Monthly Archives: November 2012

Children with hand-grenades

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Here is a video of out dear ex-(and let’s hope it stays that way)mayor. Skip to 1:00 for the main attraction. It exemplifies the ultimate immaturity of so many that run public offices. They’re children. Business minds and lawyers are not technically or emotionally equipped to do what they are tasked with.

So here I’ll express the regret I have that so much energy is expended in the focus on figure-heads and puppet-show controversies like the American abortion debate. There is not much to talk about, don’t dignify anyone who tries to drag it up. Mind your p’s, and don’t like ’em, don’t get ’em.

But we take icons, representations of reality that stir us emotionally, instead of the underlying processes with want addressing; these are messy or scary or ugly, and not nearly as glamorous or inducing of that good ol’ simple “I’m right, motherfucker” sensation. And so they’re ignored. Further, the focus on the root causes of human problems are seen as “oppressive” or “_____-normative”. As if while recognizing what is healthy and unhealthy to eat, one cannot admit the obvious need for variant diets amongst individuals. It does not do egos enough justice to recognize xenophobia or “otheritis” in everyone’s perspective, and ask its correction of everyone. Only those who fit an equally broad-stroke of generality must change themselves, I have “rights” as the “oppressed”. The right to deny reality. I wish I was so blessed (well, by such definitions, I AM, but I don’t wield my challenges, I seek to overcome them).

We are like children with hand-grenades. Please forgive how disjointed this has just become. It’s all one, little darlin’s. Stick with me. We use our very effective tools for the manipulation of reality to try to change reality itself, it seems. We can farm and build and travel so efficiently and effectively that we deny the effects it has upon our homes and selves, and do not even consider them in more than abstract terms on charters and agreements most of the time. We have productive and creative capacity in material venues far exceeding what we’ve collectively managed on a personal and spiritual scale. This is an age old observation. Technology is not -cannot be- a bad thing. But that every person can hold and fire a gun does not endow each with the reason to keep it, for most of its life, empty of bullets. That there exists the possibility to do something does not mean we are ready to do it. My fears in relation to the convergence of technological and biological beings in an advanced way stem not from any sci-fi nonsense, but from the real fear that a system that governs human capability in bionics and super-abilities and health-preserving technology on a monetary basis is ripe for a very disastrous new form of class warfare. Our social values are sick, and old, and useless -in fact outright harmful.

We are gross. We are overt. We are sensationalistic. We are reactive. And very very simple much of the time, but we put clutter in the way, cause the simple facts of reality are… well they’re certainly not a fucking hug from a giant teddy bear. The self-caricature of a self-caricature that are the modern semi-to-popular media (our governments, big journals and rags, major interest groups, UNs and so forth) seeks to put out what will get a reaction from audiences. Due to their nature, some are even directly governed, or are in part, by the reaction of the audience. A cycle develops where no one can rock the boat too much. The common denominator is as often heightened or lowered by mass-delusion or impulse as it is by deliberate propaganda or awareness or understanding. Probably more on the impulsive side, actually.

Taylorism, scientific production, individualization, the specialization inherent in complex systems (though ours mostly cluttered with the useless complexity of commercial production), the worship of the young, beautiful, powerful ego have and the villainizing and oppressing of their opposites and alternatives have given us Carbon Man. The budding appendage homo sapiens sapiens that will in time go extinct, either through it’s own evolution into a Post-Carbon Man, fueled and sustained by other, hopefully cleaner processes, or its own demise, as an oil-dependent economy drives off its cliff, and slowly falls; starvation and mass unrest. The loss of a million Alexandrias in the survival of a fraction of our skilled and learned humans. I do hope we live on as post-carbon people.

This Carbon Man only sees moving, brightly coloured objects. Only feels fear and its opposing vice, righteous rightness. It only sees violence and dominance as its tools for change. It only understands laws and commands, only obeys under threat and duress. It is repressed, and internalizes its role. It becomes a self-appointed guardian of the status-quo. Post-Carbon man is held buoyant on the surface of reality by the child’s wings and rings and jackets. They are intensive (but rarely extensive) bouts of pleasure. The tv-dinner communality of Super Bowl Sunday. Tasty treats and traditional meats. The refuge of popular banality. “Nobody gets THAT far, so I won’t  try”.

