Archive for the ‘ Free Will ’ Category

Lonely?

There are times when we find ourselves alone. Those times are judged not by how we survive it but by how we relish in it. We are born alone, we walk alone, and we will die alone for no other can be in our minds with us. For me this is a deeply held belief, a mantra, a reality check.

Oh, we all have the voice inside us that we talk to so we’re never really alone. The two people in your head are always together, like twins sharing the same thoughts. Just the same, life will leave us in a state where we are alone. From inside our heads, away from the world – outside of it, the world is just a game. When I am alone I am the only one in existence, the only reality. The rest of it? The rest of it can burn and I’m bringing marshmallows.

Let It Burn

I’ve walked a long way and for a long time, across scorched earth. Keeping myself warm on the dying embers of the world around me. My voice and I have run amok, just to be there to watch the fire burn. It doesn’t  matter what’s burning, it doesn’t matter what some think it’s worth. Burn it must because it’s just a game. From this side of the fire I’ve never met anyone else. I’ve been alone here for eternity.

I’ve been searching for someone, anyone but gave up, fearing there were none to be found. Here, in this place, a person has to have matches and be ready to make smores. Entertainment is free if you’re a pyro. Let it burn. Still, I found someone here amongst the embers and flames.

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Now there is a third voice. I no longer walk completely alone. It might kill me but I like the company here among the embers.

Who in your world sees the embers of it burning? Who in your world would light the world on fire to keep you warm? Who in your world could banish the cold and lonely, drink a toast with you and watch it burn? Who in your world is that third voice, faint as it might some days seem? No third voice? Let it burn.

Dark Corners And Rage: Part 2 The Eulogy

I think that I’ll start this with an apology that Part 1 is and will remain private.

I am a philosophical nihilist, monist, materialist, anti-theist, atomist and so on. There are those that think such people have no moral compass or reason to live and so on. I stand here in sharp contrast to those people’s ideas.

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The truth of the matter is that there is no intrinsic meaning or purpose to life and further that even those who think there is make up their own meaning to their lives. They just pretend it is about something else that none of us can see or test.

Despite the confusion over what these labels mean and what a person of these labels may or may not be or feel, I have deeply held beliefs. One of those deeply held beliefs is that the only thing we have is our experiences, our memories. These are all that we carry with us no matter where we go and no matter our situation in life. These things are intrinsically part of who we are. They _are_ important. As such, I am not averse to experiencing everything I can … even if it is painful or hurtful or harmful. To truly know what life is and what it means to be alive I believe that you have to experience it. I don’t think that selectively choosing what to experience is being in control of yourself. No, facing those experiences with the gusto of Hercules is being in control. You can’t say that you know what a hurricane is like till you’ve weathered one out. Life gives us hurricanes here and there. I try to face them, revel in it, languor in the experience of it.

Another firmly held belief I hold is that it is not possible to truly hold an understanding of what it means to be alive unless you have shared moments of compassion with another life. To accept and show compassion to another life, big or small, is to understand the reality of possibilities in connecting with another being. We live, trapped in our minds, visited only by vague impulses that render for us some representation of what it is like outside our minds. To connect with those senses to another mind at some level of compassion is a vital experience. One that we should not miss out on.

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DARK CORNERS

Very recently I was given just such a hurricane experience. It appeared suddenly and I had no time to prepare. From content and safe to swallowed by the storm. I told myself that I would stand and watch it, weather it out, experience it. When it fell upon me in full force I ran for cover. I found a dark corner and I hunkered down and hid, hoping it would lessen, that the storm would fizzle out some how. It was not to be so. There I huddled against the cold comfort of my former bravery, in the dark and lashing out at anything that came near me.

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RAGE

As I prepared for the rage of the storm I became angry. Why do I have to experience this? Why can anyone or anything take away from me a friend that I have shared moments of compassion with? What gives them a right? What did I do to the universe that I must experience this pain and grief? Why is it necessary that my friend must die? Why? I became angry. I filled with rage and wanted to go berserk. I wanted to be the storm, I wanted to be more powerful than the storm. And so I raged… I felt it fully. I wanted to kill. I wanted to rampage and leave carnage and death in retaliation for the storm.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

— Dylan Thomas

I was not stronger than the storm. I could not rage enough. I could not make it go away.

