Monday 28 December 2020

Don't build Babel when you should be conquering the Earth and all that is in it.

I was contemplating the appearance of the angels to shepherds to announce Christ, on his birth, today. 

I realised shepherds are throughout the bible. Able was a shepherd, Cain who tilled the ground murdered him after God preferred his sacrifice to Cain's. Abraham and his descendants were shepherds. Joseph's brothers tell the king of Egypt that they and all their ancestors were shepherds. Joseph notes that the Egyptians despise shepherds and they will thus be given land in a certain place, as shepherds, which they are. King David, pleasing to God, is a shepherd, and Jesus Christ calls himself the good shepherd. God's curse to Cain is that his crop yields will disappear when he plants, as he killed his brother. God's curse in the garden of Eden also is one referring to agriculture, not animal husbandry. (Noah was a man of the soil and planted a vineyard, so God is not portrayed as hating agriculture.)

In the Garden of Eden, God also curses Adam for listening to Eve over God, and curses Eve with a desire to be obedient to her husband, whose work in agriculture is cursed by God to be toil. A man who plants a field must be attentive to God, given plagues of locusts and droughts. He is at the mercy of God. A woman who is subject to the pains of childbirth, and to the needs of pregnancy and motherhood, in the ancient world would become reliant on her husband for protection and much else. 

Reading of the tower of Babel also is more useful when aware of God's blessings and curses. In the beginning he blesses mankind on making them and tells them to fill the Earth and subdue it. Those who built Babel did so to make a name for themselves and to prevent themselves being scattered. They do so to disobey God's will, so God sees not only that they are evil, but have allied to become powerful, and so he makes them speak in different languages to scatter to them to fill the Earth. 

Noah and his descendants are given all animals by God to eat, but instructed not to eat food with blood on it. Moses, in his law, as part of the Old Covenant, restricted what the Israelites could eat, further. In the New Testament God appears to Peter and as the Old Covenant is fulfilled, has the church return, just about to the dietary regime of Noah, saying to Peter kill and eat, for God had made all animals clean.

Able, through fulfilling the pattern of a shepherd, something God himself acts as with us, his sheep, pleased God in his sacrifices.

The Bible is full of patterns of the promises of God. As Saint Paul says in the New Testament, all scripture is useful. Also something to note, is that what you choose as your career, while not inherently evil, may be something that costs you God's favour. As with any tower or city you build to subvert God's will. Don't till when you should be shepherding. Don't build Babel when you should be conquering the Earth and all that is in it.

- Marc Evan Aupiais

Saturday 26 December 2020

Free Speech, the right to offend, and Saint Stephen's Day (December 26th)

Free Speech, the right to offend, and Saint Stephen's Day (December 26th)

Today much of Europe celebrates Saint Stephen's Day as a public holiday, as the UK and Anglosphere celebrate Boxing Day. Saint Stephen, like Socrates and like Christ, was killed for telling people things which offended their honour culture at the time. He was the first Christian martyr, the first person to die for Christ. He prayed that God not take revenge on his killers and their accomplices, among whom was Saint Paul, the later apostle. Saint Stephen held to a dignity culture encouraged by Christ, and which has found fertile ground in Europe over the millennia.

Monday 21 December 2020

Stronger Covid-19: What does not kill you makes you stronger. The same is true of viruses and lockdowns.

What does not kill you makes you stronger. The same is true of viruses and lockdowns.

We are endlessly told not to overuse antibiotics, because they create antibiotic resistant bacteria. We likewise are told to always finish our course of medication so that all the illness in us is killed off, so that the strongest ones don't survive, multiply and evolve to be more deadly from a baseline of strength. Evolution favours that which uses the least energy to survive. Difficulty raises that bar and creates stronger species.

We have been locking down our societies, to stop the spread of a virus which is defined against the flu and other viruses by one point more than any other, it is incredibly contagious. If allowed to run its course, it would infect far more people than the flu, and thus even with a low death rate, would kill countless people.