The implications this has on our political system are evident: Rob Fords get elected. Rob Fords insensitively offended and ignore thousands of constituents, and, lacking the technical understand of the infrastructure, social systems, ecologies, biologies, and so forth they are tasked with operation, they cannot but fuck up royally. They arouse controversy. They court it, and pursue it down the hall squealing, relishing in the slop of rightness. They must be right. Call them ignorant, call them short-sighted, reactive, naive, or dead, do not call them wrong. But as George Carlin points out, they emerge from among US. We are their source. We produce them, and we are their supplicants. The status quo pumps through the veins of this system. God, I’m rambling.

When we impeach them, the same thing that created them, the basic inability to accept the different, the new, the less immediately pleasurable, the less familiar, proceeds to pump out more. We cannot change the things we must: our fear of death, our monetary-market system and its restriction and burden and violence, even our opinions or choices, lest we be flip-floppers or unfamiliar to those who loved what we were. Conformity, familiarity, and convenience are the girders in a structure that should not stand. Structure, there should be no structure. We are intellectual nomads, following the North Star of the reality as it is, without end or rest, wherever it shall take us. This is our next step.

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The Organism of Knowledge:

Observation, its assessment, documentation and integration with other knowledge, existing or pending, is the manner by which all distinguishable ideas come to evolve. This continuum is important to understand with respect to the way we think about what we believe and why, for information is always separate in its merit from the person or institution communicating or representing. Information can only be evaluated correctly through a systematic process of comparison to other physically verifiable evidence as to its proof or lack thereof.

Likewise, this continuum also implies that there can be no empirical “Origin” of ideas. From a epistemological perspective, knowledge is mostly culminated, processed and expanded through communication amongst our species. The individual, with his or her inherently different life experience and propensities, serves as a custom processing filter by which a given idea can be experienced and represented. Collectively, we individuals comprise what could be called a “group mind” which is the larger order social processor by which the effort of individuals ideally coalesce. The traditional method of data transfer through literature, sharing books from generation to generation, has been a notable path of this Group Mind interaction, for example.

Issac Newton perhaps put this reality best with the statement: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” This is brought up here in order to focus the reader on the critical consideration of data – not a supposed “source” – as there actually is no such thing in an empirical sense, and the co-mingling of ego and science leads provably to controversy and stagnation. Only in the temporal, traditional patterns of culture, such as with literary credits in a textbook for future research reference, is such a recognition technically relevant.There is no statement more erroneous than the declaration that: “This is my idea.” Such notions are byproducts of a material culture that has been reinforced in seeking physical rewards, usually via money, in exchange for the illusion of their “proprietary” creations. Very often an ego association is culminated as well where an individual claims prestige about their “credit” for an idea or invention. All of this hinders the actual process at work, unnecessarily.

Yet, that is not to exclude gratitude and respect for those figures or institutions which have shown dedication and perseverance towards the expansion of knowledge itself, nor to diminish the necessity of importance of those who have achieved a skilled, specialized “expert” status in a particular field. The contributions of brilliant researchers, thinkers and engineers such as R. Buckminster Fuller, Sam Harris, Jeremy Rifkin, Rene Descartes (for all his bullshit), Richard Feinman, Thorstein Veblen, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Dr. James Gilligan, Carl Sagan, Nicola Tesla, Steven Hawking,  Siddharta Goutama and many, many others, past and present, are represented in the concentrate of these words. Great gratitude is expressed here towards all dedicated minds who are working to contribute to an improving world.Yet, once again, when it comes to the level of understanding, information itself has no origin, no loyalty, no price tag, no ego and no bias. It simply manifests, self-corrects and evolves as an organism in and of itself through our collective group mind to which we are all invariably a component vehicle.

So let’s drive.

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I’m full of shit, and my opinions don’t matter.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion!” Are they? What does that mean? In the individual’s search for what is true and effective and appropriate in their world, it is important for them to have creative control over their investigation. If they are to learn how their mind sees things, to learn its language, and decide how to act based on that, then only they can properly decide what their senses and reason and emotion and inexplicable inferences indicate as true. I’d agree with this.

