Martin C. Winer

This is what happens when Martin gets tired of sending mass emails.

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Dumb and DumberDumb:

Project Lifeline is a Bush administration initiative to give distressed mortgagees an additional month before their homes are foreclosed upon. This reprieve goes not only to subprime borrowers but to all distressed borrowers. The subtext to this move is that not only are subprime borrowers in distress. One month’s grace is dumb because the amount of debt that we’re dealing with coupled with the loss of equity from falling housing prices is not something that is going to resolve itself that quickly. This is akin to giving a starving man a rice cake. We all know that rice cakes are good only as coasters, so too is Project Lifeline.


Interest rate cuts are an even dumber idea. Last month the Fed cut rates by a staggering 1.25%. There is strong rumour that more cuts are coming. This is a dumber idea for a few reasons. First interest rate cuts are the cause of debenture spending. The reason we’re in the mess we’re in is because people are/were spending money they didn’t have. Next, lowered interest rates cause economic bubbles such as the housing bubble which is just in the process of bursting. Finally, interest rate cuts increase government debt. The way that the Fed lowers interest is by buying treasury bills with printed money. This devalues the currency and increases government debt. Thus, interest rate cuts are the cause of the current economic quagmire, and certainly aren’t the cure.


The US Stimulus Package is the dumbest possible idea. Under the package, people could see $600 to $1200 in tax rebates. First off, the amount itself is a pittance. Next, where is the money coming from? The money is being borrowed from China to be repaid with interest. Where is the money going? The money, it is hoped, will be spent into the economy to buy ‘stuff’. Where does all the stuff come from? The stuff comes from… China. The real underlying problem is that the US economy has shifted from a production based economy to a consumer based economy. Until you address that problem, any attempts to throw money at the problem will simply throw money in other people’s pockets. I’ll give the government some credit though, the US Stimulus Package does manage to stimulate an economy; perhaps the government will fund moving its citizens to Beijing where the positive effects can be felt.

Waterfall - M. C. Escher

Waterfall - M. C. Escher

The optical illusion here:
is very interesting.  Look at the two ‘donuts’.  The centers seems to be flashing out of phase with each other.  In fact, they are flashing in phase with one another and it’s just the distraction of the surrounding ‘doughnut’ which throws off our visual perception system.  It’s also possible to play with certain parameters and see the effects.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

With the recent passing of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn I was reminded of a lecture by psychology professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto.  This lecture expounded the virtue of taking personal responsibility in dealing with our fears.  Peterson used a children’s book “There No Such Things As A Dragon” and the moral lessons therein to reveal how we all can be crippled by a metaphoric fear dragons and released only by facing them.

Peterson first deals with the common fears we all deal with such as fear of dying and losing those we love.  Then Peterson comes to dealing with fears and adversity imposed upon us by social forces such as tyranny and bureaucracy.  This is where he begins to discuss Solzhenitsyn. 

Solzhenitsyn is a survivor of the former Soviet Gulag where according to Solzhenitsyn’s account, approximately 60 million people died between the years of 1919 and 1959.  Solzhenitsyn started out life on the Russian front.  He was captured by the Germans where he was thrown in a special POW camp because Stalin in his neuroticism refused to sign the Geneva convention.  Conditions were so bad in these camps that other POW’s — who were not much better off themselves – threw packages of food over the fences in pity of the Soviet inmates.

With the end of the war, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia expecting a hero’s welcome.  Much to his surprise, he and his comrades were thrown into the Gulag out of fears that they may have been contaminated by their exposure to Western culture.  Conditions in the gulag were intolerable.  Many of Solzhenitsyn’s fellow inmates ate a type of clay just to have their stomachs feel fuller.  Solzhenitsyn then asked a remarkable question under the circumstances:

“What did I do to get here?”  This is a remarkeable question because many of us would immediately look to the external conditions that brought about Solzhenitsyn’s plight.  There was the war, the Soviet Empire and any other host of external conditions that could be used to explain his current situation.  Solzhenitsyn instead chose to revisit, over the following 10 years, all the things he had done wrong in his life.  In Peterson’s words “he revisited anything that gave his conscience a pang”.

Out of this introspection, he wrote the Gulag Archipelago – a 3 volume 1900 page book – which he committed to memory as there was no pen and paper available to him in the gulag.  This work circulated for years in the underground before it was eventually published in 1975.  The Gulag Archipelago went on to be the greatest literary attack on the Soviet Empire.  Solzhenitsyn, under completely unreasonable circumstances, chooses to take personal responsibility for his plight.  As a result of this soul searching, he wrote a literary attack which in many real ways bested the former Soviet Empire.  Some may immediately be tempted to say: “well the world doesn’t work like that!”  Peterson retorts: “Do we really know the world works?”  Peterson equates injustice large and small to dragons that we must all face on a personal and societal level. 

