All posts by Drolgalazin

Dr Olga Lazin is a UCLA graduate in History. American Constitutional and Globalization history. She is a published author, and History Lecturer. Read her book: http://www.decentralizedglobalization.com. You can access and download her books at: http://www.olgalazin.com In Hard copy: Globalization is Decentralized: Easter Europe and Latin America Compared, Civic And Civil Society, Foundations And U.S. Philanthropy, published 2016 Author HOUSE, USA. Book: http://www.decentralizedglobalization.com She has been teaching History at UCLA, Cal State University Dominguez Hills, Cal State University Long Beach, as well as University of Guadalajara (UDG) and University of Quintana Roo, in Mexico for over 26 years. Her specialty is History of Food, Globalization of technology, food History, and the American Constitution. As a hobby, she is practicing permaculture. Her radio show is accessible 24 hours a day at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dr_olga_lazin FACEBOOK: OLGA LAZIN DROlga Lazin Twitter; @olgamlazin Instagram; #lazinolga E-mail; olazin@ucla.edu

WOMEN”S BRAINS AN DHOW TO REACT WHEN cadere Psihologica


Ține-te bine, avem de făcut un anuț: creierul femeii este diferit de cel al bărbaților!

Cu toții știm că bărbații și femeile sunt două ființe diferite, iar acum oamenii de știință demonstrează și faptul că sistemul cranian este unul diferit.

În cadrul acestui articol vom discuta despre diferențele dintre creierul femeilor și cel al bărbaților, un subiect destul de controversat.

1. Studiul Biobanc din UK: Univ. A revolutionary feminist believe sin world revolution, Patty Hearst.

O echipă de cercetători din cadrul Universității Edinburgh a folosit rezonanța magnetică pentru a evalua 2.750 de femei și 2.466 bărbați. Aceștia au examinat volumul a 68 de regiuni craniene.

Echipa de cercetători au demonstrat că femeile aveau un strat mai gros de cortizol, decât bărbații.

Bărbații, se pare, au un volum mai mare în regiunile periventriculare.

IATĂ DE CE CREIERUL FEMEILOR ESTE SUPERIOR CELUI BĂRBĂTESC

Unde excelează femeile

Diane Helpern, fost președinte al Asociației de Psihologi Americani spune: „ credeam că toate aceste diferențe între sexe erau greșeli, dar m-am înșelat…!”

PUBLICITATE

De ce s-a răzgțndit cel mai prestigios psiholog? Ce a determinat-o să o facă?

Iată ce consideră Dr. Helpern că femeile fac diferit de bărbați:

– Sunt mai abile din punct de vedere verbal
– Scriu și citesc mult mai bine
– Au abilități motorii dezvoltate
– Rețin mult mai ușor informația și o păstrează mai mult timp
– Au reacții mai rapide

Larry Cahill, profesor și neurobiolog în cadrul Universității din California, spune următoarele:

– Femeile au un hipocampus mai mare, iar acesta joacă un rol important, atunci când vine vorba de memorie.
– Memoria femeilor este mult mai reală

2. Studiul Universității din Pennsylvania

Oamenii de știință din cadrul Univerității din Pennsylvania au examinat 521 de femei și 428 de bărbați. Rezultatul a fost următorul: „creierul femeilor are o activitate puternică de coordonare între emisfere…”

Pe scurt, femeile au latura cognitivă mult mai dezvoltată, decât cea a bărbaților, iar circulația sangvină din acea zonă este mult mai puternică.

Tot cercetătorii au fost cei care au concluzionat că acesta poate fi și răspunsul la întrebarea „de ce femeile sunt atât de emotive și vulnerabile”. Circulația sangvină accentută din regiunea cognitivă este de vină.

Cum ne menținem creierul sănătos

Oricare ar fi diferențele dintre creierul femeilor și cel al bărbaților, cu toții trebuie să ne asigurăm că acesta funcționează bine. Pentru ca acest lucru să fie posibil trebuie să:

– Avem stimulare mentală: activitățile mentale sunt cele care asigură buna funcționare a celulelor craniene.
– Facem mișcare: sportul ajută la dezvoltarea celulelor craniene
– Ne alimentăm potrivit: nutriția ne asigură sănătatea întregului organism
– Îmbunătățim sistemul circulator: schimbă-ți ritualurile zilnice, astfel încât să ai un stil de viață sănătos.
– Ne echilibrăm emoțiile: persoanele anxioase și depresive au înregistrat un scor mai scăzut la testele de Iq.

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WOMEN’s BRAINS ARE DIFFERENT

Oamenii de știință explică de ce creierul femeilor este mai ager decât cel al bărbaților – Secretele.com:

Ține-te bine, avem de făcut un anuț: creierul femeii este diferit de cel al bărbaților!

Cu toții știm că bărbații și femeile sunt două ființe diferite, iar acum oamenii de știință demonstrează și faptul că sistemul cranian este unul diferit.

În cadrul acestui articol vom discuta despre diferențele dintre creierul femeilor și cel al bărbaților, un subiect destul de controversat.

1. Studiul Biobanc din UK: Univ. A revolutionary feminist believe sin world revolution, Patty Hearst.

O echipă de cercetători din cadrul Universității Edinburgh a folosit rezonanța magnetică pentru a evalua 2.750 de femei și 2.466 bărbați. Aceștia au examinat volumul a 68 de regiuni craniene.

Echipa de cercetători au demonstrat că femeile aveau un strat mai gros de cortizol, decât bărbații.

Bărbații, se pare, au un volum mai mare în regiunile periventriculare.

IATĂ DE CE CREIERUL FEMEILOR ESTE SUPERIOR CELUI BĂRBĂTESC

Unde excelează femeile

Diane Helpern, fost președinte al Asociației de Psihologi Americani spune: „ credeam că toate aceste diferențe între sexe erau greșeli, dar m-am înșelat…!”

PUBLICITATE

De ce s-a răzgțndit cel mai prestigios psiholog? Ce a determinat-o să o facă?

Iată ce consideră Dr. Helpern că femeile fac diferit de bărbați:

– Sunt mai abile din punct de vedere verbal
– Scriu și citesc mult mai bine
– Au abilități motorii dezvoltate
– Rețin mult mai ușor informația și o păstrează mai mult timp
– Au reacții mai rapide

Larry Cahill, profesor și neurobiolog în cadrul Universității din California, spune următoarele:

– Femeile au un hipocampus mai mare, iar acesta joacă un rol important, atunci când vine vorba de memorie.
– Memoria femeilor este mult mai reală

2. Studiul Universității din Pennsylvania

Oamenii de știință din cadrul Univerității din Pennsylvania au examinat 521 de femei și 428 de bărbați. Rezultatul a fost următorul: „creierul femeilor are o activitate puternică de coordonare între emisfere…”

Pe scurt, femeile au latura cognitivă mult mai dezvoltată, decât cea a bărbaților, iar circulația sangvină din acea zonă este mult mai puternică.

Tot cercetătorii au fost cei care au concluzionat că acesta poate fi și răspunsul la întrebarea „de ce femeile sunt atât de emotive și vulnerabile”. Circulația sangvină accentută din regiunea cognitivă este de vină.

Cum ne menținem creierul sănătos

Oricare ar fi diferențele dintre creierul femeilor și cel al bărbaților, cu toții trebuie să ne asigurăm că acesta funcționează bine. Pentru ca acest lucru să fie posibil trebuie să:

– Avem stimulare mentală: activitățile mentale sunt cele care asigură buna funcționare a celulelor craniene.
– Facem mișcare: sportul ajută la dezvoltarea celulelor craniene
– Ne alimentăm potrivit: nutriția ne asigură sănătatea întregului organism
– Îmbunătățim sistemul circulator: schimbă-ți ritualurile zilnice, astfel încât să ai un stil de viață sănătos.
– Ne echilibrăm emoțiile: persoanele anxioase și depresive au înregistrat un scor mai scăzut la testele de Iq.

MAKE YOUR OWN RULES, BOUNDARIES

How TO Make Your OWN RULES

experiments in refactored perception

Make Your Own Rules

February 15, 2018 By Venkatesh Rao

We seem to be in the middle of a renaissance of rules for life. Not since Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten (1987) and Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits (1989) has there been such a peak of interest in such rules. Then, as now, we were going through a period of deep global changes, and everybody was very anxious because nobody knew what the new rules for the new normal were.

The proximal trigger of this current wave is I think, Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules, as well as the late John Perry Barlow’s 25 principles, which have both been doing the rounds. But the root cause is growing market demand for anomie-busting.

Well of course if there’s a gold rush of this sort on, I have to sell pickaxes. And my pickaxe is a DIY template for making your own set of life rules. Here’s an in-progress snapshot of the pickaxe in action in my own notebook (cleaned-up version with readable annotations key further down, but I wanted to share the working version, which includes several technical mistakes). My model may be a bit hard to grok if you haven’t been reading me for a few years, but the good news is, it’s color-by-numbers easy to use. And all it takes is pen and paper.

I only have one actual imitable rule to offer in the marketplace of life rules: Make Your Own Rules. But I do think I have a good theory of life rules, and a meaningfully systematic procedure for generating them that I’m hoping to sell to the Deep Mind team for making well-behaved AIs.

In the short term, other people’s rules can get you through a rough patch. In the medium term, you have to at least adapt them to your own life. But in the long term, only making your own rules works.

Because, to snowclone what Eisenhower said about plans, rules are nothing, but rule-making is everything.

We humans like making up sets of rules and principles for life. The modern consumer market offerings, from Covey to Peterson, follow in the tradition of both ancient ones like the Ten Commandments of Christianity, the Five Pillars of Islam, and the Eightfold Path of Buddhism. These traditional, institutional ones are the ancestors of both the modern consumer-grade genre, and the related enterprise-grade genre of manifestos and mission statements.

Organizations are not immune to anomie-inducing environments, so it’s no surprise that we’re also going through a season of more-sincere-than-usual corporate soul-searching, manifesto-crafting, and mission-adopting. It’s not just individuals who need new rules for the new normal. Apparently Facebook does too, and is at least pretending to figure out new rules for the world of Fake News and election hacking. One of Facebook’s new rules is apparently to ensure that “time spent on Facebook is time well spent”, a phrase they’ve taken from my don’t-hack-my-attention-dammit activist buddies Tristan Harris and Joe Edelman.

But I won’t get into that side of things in this post. We’ll stick to personal life rules here.

Thinking about this broad set of examples, traditional and new, institutional and individual, it struck me that though they are good as fodder for reflection, I’ve never actually been able to use any life rule set for its nominal purpose.

I’d be hard pressed to even enumerate any of the sets I’ve encountered in full.

The famous ones are more memorization challenges for trivia contests than operating systems that can be encoded in neural firmware as embodied virtues. They aren’t routinely helpful in navigating the ambiguities and uncertainties of life. Nor do they set meaningfully universal go/no-go boundaries.

They do not, in other words, constitute clean MECE (mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive) coverage of the messiness of life, capable of bringing order to chaos in any sort of guaranteed way.

You could leave it that of course, and treat such sets of life rules as rhetorical devices, meant to do no more than trigger some helpful reflection, and perhaps inspire your own adaptations or original rules, but I think that’s not true. There’s more to life rule sets than meets the eye, and there’s ways to adapt or construct them so they actually compile properly into your life so to speak.

Life Rule Sets

Let’s call this genre (at the individual level) life rule sets, or LRS. An LRS is a set of between 5-25 statements (based on our sample) that apply to common life situations. The range seems to reflect an easy-to-memorize limit on the one end, and the size of a poster on the other. Less than 3 is probably too few to be generally useful in any way (though the Golden Rule is a good singleton exception, as is my own Make Your Own Rules rule), and more than 25 is really just laziness at theorizing a more compact structure.

What can we say about LRSes?

An LRS is not a manifesto. Manifestos are about beliefs rather than action. Even though an LRS may encode implicit normative or positive beliefs, that is not their primary purpose. This is because an LRS is almost always built around an idea of individual agency. Its subject matter is what you are personally responsible for and can act on.

An LRS is normative. Even if they are worded as abstract reflections, the elements of an LRS are actual rules, not random observations about the world. Some are very explicit (“thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife”) and some take a lot of thought to translate into imperative form (“Right Speech” in Buddhism, gee thanks Siddhartha).

An LRS is abstract. A good example is Covey’s “Be Proactive”. When they are weirdly specific, such as Peterson’s “Do not bother children when they are skateboarding,” the author is generally either attempting to inject a bit of whimsy into an otherwise serious exercise, or offering a mnemonic for an anecdotal illustration of a more general principle. So the seeming specificity is some mix of synecdoche, parable, and allegory.

At least that’s the case with the modern ones. Occasionally, in older religious LRSes, you find genuinely specific and serious rules that seem arbitrary, like “don’t eat pork”, and eventually acquire taboo status or ritual significance. But you can usually find a historicist explanation for the rule. I don’t know the reasoning behind the pork taboo, but one good explanation of the beef taboo in India is that cattle at some point got too valuable as draught and dairy animals to be eaten.

An LRS may imply a script. Some clearly imply a particular larger life script. The eightfold path makes most sense understood in the context of a life of spiritual discipline and pursuit of enlightenment. Covey’s is explicitly a Christianish life script (his context-setting visualization exercise is to imagine your own funeral). Four of the five pillars of Islam are about life habits, but the fifth is a script act (the hajj).

An LRS is usually either idealistic or tragic. The one big dividing line I’ve found in my quick survey is that LRSes seem to divide cleanly into two kinds: those that assume some sort of perfectibility metaphysics (humans can grow and evolve within and across lifetimes as a species) and those that assume some sort of irredeemably fallen condition, from which only the grace of some sort of supernatural agency can lift you. Of the ones I’ve mentioned, the Buddhist eightfold path seems to be the only idealistic one. I’ll characterize this boundary more clearly later.

An LRS usually encodes a virtue ethics. Though they may encode some elements of consequentialist and deontological ethical systems, an LRS usually lacks the systematicity required to be anything other than a virtue ethics.

In the best case, the rules in an LRS serve as a reference sample of behavioral cues from the life of someone who has lived a life both exemplary in its modeling of desirable virtues, and rich enough to have actually been tested across a sufficiently large range of human life experiences.

In other words, an LRS is usually a what-would-Jesus-do type artifact, abstracted away from the specifics of an individual life to greater or lesser extent.

Theorizing Life Rule Sets

Life rule sets vary in the context-free systematicity they offer, but basically no LRS I’ve seen achieves the analytical rigor of, say, Newton’s laws.

Some sets fit together independent of context better than others, but most of them seem, by and large, entirely arbitrary. A more or less poetic selection of behavioral Schelling points from somebody’s life. The bigger sets tend to the baroque, and are impossible to even parody.

I think this is because the underlying phenomenology that life rule sets cover has never been properly characterized. We’ve never been quite clear about a few basic questions of the sort a mathematician interested in logic and foundations would ask:

  1. What are life rule sets about? Where is the phenomenological scope of life rule sets? Where does that scope end and the scopes of (say) traffic rules, peanut grades, and tax laws begin? In other words, what is the domain of the LRS?
  2. Can we expect an LRS to uniquely classify every situation within its domain, and apply a unique rule to it, and expect as output a unique helpful cue about what to do, thereby narrowing the range of options and simplifying decision-making? In other words are the rules in an LRS mutually exclusive?
  3. What is the coverage of a set of rules within its overall domain? How often does the rule set apply when you feel a need for guidance, versus having nothing to say. In other words, are the rules in an LRS collectively exhaustive?
  4. If an LRS is not MECE (mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive), can we at least expect that if more than one rule applies to a situation, they will both point in the same rough direction? In other words, is an LRS internally consistent?
  5. If it is not internally consistent, is it at least paradoxically generative? Does it comprise a set of yin-yang oppositions that help you think generatively and dynamically about a situation, in terms of transformations and trade-offs? In other words, is an LRS a dialectic as well?
  6. Are all the rules in an LRS citizens of the same order within the LRS, or are there lesser and greater ones? In other words, does an LRS admit a cardinal or ordinal ordering?
  7. Are all the rules in an LRS independently construed, or are some the consequences of others? If so, what are the independent ones? In other words, are the rules of an LRS independent or do they have an axiomatic structure?
  8. Are the rules legible or illegible in their mode of action? Do they only work if you understand a principle behind them, or do they work irrespective of your understanding of them? In other words, are they explicit or implicit belief systems?

These are not fussy, pedantic questions. They matter. You can’t expect to make random rules about grades of peanuts and expect to see a reduction in traffic accidents. Less flippantly, there’s no particular reason to expect a rule about when to wear ties to affect whether you get depressed. There might well be such a discoverable relationship, making a tie rule a good, indirect, life rule. But it might also just be an arbitrary rule that’s just behavioral noise.

Depending on the answers to these questions, we tend to develop an aesthetic, taxonomic sense of the universe of life rule sets.

Some strike us immediately as doctrinaire and serious, others as whimsical and subversive. Some are self-evidently too silly to even try to use. Others you have to test out for a while before the gaps, overlaps, paradoxes, orderings, and axiomatics become evident (ie there is a depth of learnability to a life rule set that can be either shallow or deep). Some are meant to box you in and confine your behaviors to safe zones, while others are intended to break you out of boxes and safe zones.

Any good theory of life rule sets must provide a reasonable account of these questions. Otherwise there is no there there.

Let me take a stab.

