Darwinism on Bonsai Forums
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Author:  Will Hiltz [ Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

Rick, I KNOW you concur! The fact that you realize you concur means I wrote my response accurately! We differ in a lot of ways, but I think we are both manifestations of the archetype of the old curmudgeon railing against the decline of the more civilized society of his youth. It's an archetype I'm glad to embody, independent of results. Does it matter? It matters to me. I think it matters to you as well.

Vance, I don't know you well, and have only occasionally read your input on various forums. You seem to be making some passionate points here, but they lack specific details that would link them in my mind to something concrete, so I'm not quite sure of the points you are trying to make. Any chance you could express them with more specific references, or at least link to places where you have previously done so, so that I and others might have a better idea about your points? Thanks.

Author:  Vance Wood [ Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

Richard Moquin wrote:
In relation to this article there really is a two-edged sword where both edges of the sword need to be examined, not just one.

... to a certain extent when applied to bonsai yes, but the root of the problem IMO is not necessarily Bonsai related, society as a whole have lost their sense of values.

I am not talking about my values over someone else, but rather the good conduct and interaction between human beings. I am not a religious man but if one was to adhere to the ten commandments, it would be a pretty good start.

This is an anecdote I previously removed from my original post as I deemed it out of context during initial discussion. I find it fits a little better as this conversation has progressed and thus will mention it once again.

They have instituted a reward program for good behaviour in school. In other words behaving as we did when we were children. Now don't get me wrong I am not living amongst the dinosaurs and evolution is a good thing, or is it? Improvement IMO is probably better suited. Although, this type of program may alleviate some unwanted behaviour in young delinquents, it has the opposite on folks who are conducting themselves in a smart manner on a daily basis without recognition. Not that this is important as was the subject of a dinner conversation I had recently. We do things, acts of kindness etc... because it makes us feel good to do the right thing, not because there may or may not be an award involved. We do it because it is the right thing to do, and not "what's in it for me".

Notwithstanding, I will not direct this verbiage to the younger generation as a whole but to all those that didn't or don't stand up for what is right and merely took part in the program out of convenience. In turn these individuals seem to have transported themselves on the bonsai scene, because this is the venue we participate in these days, but they are found in all walks of life.

... what's in it for me, can indeed be applied to the current economic crisis under-way in the US and eventually spill over to the rest of the world. Greed! in all its ugly aspects! Please do not read more into it than what has been said, because of the US's geopolitical tenure in the world, it only stands to reason that the economic impact be felt there the heaviest. When I refer to society, I refer to society as a whole and not one limited by demographics.

With all due respects Richard I have no clue what you are getting at here. Can you clarify?

Author:  Richard Moquin [ Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

Let's see if I can draw you a pair of 3D glasses here Vance. Both of us being "vets" I know that we share a lot in common and hence we are both man of honour who live their daily lives in strict regimen to a certain code of conduct and thus upholding values. From this vantage point I believe no clarifications are required. I believe Will knows were I am coming from as we have exchanged similarly in the past wrt some of the points raised here.

Will's article is bonsai related, and hence posted on a bonsai "venue" and his reference may well have been misrepresented because of the bonsai scene. This is what I have gathered from your response were initially you seemed to understand the problems and perhaps the root only to limit your perspective specifically to the bonsai scene.

I stated the problem with today's respondents is society as a whole and not limited to the bonsai scene. Because the respondents on the forums are part of society we readily see this manifestations there. Why not? We spend a good protion of time interacting here/there.

Will and others have labelled it the "quick fix" I have labelled it "what's in it for me". When applied strictly to bonsai, they want a quick answer, without spending any significant amount of time researching a given question. We have become a society that everything needs to be fixed yesterday, as tomorrow I am moving on to something else. The hustle and bustle of the 21st century. We no longer take the time to smell the coffee.

On the larger scene, the little anecdote I reintegrated into this discussion is self explanatory. What's in for me? My daughter was POed at the whole idea or process, because she was instilled with a good set of values, only to find herself frustrated when her daily "proper" interactions go unnoticed and unrewarded, while others who seldom behave like human beings are being rewarded for good deeds on an almost continual basis.