Our response of course, has been to lockdown whenever it looks like it is about to get out of control, to make sure that exponential growth does not see our whole society infected at once, overwhelming our hospitals.

Those places which have locked down the harshest, however, are now the site of new, more serious strains of the same virus. A new, even more contagious version of the thing has emerged, and without as much competition from its lesser peers, is multiplying into many baby viruses from a baseline where it has to do more to survive.

We know lockdowns will not stop the virus. So, we must know that locking down too harshly without ending it entirely will breed lockdown resistant Covid-19 strains, which without lockdowns, when they must end, will enjoy feasting upon us. 

I am glad I live in a mostly rural nation which has been defined by its softer lockdowns (its economy even grew this year). Last night we closed our border to our neighbouring nation, which has locked down far more forcefully, and has perhaps bred a lockdown resistant strain of the infamous coof.

- Marc Evan Aupiais

Sunday 20 December 2020

I am going to attempt to listen to the bible in a year (Chronologically)

 I have been thinking about how I have never read the whole bible, and how difficult it becomes when it gets to certain books, where I always gave up. 

A priest I follow on YouTube plans to read it in a year, chronologically, rather than in book order, and explain each reading. I think I am going to try to follow the podcast, and see what benefit I gain from it. 

Perhaps I was too quick to judge people who show off about reading their whole bible as a reading feat. 

It is an ancient book full of wisdom, not just the New Testament (which I have read, along with snippets throughout the book, over the years). 

I hope to learn from it. 

He explains what they are going to be doing in this YouTube video by Ascention Press (who have organised it): 

The Podcast is:

The Bible in a Year (with Fr. Mike Schmitz)

Thursday 17 December 2020

'Would you lie to Nazis who asked if you were hiding Jews in your basement when you were?'

'Would you lie to Nazis who asked if you were hiding Jews in your basement when you were?' is used as a common argument against never lying. It is deeply flawed, though.

Firstly, it entails the Nazis actually trusting your word, which probably is not a good testament to your character if they would in such circumstances. They are committing a genocide, and if you are hiding Jews, you probably know the Nazis are bad people.

Secondly it assumes that the Nazis would not just go in and raid your home anyway, and beyond that that they would feel a need to ask you when they suspect you of working against them.

We assume that people will not self incriminate, and thus do not ask 'do you have drugs in your home' to determine whether or not to raid them for drugs. Why would the Nazis, who are quite evil suddenly trust the word of someone who says they are complying?

Of course, the argument is not a logical one, but one based on social force. If you would tell the truth to the Nazis, or not lie to them, you are therefore deemed a collaborator, even if in the scenario you are hiding Jews from them in your basement.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn teaches us that it is by lying that totalitarian regimes are upheld, such as the USSR which imprisoned him, and that by telling the truth in all things, that they fall. The Nazis were only able to gain power because the people of Germany were prepared to accept lies and lie themselves. Truth is the best disinfectant for tyranny.

So, when the Nazis come to your door looking for Jews, be silent or tell the Nazis that they serve an evil regime. Don't be cowardly.

Friday 11 December 2020

Dividing a man's wages among ten, leaves you with ten barely getting by.

The garbage truck arrives. A man gets out and one by one moves our bin trolleys to the back of the truck. The truck lifts them up, weighs them for us to be charged, by weight, per each bin's microchip, empties them into itself, and puts them down again. The bins have no house numbers on them. The bin man simply puts each back where they belong, and the driver drives a bit forward to the next house in the street.

In Johannesburg, these two men would have been twenty men. You never really know what most of the twenty do. I suppose they run next to a truck, and throw garbage in. They would often leave bins several houses down from where they collected them. House numbers in big white letters usually needed to be painted on the bins. Sometimes people even stole bins.