However, this, is not the only circulating connotation of the word ‘opinion’. Inherent in this is a process. Movement. Emergence. Update. And a search for the reality that the inner-and-outer experience corroborate to define. An opinion as defined above is one stone in crossing a river.

An opinion as all-too-popularly defined (in my opinion!) is something else. It is still a mental stance with respect to a fact, value, or another opinion. But it is more final than the first definition (we’ll call that a “present understanding”). Whereas it may be my present understanding that the sun rotates around the earth to produce day and night, and new information may come to light -from others, or my own churning thoughts coming to new inferences- that changes this position, when it is my opinion that this sorry situation is so, I find I’m very apprehensive to change that, and disinterested, even hostile to information that even suggests revision, let alone attempts it. This is the complication of having an opinion, and it is why I think that with respect to my opinions, I’m full of shit, and they don’t matter.

It is my (actual) opinion (so this doesn’t look hypocritical) that marijuana is not as harmful for you as other drugs/addictions. I have done no research on this. I have offered nothing to support this. My opinion has no traction for changing the understandings of others. In fact, I’m probably wrong. I continue to hold this because of the fear of emotions I have while sober, and the craving of those I have while high, and the psychological dependence I have on it. Holding this opinion enables it.

It is my opinion that there shouldn’t be a bridge built here, because it spoils the view from my home, and drive down my property value. But if there is traffic congestion on either side of the other routes across this gorge, and this location has the sturdiest landscape, sparsest wild-life and habitats, and the narrowest span in relation to where traffic is headed, this is where the bridge goes! Beauty is highly subjective to my preference (notwithstanding human dispositions toward the spectrum we can see, possible preferences within that spectrum for red, etc.) and the amount of my well-being at stake is relatively miniscule compared to the energy and time efficiency to be gained by the offending orientation of the bridge for human activity, which has been arrived at with reference to reasons why no other location is as suitable, etc. I, essentially, decide what is beautiful, and it can be so many other ways. There is no reason to listen to me. If, however, I bring up research pertaining to nature deprivation disorder, unforeseen damage to the region or its inhabitant, etc. I now have grounds for consideration.

Finally (sorry to labour the point) I fear death, and feel as if it is to be postponed and avoided by any means available. I have no information on the experience of death, no direct experience with the sensations and mental states involved, and thus no reason to believe as I do that death itself is bad, to be feared, or in any sense negative or to be avoided. To act thus is nonsensical.

This range of example, I hope, illustrates the need for the distinction to be made between opinions and present understandings; between an objective analysis (in relation to the goal: equality, safety, efficiency) and a subjective one (in relation to a reactive response to mental/bodily states).

My interest stems from frustration with the very poor procedures and policies that arise from the unquestioning acceptance of everyone’s right not only to hold their opinions without the responsibility to subject it to external validation/falsification, but to act upon, and expend finite resources upon, and the apparent right to do terrible social & ecological damage so long as a mob-sanctioned man-made book (legal or sacred) doesn’t prohibit it. Just ’cause enough uninformed people agree with them.

We use oil, in increasingly destructive forms (tar sands, shale) and employments (toxic mono-cropping, civilian killing drones), because some people are of the opinion that they have to right to sell it, or others that they have to right to buy and use it in their one-car-per-person, a practice which itself is equally inefficient and harmful to humans (despite the ironic appeals of -you guessed it- opinion to the contrary). I could go into the illusion of rights, but for now we’ll leave it at: they don’t have this right.

We segregate ourselves along all manner of division based on our opinions, derived from highly disparate and personally-interested experiences and cognition, with no little appeal to the commonalities among human organisms, our emotional attachments being enabled by the sacred taboo of criticizing others opinions having over-taken our ability to see what our physical circumstances and mental states tell us objectively. I may feel as if the poor bum asking me for change doesn’t deserve to live in this society if he’s not contributing, when I remember that the people (rich and poor) who have built this system have created the circumstances that put pressure on him to act as he does, I realize that any solution my line of thinking would create (kill the poor, make him to interned labour, stick him in jail) is inadequate as it is based on opinions that do not reference the reality; to touch the elephants tail is not to touch the whole elephant. My present understanding, when updated with information on the incentives and tendencies of the system that is “abused” by the poor, becomes that “the poor” and “the rich” and “the system” (if not already being gross, over-generalizations)  are mutually reinforcing, and in fact, if I widen my definitions (which I may only do if forced to by the insight of others that I ignore or misunderstand) they are all the same thing in different forms. Solutions will need to address all of them at once, and not try to band-aid the parts I personally don’t like, but keep the ones I do. (We clear, PC politics and conservative bigots alike?)