This frustration led the discussion of why should I continue to interact with fellow man when my daily interactions go unnoticed and unrewarded = What's in it for me?

The question I asked why do you do these things? <<because it is the right thing to do>>

Do you need a prize/award for doing what is right? <<well yes because it is part of the program, and if they want me to continue they better soon start noticing>>. My daughter turned 17 boxing day.

I asked prior to the program, did you behave and act in society with others properly, kindly, etc...? <<well yes, but they have this program...>>

Forget the program for a minute. What does doing the right thing do for you? Why do you do it/did it prior to this silly program? <<uh I don't know>>

Come on know, doesn't it feel good to help someone else regardless of the circumstance etc... hold open a door instead of allowing it to slam in someones face etc...? <<well yeah!>>

How does it feel when others act irresponsibly etc...? <<it p...... me off>>

Now let's get back to the awards program do we conduct ourselves as human beings because a reward is involved or because it is the right thing to do? <<well.... both>> again what's in it for me... I will keep to the short strokes here for sake of expediency, this conversation went back and forth during dinner one night. It is one instance and there are many more, in favour of brevity we will leave it at that.

All three of us participating here come from the same generation give or take a few years, myself being the youngest. We conduct ourselves through a set of values instilled by our parents and enforced by society as a whole. The same values that we hold dearly are not being instilled in every household, and definitely not enforced by society. Why is that?

In yesteryear I will openly admit not everyone behaved according to proper decorum etc... but the majority did or we were quickly brought into line. We respected our elders as a fountain of knowledge and wisdom. We knew instinctively to seek wisdom from these folks, hell they have been around a long time, surely they should have come across it at one point in time. But more specifically we were taught to respect our elders. The latter was forged from a set of deep seeded values that were instilled in everyone of us. An old saying goes: "go with your gut" normally during these sessions a moral debate took place internally and we would eventually do what was right. How can we do what is right if in today's society what is right is obscured by the hustle and bustle. Well... perhaps we just wing it as we have to move on to something else...

At one point in time our mothers were in the home to see to our upbringing and correct our transgressions on the spot, human interaction was taken place vice electronic stimuli in one form or another. We knew what was right and what was wrong, and easily differentiated between the two. Today's society in the majority of circles see both parents working to make ends meet, have very little interaction with their children and expect them to act like responsible adults. Well they are trying, unfortunately without much guidance. This lack of guidance has forged a way of interacting in what they deem is responsible etc... I will not delve on this point too much as we can be here all night trying to clarify each others thoughts.

The hustle and bustle has seen parenting depart from the aforementioned to, here's $10 to go to a movie or a new video game etc... any form of stimuli so one can take a break. Why do we need to take a break? Well, because we are in most cases doing the job of 2 to 3 people, at relatively low wages (comparatively speaking) just to make ends meet etc... society as a whole is on overload. By the time they get home, they just want to relax and vedge, because tomorrow the wheel begins again. Now this is not going on in every household, I am not naive enough to think so, but it is happening on a larger scale than what we might be lead to believe. If we listen attentively to the reports from our children, then one has the pulse, more or less.

We were raised with values, these values are being passed down to our heirs. In most part they are readily accepted but confusedly receptive in comparison with daily interactions of society. e.g. Why should I do this whilst others do that or what they want etc...? Another anecdote...

Our dinner table is sacred so to speak. This is were the family gathers in peace and tranquillity, breaking bread. This is the place where we take the pulse on the daily happenings etc... it is also a time, to time out from society and review daily events in peace and quiet amongst our household. It is also a place where my partner (soon to be wife) take some time for ourselves, during tea. This is a house rule (tea time), this is a time were both Ruth and I relax, enjoy each others company without distraction and go over daily events etc... a ritual so to speak but, if our household functions as well as it does, its probably do in large part to this 30 minutes we spend at the end of each dinner. This ritual was met with a certain amount of resistance in the beginning as the children were not accustomed to this type of interaction between couples. But through our insistence it soon became a daily routine that has been accepted as "family practice" so to speak.