Part 2: The Eulogy

Today I lost my friend. A dear friend of 16 years. He never let me down, always spoke in ways to cheer me and sooth the angers of living in the game of life. He was one of my reasons to live at one time, he helped me through many tough times. Speaking just enough to let me know how much he cares. He supported me with all that he was, always ready to show his pleasure at being near me. He was, is, my friend.

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I held his weakened body in my arms, spoke in soothing sounds to calm him.

As the first plunger sent him to sleep, no longer able to make soothing sounds, my chest began to heave.

As the second plunger slowed his heart my arms began to shake, my tears unnoticed by his stilled eyes.

I was born alone, I walk alone, and I will die alone. I know that in the grand scheme of the universe my life is no more important than that of my friend. I feel pain and grief and ANGER that such can pass with so very few people even giving a damn. My life will pass as well. It will end  and I will be no more important to the world than my friend was as I held him today.

I have experienced this anger today for the second time in my life. It opened a dark place that I must now climb out of, to find respite from the game of life. I will miss my friend. He was never in the game with me, always waiting outside for my arrival. I will miss him like I would miss a finger. It is fair and right and normal that his life must come to an end. Even normal that I should experience the pain and grief. That didn’t make it fun. He was my friend. I am partly who I am because of him. He is part of my experience, part of my memory. He is important. Even if not one other person feels the same anger, pain, and grief, I will. I cannot be me without the memories and experiences of my friend.

I’m sorry if anyone felt the anger of my grief. I am not sorry that I grieve. I must grieve for a part of who I am no longer is. A part of me stopped existing today. Frozen in the vault of memories in my mind. I am better for both the memories and compassion and for the experience of knowing him and losing him. I am alive. His last breath was spent telling me that I am.

I will miss him.

How Are Your Demons Today?

You have stopped by and said hello to them today, right? You probably should have if you did not. They can’t live without you and if you know they exist you can’t live without them.

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Demon: an evil spirit or devil, especially one thought to possess a person or act as a tormentor in hell.

We usually do not think of demons as something we are responsible for. They instead are responsible for our bad behavior, bad luck, bad life. People talk about inner demons or personal demons as a way of saying that we are responsible for them, yet we are not responsible because it was the demon that made us do that thing or the other thing.

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NOTE: There are habits we cannot easily control. If you have a substance related problem, that ‘demon’ is not just in your head. You will need professional help to get rid of it in all probability.

That warning is not to say that those who smoke can’t get rid of the habit without help or, for that matter, other addictions. Some people are stronger or more desperate than others. Such things vary from person to person. I don’t want to talk about those types of situations. Those situations are not simply in your head, there is a physical component that you cannot will to go away. Our brains are amazing but it is simply not a switch that you can turn on and off at will when there is a chemical component to your bad thinking. It should be noted that monkeys, dolphins, and in fact many mammals [1] [2] [3] have a penchant for using substances to experience an altered reality.

If you want to know what it takes to kill a bad habit with physical components, stop eating for 3 days. Drink water, get lots of sleep but do not eat. That will show you what a physical addiction can be like.

The astute among you will ask “if those people can have physical conditions why can’t mine be a physical condition?” and you are right to ask that. All these ‘personal demons’ have a common component – how we think and the behavior we exhibit based on how we think.

Do other people see your demons as harmless or pretty? Do they think you might be silly?

If your demon is harmless or pretty, is it really a demon? It is if it stops you from being the person that you wan to be. Let’s think about this for a minute. Without much effort I’ve talked about demons like they are an entity and not a thought pattern in your head or a behavior based on thoughts in your head. Let’s stop talking about them like they are external entities. Let’s stop laying the blame for our bad luck or bad lives on something that is not us.

Let’s not talk about major life issues or physical issues as demons. The demons we want to talk about are the small ones, the little buggers you keep tripping over as you go through life.

What people tend to call their demons are thought patterns or behavior patterns which they do not find easy to change and which bring them bad luck, bad life, bad fortune. Those demons are actually us. We are those demons despite something in us not wanting to be those demons. It is when we are tired of the demon that we change. Some might say “well, I don’t know how to change” and there is more than a grain of truth to that. Many of us form our bad thought patterns (and subsequent behavior patterns) based on the only frame of reference that we know – our lives. When our entire life has been filled with those bad thinking patterns and bad behavior patters just how is it that we are supposed to change?