Task-Negative Cognition

Here’s the central dogma of my theory of life rule sets: Life rule sets are about governing task-negative cognition.

The human brain has two major processing modes, task-positive and task-negative, which occur in the task-positive network (TPN) and default mode network (DMN) respectively. Brain activity in these two networks is anti-correlated. You’re in one mode or the other. The two modes relate to what I’ve previously written about as manipulative and appreciative cognition.

Task-positive cognition occurs when your brain has its attention occupied by a clearly defined and bounded external task. Generally one with very strong, and fast (ie with short time constants) closed-loop sensorimotor feedback loops connecting your behavior to the environment, via immediate consequences. Examples include driving or cooking.

If you’re a simple robot or insect, this is all you need. Task-positive cognition is insect cognition. I covered these in my post human-complete problems. Human cognition is more than the sum of insect-like task-positive domain level rules.

You don’t even really need rules because the domain itself serves as a perfect source and enforcer of correct behavior. You’re basically under the jurisdiction of strong and active laws of nature.

You drive on the wrong side of the road, you die. You don’t follow the “rules” of fire in the kitchen, you get burned. As a bug, if you don’t lay your eggs on the right kind of plant, you don’t make baby bugs.

You don’t need explicit principles of salience because they are generally obvious and self-enforcing. It is easy to stay focused on what matters and ignore what does not. The deer jumping in front of your car is highly salient. The billboard trying to sell you washing machines is highly not salient, but trying to be.

Task-negative cognition on the other hand, is what your brain does when there is nothing in particular it has to do; when the situation has no demanding urgencies to attend to. The DMN (which used to be called the task-negative network) becomes active.

The default mode network was a surprising discovery. Neuroscientists apparently thought the awake brain sort of just idled and did nothing if it had nothing externally anchored to do, like a car in park with the engine on. In other words, it was assumed that the opposite of a brain at work is a brain at rest.

Turns out, that’s not true. Our default waking mode (and also during dreaming phases of sleep) is not a brain at rest, but what is known as mind wandering. Mind wandering is the brain basically running potentially useful prospective thought processes. What computer scientists call speculative execution, the stuff behind the recently revealed Intel chip security flaws, while idly also paying non-vigilant attention to the environment in an open-ended way, without a strong salience filter.

When you are driving, your brain strongly filters for driving-related cues. When you are in mind-wandering mode, you are liable to notice anything vaguely salient to anything that concerns you, even if it isn’t currently the focus of active effort. But you aren’t vigilant the way you are in task-positive work (especially dangerous kinds).

Task-negative cognition is how you solve human-complete problems. Those open-ended, leaky kind of problems where any seemingly specific problem like “find a satisfying job” ends up being equivalent to the life-the-universe-and-everything problem of just living a good life.

Task-negative brain activity is not rest, but human-complete problem solving in the context of an entire life. Important-but-not-urgent stuff that takes every spare cycle it can find, in the gaps between task-positive processing.

It is your brain making sure it doesn’t get caught in ruts, miss important-but-not-urgent unexpected news, or obviously foreseeable contingencies. It’s your brain simultaneously figuring out the how and why of life in play mode.

In Boydian terms, the default mode network is all about reorientation; about swapping mental models around, reframing things, approaching things from new angles, considering the salience of new sensory inputs, and so forth.Task-positive work is about operating within an orientation. You know what you’re doing and what the environment is doing, and you’ve loaded up a bunch of habits at various stages of maturity and trying to be effective in a specific way: driving without killing yourself, cooking without burning yourself or the food.

Task-negative cognition is a natural and neuroscientifically meaningful definition of the scope of life rule sets. When you think about the part of human life where there are no necessary rules, no active and direct feedback mechanisms confining and correcting behaviors, you’re talking about stuff the default mode network gets up to.

So what does the DMN get up to? How does it actually run task-negative cognition to solve human-complete problems?

Where the Mind Wanders

In task-positive work, generally, if you don’t care, it doesn’t matter. Task positive work is inconsequentially under-determined.

You learn how to make tea, but you don’t have a preference for green or black. Well then, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need a rule. Do whatever. Green tea versus black tea is a distinction without a difference for you. Perhaps all you care about is a mild shot of caffeine in the form of a hot beverage.

Task-positive domains may be underdetermined, but they are not consequentiallyunder-determined. You generally have enough information (or can discover enough) and there are enough constraining laws and dynamics, that you can compute a unique answer, solution, or decision that works. And you rarely have to change it. Insects can install the answer or solution in firmware, and humans can make it an unconscious habit.

Any leftover stuff is in the distinction-without-a-difference department where random and/or unconscious variable bindings and commitments will do.

This has a crucial effect: for task-positive work, means-ends reasoning is enough. You don’t need values, principles, rules, or ethical ruminations.

The DMN on the other hand, concerns itself with stuff that is consequentiallyunderdetermined, but in a situationally non-urgent way. You do care, and it doesmatter, but you don’t have to make up your mind about what to do right now. The world isn’t conveniently narrowing down the options to one obvious right answer, but it also isn’t pushing you to bet your life on a coin toss.

More data may not help. If there are deeper physics type laws at work, you may not yet have discovered them, and might never do so.

This means task-negative cognition has a tendency to seek out ambiguous things to think about that matter in unclear ways. In task-negative cognition, the mind wanders in unbounded ways because that’s the only way to attack ill-posed human-complete problems. And there’s no guarantee that you’ll get anywhere.

Where does the mind wander?

The literature on the default mode network seems to indicate the following default inner dialogue conversation topics for the DMN:

  1. Autobiographical thinking (reflecting on your life)
  2. Thinking about relationships (other-regarding cognitions including envy, admiration etc)
  3. What-if ruminations about the future
  4. Creative-play imaginative thinking
  5. Idle day-dreaming exploring pleasing thoughts
  6. Aspects of sleep dreaming
  7. Anxious, obsessive thoughts about non-clear-and-present threats
  8. Unfocused attention (scanning the environment)

What is common to all these themes is that they involve things you care about, but lack sufficient information, agency, computational tractability, or environmental enabling conditions to act on. You can’t be task-positive about them. There’s nothing to do immediately, only stuff to think about. If you have a breakthrough insight while in task-negative mode, then perhaps there will be a way to act (or a determination of action being impossible).Task-negative regimes of thought are nightmarish hell zones for doerists, wonderland play zones for contemplative types.

Stephen Covey, incidentally, finesses the hardest part of building life rule sets by suggesting that you should simply not worry at all about things that are within your “circle of concern”, but outside your “circle of influence”. If you can’t do anything, don’t worry.

This is a cop-out of course, since it amounts to saying “don’t use your DMN”, but I mention it as evidence for the importance of the DMN/TPN divide in LRS engineering.

David Allen is more thoughtful about them, including a category of Someday/Maybe to file away your DMN raw material in his GTD system (life rule sets have a nice complementarity to productivity systems).

This list, incidentally, immediately explains why the tragic/idealist divide exists in the life rule set genre. The DMN is the source of both much of our creativity, and much of our obsessional anxiety. It is the source of both our best growth experiences, and our worst experiences of stuckness. It is the seat of both genius and depression.

The tragic approach to rules is to design them so the DMN is locked up for the future crimes it might commit. You give up both growth and danger. The idealist approach is to try and make it flourish while avoiding the dangers.

Either way, the task of a life rule set is to govern the anarchy of mind that is the DMN. What Muslims call the inner jihad.

The No Rules LRS

We are all computer scientists now, so we start our counting with zero. The simplest kind of rule set is one with zero rules. This is meditation.

Understood as DMN governance disciplines, meditative practices are about doing without rule sets. A mind like water is a mind without rules, but is still well-governed.

Understanding how the zero-rule set behaves is a helpful prelude to understanding how 5 or 25 rule sets work.

Meditative practices, naively understood, are about imposing authoritah on the DMN. This is illustrated by a key distinction made by practitioners, between half-open-eyed and close-eyed meditation practices, which clearly has to do with the task-negative/task-positive divide.

Eyes half-opened and focused on (say) a candle-flame, as is common in most Buddhist methods, allow you a minimalist task-positive foothold from which to discipline your DMN.

Closed-eyes practices, which are the norm in Hindu methods (as D. T. Suzuki notes in one of his essays, I forget which one), by cutting off sensory input more completely, are liable to send your DMN more crazy, and consequently, demand more effort to discipline.

This is easy enough to test for yourself. Your mind will wander differently with eyes half-open versus closed. Push all the way to sensory deprivation chambers for full-blown wakeful DMN fugues. Going the other way, walking meditations, flower arranging, archery, yoga, or tea ceremonies all anchor you with increasing firmness in task-positive cognition for your task-negative ruminative safety. The more active and sensorily open your DMN-mode, the safer it is because the more it is reined in. At some point of course, the task-positive anchor occupies all attention and you have no DMN activity at all. That’s what anti-correlation means.

DMN authoritah is a naive understanding though. The more sophisticated understanding of the DMN is not that its characteristic mind wandering behavior is all bad, but that obsessionally attached, non self-aware mind-wandering with no interrupt mechanisms (Ctrl-Z for you programmers), is bad.

If you’re being obsessively anxious about an upcoming interview for example, and you’ve done all you can by way of preparation, data collection, and theorizing, there is no more you can do. Yet, your DMN may obsessively circle that future with futile and stressful cognitions. The same holds for obsessing over a bad breakup (“what did I do wrong”) with Gloria Gaynor playing in a repeat loop in the background.

Both are task-negative strange attractors created by an attachment to a future that you cannot ensure. Thar be dukkha as the Buddhists like to say.

Such obsessive negative DMNing (pronounced “damning” as in “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”) is not necessarily bad though. Sometimes you do need a thousand circlings of a nagging mental strange attractor that has pwned you, before you have the breakthrough insight that resolves the corresponding life conundrum gracefully. The idea that depressive cognition is better at uncovering truths seems to have fallen out of favor among professional psychologists, but I think it’s actually true.

The lighter, creative side of the DMN is more obviously valuable, and its dangers correspondingly less obvious. If your meditation practice is preventing your mind from wandering in ways that help it generate great jokes, poetry or clever math theorems, then you are doing it wrong. At the same time, if all your DMN does is make up cynical jokes about the world, you may have a different problem.

This is the nature of the DMN anarchy. The open-ended war of all thoughts against all thoughts inside your head. Meditative disciplines seek to govern the DMN anarchy with a light, laissez faire regulatory touch, gently detecting and breaking out of obsessional anxieties and addictions that don’t seem to be getting any closer to useful breakthrough insights. While letting imaginative flights of fancy, useful processing of traumas, and creative scanning of the environment, proceed unhindered.

More importantly, any kind of cognitive discipline practice also manages switching between task-positive and task-negative cognition. You need discipline in both directions:

  • Ensuring that you don’t stay obsessively focused on some task-positive rut of “work” to avoid distressing thought zones that the DMN might mind-wander into.
  • Ensuring that you don’t stay addictively trapped in pleasurable task-negative ruminations (day dreams, etc) to avoid unpleasant but necessary task-positive work.

I don’t know what neural circuitry is involved in learning such switching disciplines between task-positive/task-negative zones. Presumably some part of the prefrontal cortex. I’m going to guess such switching is a balanced ventro-medial and dorso-lateral action, based on some newly acquired neuropopscience knowledge. But clearly there is some such part since most of us are capable of developing such mental discipline under the right conditions.

Clearly, it is also possible to lack this switchgear mechanism, in which case you will generally achieve the switching through crashes and reboots into the other mode.

Even if you do have the necessary circuitry and acquired discipline to switch deliberately and consciously between DMN and TPN, you need energy to do so. Directing executive attention is among the most energy-intensive kinds of processing the brain does, so when you’re low on energy, it might in fact be easier to simply crash out of the DMN and reboot into the TPN, and vice-versa.

I generally prefer this way even when I have the energy, since it’s kinda fun to crash. I live a masochistically damned life.

Life Rule Sets in Neural Context

Once you understand what zero-rule sets are about, it becomes obvious what non-zero rule sets are about: they are about entering, leaving, or changing course within, the DMN (in Boydian terms, if those work for you, entering or leaving orientations, and reorienting).

  1. Entry rules are about when to interrupt a TPN behavior and refer the matter to the DMN
  2. Exit rules are about when to interrupt a DMN mode cognition and move to a TPN mode behavior
  3. Interrupt rules are about recognizing and interrupting runaway, non-terminating, futile DMN or TPN cognitions

Note that you mostly don’t need interrupt rules for task-positive work. That’s just failure, since there’s an external feedback loop. If you run physically amok, some outside force will eventually stop you. It’s only the DMN that can take the bit between its teeth and get out of control.

Cutting to the chase, if my theory above is correct, a life rule set is basically a sort of cognitive prosthetic, to help you govern the task-negative, or default mode network (DMN) and its switching dialectic with the task-positive network (TPN). Until you’ve meditated long enough to achieve mind-like water discipline, the rules help you LARP enlightenment using artificial circuit breakers.

With this set up, we can now get more systematic about the construction, care, and maintenance of life-rule sets. If you like adapting and deriving your life rules from others, this also works as a systematic procedure for doing so.

A Mind-Wanderer’s Map

Enough analysis. Let’s jump to synthesis, skipping lightly over a year of thinking, hundreds of pages of iPad notebook scribbling, and several years of hard training at the Shaolin Temple in my mysterious past, I give you: the mind-wanderer’s map. Or mandala to use a more technically accurate term of art.

This template is based on the goat-crow-rat (GCR) triangle that I first wrote about in Thingness and Thereness, and then refined in Been There, Done That. With the benefit of a year of hindsight, I know now what it actually is: it’s a map for tracking where your default-mode network, or DMN, might take you.

It is an approximate visualization of the wandering range of the DMN, that I think is almost MECE and internally consistent. Read the two linked posts if you want to know something about the backend engineering behind this, but you don’t really need to understand its logic to use it.

And yes, there’s a reason there are goat, crow and rat icons on the map (the fact that the goat is a symbol of the devil is an unintended bonus), but for now, just think of them as mnemonic markers. They’re also known as the frontier, public, and home vertices respectively.

Roughly speaking, inside the triangle, the DMN is in charge, outside as your attention drifts away from the triangle, some sort of task-positive orientaton will take over, and the triangle itself, with its marked zones, is the fuzzy transition boundary between TPN and DMN cognition. What in engineering is called a switching curve.

You can use this template to make between 4 to 12 rules, by following the cues associated with each numbered location.

Here are the cues for all 12 rules. Each rule has to conform to a theme.

  1. A rule about breaking relationships
  2. A rule about committing to lifelong relationships
  3. A rule about compromises in work/effort
  4. A rule about making and creating things
  5. A rule about your relationship to history
  6. A rule about your relationship to wealth and status
  7. A rule about your deepest grow-together relationships
  8. A rule about your physical body
  9. A rule about how you science
  10. A rule about what your life is a measure of*
  11. A rule about how you appear in public
  12. A rule about irreversible public action

Here’s my 30-day money-back guarantee: if you make rules by this template, you’ll always have a lighthouse rule to navigate by no matter where your mind wanders.

It’s like a 12-satellite GPS constellation for your default-mode network. No matter where you go, you’ll have a line of sight to between 1-4 of these principles, so you can triangulate your current position with greater or lesser accuracy.

You’ll never be lost in thought again, even if you can’t break out of a thought.

For the sake of completeness, the two unnumbered regions are regions where your rules will break down as you approach your own personal event horizon. The annular region labeled memes, memes, memes, is a space you’ll navigate with jokes, aphorisms and memes, with increasing stress and anxiety. The dark black hole at the center with a side-eye is my cartoon of the void.

I can’t recall where I first heard the “void giving you the side-eye” joke, but I really like it. Much funnier than Nietzsche’s abyss-staring-back imagery. To complete the understanding of the map, think of it as being on the inside of a sphere, with the void hole being a leak. The area around the triangle curves around to complete a finite sphere.

Your head is inside the sphere. Normally you’re looking at some part of it that is not the triangle. When you are in DMN gear, the triangle is in view, and your attention can enter the triangle and inch towards the void hole.

Using the Template

There are three natural levels to using the map: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Beginners should make up only the first 4 rules. Intermediates should make up 6 rules. Advanced users should make up all 12 rules. Nobody is stopping you from making rules beyond your level, but chances are they’ll be vacuous platitudes if you try to draft them before you’ve had the necessary life experiences to inspire or recognize good ones.

Beginner Use

The beginner way is suitable for younger people who, in some sense, haven’t “arrived” anywhere yet and haven’t become identified with particular accomplishments (big or small). It’s for people whose mind wandering is accompanied by world-and-life wandering.

Generally this means you’re under 30, but if you’re a prodigy who won Olympic Gold at 16, you might get to intermediate quicker. But generally, you don’t get past the beginner stage until you’re around 30.

If that description fits you, you want to use the beginner method. This involves making up only the first 4 rules. The logic of these 4 is captured in this 2×2.

The most basic distinction in how the DMN ruminates is between other-regarding cognitions (thoughts about other people) and material cognitions. What Martin Buber characterized as I-thou and I-it cognitions. Read Mike Travers’ gloss on that if you’re interested.

That’s the y-axis. This is not something you can change. The human brain is wired to think differently (and more deeply) about people, and things it thinks of in people-terms (such as car aficionados about cars) than about non-people things. So you have to work with this major watershed. So rules 1 and 2 are I-thou rules, while rules 3 and 4 are I-it rules. That should cover almost everything you might run into in private life in your springtime.