This practice in order to take place requires one to make the time and expend a certain amount of effort towards the end. This time and effort is second nature to our generation as we do it readily on matters of importance. <<I don't have time!>> you make the time. You can either jump on the hamster wheel (hustle and bustle) and go round and round, or you can take the time and smell the coffee. If given a choice I like the aroma of a good cup of coffee, as a matter of fact I get off on the olfactory stimuli. It is not easy as we know to uphold our beliefs in a society that would sooner dismiss them without a second thought. We do it because not only is it the right thing to do, but we feel good when we do it. The smile we receive for an act of kindness regardless the act, is priceless in a bankrupt society devoid of moral values.

It takes time to develop a pair of 3D glasses and in doing so I hope I didn't lose you and are enjoying this tale with a good cup of Joe.

I stated that today's society functions pretty much on what's in it for me. I also stated that this translate to greed. Greed need not be attached to money. Greed is defined as: very keen or eager; needing intensely. My interpretation of the definition although in the Oxford greed is normally associated with wealth or food, I add to covet. Regardless of the interpretation it is wrong...

A society devoid of moral integrity and values soon will often turn to greed for self preservation. The mess we are currently in (the world) was created out of greed, whether personal or corporate. We as society are governed by the fractional money system, heck government, is driven and governed by the fractional money system. This system was created by bankers it is a system in which a society can be manipulated and controlled towards an end. It is a system that by virtue of its design creates competitiveness amongst its participants. It is also a system that propagates greed exponentially and in doing so can never satiate itself. Who owns the Federal Reserve, the country or a select group of bankers? When was the Federal Reserve created and why? What is its role in society? Did we go to war in Iraq over WMDs or oil? and if the latter why? Vance your a Vietnam vet, why was that war never won? The US certainly had the capability to win such a lopsided battle, or was there more to it, like the war needed to be sustained for profit vice won. I am sure everyone has heard this one before. Who controlled the decision making processes etc... the government or Wall St? and more importantly why?

The aforementioned system by virtue of its design collapses every 96-100 yrs, or in our case within the next few years. The depression caused by this collapse will make the previous world depression look like a cake walk. So you might ask how is this germane to this discussion? Well I said that "what's in it for me" can also be translated to greed, and society as a whole is behaving in such a fashion because of it. The system has created a responsive society and in doing so have no intention of changing the way the world functions as a whole. The hamster wheel that has been created I call the program. I get enough exercise and refuse to get on the hamster wheel. Am I naive enough to think my attitude towards what's right and what's wrong will change anything in the grand scheme of things? No! but I sure sleep better at night.

As I mentioned the fractional money system creates greed and by virtue of its design collapses every 100 years or so. As I mentioned the next couple of years will tell the tale. Hell all the analyst know this but will refrain in publicly saying so in fear of another general panic. But the present economic crisis in the US, fuelled by the war in Iraq, the bailing out of corporations and banks only accelerate the systems inevitable collapse. In a last ditch effort to maximise profits, the Federal Reserve has lowered their interest rates from 1% to 0.25% and in some cases written off certain loans. Every time the government borrows from the Fed, the deeper the world goes into debt, as the Federal Reserve, the World Bank and the International Money Fund are all part of the same conglomerate of bankers. How will we all be affected, God only knows.

In getting back to Will's original article it is the manipulated behaviour of today's society that is manifesting itself on the scene and this behaviour is not strictly limited to bonsai. Therefore, it is for those reasons that I tend to uphold my values in a world of seaming chaos. I cannot control everything in society, I am just a cog on the wheel like everyone else. But what little I do have control off I am not prepared to part with, and that by definition could be construed as greed. The precious moments away from the hustle and bustle of every day life are precious to me, my time spent with my trees are precious to me and my family. In other words since the only thing I can control in this chaotic society is my time, then I choose how I spend it. As we get older it is the little things that are precious to us, but unnoticed by society in general, hence the lack of recognition for someones efforts/work. Like I said you may draw from the well at will, just bring your own bucket as none will be provided.

This has been a rather long post and I will close it off with a bonsai related anecdote. I hope I was able to create the 3D glasses as promised and hope I didn't confuse you even more.