Beyond that, in Johannesburg, before the garbage men came, an army of men with trolleys behind them would raid the bins. Recyclables were in transparent bags, and I doubt very often made it to the recycling plant of the garbage company, if they had one. The trolley men would empty garbage of cans and other items. These they would take on their trolleys, walking on the road, to recycling centres many kilometres away. I would often have to suddenly brake, or swerve out of the way when going around a corner, to avoid having an accident with such trashpreneurs as the recycling place called them.

So, a job done by two men, with us cleaning out recycling and putting it in separate bins for them, in Johannesburg was done by likely dozens.

The same, here, occurs with petrol. I go to a petrol station. I fill up my tank. I tell the cashier in the convenience store which pump I used, and I pay. Sometimes, I buy oil for my car (the right one for the make), or other such things while there. 

In Johannesburg, between one and three men were needed to fill my car with petrol, in between which they would clean and wipe my windscreen, check my oil and tyres, and so fourth. A fourth man was often involved in payment, the cashier, who the petrol attendants answered to. Of course, a tip was also required to be given to the attendants, by customers. The attendants would also go on strikes, and those who still worked during a strike would be threatened and beaten up or worse. Often, you had to wait a good ten to twenty minutes at a petrol pump, for even one petrol attendant to notice you. You were not allowed to fill your own tank.

They would also play fun games, like putting nails in your car tyres, so you had to pay them to fix the tyre, or claiming they had found the same nail in your tyres to twenty or so drivers. I once caught a petrol attendant emptying petrol onto the concrete next to my tank, by the petrol flowing past my car, and there were stories of them pouring it into buckets as well.

Parking your car also involved payment of dues. Car guards not officially employed by owners of parking spaces would watch your car for you in Johannesburg. When you returned, you had to pay them. Whether they would actually do anything to stop someone stealing your car, I had no idea, but I feared they would damage my car if I didn't pay them. Beyond them, there were always people offering to wash your car (sometimes they damaged it in the washing) and demanding they be allowed to, for cash. 

Every traffic light, even in the suburbs of Johannesburg, had beggars, and often you would be approached in shopping centres for money as well. Usually, wares of every sort were also sold at traffic lights. Wealthy individuals would have very poor people sell their products for them, avoiding paying taxes on the sales.

I place my bag on a scale, it gives me a sticker, which I tie to it. I place it on the conveyer, and it heads through the airport system to the plane. Similarly, I am able to checkout my own groceries should I want to. Though if I choose a cashier, I will pack my own shopping cart with what I have bought. I usually take the shopping cart to my car and unpack it. I then return my shopping cart to the store, and connect it to the other carts, so it dispenses my Euro deposit back to me (in Johannesburg, full time trolley collectors take trolleys back to the stores). When I get home, I pack the items into bags and bring them into the kitchen.

A job, at least on the lower rungs, in Johannesburg, was often not something someone did but something of a fiefdom. People paid bribes to get government and other jobs. Unions insisted people from certain specific townships, miles away from the communities served, be hired by certain grocery chains. A cashier is accompanied by a grocery packer. A third individual will often offer to carry your shopping bags to your car and pack your car boot with them, for a price. Often someone was paid to take your shopping cart back to the store as well.

Government departments in Johannesburg are so full of staff, sharing similar duties, that you almost have to charm them into being the one to work, with a smile and questions about how they are this day. Getting a birth certificate or other document is so difficult, that you tend to need to pay a 'document specialist' ten times its price to get it at any reasonable juncture. Here, in contrast, you get any document you need, ordered online, within days, posted to you. There is no many months' wait while the document specialist tries to get your government documents (try without one and it can be years, in Johannesburg).

A social grants system gives the monetary equivalent of a few restaurant meals to millions each month. That money is shared between several generations to support extended families. And yet, a parallel system of charity exists throughout the economy, in Africa's 'most industrialised nation'. Jobs which should be done by two men which are done by twenty, petrol attendants, car guards ... Job after job exists to give a salary, rather than to achieve the ends paid for. And what salaries there are are eternally divided, further and further. The garbage collection men live in poverty. So do cashiers.

