On Being Right when Nothing Else is Left

Fear of Seeing

Fear of Seeing

(There’s a yellow streak in Texas, that you’ve got to see,
and nothing else can cure her, but guns for you and me…)

The media once again have astonishing news from Texas. Apparently a curious hysteria has taken over more of the state than is usual, even for the fastest guns in the West. Because of a very small-scale training exercise by the US military (Jade Helm 15), Texans have hoarded guns and amunition to defend themselves against their own government. In the NY Times, Bill Ford, a commissioner in Tom Green County,  is quoted as saying: “If the government has an idea they can come in and take over, and take guns away, the stupidest place they could come is West Texas. There’s more guns and ammo here and more people willing to use them than any combat area they’ve fought in.”

In the same article, a hairdresser, Ms. Miller is quoted as saying “They’re worried that they’re going to come in and take their firearms away. I try not to listen to all these conspiracy-theory-type people. All they’re worried about is their beer and their guns.”

According to Robert A. Burton, M.D., “Given what we now know about the biology of schizophrenia, we recognize that the patient’s brain chemistry has gone amok, resulting in wildly implausible thoughts that can’t be talked away with logic and contrary evidence.” (from “On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not.”) That tens of thousands of Americans are killed every year by gun owners is a fact that one should not look at, for fear of having to face all kinds of other facts.

Are the Texans are coming?

The Texans are coming!

When I worked on my uncle’s farm, as a young boy outside Berlin, the strongest plow horse in the stable (not unlike Texas in basic strength) would go hysterical when it so much as saw the outline of a double-decker bus across the farm fields. We would try everything possible to prevent it seeing one of those public vehicles, but the horse seemed to have an uncanny sense of one coming over the horizon, even before we could. Probably a genetic phobia of government-funded transportation unfairly competing with horse and buggy.

a yellow rose...

a yellow rose of Texas…

Men and women on the Right often try to portray themselves as being especially macho when they unzip their gun cases. But is not a far more plausible interpretation of such constant calls to arms an inordinate Angst, a fear of ever unknown eventualities, nightmares probably induced by too much red meat before bedtime? Which is more courageous, a society in which guns and other weapons are simply banned as insane killing machines or a society which is so fearful that it rather sees tens of thousands of its own members killed every year than forgo a spurious “right to bear arms”? – Should we have more compassion with our fearful, neurotic Texans?

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To Whom it May Concern

Future Subversives

Future Subversives

Finland, sporting one of the most frequently admired education systems in the world, is planning to abolish the teaching of handwriting in schools. “Fluent typing skills are an important national competence,” Minna Harmanen, from the Finish National Board of Education, is quoted as saying.

In the meantime, German Chancellor Merkel is making a renewed push to store all “communications data” of every German citizen, for the sake of national security. Given the most recent publication of documents about the intent of the NSA to gain complete control of the internet, Merkel must feel proud of how she is facilitating Big Uncle’s access to the privates of her children.

Weapon of Mass Destruction

Weapon of Mass Destruction

 

The justification? Was it that the tiny number of perpetrators of the Paris atrocities had escaped notice of the well-endowed security apparatus? Of course not. They were well known, at least one of them having been thrown into prison to learn more about terrorism, in this totally controlled, government training facility. Just as in the case of “9/11,” the international security agencies had all the information and all the tools they needed to prevent the few individuals from inflicting their violent outrages on society.

Merkel, being originally from communist East Germany, should know better than most that ever increasing amounts of spying by everyone on everyone only leads to the need to erect ever higher “Berlin Walls,” of every kind, around society, walls that ultimately will come tumbling down, in a jubilant celebration of freedom over government control.

Evading Digital Cloud Storage

Evading Digital Cloud Storage

The current reasoning of governments is a strange inversion of the already rather nasty utilitarian maxim “Greatest Good for the Greatest Number of People.” The new “national security” maxim seems to be “sacrifice the good of everyone in the name of controlling a few, known crazies.” In effect, it is the same as putting a nation, even our whole world under Marshall Law, simply because there are a few, easily identified, violent people in every society, always have been, apparently always will be.

