Thursday, February 28, 2013

Game Theory, Scapegoating and Narcissism

I’m not sure where I ran across Game Theory. I know it was in the movie A Beautiful Mind, about John Nash, whose work was about it. Then there was The Evolution of Cooperation, by Robert Axelrod, an economist at the University of Michigan.

Axelrod asked and then answered the question, “When, and under what conditions, does it pay to cooperate?” In a sentence, the answer is that cooperation is a rational response when two parties are in a prolonged game (relationship) with an indeterminable end.

Let's take marriage for an example. It's a prolonged relationship with an indeterminable end, and so there must be compromise. If there isn't compromise, it will end, and if it doesn't, it will be an unhealthy one.

Game Theory explains why I can trust some people more than others. I can, for example, trust a friend much more than someone I buy a used car from. Long-term relationships (ones with no ends in sight) encourage civility and cooperation, short term relations don't.

If you have two parties, say two countries, and if neither party can prevail against the other, and they know this, then cooperation is the best way to them to go. This is why strong countries generally don’t go to war against one another, and instead one strong country will attack a weaker. The strong country feels it has already won and therefore sees no reason to cooperate.

Here’s the rub: if people already believe they have won the game, there is no reason for them to cooperate. It doesn’t matter if they really have won the game or not; it only matters if they believe they have. People aren’t always rational; indeed, most of the time, they are not.

Another problem is when they think they’re losing the game. Then there is also no reason to cooperate. They have to go all-out to win, if they think they are going to be annihilated. That’s where the saying, “Fighting like a cornered rat” came from.

Game Theory tells us you always have to let people have a way out, or give them a way to cooperate. If you don’t, then hostilities will often break out. This means extreme policies always oppose moderation and rational policies.

Axelrod and other researchers discovered that "tit for tat" works best in cooperation; however, it was refined even more to "win-stay, lose-change." In other words, if your strategy is working, stay; if not, change it. Repeat your previous move if doing well, if not, change it.

It seems like common sense, but while individuals can do it easily, it's amazing countries or mobs or groups (which have no brains) cannot.

Let's take the idea of play, which I am very much interested in. Two animals playing do tit-for-tat. If one animal wins all the time, the other will cease playing. So they learn to cooperate: you win, I win, you win, I win. If win, win, win doesn't work, then change to win, lose, win, lose.

In politics, a sign that a country feels that it is losing in relation to one or more countries is when it starts to play the extremist game of elimination or hegemony over its opponents. The first sign of this is the use of propaganda to paint its opponents as insane, evil, utterly irrational, and dedicated to nothing but destruction. The general term for this is “scapegoating.”

When you have two opposing countries doing this to each other -- not cooperating and branding each other as evil -- then events will be driven by extremists on both sides. This explains why when hostilities break out and extremists on both sides have power, nothing can be solved, since neither side will cooperate, since it believes it has already won, or else will be exterminated.

These people, who are essentially Eric Hoffer True Believer fanatics, have paradoxical beliefs – if they fight, they will win; if they don’t fight, they will be annihilated. They have an either/or, win/lose orientation, with nothing in-between either scenario. That’s why they won’t compromise.

Such attitudes are extremely narcissistic, which is defined as seeing things either as all-good or all-bad, with no shades of grey. Those who are not narcissistic will compromise; those who are, which means fanatic, will not.

The first thing rulers of any country do when they want to start a war is brand their “enemies” as evil though the use of propaganda. Not only evil, but insane homicidal maniacs who cannot be reasoned with and want to destroy everything out of hate and envy. That's why Bush said we were attacked "for our goodness," which was about as far from the truth as could be.

What this means is that anybody who engage in this scapegoating propaganda is automatically an extremist. They believe they have either already won the game, or so will not cooperate, or else believe they are in danger of extermination, and so also will not cooperate.

What I conclude is that much of politics today in the United States is extremist (full of hate and fear), propagandizing, and narcissistic and scapegoating (our “opponents are not mistaken, but evil). People who disagree with each other therefore have no intention of compromising but instead try to destroy the other.

History bears out the fact that extremists are drawn to politics and the attempt to gain power over others. Of course, they think they are always right and their opponents always wrong.

This is why no country - and no one - should have absolute, or even extremely unbalanced - political power over someone.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snicker Snicker Snort Snort

So it's an ad. So what? It's funny.

Oh, by the way, guns used to be called Equalizers, because they made the weakest women equal to the strongest man.

Sit Right There and Don't Play

I remember playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie when I was about four. If you don't know what that song/poem/play is, watch the video.

I have only a few memories from kindergarten. One is playing with blocks, which I remembering enjoying, one is launching one of those blocks across the room and hitting a kid in the head and making him cry, and another is lying on a mat and being restless and bored and then getting whacked by our spinster teacher (who clearly, sadistically enjoyed it) with a pointer for not going to sleep while lying on our mats.

I remember little from first grade though sixth. I have some memories from sixth grade, though. One is getting rowdy in class when the teacher left and being punished by being made to sit with some other kids in front of the principal’s office for a week. There was also an improvisation comedy skit I remember well.

I think I remember little because I was so bored and every day was mostly the same.

Seventh grade was a hell except for some fun after school and on weekends, eight and ninth grade were marginally better but still not good, and high school was a blast on weekends. Otherwise high school was a bore and a prison, and from seventh grade through being a senior I spent a lot of time in my imagination.

These days, I would have been diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder without hyperactivity, and probably put on Ritalin, most especially since I paid little attention in class, did not do my homework, and made poor grades.

Even though I had no use for high school, some kids apparently liked it. Some of the athletes and cheerleaders seemed to like it a great deal. I sometimes get the impression it was the highlight of their lives, like it was for Al Bundy and Hank Hill.

For some of them, high school was a lot of fun. For me and others, it wasn't much fun at all. How best to describe it? We never played.

Athletics is play, and so is being a cheerleader. That’s one kind of enjoyment, and schools encouraged that. There are other kinds of play, and school did not encourage them when I was attending, and a lot of them still don’t even today.

The psychiatrist Stuart Brown, who has studied play for years, said it is essential not just for kids, but also for adults. When he studied a group of murderers, he found almost all of them were severely play deprived as children.

He described various kinds of play. One is competitive play (sports), which in high school is supported. Those in engage in this kind of play get the attention, the newspaper articles and the respect of the community.

Those people he called the Competitors. Others he described as Jokers (and in middle school I was a class clown). Others he described as Storytellers, Explorers (physical or intellectual), Kinesthetes (physical activity, such as dancing and sports), Artists, Directors, Collectors and Performers. I don’t fit the Competitor all that much but I do fit the Storyteller, Joker, Explorer and Artist. I’ve into trouble with the combination of all of them. Schools promote Competitors (whether sports or high grades) and Kinesthetes (sports) and in a limited way, Performers (cheerleaders, who are also Kinesthetes). But no matter what schools support, the majority of students are expected to sit dully in class for several hours a day -- which is not enjoyable and no play at all.

Brown found the benefits of play to include improved health through less depression and stress, and increased empathy and a sense of belonging leading to less interpersonal violence. And public schools support any of this exactly how?

What kind of effect does it have on so many children to essentially spend 12 years in schools overwhelmingly deprived of play? Not a good one. Their spontaneity is destroyed, and while spontaneity isn’t random (you have to practice before you can be successfully spontaneous), when you have only practice followed by tests, what is created is anxiety and lifelong nightmares of being trapped in school.

While I had no fun in high school, I had fun on the weekends. The area I was raised in, my friends and I were going to bars when we were 15. And I had a fun time, for years. I wanted more of it, though. I tell people it was a cross between Animal House and American Graffiti.

When I got to college, I was pretty much done with that intense partying. Many of the kids in college had not done what I had done in high school, and they went crazy. We had riots that made the news across the nation. I saw students throw up in public and get arrested left and right for being drunk.

They had been deprived of the playing I did as a teen, and look what happened to them in college! They went nuts. I consider that a law of human nature: “What you’re deprived of as a kid, you will go nuts obsessively trying to find it when you’re older.” (Or, “What you had when younger, and it didn’t go right, you repeat when older to make it right.” Or, “What you had when younger, and liked, you keep trying to find when older if you don’t have it.” They’re all variations of the same thing: trying to repeat today what happened in the past.)

It cannot be a good thing for children to spend 12 years in a sit-march-sit environment in the public schools. When it’s boiled down, I was almost always bored in school. For twelve years. I sometimes wonder if I have brain damage.

Some people claim the schools need more money, better teachers, blah blah blah. I disagree. I think they should be closed down, and I have for years. And if private schools imitate the public schools, they won’t work either.

It’s been known for a long time that parents and family have an enormous effect on the development of children. But what about the effect of 12 years of sitting in a chair and being bored and restless in public schools? Being abused and deprived of affection by a family is one bad thing, but being abused and bored for 12 years in school is another bad thing. Look at the dropout rate these days.

I know of very few people who enjoyed school. Think about the passed-out kids in Ferris Buehler’s Day Off when Ben Stein is torturing them with his lecture. Some former students, like me, still have nightmares about being permanently trapped in the Last Day of High School. Or failing the last test on the last day and having to repeat the entire four years.

Society loses a lot of kids who drop out of schools and end up going nowhere in their lives. It is fault of the families or the schools? Both, I’d say. But don’t pretend it isn’t partly the school’s fault, because it is.

I Encounter Some Vampires!

While there does exist the occasional psycho lunatic who really does drink people’s blood, these people are so rare it’d take several lifetimes to meet one, unless you go out of your way by becoming an FBI profiler.

What are much more common are what I’ve heard described as “emotional vampires,” and I’ve met several of these. They’re known as Personality or Character Disorders, and fall under various headings such as Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic and Histrionic Personality Disorder.

They all have certain traits in common. The main one is: it’s always someone else’s fault. It’s never their fault. This trait has been noticed for thousands of years, which is why in the story of the Garden of Eden Adam says, “The woman made me do it,” and Eve says, “The serpent made me do it.” It wasn’t their fault. It was someone else’s.

