Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Teeny Bit of Blowing My Own Horn

Recently, I saw the video embedded below, from the TED Talks series.  It's well worth a watch when you can spare 20 minutes.  Until then, I'll tell you that, in it, a brain scientist describes how an experiment proved that magnetic pulses can "temporarily" change the operation of the part of our brains that processes and evaluates other people's feelings or motivations. 

She presents it like it's just another conclusion.  But I put it in bold because I found it very highly significant.   You see, taken to the absolute extreme, people who cannot read or appreciate other people's feelings are called "sociopaths."

The World Health Organization's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, tenth edition (ICD-10), the international version of the diagnostic manual for health problems lists the first marker of "anti-social personality disorder," the fancy name for sociopathy, as "callous unconcern for the feelings of others."  The current American version of this kind of manual, the DSM IV, makes it a little less plain, but still visible in the seventh marker for the disorder, "lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another."    In other words, people who don't feel bad for making other people feel bad.  Other people's feelings don't register with these folks.

So, here's the deal:

1) People who lack the ability to perceive and appreciate others feelings move closer to being sociopaths;

2) Magnetic pulses or waves, applied to the brain, can make people "temporarily" less able to appreciate the feelings and motivations of another person;

and the big finish,

3) ALL electrical current causes magnetic waves, in the form of electromagnetism.  All of it.   Like the cages of electrical current we all live in called our houses; like the bleed off from televisions, IPods, cellphones, refrigerators.

And, when you watch the video, you will see that the part of the brain they affected in the experiment is darn close to your right ear--right where you would  hold a cell phone, or stick in an ear-bud.

Kind of makes you want to re-read my posts about electronics and how they affect relationships, doesn't it?  Watch the video, too.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Another Lunatic Conspiracy Theorist Wishes a Word With You

March Against Monsanto

Some of you may be tired of hearing me tell you all the stuff that concerns me, especially since so many things concern me. So today, we have a visiting lunatic conspiracy theorist, world renowned geneticist David Suzuki,  explaining why he's also concerned about one of the same things I am:  genetically modified foods. 

After you've watched, think about going to the March Against Monsanto Saturday, May 25.  There's likely a gathering in your area.  You can see when and where here.  I know, it's a Saturday, and it's downtown, or wherever, and it's Saturday(!) but is it worth losing your Saturday to try to stop the phenomenon where you pay people to feed you poison?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Next Weekend

March Against Monsanto
On May 25, 2013, there will be a worldwide "March Against Monsanto."  For those of you who haven't paid attention, Monsanto is a huge megalithic chemical and agriculture products company that owns patents on some of the most widely used (and in my opinion, dangerous) chemicals that are sprayed on your food.  They're also one of the largest proponents of genetically modifying food so that it produces its own pesticide, right in the plant, as it grows.  You get to eat it in every bite.  Yum.

Our government (which of course is always competent and correct, and totally free of graft, payoff, favor-doing, one-hand-washing-the-other, etc.) says that it's perfectly ok to eat these pesticides every day, day in, day out, in 90 percent of the food we eat, for many decades.  Monsanto and it's counterparts say it's not only safe, but also very profitable

Some other people, mostly scientists who work for research universities, who get their research funding in a very political, highly subjective way, also say that it's ok to eat these pesticides.  Often, either before or after these scientists say this, Monsanto or another huge megalithic chemical or agriculture company who puts pesticides in and on our food, gives large "donations" to said research universities.   I'm sure there's no connection.

Yet other people, some of whom are also scientists, say that eating pesticides isn't good for you and might cause all kinds of nasty diseases, like cancer and maybe MS and other neurological problems.  Some of them have done studies that show evidence of that, which have been roundly criticized by the scientists who work for those research universities who have auditoriums and scholarships and stuff named after chemical and ag companies. 

I'm not a scientist.  But I do distinctly remember that people have always told me it's a bad idea to eat pesticide, so I side with the people who say we really shouldn't.  It just makes sense to me.

Recently, Monsanto and some of its friends and lobbyists prevailed upon Congress to pass something that's been dubbed "the Monsanto Protection Act."  It was stuffed into a bigger ag bill called H.R. 933, and it basically says that the courts (yes, all of them) have no power (none at all) to stop Monsanto or others from planting genetically modified crops, EVEN IF THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT IT HURTS PEOPLE.    They basically over-rode the whole legal system that is supposed to govern in the U.S., and gave the exclusive authority to decide whether it's a good idea to eat pesticides to the United States Government--the one that is always competent and correct and totally free of graft, payoff, favor-doing, one-hand-washing-the-other, etc. 

I'm not happy about this, because there are lots of countries that have totally banned these GM crops because their scientists (who probably don't have auditoriums and stuff named after these chemical companies) say that either the GM crops are dangerous, or at least that they might be and they haven't yet been sufficiently tested to prove they're not.