Given that every “typed” and therefore digital communication is now connected to the internet, the children in Finland will soon be in the vanguard of a society that is incapable of communicating without exposing themselves at the same time to the leering eyes of Uncle Sam and Aunt Merkel. And yes, children are very susceptible to the nasty advances of adults. Already, they have fallen into the trap of passing even little love notes only through the shiny, digital voyeur mechanisms of the adult world.

Pen and ink in action

Pen and ink in action

I would therefore like to recommend that we all follow, as soon as possible, the patriotic example of Finland. Let us declare handwriting a threat to national security and the passing of personal, handwritten notes from one person to another an overt act of terrorism. Never mind the very personal elements of the specific form of the handwriting, the perhaps nervously formed letters, or the lovingly shaped special words. Never mind the special paper, for today’s note, or the little colored drawing on the side, mixed with handwritten lettering. All that is irrelevant: if you pass a personal note or letter to anyone or if you share such a non-digital threat to everyone, you obviously are a menace to society. Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Aldous Leonard Huxley’s “Brave New World” are no longer dystopia. They have become the utopia not only of Merkel and Uncle Sam, but even of supposedly freedom loving societies like Finland.

We should applaud all attempts to free our children from the burden of highly personal, unique, private self-expression and person to person, intimate conversations. Let’s start with burning all personal diaries, written with pen and paper, especially those with that “cute” little lock on top: a symbol of terrorist intentions.

You want to sign your name? Only a digital signature, already on file, is acceptable, unless you are a subversive.

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Martian Scientists Speculate about Signs of Intelligence on Earth

Martian Methane Machine

Martian Methane Machine

There have been reports in the media, recently, about signs on Mars of possible former life. The first indication is, of course, that there seem to be traces of methane. To put this into perspective, the negative effect of methane on the climate is said to be 23 times higher than that of mere CO2. So, any life form that rampantly produces more and more methane, through fracking or covering the earth with herds of mindless cattle, is likely to have as much intelligence as the Holy Cows in India. There are said to be 280 million Holy Cows in India and it only takes two of these goddesses and gods to produce as much CO2 per year as a car driving an average of 12,000 miles. Of course, the mindless increase of human overpopulation, with its own ethereal methane offerings to the gods, puts even belching cows into the shade.

Clearly, methane is not just a sign of life but of ancient spirituality. Perhaps the methane escaping on Mars comes from underground bovine temples? Just imagine what we could learn from such discoveries!

Intelligence Anywhere?

Intelligence anywhere?

According to the Scientific American and other news outlets, the “EPA Moves to Count Methane Emissions from Fracking.” Filled with the delight that there may have been methane producing organisms on Mars, we are making moves to prove that we are alive, as well, on earth, and counting what we together emit behind, in front, and from below.

Amidst all the exciting speculations about life and intelligence on other planets and in other universes, the real question is of course, what we would do, if some such methanic intelligence were to try to communicate with us.

NSA Extraterrestrial Intelligence Suppressing Methan Machine

NSA Extraterrestrial Intelligence Suppressing Methan Machine

Think of how alien any forms of rationality, intelligence, well-reasoned factual analysis already sound to the vast majority of our frackers, crackers, political crackpots and cowed worshippers. Why do we need to find extraterrestrial intelligence, when intelligence itself is nothing but a non-resident or illegal alien that keeps trying to sneak across our borders (at best to clean house and dirty laundry and empty the trash)?

Just imagine, if we did encounter life on another planet and it turned out to be billions of regurgitating, methane exhausting cows, looking past us with uncomprehending eyes, but big enough to flick us off like flies? What a wondrous confirmation it would be that the vast majority of our earthly leaders are indeed superior beings and therefore we also, like them.

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The Importance of What is Even Worse

While Oscar Wilde happily explored “The Importance of Being Earnest,” an even more poignant topic is the importance of “worse.” Whether we are talking about what our friends, family, lovers and colleagues have done to us or about our own newly embroidered afflictions, Nothing glides so smoothly across the palate as the opening phrase: “and you know what is even worse…”

Dramatic statements, about how bad others have turned out to be, are generated with lusty imagination, even by people who otherwise lack all creativity. Habitual liars usually don’t use their skills so much in order to regain lost virtues, rather they pile up tall tales of imagined vices of others – with the SOP story line (Standard Operating Procedure) “the worse others are, the better I am.”