The second most basic distinction is between finite/infinite game cognitions, or equally, priceless and priced economic regimes. The difficult read for this is James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games. An easier read is my post The Economics of Pricelessness.

Basically, think of the inside of the triangle as the “market”, which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. To enter the triangle is to compromise priceless principles, exit finite games, and deal with the open-ended possibilities of being by testing yourself against open-ended realities.

Outside the triangle is vast patchwork landscape of task-positive domains, each of which has its own domain-determined rules, defining finite games of one sort or the other.

This is the x-axis. It too is something you cannot change. The universe contains infinities, and one way or another, you’ll be forced to deal with them. You can have priceless values, or unbounded possibilities, but not both. So rules 1 and 3 are infinite-game rules (and also rules about how noble Klingons ought to deal with markets and evil Ferengi traders) while rules 2 and 4 are finite-game rules, governing interactions with people who generally share your basic ideas about what is priceless (what I’ve called saint-saint as opposed to saint-trader interactions, see also my Principia Misanthropica).

Another way to think of the basic four. Rule 1 is your out-group-dealings rule. Rule 2 is your in-group dealings rule. Rule 3 is your sell-out rule. Rule 4 is your artisan/how-to-be-a-precious-snowflake rule.

Intermediate Use

So you’ve “arrived”, congrats. You’ve faked it and made it. You’ve done something, however minor and little-noted, and now you are somebody. Defined by a history of actions rather than a birth identity. You’ve got a unique story to tell even if only 3 people besides your Mom want to hear it. (For programmers: you’ve got a pull request going into History, big H, and you’re hoping it will get merged).

You’ve made a dent in the universe. You’ve appeared in public to hurrahs or boos, ready to be written into history, if only for a minor bug fix, and begin your Act II. Maybe you’ve earned fuck-you money. Maybe you’ve just gotten comfortable in some public persona on Twitter.

People underestimate just how enormously important and transformative this threshold is. No matter how minor your claim to being part of history, the fact of having a case at all, and exiting the life of an anonymous private citizen, is mind-altering. This is the reason humans across the ages have felt an urge to add “Frodo was here!” graffiti to famous monuments. With that act, Frodo becomes the guy who went there rather than just some hobbit of the Baggins clan.

Act II generally means you’re 30+, and have either experienced success, or defined wherever you’ve landed as “success.” If you’ve failed, you need to go back to the beginner level of this game and rethink your first 4 rules. If you don’t think you have a life story you’re ready to tell, you’re not ready for Act II.

However you define arrival, you need extra rules. Two extra rules to be precise.

The basic challenge of Act II, and the challenge of intermediate rule-making, is deciding how to relate to the concept of a legacy, in both the past and future-oriented senses of the word. A legacy presupposes arrival in some public sense of the word. You’re more than some schmoe who will have lived and died with nobody even knowing or caring you existed, with no dent in history, not even a footnote in the worst history book.

The core of this challenge is making up Rules 5 and 6. These are the priced (infinite game) and priceless (finite game) aspects of your relationship to history.

  • Use Rule 5 to define your relationship to history, and the future, and how you fit into it, including your relationship to mortality and legacy.
  • Use Rule 6 to define your basic relationship to a public life. You don’t have to be President. You might only be known within some small (but public, not insular subculture) polity as being about X. But you have to adopt a conscious attitude about being about X.

For instance, within my little pond here at ribbonfarm, I’m “that guy who wrote the Gervais Principle and has been going downhill ever since,” and I have to decide what to feel about that particular obscure footnote being my place in some history book that covers the Lesser Bloggers of the 21st Century Blogosphere in Chapter 32. Maybe I hate being in that pigeonhole. Maybe I enjoy it. Maybe I have put it behind me. Maybe I’m trapped by it. Maybe I’ll top it.

Whatever it is, I have to have a rule about how I relate to things of that sort.

Rules 5 and 6 don’t so much transcend the I-it/I-thou divide as blur it. The distinction still matters, but once there’s an “arrived” aspect to your life, they no longer have a clean separation. As an example, ribbonfarm is a blog. An I-it thing. I am a person, an I-thou thing. It’s hard to separate the two today, but they were very different things in the past. One was something I did, the other was who I was. But today, relating to myself has both aspects.

Advanced Use

Here’s a law of rule-making: you are always in an existential crisis, whether or not you know it. If you’ve read the earlier posts (not necessary), you know that the triangle is actually a Penrose triangle. An impossible triangle that has a break in it somewhere, cleverly disguised via an optical illusion. The locus of that crisis is usually one of the corners (reminder: goat = frontier, home = rat, public = crow).

Each time you fix one, it moves to another locus, and you grow a little. In my scribbling practice, I usually put a little red lightning bolt where I sense the crisis is at the moment. This is not a mandala you make once and then use for ever, you have to scribble a new one each time you want to a visual aid for DMNing.

Rules 7-12 are your advanced rules that govern navigation of existential crises. They are about rounding the corners of the triangle, switching from regime to regime.

You’ve got 3 basic regimes: I-thou (rat to crow, home to public, the be-somebody edge), I-it (rat to goat, home to frontier, the do-something edge) and public (goat to crow, frontier to public, been there, done that edge), each with a priced/priceless side to them (infinite/finite game). And you’ve got transitions between them.

Next time you’re meditating, try and notice when you round a corner. From I-it to I-thou for example. Feel a bump? You might have a ratspace crisis brewing.

Ratspace Crises

Rules 7-8 are about navigating ratspace crises. These are crises involving your most private, intimate personal life. The two most useful rules to have for such transitions are a rule about your deepest relationships (7, generally spouse and children) and a rule about relating to your body (8).

Why these two? Our intimate relationships are where our socially defined identities start to bleed into our physically defined ones. Here be sex. Here be bodily fluids. Here be farts and poop. Here be depression in your bones. Here be drunkenness. Here be exercise and euphoria. Here be body image, shame, and narcissism.

Here be where you contemplate yourself not just as a conscious being, but also as a biological machine. Here be your medical history. Here be your cholesterol medications and contact lens prescriptions.

Goatspace Crises

Rules 9-10 are about navigating goatspace crises. These involve your most extreme where-no-one-has-gone-before frontier explorations of life possibilities. Your space journeys, your ultramarathons, your trips to Antarctica. Your Nobel Winning discoveries. Your most-viral-on-Twitter blogposts. This is the extreme edge frontier of your relationship with your own limits and ignorance. And to the extent you are a pioneer of some sort, the limits and ignorance of humanity at large.

So Rule 9 is about how you science. This is a huge topic, so I’ll just leave you with my old The Scientific Sensibility post. This whole line of thought started for me with thinking about how goatspace works and how we chase horizons. I’ll actually get around to writing my goatspace post at some point.

Rule 10… well, Rule 10 is possibly the trickiest rule of the lot, which is why I’ve given it the famous-soccer-player jersey number. See, this is a subtle point you’ll only grok once you’re past your life-hacking, script optimizing, rationality-driven life phase, when you’ve realized that means-ends thinking and Science! (not science) as an operating system for life ends in nihilism because of one idea that you either get or don’t get: humans are the measure of the meaning of life, not things to be measured for meaning.

Some of you like the postrationality and metarationality thoughtspaces. Well, Rule 10 is what separates rationality from those two things. If you have a good Rule 10, you’ve made it across.

The point of doing something and becoming somebody is that suddenly you have turned into a measure of what it means to experience meaning. What value is.

So Rule 10 is about seeing yourself as a measuring device. What do you measure in the universe? What will others use your life to measure, value, and gauge?

Steve Jobs’ life, for instance, is the measure of personal computing. To build an excellent personal computer is to have lived a life worth one SteveJobs unit. His life became the measure of exploring the frontiers of computing. It is a unit of meaning other lives can be measured against until (and if) they acquire their own character as a measure.

You’ll sound like a lot of other people before you sound like yourself, as musicians like to say.

Crowspace Crises

And finally, Rules 11 and 12 are rules governing the transition between social life (within your circle of friends, or neighborhood, the zone of everyday but not history-making life, where you can be popular but not famous) and your public life. I don’t mean grand speeches or big titles, though those might be involved.

I mean rules you apply when you realize something you’re thinking about or doing might have consequences beyond your own life. That your actions have the potential for irreversible public impact, however minor. The yearning to acquire and actualize such potential can be so strong in people who have none of it that they can go on gun rampages just to enter the history books by any means necessary.

So Rule 11 is about how you appear in public.

Maybe you decide never to tweet violent thoughts or insult someone in public. Maybe you decide to always stand up straight rather than slouch. Maybe you decide never to back down from a fight. Maybe you decide to appear with a gun and kill 50 people before killing yourself. Maybe you pulled a whistleblowing stunt and threw an entire industry into crisis like Susan Fowler did. Maybe you leaked a bunch of documents like Edward Snowden did. Maybe your one public moment is when you save a child from being hit by a car and the child grows up to be an Einstein. Maybe you were the first human on Mars.

Rule 11 can make the difference of failing your moment or rising to it (having a good Rule 10 helps).

Your appearances in public are rare, precious, and consequential by definition. And those moments won’t necessarily involve a lot of ceremonial stage-setting. Your one chance to appear in public might come and go in an instant requiring extraordinary courage.

And finally, Rule 12 is about the boundary between public and private life, which coincides with the boundary between socially reversible and irreversible actions. That moment before you step on stage. That moment before you hit “publish” or “send.” That moment before you decide whether to say something you cannot unsay, only be forgiven for. The best reference for Rule 12 thinking is Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition.

Rule 11 and Rule 12 are two sides of the same coin. One governs the decision to go public, the other defines the nature of the act of appearing in public. On the other side of the Act II edge, Rules 9 and 10 determine what you actually bring to the party. Sometimes it is nothing, and that’s okay. You might have ended up appearing in public simply because you happened to be in a certain place at a certain time.

Whatever your manner of appearing in public, and however your rules 9, 10, 11, and 12 bracket your appearance, that’s how you will arrive on the stage of human life, and be thrown into an Act II where you’ll need your Rules 5 and 6 to survive.

Unfortunately, the very first time this happens will almost certainly be an unplanned accident, and it will take some time for you to actually bring any sort of consciousness to how you enact the experience.

Often your first version of Rules 7-12 are discovered via crashing into a crisis and coming out alive.

My 12 Rules

My current 12 rules, generated by going through the exercise, and which are likely to stay stable for at least a week, are as follows. I share these not as a set you will necessarily be able to understand or adapt for yourself, but as an illustration of the output of actually applying the process. You will notice some of them don’t add much to the basic rule-prompts (like 2, 7, 8, and 10). That’s a sign I haven’t thought too much about them. Others are clearly borrowed (like 6) suggesting I haven’t really figured it out and am sort of cargo-culting somebody else’s rule.

  1. Flip early, flip hard
  2. Choose death-do-us-part consciously
  3. Embrace the janky
  4. Don’t be too suspicious of beauty
  5. Pick your heresies
  6. Money is a problem to be solved
  7. Find your diving partners
  8. Know your body
  9. Pick your knowbel
  10. Know what you measure
  11. Pick your publics
  12. Know your forks

Memes and Void

An interesting feature of this mind-wanderer’s map is that the infinite games side is inside the (finite) area of the triangle. As you approach the center of the triangle, your rules start to break down, first into memes, aphorisms, and jokes, and eventually into staring into the void. When I draw this next, I’ll sketch some time-dilation type lines.

Task negative-cognition is not a safe game. It will not keep you bounded within safe thought spaces. It can take you to pretty dangerous places mentally, and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it.

Even if you take the most conservative, tragic approach possible, and your rules 1, 3 and 5 are all “Do not cross!” you cannot actually stop your mind from wandering across the boundary, into the triangle and inching towards the void. That’s the reason I like keeping the Penrose triangle version of the visualization in mind, to remind myself that the map is an illusion. If you start using this triangle diagramming technique, I recommend you never draw one without making a little red mark somewhere to indicate where you think the illusion-anchoring crisis is hiding. In my first sketch, you’ll notice it at the crow vertex.

The triangle isn’t real. It’s a map with fake lines made up to orient you. Those lines aren’t impenetrable walls designed to keep your inner Mexicans from coming at you. You can never really fence in the void, but you can be conscious of when your mind wanders close to it, and what it does when it does.

I like thinking of the void dot as a literal attention blackhole. When your attention wanders closer than you can handle, you can enter non-terminating thoughts. That’s why it’s the zone of infinite games and human-complete problem solving. If you descend towards the void and return, you may find a lot more time has passed than you experienced.

Each time you visit, thoughts that don’t kill you will make you stronger. But there’s always the chance that you’ll think that one thought that can break your mind.

Life rules won’t prevent that happening, but they’ll make sure you’re dressed in a dignified way for it. As Woody Allen said, eternal nothingness is fine if you happen to be dressed for it.

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter

Comments

  1. Jon says:
    February 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    “The 10 Commandments of *Christianity*”? Really?

    Reply

    • Venkatesh Rao says:
      February 15, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      Well okay Judaism and Christianity 🙂

      Reply

      • Eric says:
        February 16, 2018 at 1:43 pm

        Exodus chapter 20 doesn’t number them 1-10, and the catholic bible reads differently there than the protestant bible.

        Separately, what is it about boiling a goat in its mother’s milk?

        Reply

        • Dan says:
          February 18, 2018 at 1:04 pm

          Boiling a juvenile goat or calf in its mother’s milk was one of the traditional sacrifices to the god Tammuz, a harvest deity in Chaldean and other Semitic cultures. Basically, don’t worship false gods, with the singling out of one of the more popular ones of the day.

          If it were today, they’d have used one of our more modern false gods, like “thou shalt not seek just endless money,” or “thou shalt not seek thousands of twitter followers, or “thou shalt not put thy ‘personal brand’ before the Lord, thy God.”

          Reply

      • Eric says:
        February 16, 2018 at 3:11 pm

        And a brilliant article, I should say.

        Reply

  2. Jordan Peacock says:
    February 15, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    1. Subtly or sharply, all relationships diverge. Hold each for its time, and not longer. (A rule about breaking relationships)
    2. A partnership requires frequent mutual course-corrections and a commitment to the present and future selves of one’s partner. (A rule about committing to lifelong relationships)
    3. Be jealous in what you attend to. Do not be afraid to shirk in order to pay dividends elsewhere. (A rule about compromises in work/effort)
    4. Build things that enrich your soul; share things that enrich the commons. (A rule about making and creating things)
    5. You will fall on the wrong side of history; do not overly venerate posterity. (A rule about your relationship to history)
    6. Exchange money for time; exchange time for experience. (A rule about your relationship to wealth and status)
    7. Bear your loved ones’ risks with grace. (A rule about your deepest grow-together relationships)
    8. You will never quite be its master; be not your body’s slave. (A rule about your physical body)
    9. Trust heterogeneous yet convergent data, not your senses or initial measure. (A rule about how you science)
    10. Will your measure. (A rule about what your life is a measure of)
    11. Own your actions. (A rule about how you appear in public)
    12. Own your consequences. (A rule about irreversible public action)

    Reply

  3. Jimi Wen says:
    February 16, 2018 at 5:03 am

    Given your definition of the inside the triangle to be more DMN and outside of the triangle to be TPN, should the description (and content) of 1,3 be actually 2,4. and The 2,4 correspond tothe 1,3 space inside the triangle?

    cheers!

    Reply

    • Venkat says:
      February 16, 2018 at 8:57 am

      All the questions are actually DMN processing, since if you’re thinking of such things you’re in reflective mode. You’re not thinking “how should I hold this knife” or “how should I reply to this specific text to avoid hurting the other person”. TPN questions have a situational specificity to them. DMN rules help start/stop/steer thinking.

      The DMN side is the infinite game side, where the key question is always, “how to continue the game” rather than “how to win” so the prompts having to do with breaking out of finite game orientation are on the inside. The prompts having to do with accepting a finite game orientation in order to gett back to action are on the outside.

      To some extent it doesn’t matter because both prompts relate to the boundary crossing rather than the interior or exterior. It’s best to think of the actual interior as a thought market.

      Reply

      • Jimi Wen says:
        February 16, 2018 at 9:15 pm

        I see, by visualising the prompts as boundary crossing it does make it easier to comprehend the two sides of a given edge.

        So if I interpret rule 6 (wealth and status) as accepting a finite game to get back to action.While the counterpart rule 5 (relation to history) as breaking out of a finite game. Very straightforward to me.

        But rule 1 (breaking relationship) and rule 3 (work/effort) still seem more of an accepting a finite game with something to be won, while rule 2 (lifelong) and rule 4 (making and creating) feels more breaking out of a finite game, that is to be wanting continuously. I guess this part is where I can’t quite my head around.

        Am I reading the example rules wrong, or not understanding the model fully?

        Reply

        • Venkat says:
          February 16, 2018 at 11:10 pm

          Good questions. You’re not reading the example rules wrong, but perhaps thinking of them in idealized contexts.

          It is context dependent, but I’m going by the median case throughout. In the median case, a lifelong relationship is more likely to be a codependency trap within an insular subculture (like say comic book nerds who never grow up) than one of those truly deep “infinite game” relationships which Carse talks about. Which means your infinite game move is more likely to be breaking a relationship and moving on to growth elsewhere than staying there. Kinda like jobs these days: promotion prospects are weak so you have to leave orgs and get a new job to move up. You outgrow jobs and leave them. You outgrow relationships and leave them. All in service of finding ways to continue playing the game.