Well, as a thank you to Congress for bastardizing the entire United States legal system on behalf of the chemical and big-ag companies, some people are doing the March on Monsanto, where people intend to think and talk about whether it's a good idea to eat pesticides, and also to think and talk about whether it's a good idea to make laws specifically designed to make sure that courts can't stop companies from doing things if they are shown to be killing people.   Groups will be gathering at places all over the world.  I'll be going to one in my city.

See if you can find one near you.  Here's where you can do that.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Great Bank Heist of 2013

Well, watching all the machinations and scandals (the never-ending and never-effective Benghazi inquiry, the IRS targeting conservative groups, and the AP phone records seizure by DOJ) for the last week or so, I was suddenly struck with a thought:  this is just all too easy.  It's like there's a set up of stuff for us to watch and talk about while they're picking our pockets.  The old game of government Three-Card-Monty I've talked about in the past.

And I've just found at least one thing that we've been distracted from:  the House passing H.R. 807, the so-called  "Full Faith and Credit Act,"  which passed the House on May 9.  This piece of crap legislation sets up priority in payment of debt in the event of a debt ceiling event to holders of "public debt" and the Social Security Trust Fund.  How?  By exempting from the debt ceiling the issuance of "new debt" (which we still get to pay back with interest) to pay that old debt.  How's that for financial hocus pocus? 

Now, if the Senate passes this crap bill, the effect is:  Holders of US treasury debt get paid before everyone else--before people doing actual work for government agencies, before soldiers, before food stamp benefits, before unemployment (which those people paid for out of their pay when they were employed), before people who sold copy paper to the local IRS office to print out all those seized phone records--before everyone.  So who are the lucky recipients of this favored status?  I bet you aren't going to be surprised.

Over 30% of the debt is held by "US Individuals and Institutions,"  which includes "regular' Americans (well, those who still have enough money to hold Treasuries), BANKS, INSURANCE COMPANIES, and other government entities, like state governments.

Another 10.8 percent, and growing with every "quantitative easing," is held by our buddies the BANKS who own the Federal Reserve.

And another  34.1 percent is held by FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS (mostly their central BANKS--their equivalents of the Federal Reserve). 

My numbers are current through FY 2012 and come from here.

So, there you go.  We're supposed to watch their little comedy (tragedy?) of errors while the banks are setting up the legal framework to steal what little of our money they don't already have.   As I said before, when the side show is heating up,  keep your eye on the main ring.  You'll almost always see something interesting going on.

Don't forget to send a thank you card to Mr. Boehner, even if you can't afford to match the $2.47 million in campaign contributions he got from the insurance, banking, investment and financial services industries in the last election.  I'm sure he'll appreciate just the thought.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Badge of Honor

Lately, my thinking has been hard to string together into a blog post, or a philosophy, or even a set of coherent ideas.  But recently, I've run across something that helped pull together some of those thoughts.  Here is my thesis statement:

Right now, today, if you feel despair, lack of hope, discord, hatred, frustration, annoyance, or similar feelings, you are wearing a badge of honor, and you should feel joy in your pain.

Let's begin to explore that thesis with this notion.  Lots of people right now are feeling nothing.  I live among them.  I see them every day.  They have the benefit of fortune to have nice homes in an affluent suburb, to have enough to eat (and often way more than enough), to drive a nice car, to have the freedom to go where they believe they want to go and do what they believe they want to do.  They are "lucky."  And their luck has served for them as a form of emotional and spiritual anesthetic that has obliviated their notice of anything contrary.

These people go to work every day, pull their paychecks, buy their groceries, take their clothes to the dry cleaner, pay their nannies and housekeepers and landscapers, drive home in their luxury cars, park their heineys in a comfortable chair inside their comfortable homes, turn on the TV or computer, and proceed to avoid, deny, justify, or ignore everything that causes them a moment's thought or discomfort.

They believe everything that's told them by their preferred source of lies and disinformation, and parrot it diligently and angrily to anyone who might have noticed a problem in their narrative.   They're not concerned about pollution, or people starving or being genocided, or our bombing babies in Pakistan, or that we imprison more people than any totalitarian regime.  They don't think for a moment that someone arrested by cops might not be guilty, or even that a trial  is necessary--just kill them now.  If any hole appears in their logic, they angrily attack the person who points it out, calling them "conspiracy theorists," "crazies," or other colorful epithets, but never, ever do they spend the mental energy to really address the holes in their logic.

They won't ever change, because they are fat and happy, and wallowing contentedly in their little mud hole, oblivious to the fact that the truck from the rendering plant is just down the road, coming for them.  You can think of them as people who have antennae who only pick up broadcast channels on their tuners--no HBO, no Showtime, no ESPN.  They still only receive the few broadcast channels, transmitting the tragic comedy of what's going on today in the "popular consciousness."  They are the ones Jesus referred to as the dead who will bury their own dead. 

On the other hand is you, if you are one of the ones who feels as if "regular people" are stark raving mad to keep bombing each other, shooting each other, hating each other, judging each other, all while quoting a "savior" who preached about loving your neighbor.  You are one who is now watching with baited breath the outcome of trials and elections and disputes and protests and uprisings--watching and mourning each one that doesn't finally and once and for all end the pain and suffering of some people you never met, and some you did. Often, you are disappointed, as the juggernaut of an illusion that this mess of a world is  the "only" way, hurtles on down a straight track--straight toward a brick wall, despite you, anxiously leaning into the curve of change.  