This can quickly get off on the wrong garden path, so stay with me. We are not responsible for what other people do. We cannot change the past. If your bad thinking is based on one or both of those I have something to tell you. We can only be responsible for what we do ourselves. We can only change how we react to things in this moment. The past and the future are outside what we can change. We can only change how we act in this moment. Did that sink in? You can only be who you are in this moment. If you choose to be brave, this moment does not have to be based on anything in your past nor anything others think of you whether they actually do or you just worry that they do.

Most people are in some way afraid of their demons. I say this is exactly the wrong way to look at it. Grab your demon by the hand every day, dance, dance till you know their every move. Learn to lead the demon.

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The continuous dance with your ‘demons’

You can learn to lead your demon if you truly want to be the dominant partner in the dance. When you refuse to dance, dance you will but the demon leads. But how are you to lead your demons? First you must know them, intimately. Not what they want you to think but what they don’t want you to think of them. You have to recognize when they are trying to lead, and change the tune.

Hey MAL, that’s all good to put in a blog but how does that help me?

When you lead the dance, the movements are yours, even when it appears the demon is leading in those times when you choose to let your bad thinking lead. We grow up and many of us learn bad thinking from people that we trust and there is no certain way to learn new habits or forget the past learning. It’s not like one day you wake up and know how life is supposed to be and all the bad thinking is suddenly gone. No, like it was as you were a child, such learning takes time and practice. Time and practice.

Hey MAL, how am I supposed to get time and practice?

Every day, your ‘personal demons’ will come to dance. When they arrive, practice. Time happens on it’s own.

But what do I practice?

Do exactly what your demon doesn’t want. Soon you’ll see small victories, then larger, and before you know it you’ll have forgotten all about that demon. You know what your demon wants or you would not have compartmentalized it to a demon. All you have to do is treat that behavior or thought pattern as if it would kill you or make you deathly sick. When you are more afraid of giving in to the demon than what the demon might have you do, it will not be long before you forget the demon altogether.

Reflection and honest assessment of what displeases you about your behavior (your demon) is required. Sometimes that is kind of nasty. Do it anyway. If you can’t be honest with yourself that demon will never leave. Practice long enough and you’ll see that demon trying to get back into your life. Once you’ve gotten rid of them it’s not hard to keep them at bay.

Hey MAL, what should I tell others about my demons?

Don’t do that. It’s a personal war you have to wage. Sure, you might seek therapy help but your therapist will not dance with your demons, only you will. Therapists offer help and guidance but you still have to do the dancing no matter how much you pay the therapist.

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There are things which cannot be mitigated by desire to fight them however all of us dance with the demons that can be. You are strong enough to change your behaviors. When you find that you simply can’t do so, seek help. Most of our troubles are just a matter of how we dance with the demons. Even for those whose demons are not imagined but physical, they deal with the imagined demons too. The imagined demons can be beaten. You can change your behaviors. You can do what the demons don’t want you to do. In this case, what does not kill you does make you stronger when you are dancing and trying to take the lead.

Now, get up and dance!

Stuff You Say When You Are Stoned!

Oh, I know that this could be a long running series but I only intend to make this one post. I think the video says all you need to know when you understand that this is the kind of stuff you say when you’re higher than a kite. We tend to forgive people for stuff they say when they’re high because we know that their brain is not working as it should and the owner of that brain is enjoying the malfunction. If this guy claims he’s not high you can go ahead and laugh at him because he’s clearly stoned out of his mind.

 

Wait a minute, this bag of flatulence is allowed to vote. Seriously, why do believers wonder why non-believers laugh at them and want them locked up?

If you believe in the same book and the same god as this jerk (see what I did there?) could you please explain what is wrong with him? What exactly did he read in your holy book that tells him this stuff?

I Did An Experiment

Let me start by apologizing. I did an experiment. My previous post, rather than presenting my thoughts on a topic, simply stated one perspective on a problem much bigger than the perspective would allow. I did this with the thought in mind that my followers are generally quite thoughtful and intelligent and as a result I should see at least a couple other perspectives on the same problem. I was right. Each perspective showed we humans as one of the four blind men holding on to part of an elephant and describing what it must be.