          Similarly on the I-it leg, yes some kinds of maker journeys (think Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist) can be infinite quests for a sort of spiritually open growth. But most of the time they are likely to be precious snowflake artisan traps (or taste traps) where your identity is too tied to (say) making coffee perfectly or something. So in general, infinite game growth tends to come from what we usually view as market compromises. Kinda like the hipster/lifehacker divide. Though both can be in finite game traps, if I had to bet, I’d guess that the median lifehacker is more likely to be self actualizing, and the median hipster is more likely to be in a taste trap finite game. In general, entering the triangle should feel kinda messy, dirty, and sullying of some sort of purity. There’s a discomfort gradient pointing towards the void, whether you’re talking relationships, making, history, or any of the corner stuff.

          Reply

          • Jimi Wen says:
            February 17, 2018 at 5:25 am

            I think I have a better understanding of the infinite/finite now. (And the traps!)

            In your model, there are almost no infinite games, but only the allure of infiniteness, which will turn it into a singular finite game, as your examples of codependency trap, and taste traps. And that the closest most will get to an infinite game is actually by continuing a series of obvious finite games. Keep trudging along is the only way to approximate an infinite game.

            Applying it to the Thou-It leg, Rule 6 wealth is the more likely trap one falls in, thus requiring acceptance of wealth’s finteness. But for Rule 5 History, a “compromise” of oneself’s place in history is more likely to be self-actualising, and therefore continuously/periodically breaking off our perception of ourself in history is required. Is this application to the Thou-It leg more along the median case you intended?

  4. Jimi Wen says:
    February 16, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Do you think the symmetry would be more intuitive if the pairs 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 would be also “inside” and “outside” of the triangle, akin the pairs 1-2, 3-4, 5-6? If I’ve read the description correctly, 7, 9, 12 would then be the inside vertices, and corresponding 8, 10, 11, the outside vertices, of rat, goat, crow respectively…

    Reply

    • Venkat says:
      February 16, 2018 at 9:05 am

      Those 3 pairs dont’ actually span the finite/infinite game divide. Rather, they span the lines dividing the edge regimes. Take 7/8 for example. A spouse is somebody who defines your identity in an I-thou way, but is also someone who most intimately has access to your body in an I-it way after yourself. But still, they are ultimately another person, not you. So rule 7 is on the I-thou side of that divide. You’re the only person who can relate to your body in a true I-it way as an object though, feeling its weight, balance, etc directly in a physics sense, so the “rule about your body” prompt 8 is on the other side.

      As currently stated, those prompts are kinda indifferent to the finite/infinite aspect and could be on either side. If I were to add 6 more prompts, that split would be evident. The current prompt 8 might become a new prompt 8 like “don’t look in the mirror too often” (to avoid getting trapped in the finite game of body narcissism) and rule 14 might be “take a walk everyday” (which to me tends to be an infinite game kind of bodily activity since it recenters/grounds me).

      There’s probably room for 3 more pairs, rules 13-18, on the inside.

      Reply

      • Jimi Wen says:
        February 16, 2018 at 11:32 pm

        Thanks, thinking it in terms of edge regimes makes complete sense to me now. Let me try to give it go..

        In a sense, could the rules 7-12 be thought as the “extreme” of the I-it, I-thou, thou-it edges?

        i.e.
        Rule 8 (body) to Rule 9 (Your Science), is the two extremes of I-It, where Rule 8 is as I as it gets, and Rule 9 is as It as it gets.

        Rule 7 (Partners) to Rule 12 (Public Actions), is two extremes of I-Thou edge.

        Rule 10 (measure) to Rule 11(Appearance) is then the It-Thou edge regime. Rule 10 is It-centric but based/ground on Thou, instead of grounded by I (like Rule 9). And Rule 11 is the Thou-centric but based on It (the something you have done) rather based on I (rule 12).

        In this interpretation, the (fuzzy?) vertices/space, Home, Frontier, Public are proxied only by the edges almost touching. But these vertices are not actually the same vertices, such there is a jump (the break in the triangle), or bend around the corners pairs, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12, that adjoins the edges pairs, 7/12, 8/9, 10/11. And without the edge behind the corner, one wouldn’t be able to orient their way, when one is bending around the corner.

        It’s quite interesting if the vertices were further split spanning the finite/infinite divide. If expanded to 18 rules, it is like having a “Sestet” on a given edge regime, and a trio of sestet, e.g. the Sestet for I-It would be:

        8 (body) — 3 (work) —15 (let’s say milestone?!)
        [I] [It]
        14 (mirror) — 4 (creation)—-9 (science)

        I think it’s good mental exercise to do the 18 rules as you described above. I wonder structurally would a trio of Sestet or trio of Quartet (Home, Frontier, Public) + trio of Duet (I-Thou-It) to reflect(or for people to use) your ideal model better?

        Reply

        • Venkat says:
          February 17, 2018 at 9:46 am

          I think you got the basic idea now. You may want to read the Carse book if you haven’t already, to get a better handle on the subtleties of infinite/finite games. They aren’t quite mutex. Infinite is best understood as an attitude with which you play within finite game regimes. It is not the activity but the disposition towards it.

          I may develop the theory further to 18 rules, but I suspect that may be too overwrought for most people, especially without a lot more supporting intuition development on how to work with the first 6. There’s a bit of a learning curve here due to the depth of the sources I’m drawing from.

          Reply

          • Jimi Wen says:
            February 17, 2018 at 4:27 pm

            Thanks, I will read Carse book, hopefully, will understand “The Economics of Pricelessness” more fully.

  5. Isa Hassen says:
    February 16, 2018 at 6:40 am

    Your analysis of zero-rule-sets is very interesting, but sadly short. I wish you had theorized further about them – perhaps I will do so myself at a later time. For now, I have the Single Rule Set Conjecture, also known as the Fundamentalist Theorem of LRSes: If an LRS is mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive, internally consistent, dialectic, cardinally ordered, independently construed and illegible (will work irrespective of your understanding of them), on a domain X, then X is not a comprehensive domain of everything that will ever concern me in life, or the LRS contains exactly 1 rule. The proof is left as an exercise to the reader.

    Reply

  6. Ralph W Witherell says:
    February 16, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Venkatesh, another mind bending and valuable post. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  7. Nick says:
    February 16, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Here’s another LRS from a certified badass: http://www.musashi-miyamoto.com/dokkodo.html

    I have difficulty getting over the arbitrariness of LRS. I too would love to hear more of your thoughts regarding ZRS, if you have anything additional to say. Any LRS seems clunky relative to that kind of “mind like water discipline.”

    Reply

    • Nick says:
      February 16, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      But also, great article. The only attempt at deductively arriving at a framework for a “full” system of life rules that I’ve ever come across.

      Breaking new ground.

      Reply

  8. Jeffrey Weiner says:
    February 17, 2018 at 5:03 am

    A test I always run on this type of lrs-generation model is what happens when I apply it to itself.

    I did this with Peterson’s conception of how to rise through dominance hierarchies – it broke down because it becomes infinitely regressive which shouldn’t be possible based on Peterson’s assertions regarding the role of the logos in driving action throughout.

    Here’s the trouble I have with this model. I’ve been thinking about it whenever my mind wanders since yesterday morning when I read it. This implies that thinking about thinking within the model falls within the triangle.

    However, I don’t see where within the triangle this style of thinking fits in. I don’t think that thinking about thinking occurs at home. I don’t see it as occurring in public either since there’s no sense of “done that [thing].”

    This leaves three options for where this thinking falls:
    1/ the frontier (but is there a there there? It doesn’t feel like there is?)

    2/ meme-space (but this is too thoughtful and serious to be a joke or aphorism)

    3/ the void? (but this thinking doesn’t fill me with the existential dread I experience when I get the side eye from the void)

    So… Where am I when I’m thinking about how thinking is delineated in the map?


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Escaping The Transylvanian Gulag To The World

Escaping Vampirism In Transylvania to the World

By Dr Olga M. Lazin

In 1963 when I was born in Transylvania, the “golden age” of socialism was in full “progress”.

A mythical space, Transylvania is the place that gave me my roots and brains. In 1963, the Northern part of Romania. Magdalena has given birth to me in one of the most pristine, oxygenated part of town, the beautiful Satu-Mare.

Two years later she gave birth to my brother, Alex in Sighetu Marmatie. The city of Satu Mare was undergoing catastrophic transformations, as it was forcefully modernized by Ceausescu’s decrees, and people from the villages were forced to work in huge, socialistic factories. Along the Somes river, the tiny village of Vetis, where my ancestors on my father’s side were born, is now a heavily populated colorful and diverse, it really grew into a lovely place. On my mother’s side, Bixad, in the Oas region of Romania is still a beautiful traditional village, with houses spread far apart, not all jammed together. My mother was “osanca”, as they would ethnically distinguish her in the old days. There are many ethnicities in my new town we moved to named Sighet. Or Sighetu-Marmatiei. We had Hungarians, Jews, Gipsy, Romanians, and Ruthenians, not to mention Germans, and Tatars.

I was born to a family of middle-class folks Eugene and Magdalena. I was the first child, and right after me came my brother, Alexandru in 1965. I remember being happy having a brother. At age three, my mother Magdalena was transferred by her employer (The Logging Company in Viseul de Sus, Maramures County) to Sighet, in Maramures County. Thus, my parents and I moved to the Transylvanian town of Sighet, in a pristine region behind the mountain of Gutinul.

Transylvania was an ancient forest, where vampires and

wolverines were lurking at the cover of the dark and cold

winter nights.

I never feared the unknown, as I was already accustomed to “strigoi,” and vampire stories ever since I was a baby! All

these weird mythological entities were part of my ecosystem, so to say.

I grew up fearless with my brother, Alex, whom I felt I had to

constantly protect from other belligerent boys in the

neighborhood of Zahana, as it was called the cluster of

houses built by in the sixties and seventies, in Hungarian style; the Jewish headquarters of Zahana.

The Lazin family lived right in the Jewish square, on the same block with Ellie Wiesel’s family, the author of “The Night”. The Jewish family that had been deported in the 40s by the Sigheteni themselves during the fascist period, 1940-1944.

Sighet was surrounded by beautiful green mountains, and three rivers: Mara, Tisa and Iza.

On the one hand, I was friends with the children of intellectuals, as well as also lovely Romanian, Hungarian, Jewish, and Gipsy children to whom I taught the Romanian language as early as fourth grade, in my neighborhood.

On the other hand, my family had a difficult life because my parents were always working until late hours at night. My younger brother Alex and I read the local newspapers while waiting for mother, Magdalena,

to turn off our lights even as she continued into the wee hours her accounting work at home. She was compounding the lengths and width of the wooden logs that were being exported to Russia year by year.

During the day, Magdalena let us play all day long to our heart’s content. So unique, and we felt so free exploring nature in Sighet. When I entered primary school, I learned

that Sighet was officially named Sighetu Marmației (on Romania’s northwest border facing Ukraine’s southwestern border with Romania and Hungary). Marmatiei has been added to mark the overly-emphasized Latinity

Transylvania had been Romanian territory before it was taken away by the Trianon Treaty. It then went to the Kingdom of Hungary (Transylvania) as part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire before World War I. The disputed territory of Transylvania became part of Romania again finally in 1918.

In 1940 Northern Transylvania reverted to Hungary as a result of the Second Vienna Award, but Romanian queen Maria rightfully reclaimed it after the end of World War II.[i]

All of Romania was seized for its oil by Nazi Germany (1940-1944), “liberated” by the “Soviet Union” (1944-1947), and “re-liberated” to become the Popular republic of Romania (under USSR remote control) as the Cold War

was beginning to freeze the Iron Curtain into to place.

The first “president,” Gheorghiu-Dej (1965) ruled as puppet of Moscow, but when he died, his Sec Gen of the Communist Party of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, was elected as the second “president” (1965-1989), shifting his savage dictatorship into a harsher “nationalistic Gulag” than known in the USSR. At the end of 1994 the Russian military organized “presidential” elections of “people’s committees” in the region.[ii] The end of the war occupied some formerly Romanian northeastern territories occupied by the Soviet Union, with Red Army units stationed on Romanian soil. In 1947 Romania forcibly became a People’s Republic (1947–1965).

My parents in 1963: Eugen & Magda: she was pregnant with me here.

For two decades I neither understood the dimensions of tragic situation of Transylvania (located in northeast Romania on the Ukrainian border), nor did I understand that I would have to escape the Gulag of Romania by the skin of my teeth.

I had to risk my life to leave my country. Generals and sports Olympians were defecting.

Nadia Comaneci has left in 1988, one year before Ceausescu was toppled.

Opposition to the regime was building up painstakingly slow, and communist idiots

wanted Ceausescu replaced. The Russian KGB school at work, soviet agents like Iliescu were ready to take his place. Now these were the vampires coming out like vermins to manipulate the population into believing they were “change”.

The Front of national salvation was building up to substitute the dictator’s fascist clique.

For peoples of the world Transylvania seems to be a far-away place, where most people know the werewolves and vampires have been rumored to roam & lurk in nature. In the imagination of people everywhere, whose beliefs are soaked in mystical folklore, even today it is hardly possible to have a rational conversation on any subject matter. Most occupying forces never understood either the culture of the Romanian people or the distinct culture of Transylvania. The immense diversity of the ethnicities and cultures.

Naturally I am a bi-national citizen. My Ruthenian roots are strong, and I rejoice every time I am remembering the pretty pristine landscapes of Sighet and Satu Mare where I was born.

Summoning my unconsciousness to write this autobiographical piece, I need to re-accustom myself to thinking of the distinct cultures of the region.

Once in general school I excelled in Romanian and American Languages.

I had to choose between English and Russian, and I opted for English in the 5th grade.

The population consisted of Romanians, Hungarians (particularly Székelys), Ukrainians, and Germans. Even the Securitate, the eminence grey of Transylvania, had to learn several languages in order to surveil people on the phones, etc. These people were educated by the Soviets in Russian surveillance techniques and bloody procedures.

All these languages are still being spoken on the Territory of Maramures County, including Rroma, or the Gypsy language, Hungarian, Ukrainian, and Ruthenian.

I always liked and loved the Romanian language, so I decided to become a Professor of Romanian Language and Literature.

As I have previously mentioned, n 1973, at age 10 as a fifth grader, I had to make a fateful decision about my choice of foreign-language study: Russian or English. The pressure was on

us to take up Russian, this proving that we were all students loyal to the Dictator Nicole Ceausescu’s “Socialist” Government (read Romanian Communist Government allied with Moscow), but consciously I detested the whole Romanian system and its alliance with the Russians.

I never liked the Russian language; even today it rings hollow to me, reminds me of the barking of a toothless dog.

Although I wanted to learn English in my early years, I did not then know how fateful that choice would be until 1991, when at almost 27 years of age, I met Jim Wilkie who had been advised by his brother Richard to include my town of Sighet in his journey to assess the how Eastern Europe was faring after the fall of the “Berlin Wall,” short for the long wall that kept the people of Communist countries locked and unable to escape.

In the meantime, growing up in Sighet with a population of only 30,000 people, we were proud to recognize Ely Wiesel (born 1928) as our most prominent citizen long before he won the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. He helped us get past the terrible history of Sighet Communist Prison where “enemies of the state” were confined until “death due to natural cause.” The Jewish population has been decimated in Sighet in the fifties.

In my early years I had a hard time understanding how the green and flowered valley of Sighet (elevation 1,000 feet, on the Tisa River at the foot of our forested Carpathian Mountains) could be so beautiful, yet we lived under the terribly cruel eye of the Securitate to protect the wretched Dictator Nicolae “Ceausescu,”[iii] is the modern spelling of the Dictator’s name; and he ruled from 1965 to his execution in 1989 as the harshest leader of all the countries behind Russia’s Wall against Western Europe.

Oddly enough, in the Transylvania of the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, supposedly I was living the “Golden Age of Romanian Socialism,” but even to myself as a young student; I could see that the promised “full progress” was clearly a lie. Most adults agreed but feared to speak so bluntly. Repetitive folk songs were praising the father and the mother of the nation, and on TV, we could only watch the first couple running around in China, Russia, and other socialist countries to make alliances, and keep up appearances for 40 years! In Northern Transylvania we had only one TV Channel, and that was the norm. The Hungarian channel was completely blocked out by the government, so that no real news reaches our ears.

In the meantime, without rarely granted permission, we were forbidden to meet and visit with foreigners, especially those who spoke English and who wanted to hear from us about Sighet and its nearby wooden hamlets of the Maramures Province, where I have my first memories.

The region is ethnically diverse, with a stimulating climate ranging from very hot summers and very cold winters. Geographically, we lived in the valleys and Mountains of Gutinul through which the rivers of Iza and Tisa flow. Geographically, the beautiful forested Tisa River is the natural border with Southern Ukraine.

As folklore has it in the West, vampires are native to Transylvania. We had vampires, werewolves, and wolverines, but all the mythological characters were actually members of the Communist Party, which everyone had to join–except for me because with my knowledge, I was considered a security risk!

Fortunately, when in 1982 I entered the University Babes Boljay, in Cluj-Napoca, to earn my M.A. in 1990, for my Philology classes, and I decided to conduct my field research project into the rural life of the North of Romania, recording the folklore (especially myths) invented and passed down by rural folks (including small merchants, farmers, fisherman, loggers) had had used that lore to help them survive for centuries.