Someone who lives in the neighbourhood is into what he calls bonsai and which I have pointed out is more Japanese Gardening vice bonsai, as these trees are in the landscape and not in a pot. Anyway, he is interested with bonsai etc... and has drawn from the well on several occasions. He has commented on the wealth of knowledge I have gathered on the subject etc... and how I acquired all this knowledge? I mentioned my research, my participation on bonsai related forums etc... and have shown him my reference library. Although well read I consider myself far from being truly knowledgeable on the subject etc... So he draws from the well and, I allow water to be drawn as these conversations are stimulating to say the least but. He states there is so much to learn, and how did I acquire all this etc... when I mentioned although it is good to pick my brain, if you are truly interested in the subject you need to acquire books and conduct some research on your own etc... and I will be more than happy to clarify any matter that may arise. I don't have time! was his reply. I was deeply saddened by this reply. I explained that although he considers me a walking reference, in order to truly get to where he wants to go, he needs to get involved more into the subject of bonsai and Japanese Gardening techniques vice picking my brain. This individual is on permanent paid disability and is in his mid fourties. So when I say they come from all facets of society, he is a prime example.

Author:  Will Hiltz [ Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

Rick, thanks for taking the time to explain yourself so well. I would reply in more depth, but it's late at night and I have to sleep, get up at 5AM for a flight, and won't be near a computer again I think for a week, so don't think I'm ignoring you if I don't reply further (even though your post was to Vance). Didn't know Vance was a vet as well.


Author:  Vance Wood [ Sat Jan 10, 2009 10:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

I got it! You do what is right because it is the right thing to do. You get me talking on social issues we will both get booted. Suffice it to say I agree with your point of view understanding that we have both chewed on some of the same dirt and time.

However in relation to bonsai it seems that we are living in an era run by those who have had barley enough time to have taken the same Pine tree through two repotting sequences. At the same time some of these individuals will recommend the processes to a beginner that will kill a tree. They justify themselves as providing the "newbie" with the information of how to make a bonsai out of a stick in a pot, suggesting that the path way to learning bonsai is strewn with dead trees.

When something a little more conservative and culturally sound is suggested, even to the point of providing the student with a programed approach that will reach beyond this poor first effort, these same individuals will come at you with both barrels, often ending in name calling and character assassination. The funny thing here is that most of the individuals who engage in this type of behavior would not touch the same material, they have just suggested the newbie kill through their advise, with a ten foot pole.

It is this type of thing that is hurting bonsai on the Internet, not some experienced dude telling some newbie that he needs to find better material.

Author:  Richard Moquin [ Sat Jan 10, 2009 12:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

Will thanks it will be interesting to read your point of view when you return from exile LOL, have a safe trip.

Vance I am glad you got it. It was not an easy reply to formulate to say the least, one that can lead in to were one was going without adding to the confusion. We didn't chew on the same dirt so to speak, but yes the code of conduct in which we chose to live our lives was written from the same tablet.

When we come to social issues you are right no one wants to talk about it and hence the mess we are in, in one way or another. When we look at the perspective you have described yes it is frustrating to see this type of interaction and we often wonder should we take the time.

The boards were a place where a wealth of knowledge was readily available and the exchange of this information was free pratique. Now days regardless of why, we see less and less of it, to the point that folks just can't be bothered any more as discussed herein. This is the bonsai scene as we know it but, this is also seen in all walks of life. Explaining why society is what and where it is, was relatively easy, correcting it, well.... not so.

The display of poor information on the bonsai forums sees itself in daily interaction as well, society is formed in large part of individuals with a breadth of informational titbits and can't seem to find a way to connect the dots yet again extrapolate the information. Thus, the information is incomplete and inaccurate. The problem we face is that this is only going to get worst over time, garbage in = garbage out. With the advent of technology this should be a relatively easy task, if one spends the time in acquiring information. Information is at our finger tip, now mind you one needs to decipher the wheat from the chaff, not an easy thing to do for the uneducated, the folks that can't or are reluctant to connect the dots. In the grand scheme of things, society is where the system wants it to be, ignorant and entertained, incapable of thinking on their feet.