In a related work, Peterson quotes Solzhenitsyn saying: “one man who stopped lying could bring down a tyranny”.  Peterson further commented: ”I don’t think he meant that as a metaphor–or hyperbole.”

Peterson’s lecture can be found at:
(The section about Solzhenitsyn begins at time index 44:00)


“And therefore the monkey looks like man, and is an example of a generation of men which were created and made but were only wooden figures.”

                                                                                                   — Popol Vuh 

If you started reading this hoping for chapter and verse quotations such as Genesis 10:20 “And the Lord made dinosaurs” followed by Genesis 20:30 “The Lord then made monkeys from which he made humans” you’re going to be disappointed.  Of course if such blatant quotes were available, there would be no need for this article.

The reader will need to jump through some theological hoops to find Darwin in the Bible.  However, the reader will be pleasantly surprised that those hoops are not as insurmountable as one might expect.

The first hoop come in accepting that the Quiche Maya are offshoots of the Israelites.  The Quiche Maya are of course from Central America and the Israelites were from the Middle East.  Modern historical dogma claims that there were no interactions between these two peoples.  For a detailed explanation of how this cultural exchange is plausible please see:

I’ll offer a short summary of the top 3 points as to why this theory is plausible:

1) One author of the Popul Vuh (The Mayan Sacred Writings) declares:

I, Don Fransisco Gomez, first Ahzib Quiche, write here on this paper of the coming of our fathers and grandfathers from the other side of the sea [ocean] whence the sun rises.” 
(Note: The sun rises in the east.)

2) A signature biblical story… splitting the sea and crossing it dry shod appears in the Popul Vuh:

And it is not clear how they crossed over the sea. The crossed as if there were no sea. They crossed as if on some stones, stones piled up in the same. They give the stones a name, Rock Rows, Furrowed Sands was the name for the place where they crossed through the midst of the sea. Where the waters divided they crossed over.

3) There is an odd copy of the Ten Commandments in the New Mexico desert called the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone.  This is thought to be an artifact of ‘Calalus’, an Israelite colony in the New World circa 700CE.

If we can accept that the Maya are an offshoot of Israelites, we reap the rewards of finding references to Evolution in the creation myth of the Maya.  In essence, the Bible tells of the creation of man out of dust of the earth.  The Mayan version fills in the blanks between drafting room and final product.

The creation myth of the Maya closely parallels the Biblical one.  The interpositions of additional narrative is likely to be the preservation of details from the precursor myths to both the Bible and the Popol Vuh.  This is the second and final theological hoop one must jump through.

It is in one of these interpositions, the story of the creation of man, where we find Evolution in the Bible.

In the Mayan creation myth, the creators seek to create creations which can speak and adore their creators (self aware, and aware of creators).  First they fail with the animals:

But they could not make them speak like men; they only hissed and screamed and cackled; they were unable to make words, and each screamed in a different way.

They go on to try again with the animals and fail.

The first attempt at man:

Then was the creation and the formation. Of earth, of mud, they made [man's] flesh. But they saw that it was not good. It melted away, it was soft, did not move, had no strength, it fell down, it was limp, it could not move its head, its face fell to one side, its sight was blurred, it could not look behind. At first it spoke, but had no mind. Quickly it soaked in the water and could not stand.

Here we have another attempt at man:

And instantly the figures were made of wood. They looked like men, talked like men, and populated the surface of the earth.

They existed and multiplied; they had daughters, they had sons, these wooden figures; but they did not have souls, nor minds, they did not remember their Creator, their Maker; they walked on all fours, aimlessly.

A great flood (similar to Noah’s) destroys the wooden creatures.  It is said that the monkeys (primates) descend from these beings.

So was the ruin of the men who had been created and formed, the men made to be destroyed and annihilated; the mouths and faces of all of them were mangled.

And it is said that their descendants are the monkeys which now live in the forests; these are all that remain of them because their flesh was made only of wood by the Creator and the Maker.

And therefore the monkey looks like man, and is an example of a generation of men which were created and made but were only wooden figures.

So here we have textual evidence of a creationist-evolutionary tale found in the sacred works of the Maya.  We have strong narrative correspondence between the Bible and the Popol Vuh suggesting that the interposed narratives are preserved from the antecedent myths of both works. 

It is a perhaps bitter irony that in order to find textual evidence of Evolution in Biblical narratives, we must accept cultural evolution and migration of the early Israelites to Central America. 

Steven Pinker - Lawrence Keeley :: Savagery over Time  (<– click to see larger view)

Steven Pinker, in his book “The Blank Slate” offers an interesting comparison of savagery over time.  His contention, indeed that of Prof Lawrence Keeley, is that despite all the wars of the 20th century, the per capita rate of violence is lower than all preceding generations.  That is to say, your likelihood of falling victim to violence was far greater in antiquity than it is today.  This speaks to the axiom that democracies are by and large peaceful.

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