Sort yourself out. First. When it comes to relating to the world, remember, the world starts with you. Before you can begin to extend yourself into the complex dance of the larger universe, you need to get a handle on yourself. You need to achieve balance, to improve your sovereignty. And then a mastery of maintaining that balance and regaining it when lost. Only then can you proceed into the problems of the outside world.
These days that might seem like a bit of a burden. In the past it was merely called “being an adult.”
It seems odd that in this moment of so much consequence, when it is possible that everything is at stake and that we are at the threshold of unspeakable power that the most wise and most intelligent thing that can be urged is “grow the hell up.”
Ah, Herb Caen. I haven’t thought about him in years but at the time I thought about him every day. Everybody did. Part of it was that The San Francisco Chronicle was such a lousy newspaper. Everyone read his column because no one bothered with reading the editorial page.
Caen was known to everyone including the police. I know this because one night I was driving home to my apartment on Russian Hill and I was rear ended (mildly) while stopped at a stop sign. I was completely innocent and the guy who hit me was completely and irrefutably at fault.
Unfortunately he was some kind of big wig in the SF police department. Several street cops drove up and I knew I was in trouble when all of them saluted this guy and said ‘sir’ a lot.
So the guy who ran into me was let go and I was arrested. It seems I had an overdue parking ticket from a year ago in Daly City (a nearby suburb) . That’s how I ended up staying most of the night at the police station. The cops wouldn’t take a check or a credit card and I didn’t have enough cash on me. I was truly stuck.
Then I hit on the solution. I made the preposterous claim that I was Herb Caen’s nephew and if not immediately released everyone would read about this whole embarrassing incident tomorrow morning in my uncle’s column.
Never doubt the power of the press. I was let go and spent the rest of the night at home in my own bed. Thanks, Herb.
It happens by a process called stigmergy. Simply put, a small change by a group member causes other members to behave differently, leading to a new pattern of behavior.
When an ant finds a food source, it marks the path with pheromones. This attracts other ants to that path, leads them to the food source, and prompts them to mark the same path with more pheromones. Over time, the most efficient route will become the superhighway, as the faster and easier a path is, the more ants will reach the food and the more pheromones will be on the path. Thus, it looks as if a more intelligent being chose the best path, but it emerged from the tiny, simple changes made by individuals.
So what does this mean for humans? Well, a lot. In the past few decades, researchers have developed numerous algorithms and metaheuristics, such as ant colony optimization and particle swarm optimization, and they are rapidly being adopted.