Monday, April 27, 2015

Healthy Normal Disorders HND - and Tom Savini Turning Horror into Life

It's been my experience that many, if not most of us, exhibit symptoms regularly or from time to time, some of us only under stress, of various conditions like, OCD, Schizophrenia, socipathy, and so on.

I like to call this HND, Healthy Normal Disorders. I use the word "disorder" ironically, obviously.


These are not true illnesses I'm referring to, but protective mechanisms built into our species and perhaps long forgotten as a need through our evolution. Like nipples on men or tails on some people that need if possible, to be removed.

Basically, things that once served a purpose that were life saving but may now not be so useful, sometimes even counter productive.

For many of us you can fight these minor symptoms merely by not following them or allowing them to exhibit themselves, or certainly to take you over. Sometimes this can be accomplished just by recognizing them and then countering them. Through conscious effort, you can make your life better.

That being said, for those who have abnormal degrees of these things taking over their life, professional help is useful if not warranted to the point that, when you find that you cannot control these things by yourself, you really should seek help. Why not? Don't put yourself through the misery if you can't do it alone.

That being said let me mention, we can all use therapy throughout our lives, just as a "check in" and evaluate our life and character. Sometimes maybe a tweak is all that is needed. Sometimes we find we really need some serious therapy and hadn't noticed it.

Being beat up by your live in boyfriend (or girlfriend) and always making excuses about how you brought it on yourself? Maybe, you have blocked out the reality of the fact that you're just living with a complete cretin? A therapist is trained not just to recognize that, but to tell you, and get you to do something about it. See?

But for the majority of us, merely by altering our behaviors both consciously and effectively, we can make small changes that enhance the quality of our lives, and quite possibly of those around us.

Some of these things come off to us as a compulsion, something that if we allow it to happen soothes us or makes us feel better. We cave in and allow it purchase in our lives. But it can also take away and not add to our lives in a pleasant or productive way. It can go into a loop and simply overtake us.

We are such creatures that we can ignore the negative when we find we can do something to make us feel better. Sometimes, even if others suffer because of it. Look at it as a degree of energy. If it is too much, we tend to push it away. But energy, according to physics, cannot be destroyed. It has to go somewhere. It can commute into matter, but it doesn't just disappear.

What happens in social dynamics is, when you remove it from yourself, you may very likely be putting it onto someone else. Typically those closest to you, a loved one, a spouse, a child. So we first need to recognize it, then deal with it appropriately in such a way that it relieves you, as well as those around you. To not consider others in this, is to lean into sociopathy. Discare about those around you as long as you are happy.

This is a paramount element in things like traditional bachelorhood, or rising to power in government or corporations. Many leaders who these tendencies. Many people the "world loves" are not so wonderful in their home lives. Few have the energy to cultivate both public and personal lives. Let's face it, even if you do, when you are out in public, you aren't in with the private members in your life.

Paraphrasing something my son said recently, "what we do, is what we practice to be doing".

In other words, our behaviors in daily life are also our practice to be more that way. So be sure what you are doing is what you want to be doing in  your life, who you want to be in your life, who you want to be remembered for being, in your lifetime.

Too many of us make that mistake in thinking that what we do in our life, will leave our family and loved ones to love us for it. But that may mean the love they want from you is lacking due to your efforts outside of that relationship between you.

It can also be the case of the unhappy person who is unhappy mostly because of the habit of being unhappy. However, once they just stop it they find they begin to be happier. That goes for those around them too.

It can be as simple a thing as smiling more throughout the day.

Or it can be, simply making an effort to notice the beautiful, the amazing, the fascinating in daily life. Things that go on all around all of us on a daily and hourly basis.

 Sometimes, it's just a matter of noticing and taking the time to enjoy it.

There is a story....
Similar to my signed and framed photo I got from Tom at ZomBcon II
Tom Savini, the long renowned horror make-up artist and actor was in the military in Vietnam during that war in the 1960s. He was a photographer and shot photos for the military of just about everything. He documented damage, personnel, government materiel, etc. It left him when he returned home, kind of dead inside after seeing so much horror. After he returned back to the States, he just wasn't himself any longer.

He got involved with filmmaking and worked on the original "Night of the Living Dead" film. The graphic view of the zombies in their actions is attributed to him and his "practicals" (physical gags and makeup, not CGI) for making skin look real for instance, because of his background photographing things in the war.

They also used accurate depictions of bodies using copies of Gray's Anatomy to make a horror film appear accurate, more real, more affecting, which hadn't really been done before this. Previous to that filmmakers tended to shy away from reality in horror simply because it was, horror.

But Vietnam changed all that, as did Tom.

By the way, Wikipedia defines practicals as: "A special effect produced physically, without computer-generated imagery or other post production techniques. "Special effect" is often synonymous with "practical effect". In contrast, visual effects are created in post-production through photographic manipulation or computer generation."

Tom has said that that it was a year almost to the day that he was driving along one day and noticed a sunset (or sunrise, I don't remember). Finally he took a moment and recognized what a beautiful thing that was. It was from that moment on that he felt he started to get better, to heal from what he had lived through, having seen all the horrible things he had seen and documented in that war. But he turned that horror around into entertainment. Odd as it sounds, he turned the horrible into the entertaining; a difficulty into a benefit.