Humans are fallible. Our senses are limited. Our cognition is (increasingly) predictable, and shows many inadequacies, biases, and plain superstitions. We are encouraged to think about ourselves and our benefit. We are largely scared of death, pain, and being ugly, irrelevant, hungry or alone. We have a very conformist tendency (whatever its nature). These are a result of how we have lived up to this point. They have created a mass of divided understandings, and, on the back of a few twisted truths (that we must decide for ourselves, that all have needs that are equal in quality, if not in quantity, etc) these have been often been given immunity from scrutiny, judgement, or denial- but importantly, only where there are large numbers of supporters.

Christianity is a religion.

Mormonism might be a bit odd.

But Scientology is a cult.

The troops are defenders of freedom again terrorism and extremism.

Feminists could be more open to the other side’s perspective.

But Johnathan is just playing the victim.

It’s okay to say cracker on tv.

You might get away with saying beaner late at night.

But you should never say nigger on tv.

These are matters where enough people hold a subjective opinion about an ultimately neutral phenomenon as being more or less positive or negative. And they distort any hopes at effective popular governance and defeat the feasibility of one-vote-per-person Democracy. Without requiring the the relevant understandings be present, recognition be had of biases (both individual and human), and the dispassion, evidence, falsifiability, parsimony, and emergence (etc.) required to ensure relative certainty be employed (that is, without requiring an objective, informed frame of mind towards THE truth, not your truth) we cannot sanely hope for the fruition of our popular movements and their desire to include the input and value of all.

And for you (in my opinion!) laborious people who would still tell me “You can’t BE objective- morality cannot be treated like a fact-finding mission. Everyone is entitled to choose their morality and you have to respect it,” please consider this.

I got my mind on my money, and my money on my breaking back.

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I Can’t Roll My Eyes Hard Enough

“We don’t need men’s studies to understand men,

we have women’s studies.”

 

Fighting sexism with… d’oh god.

BC Suicide Pact and How Doctors Won’t Help… Much

I’ve read of a recently publicized (heretofore unsuccessful) suicide pact made by a group of young ‘Natives’*, around 12-15 years old, and that story can be found here. Under pressure undisclosed in the article, they have been narrowly prevented from completing this pact, not before many of the poor things drank themselves unconscious. Now of course the pressures in action here are no secret, especially if one makes a habit of looking for them.

The homes and ways of life many of these children’s ancestors had established, not always peaceful or healthy themselves, were rendered utterly impossible, disintegrated, and demoralized by the arrival of European disease, religion, and trade opportunity. Combined brute force from Europeans, the poor foresight of the human mind, and the compounding dependence of Natives on Europeans has taken a once strong, proud, and largely effective culture and smashed it to pieces. Further, it’s glued some of those pieces awkwardly to a piece of cardboard and handed it back as if in genuine reparation of the damage. Sadly, the methods we employ do not come close to addressing the root causes of the problems now experienced by the Natives of Canada, and indeed almost every ‘treatment’ applied anywhere, created by the system in place, mandatorally ignores the role of the abstract profit motive, the ownership of natural resources, and the lack of basic elements of self-actualization in the solutions that are applied to such problems as suicide pacts among disoriented, traumatized youth. Some pay lip service to these, but, by virtue of the paradigm that got them elected or hired, they are unable to challenge it’s governing principles, which themselves are the problem.

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I was hospitalized recently for a minor mental breakdown I had on my university campus. I was crying loudly into the coat I’d bunched up over my face, and when I came up for air, campus security had arrived. Here is a case-in-point of the fundamental inadequacy of both systemic responses to depressed/demoralized/suicidal people, and to after-the-fact solutions to these situations in general.