Further, much of my research conducted among the outlying farmers, delved deeply into Transylvania Folklore, which prepared me well to understand Communist Party Lore.

Thus, for the second time, my fateful choice of a field research project, the Elitelore project had further prepared me, unknowingly, for my future with Jim Wilkie.

We were constantly studying the elites, and were interviewing them on everything

they were doing. Revolutionaries, Professors, civic society leaders were the best subjects of our research.

Once I had been admitted to the Babes Bolyai University, which was called “the heart and brain of Transylvania,” I also further expanded and deepened deep studies in American language and literature. Also, I studied Romanian language and literature in the Department of Philology. The Bolyai University Is considered the best University in Transylvania.

Upon beginning my mentoring for other students, I was happy to find a sense of freedom. Reading and writing comprehension were my forté during my four years at Cluj. I had always dreamt of being a professor and a writer and seemed to be off to a great start.

But I soon realized that our professors opened the day by reading the mounds of new Decrees just signed by Ceausescu. Thus, I began laughing, and other students join me in mocking the wooden language of Central Planning’s attempt to befuddle us with words from a wooden language, totally bent toward twisting our brains into confused submission. Professors and Securitate officers were acting as sweaty bureaucrats trying to teach us how to sharpen our mental images. Not one professor asked us, “What do each of you really think of all this Ceausescu propaganda of decrees harming the educational process?”

Professors had their favorite students and made sure they pointed this out in class, stifling any competition as they show openly their favoritism or nepotism.

When I reached the age of 22 in1985, I started to be argumentative, criticizing professors, especially the history professor who only knew only the History of the Romanian Communist Party.

The Russians, via the KGB, had been directing Romanian politicians since 1945, and pressured Romanian students to dig useless trenches as well forced women-students to shot Russian weapons, and learn to disassemble and assemble the AK47.

Meanwhile in my University Cluj the atmosphere was dreadful in classes. Restrictions were plentiful and absurd. Speech was not free; one couldn’t discuss issues freely in class, or make any real analysis or debate. One had to regurgitate what the professors were telling us. Modern economics led by and read whatever was there in the old books stacked in the communist library. Until I escaped Romania in 1992, I learned that the so-called economics classes we took taught nothing about money, credit, and such terms as GDP. The Marxian economics involved only fuzzy nonsensical slogans such as “We Romanians have to fight-off the ‘running dogs of capitalism,” without the word “capitalism” ever being defined except in unrealistic theory laced with epithets.

Even as an English major, I was not permitted to speak with foreigners in English –answering one question was a crime, according to the tendentious Security Decrees. Abortion was a crime punishable for up to 20 years in prison. Doctors performing it ended up in jail, and so did the pregnant women. Punishments were ridiculous—the Anti-Abortion Law lasted for 40 years, until 1990.

Furthermore, if my uncle from Canada visited us, we were all under surveillance, the entire family. Even today, in 2017 one has to report to the police to declare if any visitor of family comes from the USA (or Canada, for some bizarre security reason). Well, after 25 years, not much has changed in poor Romania.

THE INFLUENCE OF RECENT ROMANIAN HISTORY

In the meantime, the History of Transylvania weighed heavily on population of Romania, with constant change in the emerging political map always have left “citizens” always lost about who was really in charge.

Thus, Transylvania was originally part of the Dacia Kingdom between 82 BC until the Roman conquest in 106 AD. The capital of Dacia was destroyed by the Romans, so that a new as capital would serve the Roman Province of Dacia, which lasted until 350 ADS, by which time the Romans felt so hated that it behooved them withdraw back to Rome.

During the late 9th century, western Transylvania was conquered by the Hungarian Army to later become part of the Kingdom of Hungary and in 1570 to devolve into the Principality of Transylvania. During most of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Principality became an Ottoman Empire vassal state, confusingly also governed by the Habsburg Empire. After 1711 Transylvania was consolidated solely into the Hapsburg Empire and Transylvanian princes were replaced with Habsburg imperial governors. After 1867, Transylvania ceased to have separate status and was incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[iv] After World War I, Transylvania reverted in 1918 to be part of Romania. In 1940 Northern Transylvania again became governed by Hungary and then Germany, but Romanian queen Maria successfully reclaimed it after the end of World War II.

The year 1940 was important for Romania because if was seized for its oil by Nazi Germany (1940-1944), “liberated” by the “Soviet Union” (1944-1947), and finally “re-liberated” to

become the Popular republic of Romania (under USSR remote control), as the Cold War was beginning to freeze the Iron Curtain into place.

At the end of World War II while the USSR and its Red Army were the occupying powers in

all Romania, in 1947 Romania forcibly and ironically became a “People’s Republic” (1947–1989), after the rise of the Iron Curtain.

The first “president,” Gheorghiu-Dej (1947) ruled as puppet of Moscow, but when he died, his Secretary General of the Communist Party of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, was elected as the second “president” (1965-1989), shifting his savage dictatorship into a harsher Romanian “Gulag” than known in the USSR. Thousands of Romanians had vanished overnight.

For two decades, I neither understood the dimensions of tragic history of Transylvania, nor did I yet realize that I would have to escape the Gulag of Romania, even if by the “skin of my teeth.”

For peoples of the world Transylvania seems to be a faraway place, where most people know the werewolves and vampires have been “seen” to in the imagination of Transylvanians, whose

beliefs were soaked in mystical folklore. Even today it is hardly possible to have a rational conversation with most the Transylvanian folk on any subject without recourse to try to understand where their distorted imagination has befuddled them.

The population has consisted of Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, and some Ukrainians. These languages are still being spoken in Romania’s Maramures province, but because I always liked and loved Romanian language, I decided to become a Professor of Romanian Language

and Literature. I also precociously fell in love with my English Professor, Spaczai.

MY BACKDROP TO THE FALL OF CEAUSESCU

I later told Jim how I had been admitted in 1982 to the Babes-Bolyai University, in Cluj-Napoca at the heart of Transylvania, I focused especially on Linguistics. Unfortunately, there I found that the professors, who were under the control of sweaty-stinking Securitate officers, had to read dozens of new Decrees issued every day as they sought to control every one of our daily actions—all in the name of protecting the Ceausescu government—which was selling the country’s food supplies to Russia in order to pay down Roman’s official debt with exports. Those Securitate officers ate well and ominously watched us virtually starve. They said, be calm, like your parents in the face of their starvation. Secu’ officers were the vampires and the wolverines that I was talking about in my first paragraph. They are surveillance officers, and this is what they do: inform on innocent people, place all types of microphones under people’s tables and beds, and that have fun as perverted this may sound in almost every home in Sighet, Maramures County. They report on you, and this earns them a living.

Thus, I furiously called out in my classes that our very existence was being compromised by Ceausescu’s abandonment of the population, which was ordered to, as Lenin famously said, “work, work, and work.”

To protect myself as best I could, I turned to humor, seeking to ridicule Ceausescu’s “national paradise.” But when I encouraged my classmates to laugh at the propaganda embedded in the wooden language of the national bureaucracy, I soon fell under the heavy scrutiny of university authorities, who were furious that I trying to expose the fact that all classes had been organized to befuddle the student body into confused submission. Indeed, each professor had favorite students to help drown out legitimate questions and stifle any competing analysis—the university lived under nepotism, favoritism, the threat of rape (virtual and real) by the Securitate officers, and open bribery by the professors–choose your garden variety.

My 1986 Attempt To Flee The Jail Named Romania

By 1986, at age 23, I had decided to flee Romania—an illegal act because Ceausescu did not

want anyone (especially women of child-bearing age) to escape his plan to building his “ideal socialist industries” on farms and ranches as well as in the cities. In June, I made my way to

the border of Yugoslavia and paid a smuggler to evade the Romanian security forces that were preventing the “nations workers” from escaping. The smuggler, who took me across the border, turned out to be working for Romanian Border Police. Thus, soon after crossing into

Yugoslavia, he turned his wagon around and I was again in Romania again when I realized what had happened too late. I had been “sold” to Ceausescu’s minions for a wagonload of salt and 20 Liters of gasoline. Iosif Broztito, the President of socialist Yugoslavia had this type of deal with Nicolae Ceausescu in the1980s.

Thousands were returned for this kind of draconian exchange.

That failed escape from Romania led me to a 10-month prison sentence in Timisoara Prison, wherein the block cells were maintained so cold (supposedly to eliminate bacteria and viruses) that it made all of us inmates sick with the cold and the flu.

Bed blankets in the were less warming than one Kleenex tissue. Moreover, there were no pillows, and the concrete slab where inmates slept was a “back-breaker.” The lights were on 24 hours a day, blinding all of us, and there was constant observation. Every hour one was awakened to be counted for, and sneaking up on people, under the guise of watching out for suicides. But everyone could be clearly seen by the guards, and there was no need to sleep-deprive inmates. There was also someone in the higher echelon ripping off the food budget to siphon money to themselves while serving inmates only baby carrots and spicy beans.

Almost every family in Romanian civil society had at least one member who had been imprisoned for trying to open the political system by denouncing the Ceausescu dictatorship. These inmates were openly called “Political Prisoners,” and I was one of them.

Political Prisoners were not permitted to work outside the prison walls in the fields because our crime had been the political decision to repudiate Ceausescu’s “vampiristic system.”

“CHANGE IN THE AIR”

Once free in 1987, I could finally return to my University to finally complete my M.A. in 1990 at Babes-Bolyai in Cluj Napoca.

Further in 1987, at the age of 24, I met the Family patriarch Nicolae Pipas,[v] who directed for the Communist government the walled Regional Art Museum in a quiet part of Sighet. When he realized that I was a Professor of the English and Romania Languages, and one of the few university’s highly educated persons in the region, I began to serve as interpreter/guide to visiting foreign Ambassadors permitted to travel in Romania. They wanted to see the Museum with its magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, and rare historical pottery and coins. Thus,

I soon found myself interpreting and translating for visiting English-Speaking Ambassadors from many countries who wished to know Transylvania, especially my village Sighet and its Merry Cemetery famous worldwide for it tombstones in the form of wood sculpture of the butcher, the baker, candlestick maker, and all professions.

Although my first languages were Romanian and Hungarian, I could also translate into French and Italian. Indeed, at that time I was teaching Latin in the Rural School System of my Maramures Province.

Ceausescu and his clique has starved us to death, and all food was rationalized.

A piece of bread for each individual, an d1 liter of oil per month, as well as salami was distributed to the people lined up for days in front of the empty-shelved stores. And the time for distributing food was also set arbitrarily by the communist Party.

By 1989, Ceausescu realized that his end was near, and he sought to gain support by pardoning his political prisoners (such as myself) who had tried to escape the horrendous conditions in the country. Hence, university students and some labor unions joined forces and quite quickly after the fall of the Berlin Wall forced Ceausescu and his draconian wife Elena to flee. They were caught and executed on Christmas Day, 1989, by the military that at the last moment joined the Revolution.

‘As my friends and I (along with most of the population) cheered the fall of the failed, rotten Romanian “dictatorship of the proletariat,” my dear mother acted differently. She was so confused by the propaganda of the only “leader” she knew much about that she wept for Ceausescu, not fully realizing that he was the one who had wrongly had be arrested and put me in prison.

In 1989, Romanian students were fed up with the dictatorship, and started a rebellion in Bucharest, at the University Square. Simultaneously, people in Timisoara also started the revolution via civil disobedience. For a week and so there were bloody fights in Bucharest and Timisoara, young

People trying to get rid of Ceausescu’s regime. So finally, Iliescu another communist monster (schooled in Moscow) took over and under the pretext of filling the vacuum of power he self-appointed himself president.

He stole the revolution with his acolytes, and over 1000 people were dead in the streets.

With Ceausescu gone, in 1990 I was able to secure a passport to ready myself to leave Romania by gaining visas for Germany and France. The question remained, how to get there by land without a visa to Austria—my region had no air connection to the outside world.

There was only one airport in the country, in Bucharest.

I decided to leave with Professor James m Wilkie and Jim Platler in September 17, 1990.

Jim has filled out all the paperwork to hire me, and I gratefully accepted to work for

PROFMEX, a global network of Professors studying Mexico and the World.

Thus, we set out on that September 18th to visit one of the most socially and economically interesting and beautiful parts of Romania by going up thought the green forested Carpathian Mountains via the beautiful Prislop Pass, stopping to visit small farming families in their folkloric clothing of which they were justifiably proud to wear on a daily basis. Farther east in Romania, on the scenic roads, we visited the monasteries of Moldova, the town of Cimpulung Moldovenesc, Suceava, and then the Monasteries in Sucevita and Agapia. The gorgeous forested mountain road eventually led to Lacul Rosu and the lake country. Then we took the long scenic mountain road to Cluj Napoca to visit my prestigious University.

As I briefed Jim about Romania, he was briefing me about factors in comparing national economies. For example, he told me about how he had reunited in Prague on September 15th with Richard Beesen, his former UCLA student and friend, to hear about his role in London as Manager of Deutsche Bank’s New Accounts in Russia and Eastern Europe. Richard had become famous for inviting Banking Officials and national Treasury Ministries to deposit their financial reserves on deposit in his bank in London. But because his clients did not understand anything about “interest payments” on deposited funds, they did not ask for nor did they gain any interest payments. Also, because most Western Banks were not sure that these new “capitalists” could be “fully trusted” for correct management of their deposits, his Deutsche Bank collected large fees (and paid no interest to keep the Eastern Europe “bank reserves safe.” This was all very eye opening for me.

Jim and I had realized early on that we had a close affinity as we analyzed the situation of Romania, and he said, “Call me Jim.” (In contrast I called Professor James Platler “JP.”) As we traveled to observe the situation of the people in different parts of the country, Jim and I formed a deep bond of observing and analyzing; thus, both of us realized this brief interlude had to continue for the long term in order to achieve our goals.

NEXT STOPS, BUDAPEST, SALZBURG, MUNICH,

BORDEAUX (FOR ME), AND LOS ANGELES (FOR JIM)

As a Romanian, I had the right to enter Hungary, and we did so bypassing the miles of vehicles waiting to cross the border for the long drive to Budapest. There Prof. James Platler finally relaxed after the long drives and often poor hotels and hotels—he said that he finally found unbroken civilization again.

Once we arrived in Budapest, Professor James Platler, who had told Jim privately that from the outset of our trip that he thought that I was a “Spy” (planted on us by the Romanian Securitate to monitor our many “foreign” inquiries during our travel through Romania’s north country), announced that his concern about me had vanished as we realized the extent of my knowledge and research abilities. In his mind, I had to be a Spy because I had obtained access to special private dining rooms and quarter in some fine hotels, as well as invitations for wonderful lunches at some Monasteries, where miraculously I made immediate friends with each Mother Superior. But by the time we reached Budapest, he realized that at my University I had learned the Elite skills needed to survive safely and comfortably in Eastern Europe.

My problem was to enter Austria, where I had no visa. But Jim passed his UCLA business card through to the Consul General of Austria in Budapest, and quickly we found ourselves whisked from the back of the long line to the front and right into a meeting with the Consul General himself. He was pleased to hear about the research of our UCLA Team, but said that I did have a visa. Jim then told them that I only needed a three-day transit visa to reach Germany, the visa for which he could see in my passport.

With entry to Austria solved, we were on the road to the Hotel Kobentzl and Graz, which overlook Salzburg, all the way analyzing the comparative economic and social situations of Austria, Hungary, and Romania.

We spent most of our time down the mountain from Kobentzl to the valley, before returning to our sweeping Hotel view of Salzburg City. Meanwhile I was deepening my questions about capital is leveraged to undertake big private projects. As we took photos over from on high looking down on the many bridges of Salzburg and Jim was explaining how the developed world operated by using finances, credit, and interest to help economies grow.

Finally, we left Salzburg to enter Germany and Munich, where our quick look into Oktoberfest found us among nasty drunken louts each of whom seemingly had hand four hands: one to chug-a-lug beer; one to smoke foul smelling cigarettes; one to quaff horrible-bleeding-raw sausages; and one to punch someone in the face. From what we saw, Oktoberfest was a place for nasty males seeking to “get smashed on beer” and then smash another male to break his nose. Thus, we fled for our lives as the brutes began to threaten anyone who looked at them.

Even though the “English-Speaking USA” had been supposedly always threatening to invade Romania, I continued to study English language and literature. That I chose to study English even though the act alone brought suspicion on me because all society was taught to believe since 1945 that we were fighting off the Great USA.[vi] America was officially seen as a threat to Romania and its allies under Russia’s COMECON,[vii] all of which I became only fully aware as I grew older and had to buy the English Course textbooks on the risky, expensive Black Market, in Timisoara, a 4 hours’ drive from Cluj-Napoca.

In the meantime, without rarely granted permission, we were forbidden to meet and visit with foreigners, especially those who spoke English and who wanted to hear from us about Sighet and its nearby wooden hamlets of the Maramures Province, where I have my first memories.

The region is ethnically diverse, with a stimulating climate ranging from very hot summers and very cold winters. Geographically, we lived in the valleys and Mountains of Gutinul through which the rivers of Iza and Tisa flow. Geographically, the beautiful forested Tisa

River is the natural border with Southern Ukraine. Mara is another river I explored in my youth with my brother, Alex.

My mother Magdalena decided, when I was 3, to move from Satu-Mare to the Sighet, Maramures county. For me this change was welcome, and I grew up in the Maramures region, where I have I have my first memories. The region was much nicer, ethnically more diverse, better climate, and more geographic diversity, with the Mountains of Gutinul and the rivers of Iza and Tisa, as Tisa was the natural border with the Ukraine.