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Perspective is everything. The problems of humanity, the dramas of our species, very seldom change. Sure, there is a change in the props on the set and perhaps the demographics of the audience but the plays remain the same as they have been for hundreds of thousands of year or longer. Fear drives us. Without it we’d happily gorge ourselves, raise children, and die. We’d never give a thought to anything else. The one thing that makes us human; the defining attribute of humanity … is fear. Yes, fear. Fear for our food, fear for our children, fear for our freedoms, fear for our happiness, fear for our lives, fear for our existence. Fear is everything to humans.

What does that have to do with the video and the post? That video illustrates one counter point perspective on a big fear, xenophobia. Fear of those that are different. We humans have a very long history of not celebrating differences. Multiculturalism does not work exactly because you cannot mix multiple xenophobic cultures and hope to find a pasteurized common culture at the end. They will clash and one will become dominant. This _is_ human nature or the nature of the human species. One can spend hours arguing for the esoteric or ideals of altruism but in the end we have to admit that this is how humanity works. It is what made humanity the most dangerous species on this planet and what will make us the most dangerous species in this galaxy.

I recently commented that the war between the states was not about emancipation, rather it was about federation over states rights and ‘manifest destiny’ over isolationist views. That war, atrocious as it was, remains very important in that there were three sides: north, south, and antipathy. One dominated and the world was changed forever. Now we have the EU, NATO, North America, United Nations, BRIC countries, remnants of the British Empire and so on. Do you see a trend? The world is like a school yard playground and people are choosing sides. They will clash, one will dominate, and the species will continue on in the ‘new’ political paradigm. That civil war will have to be fought again and again until we are one people, one community, one group. The mechanics of this political mechanism will never allow us to create equality because true equality is the dismantling of the very mechanisms that make us successful. And we wonder what happened to the Neanderthals!

In my opinion the one hope that we have is to begin celebrating differences and to use our resources to empower the individual rather than the group. When the focus is on the individual and not the culture then value and importance is placed on the individual rather than the culture or the politics or the ideology. Should we make heroes of individuals? Not really. I’m talking more about socialism through individual empowerment. To empower each individual requires a socialist perspective. Yeah, I know, socialism is a dirty word for many. So what does that mean?

SOCIALISM: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

See that word community there? If we replace them with the words ‘human species’ things change drastically. The community is no longer individual cultures but the species itself. Contributors to the world stage are no longer states or countries but individuals. I don’t think it is too late for us to empower individuals through socialist protections of those individuals and society itself.

[[ I was going to put a picture here of tribal hatred but when you look at what Google serves up it is a short lesson in humanity. There is no representative picture of tribal hatred there is only every picture ever made of humanity. ]]

Yes, I’m very aware that treating all as equal will give rise to a raucous noise of ideas and desires and wants by the many people. Currently we filter those through a strainer we normally like to call culture. In fact, culture is a set of values and rules we use to strain out anything that does not fit our generalized and accepted ideals. That’s all that culture is. If you move one person from one culture to another they adapt to the new culture.

The video argues against treating all boys the same, and worse treating all boys the same as girls. It does not stop to say that treating all girls the same is bad also. The perspective of the speaker is the harm done to boys but the problem is that we are trying to treat all people the same, like brown shirts of WWII Germany. The speaker’s perspective was not that we should treat boys as individuals with individual responsibility to society but that we shouldn’t treat them all the same and expect them to be like girls. The speaker only addresses a small tip of a large iceberg. Even in a single class you can’t classify all girls the same – they are different! GASP

The political ideals that treat us all with labels are dangerous in this modern time. (religion, feminism, political parties and so on) They are dangerous because they promote the ideal that our value is based on culture and what other people think of us. People tend to rebel against this kind of thinking. They check out mentally, stop being productive, stop helping others. They can’t conform to the values demanded by the culture. Whether the culture is that of feminism or conservative politics etc. it alienates some even as it invigorates others. The divisiveness of group think in humans will always end with one group dominating and the other group(s) disappearing. You can rewrite that a bit to arrive at a theoretical formula for equality. When you do you’ll find that feminism as a group ironically cannot create equality for all. They can’t even support equality for all. I may seem to be picking on feminism but it seems topical these days. The very same can be said of any religious sect. Let’s take Islamic State as a quick example. They are not even going to try to create equality. They very honestly want to be the dominant ideology on the planet. We will all be alive to see their demise because there are so many other groups that cannot tolerate such thinking outside of their own halls of power.