The garbage collection men in Johannesburg are sharing their salary between the dozens of them involved. The trashpreneurs also take a cut, by denying the garbage collection company recycling material. Money spent on petrol attendants and car guards will not be used to buy locally made products, and taxes what money those with money have, further. 

It used to be that people who worked basic jobs in Johannesburg could go home to their families, and support themselves and their families. But inefficiency is purposely built into everything. Ten men often share the job, and salary of one man. If that one man earned that salary, he would likely spend it, and once spent, it would continue fast circulation, as those he bought from spent it as well, creating more jobs, rather than ten spending it on basic necessities, while often living unlawfully on land they do not own, keeping warm by fire, and living in a home built from often found often stolen material: newspaper and tin.

Throwing inefficiency into an economy slows down the rate at which money is spent. An efficient economy creates jobs just by existing. An inefficient one creates make work, and congratulates itself for that, even as those doing the work, instead of expanding the pie, find themselves sharing an ever shrinking one.

Work is not a fiefdom, it is not something you are given as a possession due to your human dignity, it is something you do for others, in a fair trade. Countries which do all they can to create busy work, very seldom are wealthy countries, despite often being stacked full with resources. 

The central problem with economics is that human desire is infinite, resources aren't. Take someone out of a job which is not necessary, and the same person will be able to fulfil that human desire for the infinite in another role elsewhere, so long as an economy remains efficient.

The industrial revolution created the wealth we have in the West today, by mechanising jobs via the steam engine, then by standardisation. The idea that we have people who are marketers, accountants, YouTubers, and nail artists in any great numbers, is based on the fact that humans desire the infinite. What we have is never enough. So, if you free up wealth by making systems more efficient, that money will still be spent somewhere.

Dividing a man's wages among ten, leaves you with ten barely getting by.

Saturday 28 November 2020

Reading the New York Times is just reading the NYT. It does not make you elite.

 I'd rather have the opportunity to succeed as me, than have the opportunity to make sure that people who look like me succeed, where I or my children don't get to.

Today's new left seems to be all about living through the lives of others.  

Working for a billionaire elite makes them feel they are like that elite. Having people who look like them, dress like them, have intercourse with people of their type, or with the same dislikes of the body they have as them, makes them feel represented among the elite. 

The problem with what sociology terms sympathetic magic, is that it does not work. Reading the New York Times is just reading the NYT. It does not make you elite. 

It is a rather smart trick to play though. Foster divisive identity. Convince people they are so alike others who look or sound like them or live where they do or have sex like them, that it does not matter whether they themselves are successful in the society they are propping up for the super rich ... who benefit most by a system requiring close contacts with the state; often they run in the same circles as the political elite, or are pleased to have and lobby for regulations they can comply with while new competitors are kept out by the complexity and expense. 

A youth which complains endlessly about a system they themselves vote for every few years, because they feel more part of the elite by doing so, is the opposite of elite and cause their own poverty, tragically, for a hope that does not benefit them personally.

Saturday 21 November 2020

Apologise for your temptation

Temptation. Pray, thank God you have not fallen yet since last time. Apologise for your curent temptation. Ask him for the grace to continue on. 

If it persists, ask, is this thought habit or new. Habit happens in thought, actions merely follow. You also know where habitual thoughts go. If habit, disengage, it is not 'thought', but repetition, thoughtlessness. 

If it remains strong, know our minds are analogue, not digital. Ask what the thought symbolises to you, what its meaning is below what you think. It is a symbol of something else, other desires or concerns. Address those symbols, but engage meekly, and pray to God, thanking him and asking for grace. 

If it persists, distract yourself, focus on something else. Remember that you cannot fight future battles, only your present one. Often we push ourselves into temptation by living in a thousand futures that may never happen. Turn to prayer, even pray out loud. 