Because it’s always someone else’s fault, they always portray themselves as victims, even if they don’t realize it. In fact, they can be quite good at convincing people they ARE victims. Because of this, if you first meet someone and they try to pluck at your heartstrings with stories of the awful things done to them, immediately put your guard up.

Think about it this way: what kind of person would immediately tell you such intimate details of their life? And if they do it to you, don’t you think they do it to everyone?

They lie. Oftentimes they don’t even know they’re lying, because to successfully lie to someone else you first have to successfully lie to yourself.

They can be quite charming and manipulative, to the point you don’t even know you’re being manipulated. If they’re telling you stories about the awful things that happened to them, the first impulse of many men is to protect them and fix them.

Ha ha! Suckers! You’re being manipulated! They don’t want to be fixed! They want attention and to suck your innards dry, then cast away the empty husk that used to be your life!

They can make you feel special. You’re not. You’re interchangeable with the rest of the suckers. Again I’m going to repeat: if they’re telling you intimate details of their lives, why wouldn’t they be telling them to everyone?

They are deficient in gratitude, not to mention guilt, not to mention empathy. Since to them it’s someone else’s fault, why should they feel guilty or grateful or empathic? That’s why they never say, “Thank you.”

The worst emotional vampire (she appeared to be Borderline/Histrionic) I ran across some years ago told me, in the first hour I talked to her:

“Men are responsible for all the problems in the world.”

“Some of my relatives tried to molest me when I was in my teens.”

“None of my relationships work out because all the men have baggage from past relationships.”

“None of them will accept my career.”

The best one of all was…”This is about me, not you!”

Nothing was her fault. It was always men’s fault. And if it’s someone else’s fault, then it’s okay to emotionally abuse them. And sooner or later (and usually it’s sooner) they start to emotionally abuse people. Sometimes it becomes physical abuse.

If you meet someone who immediately becomes intimate (by telling you intimate details of his or her life), who immediately treats you as if you are special, who makes you want to immediately protect or fix them, and blames their problems on other people, STAY AWAY!

I’m going to repeat this, too: for many men their first impulse is to fix, protect and save a woman like this. You can’t do any of those things for her. She’s not so easy as a flat tire.

Some people unfortunately fall in love with these people, ignoring the warning signs – which are always bad feelings about them; anxiety, tenseness, and guilt (wondering if YOU have the problem and not them). The reason you’re having those bad feelings is because your soul is being sucked out!

These people are relatively common and wreak in the lives of every person they come into contact with.

This is a free warning, courtesy of UncleBob!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sucking Your Thumb

Years ago I owned a taxi. I noticed something interesting about many of the five-year-old girls I took to and from kindergarten: many of them sucked their thumb.

What surprised me about it is that every time they did, they calmed down. Some of them got very rowdy in the car. But, as soon as the thumb went in the mouth, they were calm and quiet.

I remember one little girl in particular. My taxi had a bench seat, so I stretched my right arm across it. She would lay her head on my arm, turn her head so she could see me, put her thumb in her mouth, and be completely calm. Not a word out of them or any of the other thumb-suckers.

The explanation is that sucking your thumb goes back to an infant’s feeding behavior, yet ultrasound has shown infants in the womb suck their thumbs. If you'll look at that homunculus above you'll see our mouths and thumbs take up a lot of space of our brains. So, the thumb-in-the-mouth has something to do with the brain (I've read that thumb-sucking produces opioids).

I have seen adults suck their thumbs or binkies. I saw an obese woman in a motorized scooter, who had binkie in her mouth. When I mentioned it to my girlfriend, she said she had heard of adults using them to try and stop smoking.

Maybe, or maybe the woman was just nuts, just as the woman I saw in an elevator sucking her thumb was nuts. In her case she was coming out of a public mental-health center.

I once asked my mother if I sucked my thumb. She said no, I sucked my little finger and the ring finger on my right hand. Incidentally, I know a woman who once, when about 11, took a picture of her 12-year-old sister, asleep in bed, sucking her thumb. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of adults still do it in private.

I’ve read that kissing runs back to an infant’s feeding behavior, too. Sounds about right. If you think about it, it can be considered odd for adults to press their mouths together (I wonder what aliens might think the first time they run across this behavior in humans?).

Since many women babble way too much. I have an idea: all men should carry binkies. When a woman won’t shut up, just stick it in her mouth. It should even be a law.

It would be a much more pleasant world.

Corrupt, Traitorous Chief of Police Outed

Chicago's murder rate by firearms is the highest it's been in a decade.

Sex as Meaning Nothing

I have, three times in my life, had naked women get into bed with me. The first time, it lasted perhaps one minute. The second girl, it lasted maybe a minute and a half. The third girl, about a minute.

The second girl, there was a second time. It lasted about a minute. She wanted there to be a third and fourth time, but I ignored her.

Each time, the sex, since it was so brief, meant nothing to me. For them, it was clearly just physical relief. One actually said to me, “I really needed that” (the biggest red flag for a woman is when she talk about sex as "relief"). None of them asked a thing about me. That’s significant.

I suppose some guys would be envious of me. In fact, I know some were, because the second girl, we lived in a co-ed house in college, and she ignored the other guys in favor of me. Yet, when it comes down to it, there was nothing for them to be envious of.

Each of these girls was extremely promiscuous, and I do not think they were capable of love. I wonder if there is a inverse relationship between promiscuity and love? After all, notwithstanding silly fantasies like Pretty Woman, how many prostitutes fall in love at least once in their lives? I doubt it’s all that many.

One question I have never been able to answer is, where do you draw the line? What is the upper limit on sex partners? I do know that devoting your life to physical pleasure will destroy you. That’s been noticed as far back as the ancient Greeks.

Physical pleasure has its place. I always think of Jesus, who went to weddings and ate, and drank wine. He approved of it. And what happens at these parties? Dancing and music, of course. It all has its place in life, along with sex. But you can’t be drunk all the time, or eat all the time. Or have sex all the time, either.

Speaking of Jesus, I consider these people to have fallen for the First Temptation – people do not live by bread alone. “Bread,” if it means anything, means materialism. Such materialism includes food, money, drink, sex. Pleasure. No one can make such things the meanings of their lives, such as epicures try to do. Ultimately, and generally quickly, it leads to a degraded life.

I’m not disapproving of sexual promiscuity in a moral sense or even in a physical one, although there can be physical repercussions from such promiscuity. I’m interested in only the psychological effects. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that the more sexually promiscuous someone is, the more difficulty they will have in maintaining a long-term romantic relationship.

I think the reason for this difficulty is that in case of every one of these girls, they were self-centered and lacking in empathy. Lacking in those feelings, they tried to fill the empty place in themselves with physical sensation. That, of course, never works, since physical sensation always ebbs and flows, goes up and down. So you end up needing another fix, but fast. That’s the nature of pleasure.

The original meaning of the Greek word “daemon” (perverted into the word “demon”) was a natural function that took over one’s life, be it sex or food or alcohol. It appears when one gets taken over by a daemon, not much of the personality is left for anything else. Such is the nature of addiction.

I've known more than a few people who devoted their lives to physical pleasure. One women ended up at 52, without home, husband and children, just a cat and a TV. She had been a promiscuous drug-using party girl in college.

Another guy, who was fairly wealthy, good-looking and charming, devoted much time to seducing women. His score was about 100. He ended up alone, a drug-addict (the Lost Boys of the Manosphere refer guys like this as Alphas, when the real name is "cad").

All of these people were extroverts, which means they gain energy from other people. Unfortunately they can be indiscriminate about who they gain energy from. That's one of the main problems with being an extrovert.

I never really judged these people morally. I was more interested in understanding them What I have found is that these people have a poor self-image: insecure, afraid, always cowardly, and covering all of it up with charm and friendliness. They are in fact so insecure and self-centered they have nothing left for loving anyone else. That's why all of them ended up alone.

Do parents tell their kids about these truths? For the most part, no. Churches don't do it, either, again not for the most part. So people have to learn the hard way. Unfortunately, for some people, it destroys their lives,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kill All the Short Guys

When Randy Newman came out with his song “Short People” and sang they should be killed, he got a lot of criticism. Many people didn’t understand he was being ironic and mocking the attitudes of many people toward short men. Some people just don't have a sense of humor.

I have no idea how tall Newman is, but he looks short. So he knows what it’s like.

I am not short, by the way. I’m six-feet-tall, but I do have short friends, and they have told me horror stories.

I get the impression there are women out there who want short men to, basically, die. “How dare you not be six feet tall? Why don’t you just die?!?”

I had one friend tell me he asked a woman to dance at a nightclub and she told him, “You’re about a foot too short.” I wonder how she would feel if some guy told her, “I’m dumping you for a better-looking woman. Younger, too, and has bigger tits”?

Another told me that in college he put a sign in the student building saying he was driving home over the weekend and looking for riders to share gas. He got a call from a girl, a student there, and got along very well with her on the phone. Instant chemistry.

However, when he met her, he told me, “I could see the disappointment in her eyes,” because he was 5’7”. And on the drive she told him, “On the phone you sounded like you were six-feet-tall.” I occasionally how tall I sound on the phone.

Another guy told me he went over to a girl’s house to pick her up and she had left. You might claim that wasn’t because he was short, but would she have done this to a good-looking six-foot-tall guy? I seriously doubt it.

The second best story I heard from a short friend is when he was going to take a girl bowling while they were in college. She wanted to stop at a bar first. It turned out some of her friends were there. She told my friend, “I don’t want to go bowling.” “Do you want to do something else?” “No,” she said, and turned and walked away.

“I was sitting there in a bar with my bowling ball,” he told me. He's about 5'6".

The best story was a guy across the hall in college. He was about 5'7". He told me he asked ten women to dance at a nightclub and turned down all ten times. He had the worst self-image I had ever seen.

This is called "mirroring," which in when you see your self in what others think of you. For every one of these men, they saw what women thought of them in their actions, their comments and their expression. When someone shows contempt and disdain for you, you see it, and if it gets inside you, you end up with a poor self-image.