One commenter went to great lengths to point out the problem with statistics. I appreciate that. Labels eliminate the outliers and exceptions. Labels eliminate the individual just as statistics are used to do most of the time.

Though the video tries to tell us that boys are being harmed I have to say that if equality is really the goal, any viewer should realize the video is showing us how we are all harmed when we fail to recognize the individual and treat everyone as a label. In this perspective it is boys that are harmed but what damage will that do later in life when they become fathers and husbands? We are all harmed by inequality, every kind or form of it. No group or political agenda can create equality. It has to come from each of us in how we treat others for that is the only way to change culture permanently. Only when we have a culture of equality will we be able to filter out what is not equality. This is an egg and chicken problem, for certain. A conundrum that can only be answered by asking the right questions and calling out those that ask the wrong ones.

We must take our self worth from personal values not those of society or community or even worse the government we didn’t pick. Individual value is the only path to equality under the law. Those that do not teach this have missed the point entirely. My value is not what you think of me, not what the government thinks of me, not what the universe thinks of me. My value is what I think of me. I am an individual. Until most other humans are also individuals under the law and in the culture – well, we can only function as a label. Labels compete with one another until there is dominance and victory. Individuals are more likely to show empathy than groups. Mob rules and all that.

Think. Be an individual. Teach children to be individuals.

 

Racists, Bigots, Multicultural … Out On A Limb

I shouldn’t have to show you pictures of or tell you about Charleston, McKinney, Baltimore, and other places which have been in the news lately. As proven by thousands of blog posts and news broadcasts there are a many opinions about what is wrong and why it is wrong and why the other group who is complaining is wrong.

The fundamentalists told us the mass killings in schools was because there was no god allowed in schools, now they tell us that it’s the gay agenda that got the Charleston 9 killed. Everyone is busy blaming everyone and everything else as the cause of the violence, hatred, and … well… humans being humans.

We hear a lot about how feminists think society should be or at least what they think is wrong. Blacks tell us what they think is wrong. Each political party tells us what they think is wrong. In fact there is an endless stream of people and groups that are more than willing to tell the rest of us what is wrong with the world today, or society, or that other country etc.

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I have my own ideas about who is to blame and what groups we could do without. My unspoken knee-jerk reactions would make vehement fundamentalists look like babes in cradles should I let them fester and act on them. I’m not here to talk about those or such from other people. In fact I’m not here to talk in this post other than to ask a simple question of all who read this.

What does a society without racism, bigotry, cultural hatred and similar items look like? Maybe you’ve only thought what it would be like without violent cops. Maybe you’ve only thought of what it would be like without gender inequality. Maybe you’ve only thought about what it would be like with equality under the law for all people. No matter what your pet project is I want to know what you think a society would look like that did not have hatred, racism, bigotry, fundamentalism, gender inequality, sexual orientation discrimination and so on. What would that world or country look like?

Between this current world we live in and the utopian world I’ve asked about, what are the low hanging fruits that we can work together to start us on that path to the world without the worst parts of humanity?

Go on, I want to hear it in the comments. I want to know what we are supposed to do to fix the giant fucking mess we humans have made of life and living. I want to hear how we fix it not what is wrong with it.

So tell us, what does a ‘perfect’ world look like? How does it work? Where would you fit in that world? Where would McKinney cops fit in that world? Where would former racists (of every color) fit in that world?

I know many may read this. Some may even click the like button. What I really want is to hear what a ‘perfect’ society would be like. Let’s have that discussion here.

Why Praying Is Hard

It used to be easy for me when I believed that it did something useful. Then I wondered why an omniscient creator god needed to hear from me to guide his perfect plan. Then I wondered why his perfect plan included so much pain and suffering in the world. Then I learned statistics.