In WWI, the British told stories about their German adversaries living in trees and eating children: that is the counterfactual version of “I am better because you are worse.” During the height of Christian missionary fervor, natives were told that anything other than the “missionary position” is a sin: that is the “I extend the range of what is bad, so I am better” version of the same slandering others for personal salvation.

We still have a long way to go on the path to ridding ourselves of the importance of what is worse. A gentle smile of mutual understanding might be a nice step in that direction.

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Prickly

everybody wants me

everybody wants me

Some people suffer from illusions of being so desirable, in the midst of barren landscapes, that they surround themselves with endless arrays of nasty defenses.
Like the prickly pear cactus, they end up
being consumed by packrats and skunk pigs, who couldn’t care less about such fearful projections.

Why not emulate the apple tree, instead,
and invite people to visit and feast on the gladly offered fruit?

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Self-Defining Journalism

pedigree

pedigree

Quaintly enough, the origin of “pedigree”
is “foot of the crane.”
Beyond obvious explanations, there is the pattern
that some people crane so much for recognition,
that they’d rather offer endless streams of “facts” from smelly origins than not be noticed.

References

References

What one continues to refer to as “news,” worthy of regurgitation, may serve as much as a reference for what one is, as any family tree or letters of reference.

(In such cases, a pedigree pedicure may make one noticeably less odorous,
but at the price of losing the attention of dull noses.)

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Bonsai!

Elegance: always unforced

Elegance:  unforced

Cranes glide peacefully
to new communal grounds,
no instructions needed.
They pair naturally, to call out in unison,
she sounding off twice
for every of his one.

not to be trusted

Not to be trusted

No standardized tests required.
nationally and internationally:
a common core of life
evolves in harmony,
without fear and trembling,
without tyrannical schools or
$1.7 billion private industries
dictating standards to hapless teachers.

We humans are not to be trusted,
role models of the active wise elders
not to be emulated
by eagerly observing participants:
where we can force our young,
why let them evolve
around a common cause
in joint communal activity?
Where we can brutalize,
why elegantly glide together?

Common core

Common core

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I am full (of myself), but thanks anyway

Amid all the expenses lavished on protecting the security and virtue of our mighty country, the NY Times recently reported on volunteer drivers who steer cars in the Presidential motorcade, without any training in security measures, but hopefully with a pretty face.

Ms. Tyson posted a photograph on Facebook of herself by the president’s limousine. Credit via Natalie Tyson

Ms. Tyson posted a photograph on Facebook of herself by the president’s limousine. Credit via Natalie Tyson

One former Secret Service agent is reported to consider them a national security threat:  “You are face to face with a young person who is just completely full of themselves and enthralled.”

If we see this in the context of reports that the majority of today’s college students score ever higher on the narcissism scale, one may start to worry about the future of our society. As Peter Gray described the problem (in Psychology Today, “Why is Narcissism Increasing Among Young Americans?”):

Narcissism is a serious social and psychological problem.  The term refers to an inflated view of the self, coupled with relative indifference to others.  People who are high in this trait fail to help others unless there is immediate gain or recognition to themselves for doing so; often think they are above the law and therefore violate it.”

While social scientists and the popular press may lament the trend of increasing narcissism among the young, manifesting itself in such crazes as “selfies” and Facebook, one does have to wonder, reading the above description, whether this “diagnosis” refers to the young or to our politicians and media stars.

a selfie supplied by a regular commentator, who also would rather be seen than heard

a selfie supplied by a regular commentator, who also would rather be seen than heard

Are we really dealing with a trend generated by the young or are our young dutifully imitating the kind of attitude and behavior modeled by the most influential people in our society? If “being completely full of yourself” is a risk to national security, once you are in the driver’s seat, and if being a Selfie-Facebook-Narcissist (SFN) is a requirement for getting into the drivers seat, then this current trait among politicians could also explain why they “fail to help others, unless there is immediate gain or recognition to themselves for doing so; often think they are above the law and therefore violate it.”

Anecdotally, among the college students I interact with, there seems to be a high correlation between such narcissism and an amazing inability to commit to anything, for any length of time. This in turn tends to be related to the still rising rates of depression, eating disorders, fear of intimacy, and addictions.

