Friday 18 February 2011

Unrest in Middle East - history repeating

While looking at Stratfor's map of social unrest in the middle east today, it struck me that ALL of the Arab portions (Iraq and Palestine-Israel are US clients) of the former Ottoman Empire are experiencing unrest:

Former territories of the Ottoman Empire
The Arab portion of the Ottoman Empire was split into nation states by the Allies after World War One. Puppet monarchs friendly to western interests were installed, some of which are still around.

Lets look at the similarities between the Ottoman Empire and the nation states of today:

The Ottoman Empire was divided into a number of administrative units called Eyalets, which are similar to the nation states that now exist, each Eyalet was ruled by a governor appointed by the sultan. These governors were notoriously corrupt as was the rest of the government sector. Bribes were required for everything. Government officials would spend their career building up vast ill-gotten fortunes, often used to 'buy' their next promotion.

So what about social unrest in the Ottoman Empire? From Britannica:

Social Unrest
These conditions were exacerbated by large population growth during the 16th and 17th centuries, part of the general population rise that occurred in much of Europe at this time. The amount of subsistence available not only failed to expand to meet the needs of the rising population but in fact fell as the result of the anarchic political and economic conditions. Social distress increased and disorder resulted.

We have exactly the same conditions in the contemporary Arab states - massive population growth, very high unemployment (especially amongst  the young), stagnating economies and very corrupt governments with leaders amassing vast fortunes from corruption. The recently deposed president of Egypt - Hosni Mubarak - is estimated to be worth between 40 and 70 billion US dollars.

The history of the middle east is that of governors and despots being cyclically overthrown by stronger strongmen. Alexander the Great took over a corrupt Persian state apparatus from Darius. Hannibal got dealt to by Scipio, Mark Antony and Cleopatra got dealt to by Octavian. The Romans held the middle east until they were dealt to by Vandals, Arabs and Turks, who were just as bad. Perhaps geopolitical theory would argue the geography of the middle east favours corrupt dictatorships?

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Trade-off between quality of dream and level of lucidity?

I've been having a number of semi-lucid dreams. These are dreams in which I am aware I am dreaming but still play along with the plot of the dream. I have been wondering why I do this, as opposed to performing experiments on my dream scape.

Dreams can be fun: the have intense plots where you can do outrageous things that you can't do in real life. This I am beginning to believe, is the reason I remain semi-lucid. When thinking about my dream experiences I am beginning to notice the more lucid I am, the less activity there is in the dream. As my lucidity increases the stimulus in my dream environment decreases. I stay only semi-lucid because I want to 'ride the wave' of my dream.

This leads me to think that perhaps as the lucid conscious process ramps up it starves resources from the dream construct, almost like there is a trade-off between the two - only so many brain resources. As in a sense reality is a constructed story, perhaps when we don't have a majority of reality construction outsourced to the real world there has to be a trade-off of what can be achieved with the brains finite resources.

Its almost like the high level constructs the reality and the reptilian experiences it.

My health routine