Once in a while, you are buoyed by a glimpse of something different, something real, that sneaks past the life-censors, and then you may watch in horror as that something gets clobbered by the mallet of the system, like a giant game of whack-a-mole. You may have actually reached a place where you realize that your life-tuner is set to a different frequency than the one everyone else is watching, and maybe that makes you feel crazy.   And maybe you've been told that you are.   But I think that's wrong.

I think you're something else.  In the TV metaphor, I think your tuner is connected to the full cable package, and most of the programming is pretty bad, so it's not unreasonable for you to feel the way you do.   The fact that some peoples' tuners only get the broadcast doesn't mean that cable doesn't exist.  You've just got premium programming.  Now, before you call to cancel your subscription, let me explain why being tuned to the cosmic cable network is a good thing, even though it hurts

To explain, I must digress for a moment into my addict's past, which some of you have read about previously. I spent fifteen years as a drunk.  From the summer after my sophomore year in high school through the age of thirty, I'd be surprised if my blood alcohol ever reached zero.   Many times it reached close to dead.   My drunk-ness facilitated a lot of lying, a lot of self-degradation, a lot of crying jags and stupid recklessness, a very bad first marriage, a boatload of self-pity, and finally, a recovery that changed everything.  

The very first thing that you hear when you go to a twelve-step meeting is Step One.  It goes something like this:

I admit that I am powerless over my addiction--that my life has become unmanageable.

It is the proverbial "admitting that there's a problem" that even non-addicts acknowledge is the first step to recovery.  And it is.  The people who never take that step of seeing the problem continue to drink or drug, always convinced that with the proper "thought," the right amount of "will power," a rule here, or a tweak there, they can handle their life and their substance with some degree of "success."   In short, they continue to be ruled by their addiction.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have arrived there too broken, sick, or weak to keep fighting, hiding, controlling, and managing our addiction--we cowards who give up and take that first step are the ones who say, "screw it,"  fall completely apart, and then accept the help of other forces to pick up the pieces, sort through them to separate the ones that will keep us doing the same thing from the ones that might actually be useful in life, and move on.  We are the ones who had the fortune of feeling like there was nothing left to lose.  We had the benefit of feeling that the pain of doing the same thing again outweighed the pain of changing everything. 

So we began to recover.  To do that, we had to re-learn everything--from who we should have as friends, to how to deal with stress,  to how to relate to people, to how to make decisions--in a healthier way.     We had to do every single thing differently, because, as they're fond of saying in those meetings, "Your best thinking up til now is what got you here."  But as soon as we truly became willing to let go our old ideas and habits and do things differently, life began to change.   What appeared to be "falling apart" actually turned out to be "falling together."  And not a bit of it would have happened if I'd been a little less miserable, sick, and tired when I went there.  I had to be all out of fight to keep the old way, or I never would have found the new one.  Pain Equals Change.

So, as I said early on:  if you are one of those who today is suffering vicious discomfort, despair, sadness, and hopelessness, wear it as a badge of honor--you have the latest in spiritual technology.

The feeling you have is the knowledge, deep down inside, that what is happening in our society is wrong--that it must change or come to a pathetic end.  It is what I refer to as a cosmic 2x4 to the head--a whack that's supposed to wake us from our sleepwalk as anesthetized sheep and turn us instead into the folks who realize that the pain of continuing our current path outweighs the pain of changing everything.  It's the agony and anguish of that necessary falling apart.  It's the trauma and promise of falling together.  It's what will make us the ones to change the world.

Start with your own.

I'm working on mine.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Start

Here is an amazing video about what's happened to the U.S. economy and lifestyle and one thing we can do to start changing it.  Post it and link to it everywhere.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Answer Me This...

Ok, so a couple of days ago, I saw this day-of-the-bombing interview with cowboy-hat-clad-hero, Carlos Arredondo. 

In the interview, Mr. Arredondo describes how he rushed in to aid victims of the bombing and applied tourniquets to the rankly amputated legs of the most famous victim of the Boston Marathon Bombing, Mr. Jeff Bauman.

He shows his Red Cross disaster team ID.  Very moving account.

So, now, can you all answer something for me?

How is it that, at a bloody scene with at least one victim who has had both legs blown off by a bomb, Carlos Arredondo can render aid, up close and personal--so close that he's able to put on tourniquets to staunch presumably arterial bleeding (because arteries are severed when your legs are blown off, and because even the most basic first aid training teaches you to never use tourniquets except for severe arterial bleeding)--and yet, in the "iconic" photo of Mr. Arredondo rushing Mr. Bauman to an ambulance in a wheelchair, as the story is told holding Mr. Bauman's artery closed with his bare hands...

Carlos Arredondo

 he comes away with no blood on his light-colored, long-sleeved shirt? 

Seems to be a thing or two wrong with this picture.