As folklore has it in the West, vampires are native to Transylvania. We had vampires, werewolves, and wolverines, but all the mythological characters were actually members of the Communist Party and infamous security officers, which everyone had to join–except for me because with my knowledge, I was considered a security risk! I actually refused to join the bloody red party, and so did one of my girl colleagues, Michaela Pascu-Arvedson, who lives in Malmo, Sweden now. Non-alignment meant we were the black sheep of the class.

Fortunately, when in 1982 I entered the University Babes Boljay, in Cluj-Napoca, to earn my M.A. in 1990, for my Philology classes, I decided to conduct my field research project into the rural life of the North of Romania, recording the folklore (especially myths) invented and passed down by rural folks (including small merchants, farmers, fisherman, loggers) had had used that lore to help them survive for centuries.

Further, much of my research conducted among the outlying farmers, delved deeply into Transylvania Folklore, which prepared me well to understand Communist Party Lore, and unjustified secret security surveillance.

Once I had been admitted to the Babes Boljay University, which was called “the heart and brain of Transylvania,” I also further expanded and deepened deep studies in American language and literature. Also, I had studied Romanian language and literature in the Department of Philology. The Bolyai University is still considered to this day the best University in Transylvania.

Upon beginning my mentoring for other students, I was happy to find a sense of freedom. Reading and writing comprehension were my forté during my four years at Cluj. I had always dreamt of being a professor and a writer and seemed to be off to a great start.

But I soon realized that our professors opened the day by reading the mounds of new Decrees just signed by Ceausescu. Thus, I began laughing, and other students join me in mocking the wooden language of Central Planning’s attempt to befuddle us with words from a wooden language, totally bent toward twisting our brains into confused submission. Professors and Securitate officers were acting as sweaty bureaucrats trying to teach us how to sharpen our mental images. Not one professor asked us, “What do each of you really think of all this Ceausescu propaganda of decrees harming the educational process?”

Professors had their favorite students and made sure they pointed this out in class, stifling any competition as they show openly their favoritism or nepotism.

When I reached the age of 22 in1985, I started to be argumentative, criticizing professors, especially the history professor who only knew only the History of the Romanian Communist Party.

The Russians, via the KGB, had been directing Romanian politicians since 1945, and pressured Romanian students to dig useless trenches as well forced women-students to shot Russian weapons, and learn to disassemble and assemble the AK47.

Meanwhile in my University Cluj the atmosphere was dreadful in classes. Restrictions were plentiful and absurd. Speech was not free; one couldn’t discuss issues freely in class, or make any real analysis or debate. One had to regurgitate what the professors were telling us. Modern economics led by and read whatever was there in the old books stacked in the communist library. Until I escaped Romania in 1992, I learned that the so-called economics classes we took taught nothing about money, credit, and such terms as GDP. The Marxian economics involved only fuzzy nonsensical slogans such as “We Romanians have to fight-off the ‘running dogs of capitalism,” without the word “capitalism” ever being defined except in unrealistic theory laced with epithets.

Even as an English major, I not permitted to speak with foreigners in English –answering one question was a crime, according to the tendentious Security Decrees. Abortion was a crime punishable for up to 20 years in prison. Doctors performing it ended up in jail, and so did the pregnant women. Punishments were ridiculous—the Anti-Abortion Law lasted for 40 years, until 1990.

Furthermore, if my uncle from Canada visited us, we were all under surveillance, the entire family. Even today, in 2017 one has to report to the police to declare if any visitor of family comes from the USA (or Canada, for some bizarre security reason). Well, after 25 years, not much has changed in poor Romania.

As I said previously, my childhood was marked by fights as I had to protect my little brother Alexandru. In high school, I was known as the student-poet, the class poet, and I won some pretty prizes for my poems in General School, coordinated closely with Ileana Zubascu Cristescu; my Romanian Language Professor. I am still in touch with her to this day.

My mother has been my best mentor and role model, a Taurus lady with a big heart and soul, honest and loving forever. Here she is in Sinaia, 2000, one year before she died of a massive heart attack in September 2001.

I had another flashback coming to me. The academia was infested with egregious communists.

I was admitted to the University in Cluj in 1982, in the heart of Transylvania, namely the American Language and Literature and Romanian Language And Literature Department of Philology. The professors, started reading the mounds of new Decrees every day, which made me laugh, and staff of the university was suspicious of me not believing their “expose” in the classrooms. Professors were

trying to befuddle us with words from a wooden language, totally bent toward twisting our brains into confused submission. During my college years, Professors, and Securitate officers were acting as sweaty bureaucrats, uneducated idiots trying to tell us what to think. Not one professor asked us, “What do you really think, all of you?” Each professor had their favorite students and made sure they pointed it out in class, stifling any competition, and showed openly their favoritism or nepotism.

When I reached 22 years, I started being argumentative, and started criticizing professors, esp. the history professor. I was getting so sick at academics yelling at us, and being forced to do the military service as a woman in the academia. After all, Americans were coming to take away our socialist country.

We couldn’t t buy books in English, and I was an English major.

We couldn’t talk to foreigners, and the atmosphere was dreadful in classes. Speech was not free; one couldn’t argue in class, or make any real analysis or debate. You had to regurgitate what they were telling you, and read whatever was there in the old books stacked in the communist library. I was an English major, but could not get the books in English necessary for the Exams. They did not exist. Talking to foreigners in English or answering one question was a crime, according to a stupid decree. Abortion was a crime for 20 years. Doctors performing it ended up in jail, and so did the pregnant women. 5 years jail for an abortion. If my uncle from Canada visited us, we were all under surveillance, the entire family. Even today, in 2014 one has to go and declare if you have family visiting from the USA or CANADA for some bizarre security reasons. Well even after 26 years, not much has changed in poor Romania. The Securitate is still doing surveillances of Romania’s “enemies” and even ramped up surveillance now using NATO funds to control people in key positions of government, be it local, municipal, or at federal level.

Now, writing this, it all came back to my mind’s eye: I was a professor of Romanian and English in Sighetu Marmatiei, Maramures County, at School #2 for 6 years. Teaching English and American languages and grammar was my favorite thing, and my goal was to move to the West. So I settled in Tisa with my then-husband, Valerian Pipas.

It was very exacting commuting all the time from Tisa where I lived in our private Museum (Pipas Museum of Art) to Sighet by bus. I also taught Latin and English to people just to make ends meet. Salaries were dismal for intellectuals. So, finally I had it, and decided to leave in 1986. We were caught on the border and sent back in 1984. Ceausescu, the “father” of the nation pardoned all border violations in 1983, as prisons were full with civil society activists.

The jail was so cold in Timisoara to keep the bacteria and viruses that it made everybody sick internally with the cold and the flue. Most of civil society was imprisoned, for trying to open the system, and denounce the Ceausescu dictatorship. The blanket was as warm as a kleenex tissue. Moreover, there were no pillows, and the concrete slab where inmates slept was a back-breaker. The lights were on 24 hours a day, blinding all of us, and there was constant observation. Every hour one was awakened to be counted. All under the guise of watching out for suicides. But everyone could be clearly seen by the guards, and there was no need to sleep-deprive inmates, as they were doing. There was also someone in the higher echelon ripping off the food bill. They served only baby carrots, and spicy beans. Prisoners were forced to labor in the fields and sorting out what was left of pigs to be

Exported, to pay off Romania’s debt to the IMF. Yes, that was Ceausescu’s dream. Famishing the

Nation, sacrificing entire generations of people, just to pay off the debt. I remember studying without lights, only a candle for exams, and not having eggs or meat for years. In 1984 my father sold his house for a pig. Peasants had to give up parts of their products to the state. Taxes were paid in food.

The most difficult years of my life: 1984 to 89.

ESCAPING THE ROMANIAN GULAG

My poor mother Magdalena, was so confused by the propaganda, that she started crying after the death of the nation’s father, Ceausescu. Nicolae together with Elena were shot execution style by his opponent, socialist, KGB educated Ion Iliescu, who stole the revolution from the young people of the University Square in Bucharest. Our revolution. Adding insult to injury, Iliescu appropriated our hurt and sorrow, hijacked power with the media, and ruined the country all over again.

My endurance had limits. Fed up with all the restrictions, and full of frustrations, I hit the border with Yugoslavia.

I have been unfairly jailed as I tried to leave the country in 1986.

I was ready to give up my life, just to escape people in an impossible country, with impossible leadership.

It has become unlivable for many people. In 1989, Ceausescu finally pardoned everybody who tried to escape the horrendous conditions in the country.

The first act of freedom I have performed it was to secure a passport for myself. And got married to Valerian Pipas, a famous violinist from Virismort, Tisa in Maramures county. Otherwise the consulate would not have given me the visas. Conditions were the following: one had to be married, and own a house. Truly I enjoyed being married to a musician; he played the violin and I danced tango and Csardas in weekends.

I have been teaching English in Sighet, Tisa, and Giulesti, as well as Camara for another 10 years. Conditions were absolutely horrendous in schools; no heating in schools, no teaching material, and constant harassment from colleagues of being informed on if one spoke the truth about the regime, or criticized the leadership.

After I finally left Romania, when an execution squad shot Ceausescu in December 26, 1989 for Christmas. Nice gift to the Romanian people.

When the regime changed in 1990, I was free to get a passport, and Organized Conferences and Seminars at the University of Babes-Bolyai, in the heart of Transylvania. I was mostly writing on destatification and privatization of Romanian companies. 51% of MARA, the textiles company I researched was finally sold to the Germans. The opening up of Romani has finally begun.

It was on a rainy September 17th day, in Sighet. Shortly after, I have met American professors from UCLA, who were doing a study on the effects of the Cold War in post-socialist countries. My observations were very valuable to Dr Wilkie who then asked me to guide the academic group through Eastern Europe. They were traveling in a German Opel (a U.S. made car). I took them to the Museum of my friend, D-ra Mihaly de Apsa, in my hometown, Sighet.

She was the last descendant of a fine lineage of Romanian revolutionaries fighting for the unification of Romania in 1918; Mihaly de Apsa. James was enchanted to have met her, alive in her pretty museum of “Pasoptisti.”

Together, we went to the Merry Cemetery, and it was dusk by the time Dr James Wilkie from the University of Los Angeles, California, arrived in Sighet at the Marmatia Hotel. His book was about cycles of statism in Socialist countries. He has written over 30 books on economic development.

I’ll start by depicting the blessed places I went through in 1991, on one of the most beautiful part of Romania, through Pasul Prislop. We went Around Romania, visited the monasteries of Moldova, C-lung Moldovenesc, Suceava, Sucevita to visit the Agapia and other fabulous, now UN recognized, stupendous monasteries.

Then we went to Lacul Rosu. We took the scenic road to Cluj Napoca, where I was trying to get the plane in order to fly out to Paris, in France. I had all the visas. But there was no flight. No airport and I was not going to go through Bucharest, but via Hungary.

Nobody took credit cards, so Jim had to take out a lot of cash, so that we can travel safely.

Seeing how The Professor cared, I fell in love with Jim Wilkie.

I was deeply in love with James Wilkie, whom has hired me as a guide.

He said: “call me Jim”. We finally left for Budapest after the airport visit in Cluj Napoca.

We got through Budapest, finally, and then got out towards Austria and Germany.

Our colleague, Dr James Platler was worried that I was a spy, as we received special private rooms, and great Hotel deals, plus good lunches at the Monastery, where I was a good friend with Mother Superior of Agapia Monastery.

I was just happy to be a guide in many countries.

As folklore has it in the West, vampires are native to Transylvania. We had vampires, werewolves, and wolverines, but all the mythological characters were actually members of the Communist Party, which everyone had to join–except for me because with my knowledge, I was considered a security risk!

Fortunately, when in 1982 I entered the University Babes Boljay, in Cluj-Napoca, to earn my M.A. in 1990, for my sociology classes, I decided to conduct my field research project into the rural life of the North of Romania, recording the folklore (especially myths) invented and passed down by rural folks (including small merchants, farmers, fisherman, loggers) had had used that lore to help them survive for centuries.

Further, much of my research conducted among the outlying farmers, delved deeply into Transylvania Folklore, which prepared me well to understand Communist Party Lore.

Thus, for the second time, my fateful choice of a field research project had further prepared me, unknowingly, for my future with Jim Wilkie.

Once I had been admitted to the Babes Boljay University, which was called “the heart and brain of Transylvania,” I also further expanded and deepened deep studies in American language and literature. Also, I studied Romanian language and literature in the Department of Philology. The Bolyai University Is considered the best University in Transylvania.

Upon beginning my mentoring for other students, I was happy to find a sense of freedom. Reading and writing comprehension were my forté during my four years at Cluj. I had always dreamt of being a professor and a writer and seemed to be off to a great start.

But I soon realized that our professors opened the day by reading the mounds of new Decrees just signed by Ceausescu. Thus, I began laughing, and other students join me in mocking the wooden language of Central Planning’s attempt to befuddle us with words from a wooden language, totally bent toward twisting our brains into confused submission. Professors and Securitate officers were acting as sweaty bureaucrats trying to teach us how to sharpen our mental images. Not one professor asked us,

“What do each of you really think of all this Ceausescu propaganda of decrees harming the educational process?”

Professors had their favorite students and made sure they pointed this out in class, stifling any competition as they show openly their favoritism or nepotism.

When I reached the age of 22 in1985, I started to be argumentative, criticizing professors, especially the history professor who only knew only the History of the Romanian Communist Party.

The Russians, via the KGB, had been directing Romanian politicians since 1945, and pressured Romanian students to dig useless trenches as well forced women-students to shot Russian weapons, and learn to disassemble and assemble the AK47.

Meanwhile in my University Cluj the atmosphere was dreadful in classes. Restrictions were plentiful and absurd. Speech was not free; one couldn’t discuss issues freely in class, or make any real analysis or debate. One had to regurgitate what the professors were telling us. Modern economics led by and read whatever was there in the old books stacked in the communist library. Until I escaped Romania in 1992, I learned that the so-called economics classes we took taught nothing about money, credit, and such terms as GDP. The Marxian economics involved only fuzzy nonsensical slogans such as “We Romanians have to fight-off the ‘running dogs of capitalism,” without the word “capitalism” ever being defined except in unrealistic theory laced with epithets.

Even as an English major, I not permitted to speak with foreigners in English –answering one’s question was a crime, according to the tendentious Security Decrees. Abortion was a crime punishable for up to 5 years in prison. Doctors caught performing it ended up in jail, and so did the pregnant women. Over 10.000 women died trying to perform abortions on themselves, or botched it, not knowing how to escape having children that they had no means to raise in a country rife with complete hunger.

Even today, Romania has the highest rate of orphans in the whole world. Over one million kids.

Punishments were ridiculous—the Anti-Abortion Law lasted for 40 years, until 1990.

Furthermore, if my uncle from Canada visited us, we were all under surveillance, the entire family. Even today, in 2017 one has to report to the police to declare if any visitor of family comes from the USA (or Canada, for some bizarre security reason). Well, after 25 years, not much has changed in poor Romania.

With Ceausescu finally gone, after 40 years of dictatorship, in 1990 I was able to secure a passport in order to ready myself to leave Romania by gaining visas for Germany and France. I had a lovely family in Bordeaux, namely Saint-Denise-de-Pile, who invited me over to Bordeaux, the Godrie family, so I pursued this wonderful opportunity, and decided to visit them in Saint-Denis-De-Pile. I spoke impeccable French. I corresponded for years with Muguette Godrie, my beloved friend who sponsored my stay in France.

Meanwhile, the question remained, how to get there by land without a visa to Austria— as my isolated region of Transylvania had no air connection to the outside world til late in 1990.

I succeeded to finally extract myself from that virtual prison, and

we had to do it by car. Pumped up and having all the visas in my

passport, I took off with Jim on September 16, 1990 in an Opel,

which remains my favorite car to this day. They ended

manufacturing the Opel in 1990. I took my life in my own hands;

how liberating this thought was, and I conjure this moment every day in my mind in order to preserve my independence and autonomy.

THE INFLUENCE OF RECENT ROMANIAN HISTORY

In the meantime, the History of Transylvania weighed heavily on population of Romania, with constant change in the emerging political map always have left “citizens” always lost about who was really in charge.

Thus, Transylvania was originally part of the Dacia Kingdom between 82 BC until the Roman conquest in 106 AD. The capital of Dacia was destroyed by the Romans, so that a new as capital would serve the Roman Province of Dacia, which lasted until 350 AD, by which time the Romans felt so hated that it behooved them to withdraw back to Rome.

During the late 9th century, western Transylvania was conquered by the Hungarian Army to later become part of the Kingdom of Hungary and in 1570 to devolve into the Principality of Transylvania. During most of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Principality became an Ottoman Empire vassal state, confusingly also governed by the Habsburg Empire. After 1711 Transylvania was consolidated solely into the Hapsburg Empire and Transylvanian princes were replaced with Habsburg imperial governors. After 1867, Transylvania ceased to have separate status and was incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[viii] After World War I, Transylvania reverted in 1918 to be part of Romania. In 1940 Northern Transylvania again became governed by Hungary and then Germany, but Romanian queen Maria successfully reclaimed it after the end of World War II.