When people humiliate you, sometimes people seek revenge. Most often, actually. That's why people shouldn't be humiliated. For that matter, people who humiliate people have problems of their own.

One of my short friends became a dentist and oral surgeon. He is quite wealthy, has a one-hundred-year-old three-story house with one of those huge attics people used to put the crazy aunt in, and a big back yard with a privacy fence. His office is in the backyard, so he’s basically home all the time. If I was a envious person, I would envy him. When he’s not working on patients, he works on his garden and plays with his dogs.

He married an Asian woman a bit shorter than him. I’ve spent a lot of time at his house and have seen the looks of many of his female patients when they saw his wife. “How dare you be rich and marry an Asian woman! You’re supposed to marry a white woman! Specifically, me! And how dare you be 5’6” instead of 6’. I hate you! Why don’t you just die?!?!”

It is bizarre.

There have been times I’ve stood in stores with a short friend and the woman behind the counter flirted with me, but didn’t even look at him. I wondered if it ever occurred to them he was a friend of mine and they should at least say hi to him?

Hmmm…perhaps all short people should just die. Now that I think about it, they’ve caused me a lot of trouble.

Women Should Not be Allowed to Vote

“Carrying on a fantasy of defending the dignity of ladies is absurd in the absence of dignified ladies.” - Matt Parrot

Before women got the vote, many intelligent women did not want them to get it. I ain't surprised that smarter women today want the vote taken from women. When it comes right down to it, women don't like other women, contrary to all the hoo-ha. And the smartest women like men more than women, most of whom they consider snarky, butthurt, and hysterical.

The smarter women in the past thought they had more important things to do than get involved in the cesspool known as politics, such as raising intelligent, educated children instead of tossing them in public schools...which today have been destroyed by female teachers and principals...and the manginas who support them.

I've known enough women to realize why they have been denied the vote: many of them are natural socialists, although most of them don't know what a socialist is. One of my girlfriends, who became a libertarian, believed many women are natural socialists, and she believed it because she had been one before she overcame it.

I also know another woman who regrets her several lost opportunities with men because of her female-nonsense vegetarianism and anti-gun stance (she once tried to turn her cat into a vegetarian but fortunately gave that up when she saw the cat getting sick). By the time she gave up those things (along with her liberalism in general) she had found she was way past the Wall and was now alone.

All these women I have known, who are natural socialists, operated on the same irrational, fuzzy-minded beliefs: I am supposed to get back ten times more than I give.

In other words, people are supposed to support and subsidize them, but their support and subsidizing others is supposed to be a fraction of what they get.

I recently met a very intelligent woman who told me she was for national health care. When I asked her if she understood supply and demand, she admitted she did not.

I told her that while the government can control supply, it cannot control demand. It can never control demand. Since under national health care, people will perceive cost as dropping to zero, demand will skyrocket.

Since the government knows this will happen, rationing will happen, because of shortages. Sarah Palin, who understood this, correctly called these rationing bodies “death panels.”

I’m not sure this woman believed me, but when I asked her if she would take a 50% cut in pay to subsidize everyone’s health care, would she do it? She told me “that wouldn’t happen,” which of course was not the question,

I see the same beliefs among women when it comes to not understanding they cannot have a career and children at the same time. “If you quit work, and believe by law that your job should be waiting for you when you come back,” I’ve told them, “do you realize you are forcing your coworkers to cover your job, not get paid for it, and support your with their money if you get pregnancy pay?”

They’ve never looked at it that way, and don’t seem to think it’s unfair until I ask them if they should be forced to take a large pay cut to subsidize other women taking off work for two years to have a kid. They’re not for that because of what I wrote: I should get ten times more than I give.

Socialism is a female thing, even if men believe in it: we should by law be forced to share and do favors for another. We should be happy to do it and not feel resentful. And of course, socialism only works until you run out of other people’s money.

Wages stopped going up in 1973, courtesy of our evil government. Had it stayed out of the free market, I wouldn’t be surprised if the average salary would be $90,000 a year.

I estimate now less than five percent of men can support a family on their own. Yet I still meet women who think they supposed to be supported by men and are in a rage at them this isn’t happening (they’re also in rage when some guy making $75,000 a year is 5’6” and married to an Asian woman, which is what happened to one of my dentists).

Since this support can no longer happen, what these women do is marry the State. They become wards of the State and live on food stamps, in subsidized housing, with a medical card, and aid for their children. A life like this does not get better; it gets worse.

These women rarely realize they are still dependent women: they're just dependent on the government. That's why I said they're married to the State. They are still under a "patriarchy" although they are clueless to this fact. They are oblivious to the fact they expect chivalry from both the State and men...when men get little and sometimes nothing in return.

Overwhelmingly, it's about safety and security (both non-existent) over freedom. As Fred Reed wrote, "Males value freedom over security; women, security over freedom. Men love venturing into the wild, whether in Silicon Valley or unexplored jungles, if any; women do not. Men are fiercely competitive; women, concerned with order and comity. Men are physical, enjoying, even needing, rough sports; women are not. To a man of my generation the country today is unbearably controlled, restricted, safe, and feminized." 'nuf said.

Since men created civilization, and science and technology, the advances in these things will be slowed down and in some ways destroyed, all in the interest of a false "security" wanted by the silliest of women, and the stupid, ignorant men who support them. And again: since men create and provide these things to women, women are dependent on men. They still look up to men, but it's the worst men: politicians.

"Deluded women worshiping the patriarchy"

One woman I know quite well believes it is all supposed to be free for her: free food, free utilities, a free apartment, free nice furniture. Of course, she is married to the State.

That’s why women have traditionally been denied the vote. A society run solely by women – a socialist society – would be a destroyed society.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The First Rule of Hate

"Those who control language, control the perception of reality."

The First Rule of Hate is: find a scapegoat.

By “scapegoat” I mean finding someone to blame your problems on, even if they aren’t the cause. Convince yourself they’re oppressing you, even if they aren’t.

Scapegoating is one of the main points in one of the oldest stories in the West – the Garden of Eden. Adam points to Eve and says, “It’s her fault!” and then Eve points to the serpent and says, “It’s his fault!” The end result? Evil is bought into the world. And this is why the late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck said, “Scapegoating is the genesis of human evil.”

Convince yourself that if you get rid of those you scapegoat, or radically change them, then your problems will go away. This essentially means seeing everything as black or white, either good or bad, with nothing in between. We’re the Good Guys; they’re the Bad Guys. There are no shades of grey. And in politics, never.

The Communists, for a really good example, blamed everything on “capitalists.” Russia pretty much committed suicide over that one.

As Saul Alinsky, a traitor to America is there ever was one, wrote, Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Polarizing the target automatically means demonizing it, because you’re splitting everything into “all good” and “all bad.”

Edward Bernays, the father of modern propaganda in the U.S., had some interesting things to say about demonizing the target.

First thing, he wrote, appeal to people’s emotions but convince them you’re appealing to their reason.

Second, demonize the opposition. Convince people the opposition really is demonic. That makes them paranoid.

Third, tell people when the opposition is eradicated, goodness will rule.

Probably the quickest way to identify scapegoaters is that they use the word “hate” a lot to describe their opponents. They also use the word "oppressors" a lot, too In reality they’re the haters and oppressors; they just can’t admit it to themselves, so they project it on others with whom they disagree.

In every case it’s the same thing: appeal to emotions, demonize and scapegoat the opposition, and call for their annihilation. It works every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s used by Communists or Nazis or feminists or the United States government.

“Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.” – George Orwell

Laboratory of Really Dumb Experiments

I decided in kindergarten I didn't like school. Five years old, and I wanted less to do with it than I did with girls. Of course, at that age I didn't understand that many public schools unwittingly eat many of their young. But I learned.

I knew little more than I was bored and restless and inattentive, and saddled with a teacher that years later I realized was the matrix for Miss Wormwood from "Calvin and Hobbes." She insisted on naps even if we weren't tired, and if we didn't fall asleep she would whap us on our butts with her pointer.

Heck of a way to start your school days. A thin veneer of kindergarten, to the superficial eye, with undercurrents of boredom and fear. And all of five years old. I won't discuss the Big Yellow School Bus to and from Hell.

Things didn't get much better from first through sixth grade. After that, there was middle school, but that's a whole other Stephen King-generated Hell. There was an occasional teacher whom I liked, and others who had a spark of quasi-humanity that sputtered occasionally in them, but for the most part they appeared to have been grown in the same vat. (I have this image, probably from a horror film, of a monster, all eyeballs and teeth and claws and a dog biscuit for a brain, hauling itself out of a bubbling vat: "Arrgghhh! Where's the kids? Arrgghhh!")

I was always glad when I made it home: cookies and milk and cartoons awaited me. In college I asked one of my friends – raised 300 miles from me – what he did when he came home from school. His answer: "Well, I got some cookies and milk and watched cartoons." Did you like school? I asked him. His answer: "What are you, retarded? It was a kind of Hell." (Which raises the question: just how many Hells are there?)

Because I didn't like school, I figuratively escaped from it by daydreaming away most of my 12-year sentence. Since I still have my report cards, I know what my teachers wrote about me: "I hope Bobby continues trying to concentrate, as he is capable of doing such good work if he only keeps his mind on the matters at hand! He needs to spend time working accurately on his assignments." Another one reads, "Bob is not turning in his assignments. Those which are turned in are usually very brief and show little preparation."

All my comments have in common the unquestioned belief that everything was my fault, not the school's. Pin a kid to a chair for several hours a day, bore him with Dick and Jane and Pony and Spot, and then pretzel-logic the responsibility so the blame falls solely on him when he doesn't pay attention or do his homework. I will always be fuzzy on how many times I got in trouble for drawing pictures in class instead of listening to the teacher go "WAK WAK WAK" like the incomprehensible instructor in the Charlie Brown TV specials.

These days I would have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity and drugged with the psychiatric drug du jour.

One thing that occurred to me years later is that every one of those comments was from a female teacher. In other words, since I wasn't acting like a nice little girl and instead was ignoring them, I got the comments. This is one reason, among a few more, why I believe women should not be allowed to teach little boys.