Security and I talk for a while, and while the conversation is the “good advice” that any person reasonably accepting of reality knows, but of course, it never helps in the moment. ‘Cause it’s not (only) a lack of intellectual understanding that causes us to do the detrimental things we do to our selves and others. The police then arrive, running through the procedures they’re required to do, necessitated by the mass anonymity of our culture. Because they don’t know me, they have to assume to worst and prepare for that. They were polite (moreso than I) and took me to the hospital (voluntarily at this point) to “talk to someone”.

I’m left there alone, and promptly lose all the progress I’d made in calming myself. I get in about 30 minutes later, still convulsing with unreasonable cognitive dissonance. I couldn’t tell you (both in genuine ignorance and privacy) what I was upset over, but that’s not the point anyhow. I’m visited by an MD first, and after 2 minutes of discussion he leaves. I’m then called a ‘form 1’, a person likely to be a harm to themself or others, despite my clear acknowledgement that people usually come in for these reasons, and sensible explanation that I wasn’t one. Again, how can the doctor trust this well-spoken, even charming kid? He doesn’t know me. Perhaps I’m a gifted sociopath who will jump a bridge the second I’m let out. Again, not in genuine compassion, but due to legal obligation, I’m restricted unnecessarily for 6 hours, greatly exacerbating the stress. Resistance, including not donning the hospital gown, would find me restrained and forcibly clothed. Motherfuck. My meditation practice kicks in, and I swallow a hard reality. Had I ACTUALLY been suicidal, I’d have been much more likely to attempt and succeed by this point, directly due to “the help I needed”, as the article refers such “rescues” by hospitals. I request politely to be revisited by this doctor, and when declined, I offer several suggests to help further what I must assume is their goal: Ensure the safety, comfort, and de-escalation of mentally-suffering patients. Going for a supervised walk. Wearing my clothes. The psychiatrist hurrying the fuck up for fuck’s sake (kept this one to myself). Nothing.

Needless to say, psych arrives, and I’m declared fit to leave within about the same time as it took the MD to not get to know me and pass superficial judgement upon someone practically blindly. The psych at least seemed to know to take me seriously, at face value, and to establish if I was of sound mind and reason with me accordingly. I was, and she did, and I left fucking pissed, not even wanting to talk, as I had simply come to do.

And this is what the false-alarms go through. The interment and sterility and impersonality, save the few compassionate nurses you’ll find, that mental-health patients experience is not help. Help would be the presence of familiar (if also some unfamiliar) supports who understand individual needs, in a scientifically designed comforting space (colour, composition, etc. of a space provably increases or decreases, stress- white fucking walls and bleach-smell don’t do any good for anyone). Further, the provision of socialization, social-identity and a place in the community, basic food, water, shelter, exercise and liberated spare-time, and an instilled love of learning and understanding of co-operation, acceptance, patience, and impermanence are the ingredients needed to preclude suicidal feelings in the first place. I stop talking when I don’t know what I’m talking about, so how to create these for every individual I won’t comment on. However, we do need to acknowledge the flaws inherent to the system we all choose to live in, the unavoidable effects they have in deprivation, scarcity, differential advantage, excessive and avoidable social stratification, unhealthy competition, materialism, and ego. If we wanna actually change things, I mean. Otherwise just keep saying “Yes we can” and keep your face in your ass.

In fact, the most important realization we have yet to make is that most people are mentally unhealthy, in preventable curable ways, as a direct result of this system. But this point will take me down too long a road for the present, so I’ll leave with that.

 *In quotes and capitalized to distinguish the proper noun, frankly founded on faulty reasoning, from the actual definition of the word, ‘one who originates from x’, ’cause who on this planet is an alien or foreigner? The lines we draw (and even those drawn by the sea as it rises and falls over time, altering our coasts in the process) are not real, and thus a native of what we call Canada is an arbitrary distinction, both because it’s just Earth of which we are all equally native and entitled, and because there’s no reason to give humans the dominion over it, nor have the people alive today (or even all of their ancestors) necessarily and provably been the “first” to live on any given portion of the land. And then, even if they WERE, nothing follows that gives them more or original rights to anything about the land. Traditonal or historical agreements with an equally unauthorized “government”? Fuck off. It’s an important distinction to make, I feel, if we are to live as a united species in a holistic understanding of reality, a prerequisite to peace and sustainability, inner and outer.

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