people’s power… we are a part of those concerned with gangs… meanwhile, uptown, the dj a player… everybody’s so concerned about heroin and marijuana and all that, until they forget the most dangerousest [sic] narcotic that exist’s, and that’s the narcotic that’s injected into the minds of infants… it’s called social narcotics… so, you know as well as i do that things are changing… change, you know… meanwhile, uptown, the dj a player… revolution… change, you know… so after you youngsters work to change the system… [(?)] …submission [(?)] …the people’s power… my guilt makes me… [(change) x 3

it’s only a matter of time] x 4

…(change) x ?

…freedom!… that’s all that life is… the record ends and we must begin again…

Life, death, love, hate, wealth, poverty, racism… these are just a few things that have been running through many people’s heads, and can lead to some very interesting questions. Yet some simply don’t ask, and many don’t know what to ask. Well, we don’t either. What we do know, is that asking is the first step to knowing. It is easy to ask questions about things that we know we know. More clearly stated, things like simple math, or our native language are things we know that we know. We know how to do math, and we know that we know how. It is also easy to ask questions about what we know we don’t know.  More clearly stated, it is easy to ask about something we know that we don’t know about – a foreign language, or a technical schematic. We know we don’t know this [concept] but we can easily ask about it.  The hardest thing to do is to ask questions about what we don’t know we don’t know. Again, that is not an erroneous repetition. It is the hardest thing for us to do, when asking, to ask about things that we don’t know we don’t know. If this hard to conceptualize consider this personal exercise:

Imagine a pie chart that represents all knowledge – everything that can be known.

Now a slice is included to represent what you know you know. English is something you probably know considering you are reading this. You probably know how to ride a bike, or drive a car, or operate a computer. These are things you know you know. This is probably not a very big slice, right? Teeny, most likely. Infinitesimal.

Now, another slice is added representing what you know you don’t know. You probably don’t know ancient Aramaic, or how to operate a space shuttle, or advanced string theory. (For those of you that do, congratulations, these are just examples) These are things you know you don’t know.This represents a larger, but still very small fraction of the entire pie chart, right? Still teeny. Still Infinitesimal.

So what’s left? All of the things you don’t know you don’t know.

This undiscovered knowledge comprises the vast majority of each of our personal pie chart of knowledge.

So how do we discover these unknown known things? Who knows?

We are always in flux, our pie charts always changing, many of us constantly searching for a stable foothold – some solid ground on which to rest our beliefs. While in this state of perpetual change, we can recognize that even though we might think our answers to questions we’ve already asked remain static, they are always changing and need to be reexamined.  We can embrace rather than resist the evolution of our thoughts and belief systems. This is, as we understand it, critical thinking. And it seems quite critical for our survival and ability to flourish in any capacity. Here we ask some questions about the things that have been running through our heads – things we know we know and things we know we don’t know – in the hopes that this leads to questions – and answers –  about things that we don’t know we don’t know (or didn’t know we didn’t know) about ourselves and the world around us.

If we can avoid killing, shouldn’t we?

If we can avoid supporting – financially, principally, or politically – others who kill, shouldn’t we?

If we can avoid causing any suffering, shouldn’t we?

If we can avoid supporting – financially, principally, or politically – others who cause suffering, shouldn’t we?

If we can prevent – financially, principally, or politically – others from killing or causing suffering, shouldn’t we?

If we can educate others about why we would want to prevent suffering or death (which seems so self-evident, but sadly this is not the case), shouldn’t we?

Does the fact that we can use other animals as resources make it okay to do so?

Does might make right?

Do we need to eat animal flesh or secretions in order to obtain or maintain maximum nutrition?

Is the consumption of animal flesh or animal secretions harmful to our health?

Is the consumption of animal flesh and secretions inherently harmful to the ones exploited to acquire them?

Do we need to wear animals’ skins?

Does our intellect in itself justify the use of such an intellect to cause harm to animals, even though we can clothe, entertain, provide proper nutrition for, and cure disease in, ourselves without doing so?

Are we subject to the laws of the predatory species of animals?

Is the exploitation of other animals included in the traits of “civilization”?

Is fencing, caging, trapping or causing death to other animals, though not required, included in our definition of humanity or humane treatment?