Why was there no Attention Deficit Disorder when I was a kid? Where has it been hiding for thousands of years? Even the ancient Greeks accurately described real diseases like diabetes; why is there nary a word from them about "hyperactive" kids? Maybe because ADD, which was diagnosed only in the last few decades, is a phantasm completely unhinged from reality?

Could the real problem be schools that bore some kids to near-insanity? And instead of blaming the problem on the schools, blame it on the kids, just the way my teachers blamed my boredom and inattention on me. Only these days, instead of hitting students, we dope them up.

I find it incomprehensible that there are four million to six million kids in the United States who are prescribed Ritalin, a drug chemically similar to cocaine. And it's not just for restless kids who jump around; it's also for inattentive kids who daydream. Sounds to me as if it's an inadvertent attempt to drug to sleep the imaginations of bright but bored kids. And imagination, Einstein said, is more important than knowledge.

Have boredom and imagination – normal things for kids – now become diseases, to be treated with brain-altering chemicals? Have schools now become Laboratories of Really Dumb Experiments, with children as the guinea pigs? Would I, an imaginative kid whose brain conjured up fantasies from robots hooked up to frog brains, to submarines made out of hot-water heaters, to air-to-tree (sigh) shoulder-held rocket launchers, been treated with Ritalin? Even at five, just because I wouldn't lie still and go to sleep?

I wonder what bitter harvest we will reap from these Ritalin-treated brains when the possessors are adults? (Kurt Cobain, diagnosed as hyperactive and raised as a Ritalin child, might be an example.) The public would throw a conniption-fit if the schools treated children with booze or marijuana every day; why is there not much more outcry over treating them with – as we called it in high school – speed?

Little kids raised with their brains full of speed. "It calms them down," the legal pushers claim. I've seen speed freaks stare at one of their hands for half an hour. Marijuana has the same effect. Some of the users were calm, all right. Sheesh.

I wonder what speed is doing to all the cells and neurons and synapses in their brains. I'll bet doctors, schools and the drug companies wonder, too, even as they try to con the public into thinking they really do know. I wouldn't be surprised if they were peering into a Magic 8-Ball. A dusty one.

It was these same speed freaks – and coke heads – who told me Ritalin is a street drug. They've told me if enough is ingested, the effects are better than sex. Long-term side effects? A few. Suicide, for one, and selling their babies to get their daily fix for another.

There are always at least two sides to every story. The side few know about is an impaired conscience is oftentimes a result of drug addiction, be it alcohol or Ritalin. The baby-sellers and school shooters such as Kip Kinkel, are examples.

All I can say: oh, good Lord, what is wrong with the schools and "doctors" prescribing this poison for kids? Who is going to take responsibility for the side effects? What's that I hear? There aren't going to be any? Really? Name one psychoactive drug that in the long run doesn't have side effects.

I can think of no one who has ever used marijuana or cocaine every day who contributed anything to themselves or society. Yet kids raised on an amphetamine are supposed to turn out just fine and be productive and happy people? I don't believe it.

The kids would be better off if they were allowed to some physical activity. That would calm them down. A playground is a lot cheaper than Ritalin, although not as profitable to drug companies. Playgrounds are no profit at all for drug companies.

And a more interesting curriculum wouldn't hurt, either. Especially for the smarter, more imaginative students. The one scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off that is always clear in my memory is where all the kids are sprawled nearly unconscious on their desks as Mr. Excitement himself, Ben Stein, drones on in a monotone that would do Satan proud with its ability to warp souls. Doesn't high school ever change?

If I was a conspiracy buff I'd think there was a plot to destroy the brains of American children. And if I was an enemy of America, I'd be smiling, hoping for a generation of adults so drug-addled they lack both conscience and imagination.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Our Lost Rites of Passage

All "primitive" societies have forced boys, right at the age of 12, to undergo initiation rites in which they symbolically died as children and then were reborn as adults, under the direction of learned elders (I'm going to repeat that -- learned elders, not just elders).

One of the reasons for this "rebirth" is to pull away from the mother, who at her worst is represented by the motherly/destructive/seductive mythic goddess Kali (today, she's the Borg Queen), and these days by society-destroying radical feminism, one of the purposes of which is to destroy boys and men. This pulling away is necessary for boys to be introduced to the world of men, otherwise, under the influence under the worst aspect of the feminine, they can end up as gang members or mangina wimps...or maybe even far, far worse, like murderers, rapists women beaters, or suicides.

To a much lesser extent, there have been rites of passages for girls. In both cases, it happens right at puberty, when the body and brain are changing rapidly and profoundly.

Nowadays, we're lost these rites, at least the good ones. Did we ever have good ones? I'm sure we did, but offhand, I can't think of what they were. Currently, we're got some bad ones, and the kids and society pay for it. And pay and pay and pay. The lack of them is damaging to individuals and to the culture. "Culture is the public expression of group continuity," commented more than one thoughtful person, and I couldn't agree more.

Many people either don't know, or don't want to admit, how fragile society is, and that one of its purposes is to repress all the badness inherent in human nature. When societies lose those myths, rituals and rites that help repress or transform the badness, worse rites will take their place. That's how we end up with kids wearing tribal tattoos and acting like whiggers.

Here's an example, and it's about a woman I knew: when I was about 23, and in college, I was sitting in the room of this woman, who was about 21 years old. We were just passing time listening to her records. I even remember one of the songs -- Ten Years After's "I'd Love to Change the World." Years later I realized how appropriate that song was for our conversation.

I was casual friends with her, but had noticed she was a bit more intelligent, sensitive and creative than the other girls who lived in her house, almost all of whom, in my opinion, was callow and not-very-bright college students. The one I was talking to was an art major, the only one in her house of 11 girls. Most of the others were studying to be grade-school teachers, urp.
To this day, I have no idea why she told me the things she did. She starting telling me about her time in 7th grade, when she was pudgy and wore those kind of horn-rimmed glasses that always sit crooked on your face. She showed me a picture; personally, I thought she was rather cute.

She was certainly cute at 21, certainly much better-looking than the other girls in the house. I always wanted to jump her, but never did.

She told me that because of the way she looked, she was ostracized by the other 7th-graders. Twelve years old and an outsider and a scapegoat. Just great. No wonder Stephen King's novel Carrie was such a big hit. Public schools, blech.

Over the summer, she told me, she grew up, lost the baby fat, filled out, and got contacts. Ugly duckling to swan in less than three months. When she came back for the 8th-grade all the kids who ostracized her now wanted to be her friends. She ignored them. I thought, "Good for you."

The way she was treated in the seventh-grade affected her for the rest of her life. She told me she was never attracted to what most people would consider "good-looking" men and was instead attracted to what she called "unusual-looking guys." (It occurred to me: was why I was in her room, unlike the other guys who hung out in the house, and why was she telling me these things? Uh oh.)

I got a big laugh out of this one: she told me she liked guys who looked like Peter Noone. Peter Noone? Who's that? You know, Herman of "Herman and the Hermits." They were popular about the time she was being born!

I saw her a few years later, after we had graduated, and sure enough, she had married a guy who looked like him.

She turned out just fine, but her initiation rites in seventh-grade consisted of a bright, creative, sensitive girl being ostracized and humiliated in public school. And they were unwitting initiation rites, ones that, I repeat, affected her for the rest of her life.

She was lucky enough to make it through them, even without wise elders, just teachers instead, although in a sense she was scarred for the rest of her life. She symbolically died and was reborn courtesy of being treated like crap by a bunch of dim-witted, immature 12-year-olds tossed together helter-skelter in public schools (which I think should be burned down and the ground salted). Those were good rites of passage for her? That's a rhetorical question, by the way.

As bad as it was for her, I think this lack of initiation rites is a lot worse for boys. A lot worse, and I can't emphasize just how bad I think this lack is. We still have them, to a degree, although they're exactly the same as my friend went through: being tossed into the mish-mash that is public-school 7th-grade. It ain't working.

The fact we don't have any initiation affects us politically, I'm convinced. Politically, the leftist nanny-state is Mommy. Why do men fall for it? Because, even though raised with two parents, they're still stuck in mommy-mode, due to the lack of initiation rites that pull them away from mommy and toward daddy.

This away-from-dominating-mommy/searching-for-daddy can be seen in gangs, most of whom were raised without fathers. They found all-male gangs, ones that denigrate women. Their initiation rites and lives are all in the bad-male mode.

Teenagers have a vague, inchoate, instinctive understanding of their need for initiation rites. That's why they act and dress as they do. I did it when I was a teenager. Almost all of us did. Almost all of us used drugs, although in those days it was booze and marijuana. Then it was Ecstasy and raves. I understand completely.

Looking back on it, I realize my friends and I were rather wild, at least compared to the other kids. There were a lot of us, creating our own initiation rites of drugs and booze and parties. We had no mentors, be it parents or teachers. There was no ritualistic adjustment from childhood to adulthood. Nothing. These days, we'd be given Ritalin.

The way I see it, in American society, the skyrocketing rise of gangs and reckless behavior dramatizes how youth seek some sort of initiation rites, made worse in the absence of anything provided by the culture (read "learned elders" for "culture"). Unfortunately, old geezers fear young people, not realizing their wildness and energy are really just an unending longing for initiation into the adult world.

Adolescents hunger for real tests, somewhat risky ordeals by which they can turn into adults, ones with a purpose in life. What ceremonies and rituals and rites do we have? High school graduation? College graduation? Meaningless. They're not tests. Nearly everyone wants to feel like the Hero on a Quest. Luke Skywalker, you know. Why do you think those movies are so popular?

True rites involve some risk, some pain, and self- discipline and self-sacrifice. Look how many boys want to join the Marines. When those things are offered, then there is community. It doesn't matter what it is -- it can be anything from gangs to religion.

That lack of serious rites is one of the reasons Christianity is in the trouble it is in. It's too soft; it doesn't challenge. Make it harder, make it challenging, make it involve self-discipline and self-sacrifice, and the softness that plagues it will disappear.