The year 1940 was important for Romania because if was seized for its oil by Nazi Germany (1940-1944), “liberated” by the “Soviet Union” (1944-1947), and finally “re-liberated” to become the Popular republic of Romania (under USSR remote control), as the Cold War was beginning to freeze the Iron Curtain into place.

At the end of World War II while the USSR and its Red Army were the occupying powers in all Romania, in 1947 Romania forcibly and ironically became a “People’s Republic” (1947–1989), after the rise of the Iron Curtain.

The first “president,” Gheorghiu-Dej (1947) ruled as puppet of Moscow, but when he died, his Secretary General of the Communist Party of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, was elected as the second “president” (1965-1989), shifting his savage dictatorship into a harsher Romanian “Gulag” than known in the USSR.

For two decades I neither understood the dimensions of tragic history of Transylvania, nor did I yet realize that I would have to escape the Gulag of Romania, even if by the “skin of my teeth.”

For peoples of the world Transylvania seems to be a far-away place, where most people know the werewolves and vampires have been “seen” to in the imagination of Transylvanians, whose beliefs was soaked in mystical folklore. Even today it is hardly possible to have a rational conversation with most the Transylvanian folk on any subject without recourse to try to understand where their distorted imagination has befuddled them.

The population has consisted of Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, and some Ukrainians. These languages are still being spoken in Romania’s Maramures province, but because I always liked and loved the Romanian language, I decided to become a Professor of Romanian Language and Literature, as well as American Language and Civilization.

MY BACKDROP TO THE FALL OF CEAUSESCU

I later told Jim how I had been admitted in 1982 to the Babes-Bolyai University, in Cluj-Napoca at the heart of Transylvania, I focused especially on Linguistics. Unfortunately, there I found that the professors, who were under the control of sweaty-stinking Securitate officers, had to read dozens of new Decrees issued every day as they sought to control every one of our daily actions—all in the name of protecting the Ceausescu government—which was selling the country’s food supplies to Russia in order to pay down Roman’s official debt with exports. Those Securitate officers ate well and ominously watched us virtually starve. They said, be calm, like your parents in the face of their starvation.

Thus, I furiously called out in my classes that our very existence was being compromised by Ceausescu’s abandonment of the population, which was ordered to, as Lenin famously said, “work, work, and work.”

To protect myself as best I could, I turned to humor, seeking to ridicule Ceausescu’s “national paradise.” But when I encouraged my classmates to laugh at the propaganda embedded in the wooden language of the national bureaucracy, I soon fell under the heavy scrutiny of university authorities, who were furious that I trying to expose the fact that all classes had been organized to befuddle the student body into confused submission. Indeed, each professor had favorite students to help drown out legitimate questions and stifle any competing analysis—the university lived under nepotism, favoritism, the threat of rape (virtual and real) by the Securitate officers, and open bribery by the professors–choose your garden variety.

Knowing My Real value And Having A Spine

By 1986, at age 23, I had decided to flee Romania—an illegal act because Ceausescu did not want anyone (especially women of child-bearing age) to escape his plan to building his “ideal socialist industries” on farms and ranches as well as in the cities. In June I made my way to the border of Yugoslavia and paid a smuggler to evade the Romanian security forces that were preventing the “nations

workers” from escaping. The smuggler, who took me across the border, turned out to be working for Romanian Border Police. Thus, soon after crossing into Yugoslavia, he turned his wagon around and I was again in Romania again when I realized what had happened too late. I had been “sold” to Ceausescu’s minions for a wagonload of salt and 20 Liters of gasoline. Thousands were returned for this kind of draconian exchange.

That failed escape from Romania led me to a 10-month prison sentence in Timisoara Prison, wherein the block cells were maintained so cold (supposedly to eliminate bacteria and viruses) that it made all of us inmates sick with the cold and the flu.

Bed blankets in the were less warming than one Kleenex tissue. Moreover, there were no pillows, and the concrete slab where inmates slept was a “back-breaker.” The lights were on 24 hours a day, blinding all of us, and there was constant observation. Every hour one was awakened to be counted for, and sneaking up on people, under the guise of watching out for suicides. But everyone could be clearly seen by the guards, and there was no need to sleep-deprive inmates. There was also someone in the higher echelon ripping off the food budget to siphon money to themselves while serving inmates only baby carrots and spicy beans.

Almost every family in Romanian civil society had at least one member who had been imprisoned for trying to open the political system by denouncing the Ceausescu dictatorship. These inmates were openly called “Political Prisoners,” and I was one of them.

Political Prisoners were not permitted to work outside the prison walls in the fields because our crime had been the political decision to repudiate Ceausescu’s “fantastic system.”

ROMANIAN PEOPLE ARE FACING DISASTER AND FAMINE

“CHANGE IN THE AIR”

Once free in 1987, I could return to my University to finally complete my M.A. in 1990, in Cluj Napoca.

Further in 1987, at the age of 24, I met Valerian Pipas, my future husband.

His family, the patriarch Nicolae Pipas,[ix] was the owner of a museum, and directed for the Communist government the walled Regional Art Museum in a quiet part of Sighet. When he realized that I was a Professor of the English and Romania Languages, and one of the few university’s highly educated persons in the region, I began to serve as interpreter/guide to visiting foreign Ambassadors permitted to travel in Romania. They wanted to see the Museum with its magnificent collection of paintings, sculptures, and rare historical pottery and coins. Thus, I soon found myself interpreting and translating for visiting English-Speaking Ambassadors from many countries who wished to know Transylvania, especially my village Sighet and its Merry Cemetery famous worldwide for it tombstones in the form of wood sculpture of the butcher, the baker, candlestick maker, and all professions.

Although my first languages were Romanian and Hungarian, I could also translate into French and Italian. Indeed at that time I was teaching Latin in the Rural School System of my Maramures Province.

By 1989, Ceausescu realized that his end was near, and he sought to gain support by pardoning his political prisoners (such as myself) who had tried to escape the horrendous conditions in the country. Hence, university students and some labor unions joined forces and quite quickly after the fall of the Berlin Wall forced Ceausescu and his draconian wife Elena to flee. They were caught and executed on Christmas Day, 1989, by the military that at the last moment joined the Revolution.

As my friends and I (along with most of the population) cheered the fall of the failed, rotten Romanian “dictatorship of the proletariat,” my dear mother acted differently. She was so confused by the propaganda of the only “leader” she knew much about that she wept for Ceausescu, not fully realizing that he was the one who had wrongly had be arrested and put me in prison.

With Ceausescu gone, in 1990 I was able to secure a passport to ready myself to leave Romania by gaining visas for Germany and France. The question remained, how to get there by land without a visa to Austria—my region had no air connection to the outside world.

MY FATEFUL 1991 MEETING IN SIGHET WITH JIM WILKIE

Almost age 27 in 1991, I was in the right place at the right time when UCLA Professor Jim Wilkie arrived in Sighet, on September 17th with Professor James Platler (his friend and driver). They came as part of their trip to assess the impact of the 1989 Fall of Iron Curtain–which had imprisoned all Romanians and made it a crime to try to escape from Romania. The two Americans had already visited “East” Germany, Czechia,[x] and Slovakia (soon to break their union, each becoming independent), and Poland, where English speakers could provide guidance.

In Romania the UCLA Team found itself at a loss as few of the people who they encountered could speak English and none of them could analyze or articulate how the System of Government and society functioned before and after 1989.

When we met, Jim immediately contracted[xi] with me to advise them as well as guide them through Eastern Europe. They were pleased to hear my outline of Transylvanian and Romanian history (see above), with which I explained how constant national boundary change meant that Transylvanians and Romanians were never able to develop either honest civil government or active civic society.

Thousands of families were arbitrarily moved, and removed into two separate nations.

Little did I know that the concepts of “Civic” and “Civil” Society were of utmost importance to Jim? As I would find out later, Jim and I had been conducting compatible research for years and would lead me to my

Ph.D Dissertation and two books written with Jim. [xii] All these works distinguish between the concepts of Civil Society (which represents national and local governmental activity) and Civic Society (which involves active private citizens (who organize non-governmental initiatives to develop model projects beyond the ability of official bureaucrats to even comprehend, including the influence needed to monitor and expose the failures and successes of governmental activity).

But before we left in September 18, 1991, to visit Romania and Hungary, I had to find a substitute for my new class teaching American English and History in Sighet—I left a friend, Johnny Popescu, to become my permanent substitute. Only then could our newly expanded Team set off under my guidance.

Thus, we set out on that September 18th to visit one of the most socially and economically interesting and beautiful parts of Romania by going up thought the green forested Carpathian Mountains via the beautiful Prislop Pass, stopping to visit small farming families in their folkloric clothing of which they were justifiably proud to wear on a daily basis. Farther east in Romania, on the scenic roads, we visited the monasteries of Moldova, the town of Cimpulung Moldovenesc, Suceava, and then the Monasteries in Sucevita and Agapia. The gorgeous forested mountain road eventually led to Lacul Rosu and the lake country. Then we took the long scenic mountain road to Cluj Napoca to visit my prestigious University.

As I briefed Jim about Romania, he was briefing me about factors in comparing national economies. For example, he told me about how he had reunited in Prague on September 15th with Richard Beesen, his former UCLA student and friend, to hear about his role in London as Manager of Deutsche Bank’s New Accounts in Russia and Eastern Europe. Richard had become famous for inviting Banking Officials and national Treasury Ministries to deposit their financial reserves on deposit in his bank in London. But because his clients did not understand anything about “interest payments” on deposited funds, they did not ask for nor did they gain any interest payments. Also, because most Western Banks were not sure that

these new “capitalists” could be “fully trusted” for correct management of their deposits, his Deutsche Bank collected large fees (and paid no interest to keep the Eastern Europe “bank reserves safe.” This was all very eye opening for me.

Jim and I had realized early on that we had a close affinity as we analyzed the situation of Romania, and he said, “Call me Jim.” (In contrast I called Professor James Platler “JP.”) As we traveled to observe the situation of the people in different parts of the country, Jim and I formed a deep bond of observing and analyzing; thus both of us realized this brief interlude had to continue for the long term in order to achieve our goals.

NEXT STOPS, BUDAPEST, SALZBURG, MUNICH,

BORDEAUX (FOR ME), AND LOS ANGELES (FOR JIM)

As a Romanian, I had the right to enter Hungary, and we did so bypassing the miles of vehicles waiting to cross the border for the long drive to Budapest. There Prof. James Platler finally relaxed after the long drives and often poor hotels and monasteries —he said that he finally found unbroken civilization again. I was astounded to hear that. I made everything possible for them to have the best lodging and food in Moldova and Maramures county. Obviously, my friends had different standards than us, Romanians.

Once we arrived in Budapest, Professor James Platler, who had told Jim privately that from the outset of our trip that he thought that I was a “Spy” (planted on us by the Romanian Securitate to monitor our many “foreign” inquiries during our travel through Romania’s north country), announced that his concern about me had vanished as we realized the extent of my knowledge and research abilities. In his mind, I had to be a Spy because I had obtained access to special private dining rooms and quarter in some fine hotels, as well as invitations for wonderful lunches at some Monasteries, where miraculously I made immediate friends with each Mother Superior. But by the time we reached Budapest, he realized that at my University I had learned the Elite skills needed to survive safely and comfortably in Eastern Europe.

My problem was to enter Austria, where I had no visa. But Jim passed his UCLA business card through to the Consul General of Austria in Budapest, and quickly we found ourselves whisked from the back of the long line to the front and right into a meeting with the Consul General himself. He was pleased to hear about the research of our UCLA Team, but said that I did have a visa. Jim then told them that I only needed a three-day transit visa to reach Germany, the visa for which he could see in my passport.

With entry to Austria solved, we were on the road to the Hotel Kobentzl and Graz, which overlook Salzburg, all the way analyzing the comparative economic and social situations of Austria, Hungary, and Romania.

We spent most of our time down the mountain from Kobentzl to the valley, before returning to our sweeping Hotel view of Salzburg City. Meanwhile I was deepening my questions about capital is leveraged to undertake big private projects. As we took photos over from on high looking down on the many bridges of Salzburg and Jim was explaining how the developed world operated by using finances, credit, and interest to help economies grow.

Finally we left Salzburg to enter Germany and Munich, where our quick look into Oktoberfest found us among nasty drunken louts each of whom seemingly had hand four hands: one to chug-a-lug beer; one to smoke foul smelling cigarettes; one to quaff horrible-bleeding-raw sausages; and one to punch someone in the face. From what we saw, Oktoberfest was a place for nasty males seeking to “get smashed on beer” and then smash another male to break his nose. Thus, we fled for our lives as the brutes began to threaten anyone who looked at them.

Then on September 30th, I took the plane from Munich to Paris to take a bus to Bordeaux to meet the French family, the daughter of which, in her visit in 1990 to the Museum in Sighet, had invited me to obtain a French visa and move to stay with her on the lovely family farm outside Bordeaux.

Jim (and JP) also left the same day for Jim to arrive in time to go from the airplane to open and begin teaching his Fall Quarter class at UCLA. But he promised to call daily and return to join me again in ten weeks.

In the meantime, I made a trip to Paris to request political asylum in France, but a grey-faced judge rejected my request, saying that the petitioner must file with the help of a lawyer.

To complicate matters in Bordeaux, the French Security Agent there was investigating me, a lone woman, as a possible spy sent by Romania to “monitor activities at the Port of Bordeaux. When he told that, if I pleased him in unmentionable ways, he would not deport me to Romania but arrange my legal status in France so that I could live him. I immediately told Jim on his next telephone call.

To resolve the above problem, Jim called his Paris friend Gérard Chaliand, a former visiting professor at UCLA, whose real job involved traveling the world for French Security to report on his professorial travels that took him to all continents. Gérard immediately called French Security to report on the illegal approach to me by their Agent in Bordeaux. That same day the Agent came to apologize profusely to me in the best manner that he could muster in his pitiful condition. He begged me not to have him fired for his proposition to me. I could see him looking at me in truly puzzled way that implicitly said: “Who are you? How did I make such a grave mistake in deciding that you, a lone Romanian woman, could not have any power to reach my bosses in Paris?” I took pity on him and told him that if he minded manners and watched from affair to be sure that I was always safe, he would not be fired.

JIM RETURNS TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER, 1991:

HIS PLAN FOR ADVISING EASTERN EUROPEAN CIVIC SOCIETY ABOUT HOW TO GAIN GRANTS FROM U.S. FOUNDATIONS (NPPOs),[xiii] WHICH HOLD THE WORLD’S LARGEST POOL OF NGO DEVELOPMENT FUNDS

Even though it was December 11,1991, when Jim returned, France was in the midst what some in America call an “Indian Fall,” warm with colorful fall leaves still on the trees. It was a beautifully bright

“fall day” when we left Bordeaux the next day to spend some days visiting the Loire River with its many castles and incredible views.

Even during our photography of the Loire region, Jim began to outline his New Plan (now our plan) to wit: PROFMEX Plan to Help Eastern European “Foundations”

Therefore, some Romanian and Mexican NGOs become legally eligible to gain grants from U.S. Tax Exempt Foundations following our advice on how to do it, best practices we could teach other leaders about: and so The U.S. Model for Philanthropy was born.

“The U.S.-Mexico Model for Philanthropy.”

Indeed, Jim told me that recently when he had been in Mexico City, he received an invitation to meet with Manuel Alonso Muñoz, Executive Director of Mexico’s National Lottery,[xiv] who, when he heard about Jim’s U.S.-Mexico Model, invited him to meet at the Lottery’s historically famous ornate building. After an extended briefing by Jim, Manuel told him that he had already called his own good friend Ronald G. Hellman, Professor of Sociology in the Graduate School at the City University of New York, to ask him for an evaluation of Jim and his Mexico-U.S. Model for Philanthropy. Ironically, it was only then when he realized that Ron was (and is today) Jim’s PROFMEX Vice-President for Strategic Planning. With that news and Jim’s stellar briefing, Lic. Alonso asked if the Lottery could make a series of generous grants to PROFMEX in order to help fund the expansion of Jim’s Model to Eastern Europe,[xv] putting Mexico into an innovative new light.

Mexico And The World, I got the idea! Evrika, so the brilliant idea to bring together experts from all the world to Mexico, to have a debate was born. The Conference I was always dreaming about was beginning to shape up, and soon things all lined up for us to organize a bi-lateral Conference in Morelia, the State of Michoacán. The Governor was more than happy to receive us in Michoacán. So we worked together with Manuel Alonso to get people down there. The hardest part was to get the financing for it.

Manuel Alonso was appreciative of the fact that Jim, while serving as Consultant to the U.S. Council on Foundations, had become involved since 1990 with his Model for helping Mexican Foundations (including, for example, charities, human rights organizations, hospitals, universities, biospheres, etc.) to help them re-write their constitution and by-laws to be compatible with the U.S. tax requirement that they mirror U.S. Not-for-Private Profit Organizations (NPPOs).

The question of “mirroring” involved Jim’s explanation that:

As NPPOs, U.S. Foundations are legally responsible for controlling expenditure of funds granted to organizations that do not mirror the U.S. foundations do not want to be involved in the day-to-day activities of its grantees. Indeed, “ they want to transfer expenditure responsibility” (including misuse or illegal use of grant funds) to the recipient foundation to which they grant funds but can only do so if the grant recipient organization is deemed to have an “equivalent” legal structure to that of the U.S. donor foundation.

