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Devion's Views #168

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW (posted Oct. 14, 2018)

A song, originally recorded by Johnny Nash, reaching number one on the Billboard chart, in 1972.

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,

I can see all the obstacles in my way

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright

Sun-shiny day.

But, what if you can't see things clearly anymore?

A medical condition most of us encounter as we age, in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision.

The condition is called a cataract.

In cataract surgery, the lens inside your eye that has become cloudy is removed and replaced with an artificial lens, called an intra-ocular lens, to restore clear vision.

It took nine months before I got to the top of a long waiting list.

My left eye lens was replaced this week, in a painless procedure that took no more than 20 minutes.

I now see clearly out of my left eye. The clarity is remarkable. My right eye now appears slightly blurred, which I didn't notice before. I now eagerly await corrective surgery of the right eye, in a few months.

                         CLARITY THROUGH THE LENS OF SCIENCE

The work of scientists, in all fields of study, continues to solve opaque mysteries through research. Breakthroughs that expand human understanding and knowledge.

A simple, easy way to keep learning things and "exercise" your brain is by watching TED talks.

Some of the most interesting, informative and talented people on the planet share their insights on TED talk presentations; available on any electronic device.

Occasionally, someone whose field of expertise, personal courage and achievements is so unusual, stands out in a crowd of brilliant individuals. Such a person is Dan Ariely.

Who is Dan Ariely?

- A burn victim, who used the extraordinary pain he endured during his recovery to change burn patient treatment.

- A fascinating, interesting, intelligent and humourous teacher.

- A Duke University Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics.

- Head of an organization with the "insightful" title 'Centre for Advanced Hindsight'.

He spends time teaching two different audiences, "I give lots of long lectures for very little money. When I go to corporations, I give much shorter lectures for much more money."

Dan and his researchers specialize in...

- Why humans are so irrational - by advancing the study of hindsight.

- How people are hard-wired to make bad decisions, even lie and cheat, especially when money is involved.

- Provide a rationale to explain irrational decisions humans make.

- Explain behaviour that is considered normal and rational that has serious consequences in a complex, fast paced, interconnected world.

- Explain how human irrationality can be weaponized against us.

- Discover new facts to find ways to improve the human condition rather than make it worse.

                          One example of his many observations

Conflict between honesty and dishonesty.

Many of us can relate to this one.

You get the question "Honey, how do I look in this dress?"

You care about honesty, but you also don't want to offend your significant other, and you want to have a good evening.

You are now faced with three goals that are not compatible, and you have to decide which one wins.

So what happens? Honesty loses its priority in "the hierarchy of values".

CLARITY "THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, AND WHAT WAS FOUND THERE" - The CRITICALLY important U.S. midterm election

On Tuesday, November 6, 2018 the midterm elections take place in the middle of Republican Donald Trump's first term.

All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested.

The U.S. Senate has 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats (including two independents). Of the 35 seats being contested, 26 are held by Democrats.

The framers of the Constitution wanted to avoid ever again being ruled by any unhinged, cruel, dominating King, so they set up the following system.

Three branches of government that can limit the powers of the others.

This way, no one branch becomes too powerful. Each branch "checks" the power of the other branches to make sure that the power is balanced between them.

Republicans currently control all branches of government, including the Supreme Court. 

However, elected Republicans refuse to exercise their sworn duty to check the power of this president, because they fear him and his loyal base of cult followers that could destroy their reelection chances.

This sets up the perfect conditions for a President with "tyrannical" tendencies to operate without fear of any of the "intended" checks and balances.

June 16, 2015 - In a grand, staged for television production, surrounded by hundreds of paid "extras", Donald and Melania made their entrance, riding down an escalator, to announce the candidacy, as a Republican contender, of Donald J. Trump.

The Washington establishment considered him a political novice, a joke, not to be taken seriously. Few gave him any chance.

"A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact." - Daniel Kahneman

He crushed every and all opponents, using a masterfully thuggish, down and dirty muck-raking campaign of labels, insults, lies, anger, menace, hate and fear, with more than a little help from his handler and mentor, Vlad.

The "not to be taken seriously joke" won the presidential election on November 8, 2016 and became President on January 20, 2017.

Two years of the Trump presidency has made crystal clear the following:

- He has no political philosophy i.e., what makes a government legitimate. He does not embrace the beliefs held by Republicans, Democrats or Independents.

- He espouses 'The Trump Doctrine':

Doctrine #1: Its all about me, me, me!

Doctrine #2: I only respect power and money.

Doctrine #3: Climate change is a Chinese hoax, just like the Russian collusion hoax.

Doctrine #4: Its all about me, me, me...and the 1%.

Doctrine #5: There ain't no doctrine #5!

- Beliefs: I am above the law.

- Distrusts: allies.

 - Admires: befriends and emulates dictators.

- Exhibits: an unprecedented, abnormal moral bankruptcy, bereft of empathy.

- Fired: all key advisors, replaced them with ass-kissing sycophants.

A tyrant is defined as a cruel and oppressive ruler; a dictator, despot, autocrat, authoritarian, oppressor, bully, megalomaniac.

All dangerous goods carry a warning label.

On November 6th - Americans who vote and don't succeed in electing at least one branch of their government to put a check on Trump's erratic, unpredictable behaviour in a divided America, will set up conditions for their nation to deteriorate into chaos.

If they don't stop him now, it may well be too late.

In a democracy, "freedom of the press" exists to serve the governed and not those who govern.

"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters" - Albert Einstein

P.S. #1: On the weekend, Sidney by the Sea, B.C., was host to 450 rowers from 24 nations for the 2018 FISA world coastal rowing championships; a North American first. The sport of coastal rowing is popular in Europe, but little-known in Canada and will make its debut in the Pan Am Games next year in Lima, Peru. 

P.S. #2: On October 17th, The Great White North goes to pot.

Ron Devion, No Guts, No Glory