We don't have, and we certainly need, adolescent initiations that meet the needs of kids today, ones that draw on tribal rites, ones that are feasible in a modern, urban culture. Since we live in a highly technological society, we need new rituals appropriate to urban teenagers. Then, of course, the other essential ingredients are elders and mentors willing to devise and perform such rituals and a supportive community -- that "group continuity" -- into which the initiated teens are brought.

The way things are now, we're turning into a society without fathers, and in some cases without mothers. The law has, foolishly and destructively, decided fathers are optional, and when they aren't, when a couple has to work to make ends meet and give their six-week-old baby to a pre-school, that's just another way of saying we no longer have elders. The government is no substitute, pace Hillary Clinton.

When you're looking at young gang members, you're looking at people with no elders. So we either develop elders, or the amount of violence will increase year by year. This is not something that can be replaced by government programs.

Sooner or later, we'll have to figure it out. We have to. But until we do, all the Ph.D.s and government studies and programs, are in vain, just chaff flying in the whirlwind

Meaningless Adolesence

Farmer Boy was the biography of Almanzo Wilder, the husband of Laura Ingalls Wilder, she of "Little House on the Prairie" fame. I read it several years ago. It was an eye-opener. I realized, for one thing, that adolescence is an artificial construct, and a dangerous one.

Almanzo hated school, attended perhaps a few months at most, yet grew up intelligent and well-read. In many ways he had no adolescence, and if he did, it wasn't in the modern sense. This is a good thing.

His parents owned a farm and Almanzo had an intimate part in running it from a young age. He loved it, including getting up at 3 am to move the cows around so they didn't freeze to death in the winter.

From a young age he had responsibility. And respect. And importance and meaning and purpose. Autonomy, or freedom. And community, or family. He got those from his meaningful and important work running the farm, and from his needed place in the family. He did not get those thing from the regimented, boring and unfree schools, which exist today and were probably just the same in Almanozo's time in the 1870's.

All people must have certain things to be happy: meaning, importance and community. Then there is competence.

In order to be happy you must have autonomy, meaning, importance, community and competence (you can call it the mastery of something).

Almost none of these things are available to teenagers today, except perhaps if you're an athlete. They can't get them for a long time, due to the extended adolescence that is embedded in our society. This is why there are so many disturbed adolescents. There is no place for them anymore. They have no meaningful work. In a sense, they're ostracized by society because they are seen as a threat, and being ostracized is one of the worst punishments there is.

The phrase "pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence is a mistranslation of the Greek eudaimonia, which means "well-being" or "flourishing" (to me, the same thing). It's attained through arete, or excellence. Or competence, or mastery or being good at something. To get those things you first and foremost must have freedom.

Now imagine how kids grow up today. They're sent off to unfree and regimented schools. They spend hours a day sitting in desks. Sit, march, sit, wait for the bell to ring. Don't go Up the Down staircase, as Bel Kaufman wrote about. School is about as close to the military as you will find outside of the military.

Oftentimes their families mean little to the kids. The mothers may work but also may not act like mothers. The fathers do work but when the kids see him what do they learn from him?

Merely being a biological mother and father isn't enough. For one thing, they also have be teachers and mentors. These days, many of them abdicate their responsibilities to the schools. Parents did it when I was a kid, to the point I was put in after-school care because there was no one home.

The average child and teenager today has no truly meaningful and important responsibilities at home or in school. Since they have no communities they make their own with their peers. What they master or excel at they often learn on their own, not at school. I've never seen anyone learn to program or excel at playing at instrument at school. They teach themselves, since they rarely have the freedom at school to follow their own interests, so they can become good at them.

Education is supposed to identify and develop your talents. The schools don't do it. Some schools are better than others, but ultimately they don't do what they're supposed to do.

In school students have little of autonomy, little of meaning and importance, little of community. Schools are half military, half prison. And people wonder why there is a 50% drop-out rate these days. Adolescence, unfortunately, for some people has become endless.

My paternal grandfather dropped out of school in the eighth grade, yet still made a middle-class living installing and finishing wooden-strip floors. It was the norm in those days, and it wasn't until the Great Depression that it became common to graduate high school.

In fact, both my parents were high school drop-outs, although they later got their GEDs.

Things have gotten so bad I believe the public schools should be closed down. Barring that, home-schooling is the only option. I've known people who moved into rural trailers to get their kids out of what they consider a corrupt and decaying society.

The public schools inherently extend adolescence until at least 17. With college it's until at least 21 years old. For that matter, what does it take 12 years to teach kids, anyway? For all practical purposes I do not believe I learned anything past the fourth grade.

In fact, the way things are set up now I am amazed so many kids make it. Yet there is another question to consider: do they really make it? Where are the polymaths we had in the past?

It's not at all shocking, when you study history, to realize the bigger the government gets, the less meaning, importance, liberty and competence people will have in their lives. The larger the government, the less well-being and flourishing people will have. The bigger the State, the more it destroys society.

Or, as Robert Nisbet put it in his The Quest for Community, "The conflict between the central power of the political State, and the whole set of functions and authorities contained in church, family, guild and local community has been, I believe, the main source of those dislocations of social structure and the uprootings of status which lie behind the problem of community in our age."

If the government didn't interfere in society, destroying education (which is not the same thing as schooling), destroying families, and destroying the economy...adolescence would disappear, and all of the unnecessary problems associated with it.

The Little Boy, the Dogs, and the Idiot King

Once upon a time, not so long ago and not so far away, there was a large, prosperous village than unfortunately had an idiot for a king. Unfortunately, his advisers were idiots, too.

Down the road a bit was another village, one that was tiny and poor and not a threat at all to our large, prosperous village. Somehow, the Idiot King, along with his idiot advisors, got it in their heads the poor, tiny village had a insane homicidal maniac for a king. Along with that, many of the people in the village were also supposed to be insane homicidal maniacs.

"They are evil and are going to attack us for our goodness," exclaimed the Idiot King. "We have to attack them first in self-defense. How do we get the public to march off to war?"

"We will use propaganda," said one of his idiot advisors. "The techniques have been around for a long time and even an idiot could use them."

"Really?" asked the Idiot King, who was generally quite incurious about most everything. "Then it should be easy for us."

"There are four main techniques for successful propaganda," his advisor explained. "First, we have to stress emotion over logic, but convince people they are being logical."

"Works for me," said the Idiot King.

"Then," the advisor continued, "we have to demonize the enemy, but convince people the enemy really is evil."

"That's because they are!" frowned the Idiot King.

"Third," said the advisor, "tell people that by destroying the enemy the world will be safer, and will lead to a better world for us and them."

"It certainly will!" exclaimed the Idiot King joyfully.

"Fourth," the advisor continued, "idealize yourself, your country, your government, your military. By idealizing yourself and devaluing the enemy they can be transformed into evil monsters 'attacking us for our goodness.'"

"The things you can learn just by listening," the Idiot King said admiringly.

So the Idiot King and his idiot advisors told the people of the village (many of whom were idiots themselves) that the tiny poor village down the road was inhabited by monsters!! Evil, insane homicidal monsters who would go to any extreme to attack our large prosperous village and destroy it.

So of course many of the people of our large prosperous village grabbed their pitchforks and clubs and axes and marched down the road, attacked the poor tiny village, killed the King and many of the inhabitants.

Many of the inhabitants of the poor tiny village fled into woods, and when they caught one of the invaders of their village they killed him. This went on for decades while the village of the Idiot King became poorer and poorer because of all the wars they were engaged in.

"This is really surprising," commented the Idiot King, puzzled. "I thought they would welcome us as liberators, throwing flowers at us and maybe even the women showing us their boobs."

"You'd think so," said his advisors, just as puzzled.

One of the inhabitants of our large formerly prosperous and formerly free village was a four-year-child who had no home so he slept with the village dogs to keep warm. Though this child was poor and homeless, an idiot this child was not.

"If the Idiot King has asked me," the child told his dogs, who listened attentively, "I could have told him his attack wouldn't work. For one thing, you can conquer a country on horseback, but you have to dismount to rule."

His dogs nodded their approval.

"If people weren't sleep-walkers," the child said to the dogs, who looked impressed, "they'd never believe anything their government says. Or their media, either."

"Uh huh," chorused the dogs.

The child thought for a while, then said, "If people want to prevent being brainwashed and falling for propaganda, perhaps they should use logic over hysterical emotion. Perhaps knowing some logical fallacies might help."

"Post hoc, ergo propter hoc," said a puppy.

"'Because of this, therefore that'," said the child. "Just because something precedes something doesn't mean it causes it. You must analyze the situation and discover what the true causes are."

"Yep," commented a dog.

"Perhaps," the child said pensively, "we should never allow ourselves to demonize anyone. There is no one in the world who is pure evil or pure evil."

The dogs smirked, knowing they were better than humans in that way.

"And never believe in Utopia," the child said thoughtfully. "It's always based on the belief in getting rid of those evil people. 'The butcher is held in great esteem in Harmony,' I read somewhere."

The dogs listened in awe.

"Never idealize your government, your country, or your military," pondered the child. "All such idealizations are hubris, and hubris is always followed by nemesis — destruction."

"Pride goes before destruction," one of the dogs added. "And a haughty spirit before a fall. That's in the Bible somewhere."

"Someday people will smirk at people who in the past believed in witches, monsters, dragons, and so on," the child finished. "But they'll be no different than we are, because, if brainwashing and propaganda can be defined in one sentence, it's convincing people monsters are attacking our village, so we have to kill them."

"You're pretty smart for a human," one dog said.

"Like anyone's going to listen to a four-year-old child," the child observed.

"Or a dog, for that matter," said one of the dogs sadly.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Quacks Treating "Mental Illness"

It's a cliche but like cliches it's true: the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. And "good intentions" are even worse when the possessor is blind and arrogant. The word for that is "hubris."

Some people who think they are trying to help people are actually torturers and executioners.

Hubris applies even to doctors. After all, there does exist the saying, "What is the difference between God and a doctor?" "God doesn't think he is a doctor."

I am not a fan of doctors, especially the type who is caught in AMA groupthink. I am especially not a fan of those who treat "mental illness."