Life oscillates between strength and weakness, awareness, and sleep, easy and difficult. Both difficulty and ease will come and go. Staying firm despite both is the virtue of fortitude. Don't try to argue with your devils, you would not be aware that your temptation were wrong if you did not know those arguments will only work, because you have oscillated into a stage of weakness, and not against your sound and logical mind.

If you fall, immediately apologise to God for disappointing him, and ask his strength to again pursue good. Don't wait for confession to repent, confess later, but repent that moment.

Have faith in God, and start the fight to serve him again that very moment. Despair is a weapon the devil loves to use against us. Hope, real hope, is a power from God. Pray. Thank God for his grace, and for giving you repentance, yet again, and ask that you continue to walk in it. God does not judge you by who you were yesterday, he cares about who you are today.

Fight those battles you can fight, any one you see you are able to. Take your opportunities. Those which may not be there tomorrow. 

Fight in the present, and be always aware of where life's currents drag you to. You build today what tomorrow can behold, you strengthen your defences tomorrow, through present actions. You build virtue tomorrow, by forming habits of good virtue today, whenever you have the opportunity to. 

Present resolve is strong, future resolve is only as strong as the present resolve of each day you face. God gives us our daily bread, like he gave heavenly bread to the Israelites in the desert, enough for our present needs, but nothing secures against the future, which winds about out of sight and predictability. We get each day, now, we only get tomorrow tomorrow.

Tuesday 3 March 2020

South Africa in a recession, and unlikely to properly recover soon.

'SA grew but 0,2% for the whole of 2019! We are in a recession and now unlikely to get out of it soon due to power shortages and coronavirus. This is a harsh harsh environment for business and particularly SMMEs.' economist Mike Schussler writes, adding,

'President Ramaphosa now has quite easily the worst economic growth record of SA leaders. It was not of his making perhaps but to get out of a rut you cannot play with the uncertainty of EWC, No clear economic policy other than spin. Unions lead important economic departments' and that,

'6 out of 9 quarter on quarter GDP declines is honestly not a record that helps confidence, It more often than not leads to leadership change (E.g. Brazil). The curse Zuma left SA with is not going away without decisive action to help business grow, profit in order to create work.'


Covid-19 Wuhan Coronavirus will not be contained. Here is how-to save your life.

Take a moment to read this. It is something that may save your life.

The editor of top scientific and academic discussion publication Quillette, Claire Lehmann, says:

We've confirmed human-to-human transmission of #COVIDー19 in Sydney & we know asymptomatic people transmit the virus. The time to start self-distancing is now. Advice this morning from Health Minister Greg Hunt to 'wash hands' & 'look out for each other is inadequate.' Thread.

The virus is not containable. It harms can only be mitigated. The people in our community most likely to be harmed are the already sick, frail, & elderly.

Our hospitals do not have "surge capacity." Therefore it's our responsibility to try to slow the spread of the virus.

How do we slow the spread? Through self-distancing. A preprint paper on medRvix states that the most effective strategies used in Wuhan were:

a) shutdown of public transport;
b) closure of entertainment venues; &
c) banning of public gatherings

This is done to flatten the curve. To get ahead of the virus. If everyone gets sick all at once, our healthcare system ***cannot deal with it.***

Instead of waiting for government advice, I've started practising self-distancing measures myself.

These include:
- driving instead of catching public transport
- cancelling non-essential travel
- organising workbooks & activities for homeschooling
- conducting all my work remotely
- cancelling in-person meetings

I've also stocked up on medical supplies to treat loved ones at home. Zinc lozenges, magnesium & potassium supplements, rehydration powders, thermometers are all essential. If you have relatives w/ respiratory problems, make sure you have a plan for oxygen therapy at home.

This is not about "panicking" this is about getting ahead of the virus. We can beat this thing, but we have to adapt, and fast.

Our mindset needs to be focused on being proactive, not reactive. Not for ourselves, but for the most vulnerable in the community.


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