Sunday, April 28, 2013

Religion Of Progress

I have been reading the ArchDruidReport for several years now, as well several of his books. The current theme is about the “Religion of Progress”, where the belief is that due to technology, human ingenuity and our privileged place in the American Empire (Canada is a privileged vassal state, as long as we continue sending tribute south) life will continue to get better and better, for us as well as our descendants. I have extracted some of the comments from other readers that I feel agree with our journey in Kung Fu.

“Furthermore, this suggests one of the deepest flaws in a worldview resting on the Faith of Progress. If one believes that we are all inevitably headed to a shiny Star Trek future of moral, technological, and economic enlightenment, there's no need to get out of bed in the morning to fight for it. It's going to magically appear someday anyway, isn't it? It has to. Maybe not in this lifetime, but that's okay, as long as we get there some time. Time for some cartoons and cereal.”
Which ties in with another comment:

“Of course, the enervating lifestyle of assured success is not very fulfilling at the end of the day. A fight for progress with an uncertain outcome and no permanent success, while less appealing on the surface, brings so much more meaning to life. Because one's ongoing participation really can make the difference between success or failure of the things you hold dearest. That's a real reason to get out of bed.”
And this comment:
“Giving up faith in progress doesn't mean giving up on the idea of a better world. It means giving up on the idea that you're guaranteed one, and thus realizing that if you want one, you're going to have to get up off your backside and do something to make it happen.”

I try and relate what I read to my life, which means I also try to relate it to Kung Fu, as this is currently a large part of my life at this time. Kung Fu dates back to a time before the religion of progress, to when the prevailing views were of cycles of life, not an arrow in time. This is also reflected in the quote “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”.
My personal view at the moment is that we are on a cycle through time, with ancient solar energy being the current dominant driver to the western worldview, and the fact that we passed the peak in the extraction of that energy  back in 2005 (Peak Oil). As things progress down the backside of Hurberts curve, things will change. This is as much recognizing that as the leaves turn yellow in the fall, winter is approaching. This is not Doom and Gloom, any more than putting up firewood for the winter is. Those that want to pretend that summer is endless will have a much rougher life come November then those who read history and prepare accordingly.
One final thought: To those people that plan on spending every free moment at the Kwoon preparing for transient events, where are your long term plans? Part of my I Ho Chuan goals this year is raising the long term sustainability of my home, which includes gardening and building windmills. I cannot drop everything for endless practices to perfect a transient demo, because my long term goals demand that same time. Some practice is required, but keep in perspective “Good Enough”, and make sure that goals that matter get done vs. merely urgent goals (see Stephen Covey and his time management matrix, or many similar sites for what I am talking about).  I am calling these demo’s ”transient”, because ten years from now, will a minor error in timing in front of people that don’t understand what the intended timing was matter? It will only matter to those people performing, whether they fret over “what should have been”, or if they don’t care enough to put on a good effort regardless of what they do, as opposed to aiming for that happy medium of good enough. Remember, that the audience is unlikely to appreciate the difference either way.
Dennis Donohue

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Today’s blog will be a review, first my new Pedometer, or as they like to call them these days, a “Personal Activity Monitor”, the one I got is the “fitbit one”. The thing is tiny, and has only one button. Most stuff (including tracking info into spreadsheets automatically) is done through a wireless dongle, and is PC and Mac compatible, as well as various i-thingy’s. I have had it for almost a week, and am impressed, mostly because it is suitable to tuck on the waistband of our uniforms, so I can measure the most active time of my day-class. (Women are typically shown wearing it tucked into a bra). Downsides: it still measures frost heaves in our roads as steps, and one I’m not sure is good or bad, the rapid up and down of pushups and other exercises is counted as stair climbing. This is not technically accurate, but it does capture the higher energy level involved. So far I recommend it, $99 from    

The other review is the new book by John Michael Greer, the ArchDruid that writes the weekly ArchDruid report blog. The book is called “Not the future we ordered” Peak Oil, Psychology, and the Myth of Progress. Now, as someone who has been following the peak oil scene for years, I enjoyed this book as it attempts to explain the psychology behind the different reactions to news of peak oil and its ramifications. The interesting thing for me is that part of my motivation to study Kung Fu is peak oil. Kung Fu was developed long before conventional oil arrived on the scene, and will most likely be around once oil is once again a precious rare commodity, not to be squandered on Sunday drives and disposable anything’s.  Many things that your average couch potato slash cubical dweller will consider unthinkable are already a normal part of a Kung Fu artist’s life, things like “Hard Physical Work”, and human powered weapons. So if you are starting to suspect that the latest plastic gizmo isn’t the be all/end all in the quest for eternal progress, maybe you might be ready to learn about peak oil as well.