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On any given day there will be a sizable portion of the population of which it can be said “it sucks to be you.” It’s hard to remember that when it’s my day to have a sucky life. These days are the ones that I used to pray about. It never did any good. Sometimes, drinking few fingers of Scotch and playing with my dogs makes it better. Some days there is nothing for it but a few aspirin and more sleep than normal.

In the end, no matter what your philosophical position is, none of us have it all figured out. Some days or weeks just suck, badly.
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When that happens, I try to meditate, relax, remind myself that it will pass because it will pass. I’m not talking about first world problems or fears about imaginary things. I’m talking about real life that grabs me and shakes me and won’t let go till I somehow figure out how to solve the problem. Without a solution at hand it often enough feels like a good scotch and some tearful moments will fix things. Perhaps even an attempt to ignore them will do it. Sadly, nothing like that really works.

Instead of prayer I sit and talk with myself. Amazingly there is a sound thinking part of me willing to have the conversation. I complain and that other part of me tells me it’s just one of those days so buck up sunshine, till you do something nothing will change. It would be nice to have a skydaddy that would fix it all for me but there is none. Even when I pretended there was, it was me that did all the hard work.
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If I can do this anyone can. I’m juggling 153 things at once and I just want to put some of them down. No such luck. I just have to soldier on. Writing this is not helping me do any of them but it is allowing me to have that internal conversation that I need. Do a few more things tonight, wake up, shower, do some more of them. Keep doing that till there is room to breathe or sleep. That is all I have. It’s the only plan I’ve got. The weight on my shoulders will not go away till I shed it myself. Praying would not fix it. In fact, praying would be no more effective than me writing this post.

That’s how this nihilist anti-theist does it.

How do you deal with shitty days?

How To Think Like A Baby, Why That Is A Good Idea

That title can lead a lot of places so some of you may be wondering where this is going to go. Well, it’s movie night or at least video night. I’ve got two videos for you to watch on the topic of babies and what or how they think.I know that 45 minutes is a long time to carve out of your day but I think both of these are worth watching. The second one can be understood with just the audio for the most part.

Some of my regular readers will be aware that I think we humans are meat machines with grand computers between our ears. I’ll go ahead and say it here, we are born blank slates with no reason to even think there are imaginary or invisible beings that created all that is existence. This first video goes a long way to explaining why we might be thinking there are gods by the time we are 5 years old.

Our brains are given to us with little to no meta-data about the world. We do not know red or round or hot or that sometimes all three belong to the same object. These are things we must learn as children. We learn from our parents and our surroundings. When all we know insists that there is an invisible being that created all existence and watches when we masturbate it is completely natural that our brains would accept this as true. The experiments in the first video hint at this without going that far.

In the second video the speaker talks about babies doing something that we like to call critical thinking. Don’t rule out options a priori, explore the evidence and then make a decision.

Our brains are brilliant at several things and from the time we open our eyes (if not before) they are doing just that. One of those things I think is hugely important to intelligence is to acquire and assign meta data about the objects we find in the world around us so that we can simulate those objects in our brain. Linguists study how we use communication as do authors and others. When I say “I like driving my vehicle except when other drivers are careless” I have communicated an incomplete idea. Your human brain will, in an attempt to simulate the idea in your brain, assign ‘reasonable’ meta data to the objects in the story. You will have done one or more of the following as you read that sentence:

  • envisioned what kind of vehicle I drive
  • where I am driving
  • the type of traffic
  • what it means when I say drivers being careless

The reason that your brain does this is because you have to simulate the idea in your head to comprehend it. Even if someone is talking to you over the phone you can see how you imagine in your head what the story is doing even as it is being told. Critical thinking is about not using your own meta data but investigating until you have all the meta-data required to replicate the idea in your brain rather than simply simulate an approximation of it. The critical thinker will ask

  • what kind of vehicle
  • where I am driving (highway, small country lane etc)
  • is the road busy or near empty?
  • By careless do I mean talking and texting while driving, not using proper signals, or something else.

Most of the human race likes to take short cuts in communication. You can think of hundreds of ways that you do so every day. The better thing is to not accept short cuts from others, especially those with a reason to confuse you or lie to you. Politicians and preachers come to mind. Even if they are not trying to confuse you on purpose and their intent is good, do not accept short cuts. Don’t fill in any of the details for yourself. Make them give you every detail of the ideas they are trying to convey. This is exactly what children are doing as they learn about the world. They will make inferences about what they are shown. The isolation that religion creates is bad. If you showed kids of 2 years old that people go to all kinds of churches it would be very helpful to those children. Most religious groups are guilty of abusing the children in their care simply because they isolate the learning mind of that child from the other possibilities.