Here is the background, according to Jim: [xvi] “In order to facilitate the U.S. philanthropic activity needed during the 1970s and 1980s to help speed world development, the U.S. Secretary of Treasury and the IRS formulated provisions that resulted in changing and/or interpreting the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to freely permit U.S. foundations to grant funds abroad, if they meet the following special proviso:

U.S. NPPOs can themselves make a legal “determination” that the foreign organization receiving the U.S. grant be “determined” to be “equivalent” to an NPPO described in Section 501(c)(3)[xvii] of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.”

Further, Jim pointed out that, “while this proviso has worked well for big U.S. grant-making foundations that place costly offices and staff around the world (such as Rockefeller and Ford Foundations), it has worked less well for foundations that have had to send their lawyers to meet with their legal counterparts in prospective ‘equivalent organizations, the legal cost of making such a determination often reaching $25,000 [or, by 2016, much, much
more] for each new organization to receive funds from the U.S. NPPO. If that determination is favorable, the U.S. NPPO can transfer funds to the equivalent organization, just as it can to any other approved U.S. NPPO, and along with the transfer of funds to the recipient organization goes the transfer of responsibility over how the funds are spent.”

Transfer of ‘Expenditure Responsibility’ from the

U.S. Donor NPPO to the Foreign Recipient NPPO

The ability of U.S. NPPOs to avoid costly expenditure responsibility, as Jim told, is one of the factors that have helped make American grant-making foundations so important in the world. Thus, U.S. NPPOs have been enabled to avoid becoming ensnarled in accounting processes and audits, which are better done by the foreign organization that receives and administers the U.S. NPPO grant of funds.

In this manner, said Jim, the U.S. NPPO is free to focus its energy on evaluating the substance of its grant programs. The ability of grant-making foundations to transfer Expenditure Responsibility to other NPPOs is the main reason that they generally prefer (and require) that their funds be granted only to approved organizations rather than to individuals or to non-approved organizations.

The above views, Jim said, do not mean that U.S. NPPOs are unable to grant funds to an organization that is not equivalent to a U.S. NPPO (or make grants to individual scholars, artists, or writers either at home or abroad), but to do so adds a complication to the grant-making process. Rather than passing on the Expenditure Responsibility (as the U.S. NPPO does when it makes grants to another NPPO or U.S. equivalent), the Expenditure Responsibility remains with the donor NPPO when it makes a grant to an organization that is not an NPPO (or its U.S. equivalent) or to an individual.

In the unlikely case where the donor NPPO retains Expenditure Responsibility, then, Jim told me in my interview with him on September 17, 1991, the donor foundation has to concern itself with costly financial oversight involved, which may problematic whether of in or outside the USA.

ON TO PARIS AND THE WORLD TO MEET WITH NPPO LEADERS ABOUT NEW FOUNDATIONS

Jim and I arrived in Paris on December 15, 1991, to meet with Jim’s contacts at the American Embassy, who heard about our research and suggested that Jim meet also with their counterparts at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. They agreed to help begin to our new Plan to expand to Eastern Europe and Russia Jim’s successful Model for Tax-Free Flow of Nonprofit Funds, the example being what he negotiated (with the U.S. Council on Foundations and the U.S. and Mexican Treasury Departments), as analyzed above.

It is important for me to say here that George Soros and his decentralized donations to his 41 semi-autonomous “national foundations”[xviii] (exemplified in Romania, Hungary, and Russia) have been built following the IRS proviso and regulations discussed above. Also, Soros’ “National Foundations” require that national Government charter the independent role as NGOs.

In contrast, the flowering of thousands of small independent “Foundations” in Eastern Europe since 1989 has grown from groups looking for funds from the many U.S. Foundations that do not have the Soros/New York link with its Foundations in many nations, all of which operate in Soros’ closed loop. Few of these new Foundations have the Soros knowledge and financial resources to set up the By-Laws and Legal Status needed for the thousands of Foundations desiring to tap into funding by the U.S. Foundations.[xix] However, since 2013, Soros’ has organized an office to work with shared Global Funds (for food, migration, etc.) outside the non-Soros frameworks to help poor areas and countries to stave off crises. Recently, in 2013, George Soros has been discredited by the Hungarian PM, Orban who has aggressively made anti-Soros advertisement on buses in Hungary, claiming that the Hungarian American wanted Arabs, and Palestinians to “invade” Hungary. The anti-Soros rhetoric has become increasingly nationalistic, and this is what FIDESZ, the ruling party is preaching

Before we left Paris on December 19, 1991, we met with Gérard Chaliand to personally thank him for having made the Bordeaux Security agent reexamine his whole approach to his life.

Further, with Gérard, we worked out a plan to arrange for me to become a U.S. resident and obtain U.S. citizenship nine years after my arrival in Los Angeles, October 1992. He recommended that my case by handled in In Los Angeles by one of America’s most knowledgeable and effective Migration Attorneys—Cynthia Juárez Lange, today Managing Partner, Northern California, for the Fragomen Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP Legal Office located in San Francisco. Cynthia is herself an academic and personable genius.

Meanwhile in my travels with Jim in December 1991 and from March to June 1992 we met NPPO leaders in the European Union to better understand how foundations work under unique laws in each county rather than in any rational manner for the whole EU, we went to Marseilles, Nice, Villfranche-sur-Mer, Cap-Ferrat, Monaco, La Rochelle, Andorra, Sevilla, Madrid, Trujillo, El Escorial, Avila (a magnificent fortress city), and Segovia.

On September 3. 1992, we arrived at the U.S. Consulate in Paris, where the U.S Consulate in Mexico had arranged with Jim for my U.S. eligibility for residence to be issued. Also, the Mexican Consulate General in Paris issued me my residence papers to enter and leave Mexico freely, as arranged by Jim with the Mexican Consular Head Office in Mexico City.

Before we left Europe for the USA in October 1991, we returned to Sighet on September 7, 1992, for meetings with Romanian Civic Activists. (Thus, I finally returned to Sighet after having “escaped” with Jim to France in December 1991).

From March to June 1993, we met with NPPO leaders in Budapest, Sighet, and Varna (Bulgaria), Bucharest, and St. Petersburg.

In Moscow (June 21-14, 1993), Jim appointed Professor Boris Koval (Director of the Latin American Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences), to be PROFMEX Representative in Russia. Koval had invited us to Moscow and introduced us to his own Security Chief to be our translator and guide. This Security Chief was a fascinating person who had been former head of the KGB Office in Iraq, 1979-1989.

Jim, who always wore his Mexican guayabera shirt with or without a suit, was seen to be “authentically Mexican” in our meetings and discussions about NPPOs.

Some of our interviews focused on the successes of Soros Open Society Foundation–Russia (1987-2002). Other meetings with civic society followed as we learn the details about the problems of the Soros Foundations–Russia since 2003, when, under reactionary Government pressure, he was phasing out of operation active programs. According to the Soros Foundation—Russia:[xx]

“When on November 30, 2015, Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office classified the Soros Open Society Foundation as an “undesirable” organization, it closed the possibility of Russian individuals and institutions from having anything to do with any Soros initiative or programs… [Because it constituted] a threat to the foundations of Russia’s Constitutional order and national security….

“Prosecutors [then] launched a probe into Soros Foundation

activities….[xxi] [and in July 2015], after Russian senators approved

the so-called “patriotic stop-list” of 12 groups that required

immediate attention over their supposed anti-Russian activities, [the

following U.S.
organizations] realized that they would soon be

banned in Russia: [the U.S.] National Endowment for Democracy; the

International Republican Institute; the National Democratic

Institute; the MacArthur Foundation, and Freedom House. Now in

2017, all Eastern European countries want Soros foundations closed

in their countries, especially the Hungarian PM, Orban Viktor, who

went so far as to describe him as a dangerous politician mixing in his

domestic “dictatorial” affairs.

The American hedge-funds mogul George Soros issued from London the following Press Release on November 30, 2015: [xxii]

“Contrary to the Russian prosecutor’s allegations, the Open Society Foundations have, for more than a quarter-century, helped to strengthen the rule of law in Russia and protect the rights of all. In the past, Russian officials and citizens have welcomed our efforts, and we regret the changes that have led the government to reject our support to Russian civil society and ignore the aspirations of the Russian people.

“Since 1987, Open Society has provided support to countless individuals and civil society organizations, including in the fields of science, education, and public health. Open Society has helped finance a network of internet centers in 33 universities around the country, helped Russian scholars to travel and study abroad, developed curricula for early childhood education, and created a network of contemporary art centers that are still in operation.

“This record speaks for itself. We are honored to have worked alongside pioneering citizens, educators, and civil society organizations that embody Russian creativity, commitment, and hope.

“We are confident that this move is a temporary aberration; the aspirations of the Russian people for a better future cannot be suppressed and will ultimately succeed,” said George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations.) Despite all efforts made by Soros and his organizations, he has been banned from Russia.

“Once with the reset of the Cold War, in 2012, when Putin was reelected as Russia’s President, Putin’s first movement was to ban all Soros organizations which were impeding his expansion onto Crimea.”

Catching up on Soros, he most recent assertion is that civil society is being endangered by nostalgia for communism. Read this fascinating article in “The Romanian Ghosts” of Communism, by Jacob Grandstaff

Back in Mexico City for the 1994 PROFMEX Event featuring Eastern Europeans interested in the U.S.-Mexico Model for NPPOs, we convened, July 28-29, for our meeting on “Development of Mexico as seen from the World,” Co-sponsored by UCLA and Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología.

This Conference was held at Mexico City’s María Isabel Sheraton, with 70 participants from Mexico and the United States, and which I co-organized with Jim

The following invitees from Eastern Europe came from Hungary

Zoltan Karpati, Professor of Sociology

Romania Mihai Coman, University Dean

Roman Romulus, Consul General in Mexico

Alexandru Lazín, PROFMEX– England and Romania

Lia Stan, Investor from Bristol, England.

Highlights of the event came frequently as we turned our gaze from Salón A with his all-window view from the top floor to discuss the anti-government protest marches up and down Reforma Avenue past the Angel Monument below.

Further, our group enjoyed the invitation of Mexico’s Attorney General, Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar to visit him at his headquarters where we personally discussed and raised questions about the street blockages of political protest in front of our María Isabel Sheraton Hotel.

In December 1997, we continued to invite world scholars especially interested in economic matters, as well as in the U.S.-Mexico NPPO Model to participate with us at the:

IX PROFMEX-ANUIES Conference

Hosted by Governor Víctor Manuel Tinoco Rubí

Morelia, Michoacán, México

México y el Mundo Or Mexico and the World, in December 8-13, 1997

With hundreds of participants and Attendees from all continents,

Special Guests were invited from Russia: Boris Koval, who recalled with excitement the visit of Jim and I to Moscow in June 1993.

From China: Sengen Zhang

Hongzhu Huang

Korea: Kap-Young Jeong

Japan: Soichi Shinohara

Osamu Nishimura

Yasuoki Takagi

Indonesia: Lepi T. Tarmidi

Argentina: Eugenio O. Valenciano

Bolivia: Antonio J. Cisneros

PROGRAM COORDINATOR: UCLA Program on Mexico

Program Summary

AFSC Arizona works to reduce incarceration through state sentencing reform, fighting prison and detention expansion, and improving conditions of confinement. One key piece of this work is challenging for-profit, private prisons. As the for-profit prison industry is expanding into treatment centers, re-entry programs, and alternatives to incarceration, AFSC has created a campaign to expose and oppose this development, which we are terming the “Treatment Industrial Complex” (TIC).

AFSC has secured a second round of grant funding for three years that will allow the Arizona office to continue and greatly expand our work on this burgeoning issue by creating and leading a national network of groups and individuals in opposition to the TIC. The Program Coordinator will build, launch, and coordinate the TIC network, while working in close collaboration with other AFSC Arizona staff.

Summary of Principal Responsibilities

The Program Coordinator will work closely with the Program Director on strategic planning, development, and management of ongoing statewide campaigns as well as the creation, launch, and coordination of the national network. Additional responsibilities include research, writing, and editing of campaign materials; event planning; and grant management and reporting. The work requires frequent out of state travel as well as working some evenings and weekends. The Program Coordinator will work collaboratively with staff and contribute to other areas of program work as needed.

Essential Functions/Responsibilities: The key responsibilities of the Program Coordinator include the following:

  1. Campaign planning, development, and management, including legislative and agency administrative policy reform
  2. Statewide and national outreach, networking, and coalition building.
  3. Facilitation of regular communication and collaboration among numerous national stakeholder groups and individuals.
  4. Research and development of materials, replicable tools, model policies, and legislation for use at various levels of government and administration.
  5. Grant reporting on the budget and activities of the Treatment Industrial Complex Campaign.
  6. Development of messaging and framing materials, conduct media outreach, give interviews and speak at press conferences; contribute to AFSCAZ’s presence on social and alternative media (blogs, Twitter, etc.)

Minimum Qualifications

Education: Bachelor of Arts or the equivalent of at least three years in organizing and coalition work on criminal justice issues.

Experience:

  1. Strategic planning of social change, labor organizing, or similar campaigns
  2. Project organization and management
  3. Demonstrated experience building and maintaining strong, active working partnerships with diverse stakeholders on a statewide, regional, and/or national level
  4. Research (qualitative and quantitative)
  5. Extensive knowledge/experience with issues related to the criminal justice system and mass incarceration, particularly prison privatization and related industries
  6. Policy analysis and change advocacy (administrative, ordinances, legislation)

Other Required Skills and Abilities:

  1. Computer proficiency including experience with Microsoft Office, email, and internet search tools.
  2. Strong verbal and written communication skills
  3. Shows initiative and ability to take on new projects
  4. Public speaking, conducting trainings and presentations, and media interviews
  5. Ability to work with diverse constituents and colleagues, including state officials and corrections; people of many backgrounds and experiences.
  6. High level of organization, initiative and ability to work independently as well as collaboratively.
  7. Commitment to Quaker values and testimonies. Understanding of and compatibility with the principles and philosophy of the American Friends Service Committee including non-violence and the belief in the intrinsic worth of every individual.
  8. Understanding of and commitment to the principles, concerns, and considerations, of AFSC in regard to issues of race, class, nationality, religion, age, gender and sexual orientation, and disabilities. Demonstrated ability to work and communicate with diverse staff.

Compensation: Salary Range starts at $52,831 – Exempt – Comprehensive medical and hospitalization plan; term life, accident and salary continuation insurances, defined benefit pension plan, plus fringe benefits; participation in unemployment and worker’s compensation and social security.

The American Friends Service Committee is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Qualified persons are encouraged to apply regardless of their religious affiliation, race, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.

AFSC’s Central Office and some of its offices in the U.S. are unionized workplaces. This position is represented.

The American Friends Service Committee is a smoke-free workplace.

Dr Olga Essentials

PROFMEX – DIRECTOR RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
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Aproved-Re: B287234 _INTRODUCTION LETTER

Approved.
Dear Laura—

Looks good, go ahead! Thanks,

On Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 10:24 AM Laura Tan <ltan> wrote:

Dear Ms. Olga Lazin,

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STORYTELLING – STRUCTURE, Learn From A. L.

To Improve Your Storytelling Skills, Use Abraham Lincoln as Inspiration

The Gettysburg Address follows a structure that will work for you, too.

Alison-Davis_38512.jpg By Alison Davis
Alison-Davis_38512.jpg

Founder and CEO, Davis & Company@alisonbdavis

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Time magazine lists it as one of the 10 greatest speeches of all time. It is a poignant expression of the travails of a troubled nation. And it contains an opening line that most Americans can still recite years after they learned it in school.

The speech, of course, is Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. But although you know it well, what you might not realize about "four scores and seven years ago . . ." is that Lincoln’s oration followed one of the most effective story structures you can use–the structure that storytelling expert Shawn Callahan calls "the clarity story."

This type of story is so valuable because for people to be engaged, they need to understand why they should take action. "The clarity story provides reasons in the most powerful and digestible format possible," writes Callahan in Putting Stories to Work.

Here’s how Lincoln used the clarity story structure to build his famous speech:

Part 1 begins with a look back at the past to take the listener back to the way things used to be.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

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Part 2 shifts to something that happened: the events that caused a problem or opportunity.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

Part 3 is what Callahan calls "so now . . ." which describes the decision or action needed to respond.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

Part 4 looks ahead to the future to envision a desired outcome.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

That’s fine for Abraham Lincoln, but you may wonder: How can you use the clarity story for your own communication?

Callahan gives an example of a bank that adopted a new strategy of calling its branches "stores" as a way of emphasizing customer service. When a new CEO took over several years later, she decided to go back to using the old language of calling them "branches." Employees were confused about why the change was occurring when the bank had made such an investment in the move to "stores."

So the bank’s leaders used the clarity story to communicate with employees:

(Part 1) In the past . . . the bank wasn’t delivering great customer service, so we made a number of changes, including referring to our branches as stores.

(Part 2) Then something happened . . . we began to hear from customers that they weren’t comfortable with the language change; "stores" didn’t seem serious enough.

(Part 3) So now . . . we’re changing back to referring to our branches as branches. We know the change will cost money, but we need to make sure we put our customers first.

(Part 4) In the future . . . we will continue to make changes that will increase customer satisfaction.

The structure works so well, writes Callahan, because it creates a series of events that cause people to want to know what happens next. "You need to spark people’s interest by starting with the context, then hold their attention because something happens that causes a change, then end with an outcome."

Lincoln relied on this technique in his iconic speech–and you can, too.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

PUBLISHED ON: FEB 11, 2018

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