Opinion Leaders

Opinion Leaders

If this latter pattern also is based on the models presented to our young by those highly successful people whom they are trying to emulate, then perhaps the narcissism of those in the top echelons of our society is the bigger threat to our national security – very much including those who try to achieve “immediate gain or recognition” by constantly turning our attention to “national security,” rather than helping others and pursuing long-term goals for the future well-being of our society and our global environment.

popularity contest

selfie popularity contest

The ever increasing, obscene amounts that politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, spend on campaign financing, would be just another way of modeling the SFN (Selfie-Facebook-Narcissism) way of life. If we consider that for the 2012 Presidential Election campaigns alone over $7 billion were spent (never mind the cost for all the other campaigns) and that President Obama this year signed into law an $8.2 billion cut in the Food Stamps program, we may no longer wonder where our young get their priorities from. If you are a pretty face, never mind the rest of the world.

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Manly Reality

Voyeur Adam; Lilith and Eve

Voyeur Adam; Lilith and Eve

According to the Oxford English Dictionary: “The traditional distinction between sensuous and sensual is that sensuous is a more neutral term, meaning ‘relating to the senses rather than the intellect’, while sensual relates to gratification of the senses, esp. sexually.”

Applying this to our virtues, we could come up with: “The traditional distinction between virtuous and virtual is that virtuous is a more neutral term, meaning ‘relating to habits rather than the intellect’, while virtual relates to gratification of the senses, esp. sexually.”

Ignored

Ignored

Keeping in mind that “virtue” is based on the Latin “vir” = “man,” we may be astonished at the foresight of the creators of words in our language. Did they really know that “vir-tual reality” would be ingeniously innovated by men hoping to “gratify their senses,  esp. sexually.”

Now that bookies are laying bets on who gets the most admirers for their faces “online,” (no longer “on the strip”), feminal reality is also in fully gratifying swing. It’s good for business, we know, not reality, and thus it is in the most manly traditions of capitalism.

Irony is that to be “manly” these days one is urged to escape from all reality, all sensuous and virtuous engagement, man to man, woman to man, woman to woman.  It is the ultimate victory of the cowardly fear of the human body and of those who feel left out where Lilith rules.

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Do Fence Me In

I am not a pig, you are

I am not a pig, you are

A pig on the other side of the fence is never indifferent. Not to me. I am better than that.

A reason to prey and pray, to condone and to condemn. Alleluia.

A season to kill. Amen.

If there were no fences, pigs might oink together. No power in that.

Oh Lord of Peccaries, save us of from the tempting peccadillos of pigs.

I am fenced in, therefore I am.

 

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Ethics of DNR

Much has been made of the ethics of “Do Not Resuscitate” or “Do not Respond, when you see no life signs.”  It is an admonition to a person capable of relevant action. Important as such decisions may be, now and then, far more significant in our daily life is the iron rule of self-important people that they have a right, even a duty not to respond.

It is a law of the universe that gods don’t have to respond when we thank them. More curious is the law of ethical egoists (“every action is based on self-interest”) that they do not need to respond to our thanking them, because they know that we want what is good for us and therefore should be grateful for any help we can get. Obviously! – What they forget is that, by their own religion, they would only have helped us if it was in their self-interest, therefore they should really be thanking us, or at least return the thanks with equal force. But then, why thank anybody for anything: take what you get and run… unless of course you want to come back for more. In the latter case, two tried-and-true strategies offer themselves: 1) we thank the other so profusely that he or she is motivated to do the deed again, or 2) we act as if we really did them a favor and that therefore they owe us, for every time they helped us.

Now, the latter strategy won’t do with gods, obviously! Privileged gods and irresistible, superior humans are beyond accepting favors. Any sacrifice performed at their altar is a duty to our own salvation, since they could not possibly need anything we could offer.

Which brings me to the most current version of DNR: “Do Not Reply.” The corporate world and automated messaging services send us this veiled warning, lest we forget that they are dead to us, do not care what we may have to say. It is rather like their universal blasts of advertising messages, with the “do not ask questions, just buy what you are supposed to buy” anonymity attached.

to be seen and not heard

to be seen and not heard

On the interpersonal level, the tough-minded know that it is not good for the baby if we keep responding to his or her cries for help, nor is it good for people in need if we, by responding, do not allow them to help themselves. And if a child is all excited about something she has created, don’t encourage her or she will become a nuisance.