The final thought, the irony of a review of latest gizmo and a book about the incipient demise of the world of latest gizmos is not lost on me. Remember, Peak Oil is not the Apocalypse, it is recognizing that any resource on a finite planet has got to be finite as well, and it is more about appropriate use of those resources as they slowly decline in affordability and availability than preparing for the doomsday of modern civilization. I choose to prepare for what I see is as obvious  as the changing of the seasons, but do indulge myself in small ways as I go along.  

Dennis Donohue

Sunday, April 14, 2013

2 Months in

Well, it’s almost 2 months in, and I just finished entering my numbers into the spreadsheet. How am I doing? In absolute numbers, my acts of kindness are above the requirement (having a spouse with a injury causes these to add up), my blogs are on track, and everything else is at about 40%. In some ways, I could beat myself up, but on the other hand I am congratulating myself on how far I have come. Before I Ho Chuan I rarely did much practice outside class, and it showed. Now I am doing something every day, even if it is not the magic number of reps.
Real Food
On the subject of diet, I have been thinking of Mr Repay`s responses, and they do have some merit. I have been Gluten Free now for just over a year, and this has side effects. When you go off gluten, you also tend to go off of junk & fast foods, as these tend to be loaded with gluten. You find that your choices are basically limited to healthy food and healthy restaurants.  If the only thing on a menu of a restaurant that is gluten free is the fries and coke, it is not worth even stopping in the first place. When the free donuts come around at work, I go back to my lunchbox and get a gluten free snack instead. This means that I am missing out on the usual sources of High Fructose Corn Syrup, extra salt and red dye number 40, among other things. So is gluten the absolute guaranteed cause of my previous arthritis symptoms? No, but whatever is, if it is not gluten, it rides alongside of the gluten, and I am not willing to put myself in pain to do the required experiment. So if you are not willing to go gluten free, consider only eating high quality gluten (from artisans such as Mr Repay) and forgo the garbage that is loaded with gluten and other chemicals, that passes itself off as food.
Dennis Donohue

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 7th

  Today is April 7, and the April showers are still decidedly on the solid, white side. I thought about blogging on this extended winter, but decided it was too much of a downer this late in the winter. Instead, I am going to blog about the other hot topic, Food. Many people are going cold turkey off of their “vice” foods, and BadBaker is putting out some very reasonable rants. A year ago I had a major cleanup of my diet when I went off wheat products as part of finding controls for my COPD. This year, I am only doing a cleanup of minor parts of my eating and drinking. I have given up cheap coffee from the machine at work, but maintain my 1 cup of high quality latte in the morning before leaving home. I am attempting to increase my water intake, and have put a large water container on my desk at work, so have no excuses not to drink when It is right in front of me. We have not bought boxed wine now in months, instead reverting to the more primitive style of purchasing wine in glass bottles (the better ones have screw top lids).I am keeping up my chocolate intake, as I think that quality chocolate is healthy (cheap chocolate has a lot of other junk added to keep the price down).
   Mr Repay posted a rant by another baker on gluten, and the evils of self diagnosis. Now as one of those self diagnosed gluten sensitive people, I had to respond. There are a couple of points to bring up, such as “is it gluten?” or something else? I have to agree on that point, it could be gluten, it could be something else in the modern wheat plant, or it could be fallout from the mind control drugs that the CIA adds to jet fuel when forming Chemtrails (the last one is plausible only because of observing the one and only baker I know, as bakers would obviously have a higher exposure to any such mind control drugs). The fact is that “wheat” as currently found on the grocery store shelf is not the wheat that Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris ate as children. In the 1960’s, a primitive form of genetically modifying plants was used on wheat; this was called the “Green Revolution”. The yield from wheat went up ten-fold per acre, and we went from 3 billion persons on earth, many on the edge of starvation, to over 7 billion, again with a large percentage on the edge of starvation. What the defenders of gluten gloss over is that it is not the same plant (for instance it produces twice as much gluten, and prefers huge doses of chemical fertilizers to grow). This is not the plant that man has been cultivating for thousands of years, it is a product of modern laboratories, that has a superficial resemblance to historical wheat. The other item is that gluten sensitivity is not like pregnancy, as in you can be “a little bit” sensitive to wheat, not just insensitive or Celiac. So before you jump on the bandwagon, do what I did, and try going without for a month. If you feel better, maybe a self diagnosis is in order, and you change your eating habits. As far as self diagnosis goes, sometimes you don’t need a PhD and malpractice insurance, just some common sense. I have self diagnosed many things, such as hitting oneself in the head with a hammer is a bad thing, and I no longer engage in that behavior.
  So have a really good cup of coffee, a nice glass of wine, some excellent dark chocolate, and be glad, that despite the solid precipitation, we don’t have earthquakes.