Even in the recent past the treatments were horrendous. They still are today, for that matter.

Think lobotomies. Not so long as they considered a panacea for all mental illnesses. Walter Freeman, who created lobotomies and only died in 1972, lobotomized thousands of people. About 3400, actually.

He refined it to using an icepick through the eye socket, tapped in with a hammer.

His procedure did no good whatsoever. Many of his patients died of cerebral hemorrhages. Some he operated on two and three times. So why did people allow it? Because they trusted him as a doctor.

Then there was Ewan Cameron, who used electroshock treatment (ECT). He used it to annihilate peoples' personalities and then tried to install a new one using recorded messages played through earphones.

Some of his patients forgot their own names. One forever got lost in his house, looking for his mother who had died decades ago.

Both Freeman and Cameron should have spent their lives in prison, but did not.

Things are better today...maybe.

Let's take psychiatric drugs. The SSRIs are associated with increases in murder/suicide, and the literature warns about it. The soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan having been killing their spouses and themselves, and all of them have been stuffed to the gills with anti-depressants.

Most of the school shooters have been on anti-depressants. The women who have engaged in bizarre murders of their children -- such as Susan Smith, who rolled a car with her kids into in a lake -- were on anti-depressants.

In the past murder/suicide was overwhelmingly a male thing, but now with these anti-depressants women have achieved par with men.

These days no patient would allow any doctor to lobotomize them or annihilate their personalities with ECT. But tens of millions of people seem to have no problem with chemical lobotomies.

I recently had a retired doctor tell me that he told his patients to stay away from doctors. "You know when you need to see one," he told me. "Otherwise, stay away from them."

I know a woman from college. She was bright, funny and a ditzy flirt. She was diagnosed as bipolar at 25 and put on a cocktail of psychiatric medications. After 25 years she shows signs of paranoia and delusion, and still suffers from anxiety and depression. Her memory is shot.

How exactly have any of these psychiatric drugs helped her or anyone else?

Why do doctors do these things? Some claim they're evil, or it's about money. I'll allude to what I wrote in the first paragraph: they want to help people, only they don't know how. They get confused by their ego, and power, and yes indeed money. "I have all these things, so I must know what I'm talking about." Nope.

A good doctor is humble, always willing to admit his wrong, and always willing to learn.

In the long run, the use of psychiatric drugs will change, once there are enough murder and suicides -- and lawsuits. Then they will go into the garbage heap of history, along with lobotomies and ECT.

It Would Be Better If We Had Evolved From Dogs

"The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic." ~ Henry Ward Beecher.

It'd be better if we had evolved from dogs instead of primates. We might not be all that bright. In fact we might be downright stupid. But we'd spend our days playing. Eating, sleeping and playing, which is all that dogs do.

I doubt we'd be starting wars and killing old dogs, puppies and pregnant females and rationalizing it as "collateral damage." Dogs waging war? It doesn't happen.

Dogs have that inborn sunny manic nature. A lot of people have it as babies, but something happens.

I think some people have forgotten how to play. Some researchers, such as Stuart Brown, have devoted their lives to the study of play, and found it is not only essential for babies and children, but adults. So it's beyond dispute that dogs are, in some very important ways, smarter than we are. They understand the importance of play. How many dogs do not live their lines to the fullest, if we let them?

Vernor Vinge did write a very good novel, A Fire Upon the Deep, about a world of dogs that were worse than people. As good as the novel is I've always had a hard time believing it.

Dogs generally don't go crazy unless they have rabies like Cujo or else have been bred to be crazy like some pitbulls.

We've been able to breed dogs because they have many more genes than we do. That's why we can breed them from chihuahuas to mastiffs.

People have tried to breed people to make them better. It's always involved force. Most people don't know it but the Nazis picked up their "breed improvement" programs from we Americans. But since we have less genes than dogs such breeding programs will never work.

Still, it's a pleasant fantasy of mine to imagine someday people will be as good as dogs.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Even Dumb Guys Should be Paid a Lot of Money

Years ago I knew a woman whose father was a baker and whose mother took in sewing. She showed me a picture of the tiny shack she was raised in a small nowhere town in southern Illinois.

As an aside, her father had Al Capone walk into the bakery he worked at in Chicago and buy some pastries. This woman gave me her late father's decrepit '30s watch, which I spent $150 to get fixed to make it worth $75. So now I have a watch that was in Al Capone's presence.

The woman in question barely graduated high school and spent her life being a keypunch operator until her job became obsolete and she was forcibly retired at 50. After that she could never find another job.

Her younger brother, on the other hand, was something else: he was born with an IQ of about 145 and had natural ability at engineering. He ended up getting an M.S. in engineering.

The woman, whose name was Ellen, told me a teacher had told her brother, "You're the student I've been waiting for my entire life."

How he happened I do not know. His entire ancestry was against it. But one thing I do know: what the school district bought their shack to build a school, they got a lot of money and moved into a middle-class house and in a better neighborhood, with a better school.

Whatever talents her brother had came to fruition in a better, middle-class neighborhood. Of course, he was born smart and talented, out of a completely undistinguished and obscure family, yet made the best he could of himself.

Ellen's brother is a perfect example of why the middle-class matters so much. When the middle-class goes, the country is pretty much over.

I sometimes wonder what might have happened if Ellen and her family had stayed in their dying little town living in their shack. Could her brother have made it out? Perhaps, but it would have been a lot harder. A lot harder.

Ellen's entire family was pretty dumb. The father never owned his own bakery and died from lung disease from inhaling decades worth of flour. The mother repaired people's clothing. Based on talent alone, they were nowhere. Ellen went nowhere. The brother went somewhere in a big way, and so did his son.

The same applies to me. My parents were high school dropouts, yet my father became a general contractor and my mother the admitting clerk at the local ER. They had a solid middle-class existence and I was the first in a long line of Tennessee/Kentucky hillbillies to go to college.

My paternal grandfather finished the eighth grade and was a moonshiner. Yet he still was able to lead a middle-class existence. For that matter, his wife took in sewing, using a foot-operated sewing machine.

Eugenics has been in the U.S. for a long time. In fact, the Nazis got their policies from America. It has never done any good and never will.

What we need is more of the middle class, which means even dumb, quarter-ambitious guys should make a lot of money - which is what happened in the past when they could make a good salary slaughtering chickens in a slaughterhouse, which is now done by 85-IQ Mexicans for $10 an hour instead of $20.

The idea that only those with high IQs, who can do STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and other conceptually difficult disciplines, should make a lot of money and everyone else make next-to-nothing, is one of the most dangerous concepts in the United States.

The exporting of our industrial base is only going to impoverish the country, contrary to the hallucinations of the economically ignorant, i.e., Ph.D.s out of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

If the U.S. ends up stratified with the higher IQ, schooled (not educated) people making good salaries and everyone else with poorly-paid jobs and living on welfare....the the United States will finally be a Third World nation.

For a while, that is, until everything collapses. Which I think will happen by 2030.

And boy, will all the smart ones (sic) be surprised. What that means is that they ain't so smart after all.

The Ruling Classes' Contempt for Us

"I've been around the ruling class all my life, and I've been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country." -Gore Vidal

People never learn. If we can just get so-and-so in office…Clinton, Bush, Obama, Romney…then things will be different. They won’t.

George Bush (the second one, who was more stupid and vicious than his father) once said he didn’t understand poor people. And this from a man who never had a job in his life. That shows a complete lack of imagination and empathy. It also shows a lack of brains. Or if he has any brains, he didn’t use them.

Yet I’m heard people refer to Bush as “my President.” Talk about deluded.

Obama has never had a job in his life. Romney hasn't had one either. The born rich never do. They pretend they do, and even con some people they do, but they don’t.

Obama was supposed to be Mr. Hope and Change. And if we can just get Romney in...

People have been falling for the delusion that one man in power can get rid of all our problems since the human race has been around. Read the Old Testament sometimes and look at how rulers were described. Read the New Testament, too, for that matter, where Jesus referred to these people as vipers, ones who would steal the last penny of widows and orphans.

Yet today our supposed religious leaders, such as the blasphemers John Hagee and Pat Robertson, put their faith in government and our political leaders. And their followers believe them. The blind leading the blind…

Since people don’t know their history anymore, they know nothing about Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton.

Jefferson trusted the people of this country to run their own lives, and was opposed to Adams and Hamilton. Adams and Hamilton believed a handful of people should run the country because they thought the average person was an idiot. In other words, they had total contempt for the people of the U.S.

When Adams was President he got the Alien and Sedition Acts passed. He had people who made comments about him thrown in prison. Fortunately, when Jefferson succeeded him as President he revoked all of Adams’ laws.

Adams and Hamilton today would have been close to being corporate fascists (the kind who now run this country). Thank God Jefferson and other people like him saw through the attempts of Adams and Hamilton to destroy this country.

It’s just astonishing how people idealize their leaders, no matter what awful things they do. They voted Lincoln into office, and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR, and Kennedy (about whom Vidal said was the least qualified man he knew to be President), and both Bushes. Then Obama. Then, Romney. Oops, he lost. So now it's Obama

No matter who wins, we all lose.

Adams and Hamilton live on today. They are most politicians. Not all, but most.

Where are the Thomas Jeffersons of today? They exist, but I don’t see any in office. In fact, if any of them ran for office most people wouldn’t believe what they said. That’s what comes from the ignorance of history.

Vidal was right. The ruling classes have contempt for us. And most people can’t even see it. If they did they wouldn’t have risen up already, marched on D.C. with pitchforks and torches, and hanged the guilty upside-down by their heels, as was done to Mussolini.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

All Grains Are Dangerous Unless Fermented

People are not constituted to eat grains, but it was the domestication of grains that allowed civilization to develop. All hunter-gatherer societies have gone exactly nowhere.

So how did so-called "primitive" people get around the problem of grains?

They all fermented them. There are many sites devoted to spreading this knowledge.

In fact, without fermentation we wouldn't have a lot of our food. No alcohol and no cheese, for example. No risen bread. No yogurt.