We didn't want to talk about social issues but here we are doing exactly that. So all being said it is difficult for those who have a grasp on reality to interact any different than we do. They do not understand where we are coming from, and think of us as condescending, unnurturing etc... Can we change this? No! Can we help? Perhaps! How can we help? Hopefully through osmosis. How do we go about our passions without loosing our sanity? The selection process. We still control who and where we interact with, once we have given that up, the only thing that remains for us to do, is jump on the hamster wheel.

I have been lurking in absentia for quite some time. I have interacted sporadically on the forums. Now everyone who reads this knows why. It was/has been mentioned before. If i fell I am merely wasting my time, I simply move on...

Author:  Will Heath [ Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

I'm a little confused here, the statements that "You do what is right because it is the right thing to do" and the ones talking about giving up on the forums, or cutting back are contradictory.

When you break outside of the box, do things that have never been done, or force people to reevaluate their own beliefs and convictions, you are going to get heat. If they can not logically debate the ideas presented, they will attack the person presenting them.

This is the state of affairs today.

The "right" thing to do is to press forward, not give up, not quit, not give in. It doesn't matter if you are right or wrong, what matters is that you follow your heart. Force the critics to prove you wrong with solid, intelligent debate on the subject. In this way, even if you are wrong, all parties involved learned from the debate, which may well spark many other trains of thought.

AoB exists because we went forward against much criticism and many attacks. My own story is not so different, but I won't get into that now.

Our goal should not be to change someones mind, but instead to spread seeds of intelligent thought, alternatives, and possibilities. Sure it may be frustrating to see so many fall on infertile ground, but the real pleasure comes, sometimes long after, seeing a few seeds take root and begin to grow. A good example of this would be a article I published sometime ago about three-dimensional bonsai, at the time the majority of the Internet gurus condemned it as blasphemy. Today it is hard to read through a book or article without seeing a reference to bonsai in the round, or those that look visually pleasing from all sides.


Author:  Vance Wood [ Sun Jan 11, 2009 12:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

You're right Will, I remember the debate about summer repotting for some trees and now quite a few on line references speak the same as gospel. Sometimes you just get tired of being ganged up on when the message gets lost in "Who Shot John".

Author:  Richard Moquin [ Sun Jan 11, 2009 4:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

I'm a little confused here, the statements that "You do what is right because it is the right thing to do" and the ones talking about giving up on the forums, or cutting back are contradictory.

... your perception perhaps, not mine. I never said I am giving up on the forums, just chose when and in which discussion I wish to participate in. If that ius doing the wrong thing, then so be it. I do not need to breath bonsai 24/7.

Author:  Ravi Kiran [ Wed Jan 28, 2009 4:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Darwinism on Bonsai Forums

It takes two hands to clap. It takes two people to communicate. It takes a teacher and a pupil to impart learning. When the clap doesn't sound, when the communication is ineffective or when learning doesn't happen it could be the fault of either one or both the parties involved. It is impossible to generalize and needs to be examined on a case to case basis.

In Bonsai learning too, internet is a great medium which gives access to a wealth of information to a potential student. This includes sites like AoB to which I am tremendously indebted to. Forums are a tricky issue. Here's why.

It it one thing to learn an art and to become a master and quiet another thing to teach the same to a newbie. There are masters who are teachers and there are masters who are not teachers. Teaching is a fine art as is communication and it is common knowledge, to the seeker, that the most knowledgeable need not be great communicators. This is where a problem starts. When improper communication becomes nasty and so on...

Then there is the other side of the same coin. That of every one who sets out to learn not necessarily being a good student. To learn, one needs to have an open mind and not preconceived notions. One also needs a lot of humility which seems to be such a rarity these days. We quiet often have a lot of bonsaists who with their basic knowledge, most of which could be theoretical, clashing swords with seasoned masters who have worked on hundreds of trees.

Disagreements are also one of the best ways of learning and need not be frowned upon. But then again there is the art of "Agreeing to disagree" without losing ones cool.

In conclusion, I'd would want to say that internet forums are like a knife. You can use them to cut veggies in the kitchen or to murder. I for one have learnt a lot from forums such as the AoB. One can make the most of such opportunities or one can hack such opportunities to pieces... for whatever reasons.

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