What benefit does exploiting animals as resources provide us other than pleasure?

What harms does causing suffering or death to any animal cause us?

Is human pleasure a justifiable reason to cause harm to other animals?

Do any qualitative differences exist between humans and other animals that would justify human exploitation of non-human animals?

What is the difference between excluding from the moral community based on race or sex, and excluding from the moral community based on species?

Is another’s pain just a byproduct of one’s pleasure?

Is it morally acceptable to receive pleasure or profit from suffering or death?

If morality is relative, doesn’t that justify any inhumane treatment in a way?

Does morality exist as an abstract theoretical construct stemming from logical deduction?

Does morality exist outside of human conceptual invention?

If morality is real, doesn’t realism require morality to be universal, at least within individual species?

Could morality stem from a biological response to an organism observing external suffering, triggering an emotional identification and an empathetic behavioral response, resulting in the organism attempting to remove – or avoid causing – that suffering? And if this is true, wouldn’t this be a universal mechanism for the biological organisms capable of generating such a response?

To what degree can we [humans] consider ourselves different from non-human animals, considering we share all the same basic needs and many of the same interests and behaviors?

What is the value of any human or other animals’ labor?

If any labor is valued unequally, how could we ever achieve equality?

Could the labor of a non-human animal have intrinsic non-human value enough to warrant human accommodation or a form of payment?

Are resources scarce, or are they only assumed to be scarce by those who do not control them, and purported to be scarce by those who do?

If demand of a scarce resource (technology, product, labor, mineral, etc.) drives prices up, and abundance drive prices down, is abundance the enemy of profit?

If profit is the basis of capitalism, is profit based on assumed – and not actual –  scarcity?

Is scarcity of something we need or desire, something we would logically want to avoid?

Is fulfilling our desires at the expense others something we would logically want to avoid?

If scarcity drives prices up, and abundance drive prices down, wouldn’t enough abundance, distributed properly, eliminate the need for prices, and therefor money?

Are people inherently good, but are simply driven to commit aberrant acts by their environment – including but not limited to society/culture, assumed scarcity, and exposure to environmental toxins such as foods, drugs, harmful chemical pollutants in the air and water, and products and packaging produced using or containing harmful chemicals?

Do we have an obligation to others at all?

Do we only have an obligation to care about our environment insofar as the possible benefit to individual or collective humans?

Is capitalism just the commerce form of the law of the jungle – “survival of the fittest” – and a bereft misinterpretation of Darwin’s work?

Would a more apt conclusion to be drawn from Darwin’s work be that the ability to cooperate rather than compete essentially determines survival, thus negating capitalism as a viable concept?

Is competition antithetical to society?

Is it logical to concern yourself with another’s suffering only insofar as their suffering causes you to suffer?

Is racism race-wide?

What purpose does an anthropocentric view of species hierarchy serve?

Could there ever be peace between humans who compete against each other?

Could there ever be peace in a society that enslaves and kills other animals? Or could a society be considered peaceful in which individual members engage in these acts?

Could there ever be equality as long as there is any hierarchy?

How does someone come to  “own” “property”?

Who “owns” the “property” we are on right now?

Do we own the physical space we take up? Can we sell or gift it?

Do we own our own labor?

Why would anyone be obligated to pay taxes on property or labor they “own”?

What sense does it make to pay taxes on labor you are forced to submit to and have no control over the value of?

Does truly public land exist?

What purpose does money serve in the modern world?

What is a right, who has rights, and where do they come from?

Could it be that a right is simply the formal recognition and definition of an abstract moral concept stemming from a universal biological empathetic response to theoretical or real suffering?

What does freedom entail?

What limits are there to freedom?

If individual freedom has no limits, is collective freedom just an illusion?

Could freedom be dependent on morality insofar as the limits of freedom only are reached when they breach the threshold of immorality?

Could freedom be described in a way that morality is not seen as a hindrance to freedom?

Could we be free only insofar as we do not encroach on others’ freedom and still consider it individual freedom?

Is freedom attainable, as we are all dependent on externalities which negate a sense of true freedom?