Grains require careful preparation because they contain a number of antinutrients that can cause serious health problems. Phytic acid, for example, is an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound. It is mostly found in the bran or outer hull of seeds. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption.

But when you ferment grains, the problems inherent in them disappears.

Fermenting isn't that hard. I've done it for years.

Personally I eat a fair amount of oatmeal. I don't eat rolled oats. I eat the steel-cut. You put them in a bowl, add filtered water, add a teaspoon of kefir (or yogurt) let it set in a warm area for three days, and it turns into what is called sour porridge.

Fermentation neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.

Wheat is particularly dangerous and is associated with just about psychiatric disorder that exists. I've known people who were diagnosed as bi-polar, had been on medication for 20 years, and when they got off of all grains they quit their medication in a few months. I've also seen depression go away and schizophrenics get a whole lot better.

Incidentally, in northern Europe during WWII no wheat could be had...and the rate of schizophrenia collapsed.

"...there's a funny thing about schizophrenia," writes Dr. Emily Deans in "Psychology Today, "turns out that quite a few of the adult schizophrenics on an inpatient psychiatric unit in 1967 happened to have a major history of celiac disease (gluten/wheat intolerance) as children. As in 50-100 times the amount of celiac disease that one would expect by chance. Celiac doctors also noticed their patients were schizophrenic about 10X as often as the general population."

She also wrote, "It is important to know that bipolar disorder is associated with inflammation and metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and a "western" style diet. I believe that a combination of chronic stress, genetic vulnerability, nutrient deficiencies, and food toxins (including gluten) are responsible for most of the chronic disease in the western world, including mental illness...what we find is that people with celiac, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia all have weird immune responses to wheat that healthy people don't seem to have."

I don't eat wheat at all, one reason being the wheat today is not the same as it was many years ago. It's been so altered I don't think anyone should eat it, especially kids.

I am especially disturbed about children. Hyperactivity and other fake disorders are overwhelmingly due to nutrition, lack of exercise and boring school. It's not because of a shortage of Ritalin. The only bread I eat is sourdough rye. And I don't eat all that much.

The food companies are there to make a profit, not protect our health. The same applies to government, which has a revolving door with corporate executives. Personally, I believe nothing the government says, or the media. Or almost all doctors, for that matter.

It's up to you to take your health into your own hands. And that of your children's, too. The government and the medical establishment sure aren't going to do it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"A Zigzag Streak of Lightning in the Brain"

"Greatness is a zigzag streak of lightning in the brain." - Herbert Asquith

A few years ago I was walking down the street early in the morning when for a reason I don't remember I ended up talking to a boy about 11. He was going to school.

"You like school?" I asked him.

"Nope," he said.

"I didn't like it, either," I told him. "Boring, isn't it?"

"Yes," he said.

After a few minutes we went our separate ways, and I thought, school never changes. Then I thought about The Diamond Age, a novel by Neal Stephenson in which there is this quote:

“A typical school day for Finkle-McGraw consisted of walking down to a river to study tadpoles or going to the public library to check out a book on ancient Greece or Rome.” And when he finally made it into a public high school: “The coursework was so stunningly inane, the other children so dull, that Finkle-McGraw developed a poor attitude.”

A poor attitude, like that boy had. And me. And a lot of my friends.

Then I thought about Einstein said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." He didn't say knowledge wasn't important; he just said that imagination is more important. After all, knowledge is worthless unless you can do something with it. And it takes imagination to put all those pieces together and make something useful of them.

I've given what Einstein (and others like him) said a great deal of thought and I've decided he's right: imagination is essential to any kind of discovery. And to be imaginative, there must be the ability to concentrate, and all if it must be considered play (Einstein also said, "Play is the highest form of research").

When I look back at my time in public school, I found I daydreamed a lot, mostly because I was bored. I was very imaginative, and even then I considered it play. I could concentrate to the degree that someone could say something to me and I wouldn't hear them.

As far as I'm concerned, I learned nothing beyond the fourth grade.

Play, in fact, is essential to our health. Dr. Stuart Brown, a physician, psychiatrist, clinical researcher and the founder of the National Institute for Play, has spent his career studying the effects of play on people.

He reviewed more than 6000 life histories and found that play is enormously significant for both children and adults. He said he began thinking about the role of play in people's lives while conducting a study of homicidal males in Texas. What he discovered was severe play deprivation in the lives of these murderers.

He started with the life of Charles Whitman, the infamous Texas shooter who got on top of a clock tower and murdered 14 people and wounded 32 others. He founded Whitman had been chronically abused by his father and had lived a very regimented childhood with very little play.

It clear that at the minimum children and adults must play to attain some degree of well-being and health. When they can also attain imagination and discipline (concentration), they they can create and discover.

Or as Brown said, "When I later studied highly creative and successful individuals...[h]ighly successful people have a rich play life."

Play, imagination, curiosity, the ability to concentrate. When you have those things, and enjoy what you are doing, then you can achieve what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi called "flow," which has been defined as a "mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does."

The purpose of education is to develop your inherent talents. As the philosopher Brand Blanshard has said, "I'm inclined to think the person does the most for the world by being his own self in the fullest measure." (Spinoza, hundreds of years before, said essentially the same thing).

The public schools are overwhelmingly not set up to encourage play, imagination, curiosity and concentration. If they were, there would not be a 50% drop-out rate. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with boredom.

The public schools were originally set up along factory lines on purpose, in the hopes of creating good workers and good consumers. It backfired, which many predicted.

As John Taylor Gatto wrote, "I've come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us...I began to wonder, reluctantly, whether it was possible that being in school itself was what was dumbing them down. Was it possible I had been hired not to enlarge children's power, but to diminish it? That seemed crazy on the face of it, but slowly I began to realize that the bells and the confinement, the crazy sequences, the age-segregation, the lack of privacy, the constant surveillance, and all the rest of national curriculum of schooling were designed exactly as if someone had set out to prevent children from learning how to think and act, to coax them into addiction and dependent behavior."

The public schools at one time weren't that bad, but that was when there was local control. You could play at recess and roughhouse, as I did. We even played sometimes in school, such as drawing violent war scenes on the back of homework in class (too bad I didn't the dozens of mine). You can't do any of that today without being expelled or maybe even arrested.

With more federal control, and federal 'standards,' the worse the schools are going to be. The schools in fact have gotten so bad parents have pulled out their kids and are home-schooling them. I've know some parents who have moved into rural areas, including into trailers, to get away what they consider a decaying society.

Believe me, I understand. After all, where are all the polymaths we had in the past? How could a tiny, underpopulated country like Scotland produce the Scottish Enlightenment? Liberty, imagination and play, that's how.

The more the schools, and businesses, and society, crushed curiosity, imagination and play, the more all of the former are going to go backwards. I guarantee you this.

I do not believe the public schools can be reformed. So all I can say is: get your kids out of them.

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere." - Carl Sagan

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Brain is Made of Meat!

I'm sure I was a kid when I learned that fish is supposed to be "brain food." Yet it wasn't until I was 19 that I ended up cooking and eating a lot of fish, and less than an hour later my brain felt revved up.

Hmmm, I thought: maybe it's true.

I won't bore you with the details, but by trial and error I ended up with what is today called the Paleolithic diet. This was long before it became popular and, as far as I know, called by that name.

I ended up eating about 55% meat (mostly bacon, even though otherwise I can't stand pork) and fish, and about 30% oil. The only vegetable oils I use are olive and coconut oil, which have been used for tens of thousands of years without any ill effects. The same applies to animal fats, including butter. The other vegetable oils aren't any good for you.

Your brain, by the way, is mostly fat. Fatty acids, to be sure.

I don't eat grains per se. All cultures have fermented their grains to remove gluten and to increase the bio-availability of nutrients. I don't eat wheat, which is the worst of grains, and has been so altered it's downright dangerous. I ferment oatmeal (with kefir) and rye, the latter of which I use to make sourdough bread. The former I use to make sour porridge.

Incidentally, the consumption of wheat is implicated in just about every mental disorder there is. I've known "bipolar" people who had been on medication for 20 years, and off of them two weeks after quitting all grains - but especially wheat.

I have no desire whatsoever for sugar or candy bars or pastries. In fact, the thought of them makes me feel a bit ill

I have plenty of energy, don't get tired during the day, and I've gained a couple of IQ points.

I am most especially disturbed by what is happening to kids. Fluoride, for example, diminishes IQ, and this has been proven by two dozen studies.

There is a concept know as "fetal programming." It's been proven, too. If a woman eats a healthy diet, avoids stress, and other common sense things, the baby gains noticeable advantages.

Weston Price, a dentist, traveled the world during the '30 and was shocked to see how much more healthy so-called primitive people were compared to "civilized" ones. He realized the degenerative changes he saw in modern man was due to diet.

We think we're so civilized. We're not, not when we ignore not only old wisdom, but common sense.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Sense of Wonder

When I was 11 years old my parents and my other adult relatives would go to my grandparents' old, 1920's two-story brick home on Sunday, to play a card game with the very strange pronunciation of "pea-knuckle." Since my idea of playing cards was "Go Fish," I didn't participate. Instead, I hid. I was the only kid in a house full of grown-ups.

The main room was L-shaped, with the dining room at one end and the living room at the other. Each end was so far from the other it might as well have been two separate rooms. The adults sat at the dining table at one end, where they played that odd card game (the rules of which I still haven't learned), while I would lie on the couch at the other end of the L, in the living room, by the fireplace.

On both sides of the fireplace were bookshelves, built into the wall. There weren't many books on them--perhaps half a dozen. All of them were Reader's Digest Condensed Books--the concept of which to this day I still don't quite understand--with the exception of one paperback, a cheap tattered copy which even then had the pages falling out of it. It was a 1963 Ace copy of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Fighting Man of Mars ("Hidden Menace on the Red Planet!" claimed the sentence below the title. There was no exclamation point at the end, but I always see one in my mind.)