Perhaps we could summarize all of ethics in the one quality: the willingness to respond.

How we respond, and to what extent, will depend on how inclusive, how sensitive, how thoughtful our perception is of the fellow human being. Yet the unwillingness to respond may be at the very root of most unethical behavior.

However, in our utilitarian world, it is even more complicated than that. Much of modern society’s dynamics are geared toward eliminating personal responses and instead sending manipulative messages with the “do not reply” in the very name of the message sender. “I am nobody. Do not try to talk to me. I am not a living being. Do what the message tells you to do and be quiet. Yours is not to reason why, yours is but to do and buy.”

One key to the rising levels of depression, alienation, self-destructive behaviors, the inability to commit to anything but distractions, may indeed lie in our fear of responding to one another, as persons, and not as members of corporate social media: End of Life.

 

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Self Organizing Reverberations

When I was three years old, our chauffeur looked at my once again bandaged knees and remarked that he had heard from our doctor that I am tough. Upon which he said: “I show you what tough is really like,” took a hammer and a nail and proceeded to hammer the nail into his leg. An undefinable sadness crept into my soul: he didn’t have to do that! He didn’t have to do that just to prove his toughness to me. I would never hurt my knee on purpose…

He then pulled up his trousers and showed me his wooden leg, his own leg having been torn off two years earlier, in the war. Asleep later, I had a nightmare of grim-faced men surrounding him and hammering his leg to pieces. The reverberations of seeing him drive the nail into his legs are still with me today. I can still cringe from the pain which I thought he must feel and the loneliness in his soul which I thought I felt within him.

What we do does leave patterns perhaps most of all within ourselves, more so than any external events.

Cymatics: Cornstarch and water under the influence wave vibration

Cymatics: Cornstarch and water under the influence of wave vibration

We know from the studies of cymatics that sounds create patterns even in liquids, and that  chaotic iron filings can be organized into clear patterns by sound waves. If our liquid psyche is at all affected by what is done to us, would it not be equally interesting to think again about what our actions do to our own being?

Even if the outcome of my destructive act were to be benign (against my will), would the waves of my nasty intentions still reorganize my mind, my soul, my self in a way that leaves something like a “post-traumatic stress syndrome” in me, like patterns of the iron filings on a plate? We know that soldiers coming back from wars often have more lasting scars from what they have done than from what was done to them.

The song of iron filings

The song of iron filings

Where is this going? Well, actually I was thinking about a question a friend asked, about the destructive forces of nature, and how they do not seem as bad as our human environmental destructiveness. The friend maintained that even volcanoes have a long-term beneficial effect, in spite of their destructive impact on the environment, if only because lava will become rich soil in many places. Overtones of the Gaya hypothesis came out in the discussion, that everything natural on earth ultimately leads to good outcomes, as if earth heals itself and increases its diversity, as long as we humans don’t interfere.

This does of course leave open the question, what will happen to Gaya and all the diversity once earth dies or is blown to pieces by a huge meteor, etc.. The possibilities of Gaya’s annihilation are actually quite diverse themselves, never mind our special human potential.

Where does that leave our efforts to save the environment, to teach respect for plants and animals, and for “Nature” at least to our children?

In the path of storms

In the path of storms

Another friend sent me a picture of the devastation that the storms have caused this week on the West Coast. Carefully nurtured and protected trees, in an environmentally educated community suddenly thrown aside like so much dead wood. Why care for nature’s plants when nature is itself so ruthless?

In the name of humanity

In the name of humanity

Point is: only we can be ruthless. Only we can introduce patterns of ruthless intentions into nature and into the very structures of our own self. The child that bloodies his knees knows very well the difference between the awkward fall, however painful, as opposed to someone else intentionally bloodying the knee, or someone even bloodying their own legs. And the child will suffer in his or her soul from the reverberations of such intentions – unless the soul is already so scarred and deadened that it no longer feels much of anything. That is why we try to toughen soldiers before they go to war, amputating their ability to resonate with their own actions and their ability to feel with others.

In whatever way our actions may reverberate, in the long run, here on earth or in parallel universes that we do not even understand yet: the reverberations in our own self will be there forever, as the loneliness of the crippled soldier reverberated not only in the three year old but also decades later, just as clearly or even more so, in the old man.

 

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