Is it possible that individual freedom is not really a logical goal, and that cooperation based on collective unity and adherence to our biological empathy responses is a more attainable, equitable, and desirable goal?

Is the world really just a global anarchy – ruled by the biggest groups and most powerful armies – masked as a democracy?

Is democracy really just a form of anarchy, where the biggest group has the say in governing affairs?

How much do we need that we cannot produce ourselves?

Is it possible to conceive humans forming an egalitarian society based on the shared and collective ownership and distribution of the world’s resources and technology within the carrying capacity of the Earth and with respect to all inhabitants of Earth?

Do we have to unite in struggle for people’s power, or do we already have the power within ourselves?

If each individual has the power to change within themselves, what do we need to unite against?

Do we need to threaten, or is cooperation a threat to the competition establishment in itself.

Do we need to overthrow anything but our minds – our resistance to change – and our hearts – our safety in cultural tradition and false ego?

Do we need to change the system, or ourselves?

Is violence an act or a result?

Does violence solve any problems or accomplish any positive goals?

Is force ever necessary? If so, what is necessary force?

Is it possible to have one cultural revolution in which the force involved does not include violence or bloodshed, but an emerging and enveloping moral force from deep inside the individual – as uniting a force as war is divisive, as creative a force as war is destructive, as much a catalyst for positive change as war is for stasis, as voluntarily executed as the draft is mandatory?

When this records ends, how will we begin again?


A Holiday Thought…

Aren’t humans amazing Animals? They kill wildlife – birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal – – health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions of more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, a few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for “Peace on Earth.”

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

Eat Your Dog! Or change his or her food, either one.

I read about “new” research exposing the massive carbon footprint of our pets and the meat they consume. I write “new” because it doesn’t take a climate scientist to conclude that the same meat that’s responsible for 20% of global emissions is the same meat that’s in any food with meat, not just people food. The researchers recommend eating our companion animals to eliminate the carbon emissions they would generate as one solution. Yeeeeah… That’s gonna go mainstream. Even if every person (and their “pets”) in America became carbon neutral, emissions would only be reduced by up to 20%, so it’s really the job of industry, including and especially the meat industry, but it’s our job to demand it. So, we could eat the animals most of us consider part of the family, or, like my dog and many others, we could feed ourselves and the animals we care for, food without meat or animal secretions. Not only would this lighten the (relatively small) impact of everyone involved and improve our collective health, our companions could avoid all of the disgusting by-products in traditional wet and dry pet food. One only needs to venture to the YouTube and pose the simple question, “What is in my pet’s food?”, and the vegetarian pet food (sold at every pet store) looks a lot better, especially if it helps us reduce our impact, even if only by a little. Now, I understand that our companion animals’ wild relatives aren’t the choosiest eaters, but I think most of us want more for our pets than what they would have in the wild, hence the multi-billion dollar pet accessories industry. Once we reduce our demand for animal products, especially ground-up other families’ dead pets, the industries dependent on us will have to find another way to fuck us. They might even consider closing the rendering plants that grind up the euthanized dogs and cats mixed with maggots into “protein meal”, or the hatcheries that grind all the male chicks into “chicken meal”. The same “protein meal” and “chicken meal” that are listed in the ingredients of your pet’s favorite kibble or can.)

Safe Handling Instructions Remix

The safest way to handle feces covered flesh is not to. However, here are some meat handling guidelines that might be a little more honest and informative than what is currently advised. To help inform our fellow grocers and do the job in which the industry and USDA are failing miserably, I suggest we print this onto some stickers and slap ’em on every styrofoam coffin we see.

Beware Armed Gangs

I saw a poster like this for the first time in 1996, when I first moved to the Northwest. I was stunned and inspired. Stunned that someone would have the insight and sense of humor to create such a compelling piece, and inspired to spread it all around town. So I scammed Kinko’s out of a few hundred copies and posted them all over downtown and campus. I don’t know what happened to the original, but I’ve been scouring the streets and internet to find it for a while, and I finally came across it innocently hanging in the window of an anarchist-owned vegan organic cafe called Red and Black in Portland, OR. (Actually it was a different rendition, but that means it’s good enough to have been reimagined twice) I took a picture of it and recreated it my own way in PS. Enjoy!