Although I had certainly heard of Tarzan, Burroughs' most famous creation, I had never heard of him. But his name was forever imprinted in my mind along with the cover of that book, which sported a glossy color painting by Roy Krenkel, Jr. It hooked me on the spot. After all these years I can close my eyes and see that cover just as vividly as if it was in front of me.

Wow, what is this? I wondered. I had never seen anything like it. The cover had two huge moons floating in the night sky above a city of spires and towers. There were what appeared to be three huge airships floating high in the sky. In the foreground were two men, one flying through the air with a dagger in his hand, the other, with his Roman centurion-type helmet flying off of his head, turning toward his attacker with his hands coming up to defend himself. He looked really surprised, with the implication being his attempt at defense wasn't going to do him any good. Why this fight, with a knife aimed at this man's heart? If there was ever a cover that would make me open a book, that was it.

That's certainly not Earth, I thought about that cover. But it's not Mars, either. At least it wasn't the uninhabited and barren Mars I knew from school. So, then, what was this place? Lying there on the couch, next to the fire in the fireplace, I opened that copy of A Fighting Man of Mars.

It was Mars, alright, but it was a Mars that existed only in Burroughs' imagination. It wasn't called Mars, though. It was called Barsoom (Earth was "Jasoom"). At least that's what the natives called Mars, natives who happened to be green-skinned men. Well, sort of "men." The women laid eggs, which hatched little Martians. Until then, I assumed only chickens came out of eggs. But Martians? Ones that carried swords!?

There were other inhabitants--giant, vicious whites apes, ones with six arms. There were also Cackling Mad Scientists, cannibals, disintegrator ray-guns, sword fights, invisibility cloaks, huge spiders (with fangs), cruel tyrants, Damsels in Distress, and a hero with the unlikely name of Tan Hadron of Hastor (our hero's rank: a poor Odwar of the 1st Umak, although he fought in service of the Earthman John Carter, who had become the Warlord of Mars). Adventures galore, more than enough to put an 11-year-old in a tizzy. Years later I realized that although Burroughs had a workman-like style, he could by God tell a story. That's why he was as popular in his day as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books are in ours.

That particular copy, which I took home, is long gone. It simply fell apart from my reading it so much. I don't know what I did with it. I probably just threw it away; I'm sure with regret that Ace put out such cheapo books (which it did all the time in the '60s). But today, I have three copies of that Ace version, which I keep in plastic wrappers. I'm scared to read them; I use a newer copy for that. And every time I find another one of those Ace F-190 40-cent copies, I buy it. Someday I'll corner the market on every existing one of them.

As best as I can remember, that was the first novel I ever read. It's hard to describe the effect it had on me. I had never felt that way before. It sure beat the hell out of "See Dick. See Jane. See Pony. Run Pony run!" Even at six years old I knew the whole concept of Dick and Jane was just plain nuts. And godawful boring, too.

I liked the feeling I got from reading that novel. Not a little bit, but a lot. To use some '60s' slang, I dug it. There was something in me that said, More! More! More Barsoom! More Tan Hadron of Hastor! More of those Kali-armed apes and enormous fanged spiders! More of that unforgettable style of "’Silence, coward!’ I commanded.” More wonder, even more of the terror!

Not long after I found that book on my grandparents' bookshelf, I discovered the term for what I felt-- "a sense of wonder." It's applied almost exclusively to science fiction, but it can apply to fantasy, even children's fairy tales. I have my own definition for it--a combination of love and awe. Awe, I believe, involves some fear, although not necessarily a bad fear. That combination of love, awe and fear can make you feel more alive. Dipping into your imagination, and fantasy, can make the real world more enchanted. Anyone who's felt it knows what I'm talking about. To those who haven't felt it, I don't know if it's possible to convey the experience.

It also involved gratitude and what I only describe as humility. The fantasy writer George MacDonald, in his lifelong quest to describe the child-like (as opposed to the immature and childish) could only describe it as humble. It's the humility that comes from feeling awe and wonder, and the gratitude from receiving those gifts, freely given. Imagination is one of the few great gifts I was given then. I didn't even have to try for it.

After A Fighting Man of Mars I moved on to other books, all of them almost exclusively science fiction. That sense of wonder was very strong from the ages of 11 to 14. Even now, all these years later, I can still find it, although faintly as compared to those early years. But it's there. And Burroughs' novel will always have a special place in my heart.

I had not been a particularly imaginative kid, not that I can remember. I can only remember a few times I felt that sense of wonder, all of them only lasting several seconds, all of them from movies. One, I remember, was from watching the movie, The Colossus of New York, and once it was while seeing The Valley of Gwangi. I vaguely remember feeling that way, although to a far lesser degree, while watching such exuberant, anarchistic cartoons as Merrie Melodies or Looney Toons.

But while reading that novel I found the feeling lasted for hours. Why it started at age 11, I have no idea. Reading it, I found that imagination can be as vivid, and in some cases more vivid, than reality. I was absorbed in another complete world, one whose existence I had never even suspected. Who needs drugs when you have something like I had? I am reminded of a quote from Thomas Browne: "We carry within us the wonders we seek without us."

Love, and awe. It's why I grokked that book so much. Or maybe I should use a term Theodore Sturgeon created--"blesh." To blend and mesh. I became One With the Book. In a sense, I "lost" my self--I became less aware of "me." When reading the novel, if someone had called my name from around the corner in that room, I doubt I would have heard them. And if I had, I would have been very annoyed at the truly amazing spell being broken.

That's what it was--a spell. A spell of wonder, of love and awe and fear. "Small wonder that spell means both a story told, and a formula of power over living men," says J.R.R. Tolkien. The purpose of such a spell--and it's a good spell (which means there are bad ones)--is to create what Eugene Ionesco called a "world of miracle and wonder...utterly new and fresh and astonishing." He also said, "The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us."

I wasn't exactly a child when I encountered that book. If anything, I was heading out of it. But what I felt then, I still feel today was somewhat of a miracle. It was astonishing. I feel a bit sorry for people who have no idea what it's like, people who lack imagination. Stephen King wrote he considered such people to be in a mental state akin to color-blindness. I understand what he means.

A certain kind of person thinks that imagination is merely day-dreaming, a running away from the world. It is an escape, but it is much more than that. Tolkien said that imagination was "the power of giving to ideal creations the inner consistency of reality." He believed there was a link between imagination and the final result, sub-creation. His term "sub-creation" meant that Man, to him and many others now and throughout history, shared the ability to create with God, the Creator. Imagining a fully realized world is, in Tolkien's opinion and mine, Art.

When you draw away from this imaginative world, when you return to the "real" world, you can, if you're lucky, return to it with a gift--you sometimes see everything in a different, and better, light. You can see the ordinary with wonder, with what that old scary TV series The Outer Limits called "awe and mystery." And that, to me, is without a doubt a component of sanity. G.K.Chesteron noticed this when he wrote, "The Greeks were right when they made Apollo the god both of imagination and of sanity."

I am also reminded of some of the sayings of Jesus: "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." The humility of which he spoke, I see as opposed to the arrogance so often found in those adults who I can only describe as crackpot realists, the ones who are convinced they know the hard-headed truth about life, but who in reality know only a small part of it.

I don't mean to imply people should live exclusively in their imaginations. That's a bad thing. There has to be balance. But when people can't escape into their imaginations, that's a bad thing, too. For one thing, it's nearly impossible to create anything. When Robert Fulghum wrote, "Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life--learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some," he was exactly right. Such balance makes you "whole"--and is it any surprise the word comes from the same root as "holy"?

It would be, well, wonderful to live every second of your life in that state of love and awe. Ray Bradbury, who knows what he's talking about, wrote, "Stuff your eyes with wonder ... live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories."

Bradbury's asking a lot, and I don't know if it's possible to live every second of your life like that. Perhaps it is. Some very rare people appear to have found the way to it. But I do know it requires accepting everything in life, the good as well as the bad, the terror along with the wonder, the gigantic fanged spiders along with rescuing the Damsel in Distress--the whole complex and violent thing. That's why it's bad, again as Tolkien noticed, to bowdlerize fairy tales--or any story--clean for "the sake of the children." Or even for the adults.

Robert South said, "Wonder is from surprise, and surprise stops with experience." That's true. But it's possible to go from innocence to experience and on to something that encompasses both of them. It's a state to which those very rare people have somehow wandered. They've returned to the child-like wonder and wonder, humility and gratitude.

"The moment one gives a close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world unto itself," wrote Henry Miller. A blade of grass is pretty mundane, really. That's what our experience tells us. But in reality it's more than that. It is, as Miller and others have noticed, an entire world--an entire universe--all in itself, full of awe and mystery and wonder. It is possible, as William Blake wrote, to see a world in a grain of sand.

After all, I found awe and love and mystery and adventure and wonder in a cheap paperback book that was falling apart as I read it. Aren't there such stories even in a blade of grass or a grain of sand, if we only listen to them?

Burroughs' novel wasn't sanitized and tidied up. Had it been, A Fighting Man of Mars would have been one boring book, one certainly not worth reading. It might as well been called, Dick and Jane and Spot and Pony on Mars.

Yet, for all the horror and terror that can be inherent in this fallen world, there is still that wonder and love and awe. One of the main purposes of the latter is to not only learn to accept the former, but to also push it back. Tolkien called this "consolation" or eucatastrophe, i.e., the happy ending. It is the moment of joy at the deliverance from evil. Tolkien, who was a devout Catholic, related this happy ending to Christian theology, specifically the Resurrection, or the overcoming of death. To him that was the greatest eucatastrophe of all.

I occasionally wonder what the world would be like without imagination and fantasy. I know it'd be an awful place, something that would make you go like a shot to live in the old East Germany. I am reminded of those shuddery, grit-your-teeth places like Brave New World, or perhaps even more horribly, 1984. It would be a world with little wonder, little awe, little creation. Einstein was right on the mark when he noted, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Knowledge is important, but imagination more so.

Personally, I prefer not only Burroughs' Mars, but better yet The Circus of Dr. Lao, where you if look at it in the right way, the whole world is a circus, and where a handful of dust is not just dust, but a mystery and a marvel.