I suspect that boredom or the ‘know it all’ syndrome in teens stems from not having enough to learn or the challenge to learn it. This is where I think our learning institutions could do much more and exactly why they should be better funded. Who knows how many geniuses fell prey to ‘boredom’ and never expressed the genius in them?

 

 

Moon Stories – Fountain Of Wisdom

Don’t ask me about the title. Moon stories these will be and you’ll know what kind they are by the label. You can read Heavy Construction too. I think I’ll make a page for them.

 

Everyone knows what drinking fountains look like, or should. This is a story that starts with one much like the one pictured here. As you can see it’s not all that special and has just enough ‘stuff’ to qualify as a drinking fountain that you might find in an elementary school. The fountain of the title looked much like this _and_ was to be found in a school. It might still be there if you were interested in looking.

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Still, it was an ordinary drinking fountain until one day at lunch when I happened to be standing in line to get my school lunch. To me it seemed like a long line but there were probably 100 kids or so in the line wrapped around the outside of the lunch room which doubled as theater. Nothing special should have happened that day at lunch but that drinking fountain changed my life forever. Now I’m not going to tell you that actually drinking from the fountain imbued into me some sort of wisdom. No. The wisdom, if I can call it that, was given to me for using the fountain the wrong way. A great many discoveries are made this way and some of them are good. I’m calling this one good.

So there I was standing in line, anticipation of 8 ounces of milk and something that was not a baloney sandwich when the guy in front of me went to get a drink of water from this fountain of wisdom. He probably grew up to be the class clown type, not because he drank funny, but because as he finished he thought it would be funny to splash me with some water. Even at 6 years old I was none too fond of this type of behavior. Anger leads to action and before I could voice my disapproval there were a few pushes. Not happy with the outcome I reached to the fountain and scraped my hand across the basin to splash him with considerably more water than he’d gotten on me. One would think that this would be victory but there was no time to celebrate because a teacher’s hands were milliseconds in reaching my wrists. I cannot tell you what words she used, only that she was not happy. Before I could contemplate the fact that this now all seemed to be my fault I was being told I was going to the principals office despite my protestation that I did not start the great lunchroom brawl.

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When you’re 6 years old the principal ranks pretty damn high on the list of authority figures. Having to go see him was definitely a situation that called for regret and fear.

So there I sat in the principal’s office, waiting to be punished in some unknowable way. I was probably waiting for him to finish his lunch but who knows. It seemed many minutes of anticipatory terror for my 6 year old brain. Finally I got called into his office. I sat down stoically. I can’t remember everything but he basically gave me the ‘good cop’ routine. Probably because I looked like I was ready for the bad one. No matter what I had to say he was convinced that I was the problem and that I needed to learn to resolve my issues in non-violent ways. His words and body language let me know that I’d not be harmed but I’d have to listen to him tell me I was wrong no matter what. I settled for that given the alternatives I had dreamed up in my head. He seemed like a nice guy by the end of it, though completely lost on the plot of things. I was just relieved that he was only going to talk to me. The following days found me nervous at school. The water fountain ape did not stop with his picking.

Then about a week later we had a new principal. It turns out that Maryland had a thing or 80 against cheap booze and porn. If you were caught importing such into the state without paying state taxes it was a criminal offence. Guess where ‘good cop’ principal was? Yep, jail for the aforementioned offences. He’d managed to break both rules in one go. Of course, at just about the same time as he was breaking the law he was talking down at me and telling me that I need to learn to be better than others, that I need to obey the rules and not cause trouble.

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I’m sure he was a fun guy … maybe

Where is the wisdom already?

That episode did change my life. I learned quite a few things all in one short charade. Authority is not given just to those that deserve it and will bear it well. Sometimes the crooks are in charge no matter how kind or law abiding they appear. Authority figures don’t really care what your problem is or what social justice issues you suffer. They are concerned about their own issues and those will always come before yours. At the drinking fountain I learned that it is not what you do but what people perceive that you do that is important. They will not take time to study the matter and come to a conclusion based on the evidence unless forced to upon penalty of contempt of court etc. I also learned that you can’t trust authority blindly because it is often enough wrong despite any good intentions. That boy taught me what all politicians know, what they buy their groceries with: If you can avoid being seen doing wrong the public will side with you. Justice, as precious as it is, is rarely meted out with accuracy. I also learned that it’s not always true but it’s worth betting that the best liar will always win.

I’m not a teacher or paediatric psychologist but I can guarantee you that children are learning life lessons from about the time that they can talk.

What did you learn in the first grade?

 

 

 

Moon Stories – Heavy Construction

Don’t ask me about the title. Moon stories these will be and you’ll know what kind they are by the label.

Every one of us has stories in our heads from long ago (whatever that means to each of us) that make us who we are. Each story is a little part of us and how we came to be who we are. This is one of those immortal stories that we keep like dreams in jar.

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What we see here are classic Matchbox imagination vehicles. Heavy duty work equipment. They’re not built for speed, they’re built for doing _stuff_ and despite my precociousness at the time, I had only a vague idea of what ‘doing stuff’ really meant. Look at these paragons of American nostalgia. Forget Ford Tough, nothing beats a Matchbox! These things go on forever. In case you are wondering these are the actual toys I played with when I was about 4. I might have been as young as 3 but my memory doesn’t give me that information. I remember these two vehicles with grand splendor. Yes, those are the right words. I learned a lot with these two particular little toys.

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I remember the house I lived in, that I was much shorter than a 50 gal barrel, and that I still ate in a high chair and could not talk much. It was all I could do to beg my parents to buy me a coocoo for coacoa puffs cookoo clock. It was quite a bit of money back then and I saved cereal box tops to help ‘pay’ for it.

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I can’t remember what major construction project I was working on with these two vehicles under the wrap around deck on a 1950’s duplex, but I know it was more important than lunch a couple of days. Had I known then what I know about project management I’d have certainly told the boss (mum) that the truck is unsuitable because it doesn’t have a dump bed and the tow truck simply has the wrong kind of equipment to get my truck out of the mess if it gets stuck and I need a front end loader to load the dump truck properly.

Even then I was independent and I had imagination (and not many Matchbox cars). So it was that my finger tips filled in where the front end loader should have been and I tipped the whole truck and pretended it was a dump bed so I could build the hills that I had seen along the highway. When the dump truck got stuck I used both hands to pretend the tow truck was pulling it out of the muck. Sure, that’s improvisation and it worked a treat at 3 years old. I only wish I could remember what awesome project we were working on at the time. Maybe besting the Hoover Damn? I don’t know.

There are things that I do know. I had no idea at the time that later in life being able to substitute one thing I have for a thing I needed but don’t have would become a skill that would make life bearable for me. I did not know then that play along to get along would be important. I did not understand that fake it till you make it would be a thing. I was just a kid in the dirt making do with what I had and being totally in control of my world. I did not know how important it would be in later life to be able to feel the illusion of control in my world.

I did not know that the mere illusion of control would make it possible for me to endure unnumbered embarrassments, unmeasurable peer pressure, and unbelievable pressure to conform to society. At three years old I was learning how to deal with the fucked up world we live in. I knew, even then, it’s about control or even just the illusion of control. When you’re in control things happen the way that you want them to happen, the outcomes are securely affixed to your desires. Control is the heart and soul of imagination.

Yes, I have memories from that early in my life and some earlier. I have a lot of these Moon Stories and what they taught me, how they made me the me that I am.

I have seen lots of people just pretending. I can see their dump trucks don’t actually dump and their tow trucks don’t really do the job yet they pretend that life is good and their thinking is sound as if their backyard dirt project is real with government funding. I’ve known since I was still in diapers that people pretend. It gets them through the day, to the next hurdle, sometimes beyond. They pretend that it’s all going to be okay, that wishing for a better tomorrow will make it happen, that praying to a god will change his divine plan in their favor.

What I did with these toys in later life was remember to know when my dump truck really isn’t a dump truck. In that way I’m pretty lucky.

How is your dump truck doing?

 

 

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