It was his initial notice of a sunset that began that entire process.

It's like the old saw about the number 23 and how it is everywhere. That is also true for other numbers. What you notice, is what you notice more of until it seems they are everywhere. We are creatures of pattern recognition. And sometimes, that gets out of control. What do you do about that?

Ask yourself, what are you doing each day that makes little or no sense?

Maybe you'd like to stop it, but it's become more than a compulsion and is a habit. Maybe it's really no big deal, but perhaps it is. Is it something you can trace back to an event in your life that negatively affected you? Or a past behavior in human beings as a specific thing? If you have no education in anthropology that may be asking a bit much. But sometimes you can begin to see it in that context and it can be helpful

I have a university degree in psychology.

When we had our first abnormal psych class the first thing our prof told us all in class was that the first thing we would all do is look for ourselves in our text book. He then said, "You will not be in that book. You will think you are, you will see things that you recognize, things that you do, but trust me, if you were in that book you wouldn't be here. We'd be visiting you in a lock down facility."

All new psych students seem to go through that, thinking they may have a disorder they are learning about.

Why is that?

Pattern recognition. It is what I said earlier. We all have all these disorders in minor degrees. So they aren't per se, "disorders", really. They are in part, human nature.

Split personality. By the nature of how our brain works, one can deduce we are a conglomeration of various "personalities" in our mind with a kind of master control kernel that runs everything. When this gets out of control, or like a body builder who has worked on one muscle too much, it can become dysfunctional and so we may hear "voices".

Or we may thing we hear voices in hindsight but never really hear them, we just remember hearing them the second after we think we head them, but never really heard them. It is just an echoic memory, a kind of deja vu of a mental process. A mirroring of a thought gone awry perhaps.

Much of that is natural and normal and not a problem. Sometimes however it can become a problem simply if we let it become one. If you are scared of the dark, not being scared of it is as simple as not allowing yourself to be. Controlling your mind, and physiology. But for some, that seems impossible for various reasons. So much of what becomes a concern for us can be controlled simply by doing it.

And so, procrastination.

Not doing what needs to be done at times, can be stopped merely by doing it. That may sound offensive to one who has problems with that, but it's just how it is with things like exercising or eating less, or correctly. We just have to do it. Sometimes it requires educating ourselves as we're procrastinating simply because we don't know what needs to be done and education is effort and we may require education about how to become educated on a topic (see, makes you exhausted just reading about it, right?).

Along with procrastinating can be laziness.

Laziness however can easily be one person's perception over that of another's. Different people do things at different rates of speed. Including, getting around to doing it. Some people are more high-powered and more highly motivated, some are just more laid back.

When putting things off gets to the point that you become dysfunctional, then it becomes an issue. If it effects your life, your relationships or your job, you may have a problem. But up to that point, it just takes building good habits and eliminating bad ones. Laziness can indicated depression, too or other associated things. Sometimes it's just a bad habit however. Something we can personally handle, control and rectify on our own. But we first have to just start to do it.

Now it may sound disingenuous to say, as Nike did (referring to a comment made by serial murderer Gary Gilmore, actually), to "Just Do It". Brilliant and true. Except for those with serious problems. However, many times that really is the case. Cut through your mental reasons for not doing it, and just do it. It's all about how we get there that is at question and it takes sometimes properly building up to things in order to become truly productive. .

I have found for myself that finding these things in my own personality, my character and behavior, are very helpful. From there, then building good habits to work around them, or find ways to make them work for me.

I like to look at it as "tricking" myself to do things I need to do. I set myself up so that my least or easiest course of action is simply to do what I don't want to do, but really want to get done. After all no one is going to do it for me. And in some cases, when someone will do it for me, they are just being codependent to my dependency.

From PsychologistAnywhereAnytime.com:

"The National Mental Health Association states that co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.

"Codependence can be seen as a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by a person in order to survive in a family which is experiencing great emotional pain and stress caused, for example, by a family member's alcoholism or other addiction, sexual or other abuse within the family, or a family members' chronic illness.

"Codependent people have a greater tendency to enter into relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable or needy. The codependent tries to control a relationship without directly identifying and addressing his or her own needs and desires. This invariably means that codependent's set themselves up for continued lack of fulfillment. Codependent's always feel that they are acting in another person's best interest, making it difficult for them to see the controlling nature of their own behavior."

If you need that kind of help, get it.

I have trouble remembering things, so I use aids. The calendar on my cell phone. I keep notes for later. I'm a writer so that is very helpful to me. I have so many thoughts and ideas, that I have to keep notes. Then there is the issue of tracking the long term notes which is another issue. But keep short term notes for only a day to get through the day, if you need it, is gold.

Here's another.

If you have the ability to choose when you sleep, do you prefer to avoid the day and stay up all night, sleeping through the daylight? If you do, you may need to supplement your diet with Vitamin D. I take D3 in the winter up here in the pacific northwest as there isn't much sun for months and it helps my mood from SAD symptoms (Seasonal Affect Disorder).

I also discovered that using full spectrum, "Daylight" light bulbs in the house during those sunless months, helps a lot. I started putting them first in my most used common areas. Home office, kitchen, bathroom, then added them everywhere.

I haven't been diagnosed with that myself, but I can't help but notice a long term lack of sunlight changes my behavior to be less functional, productive and less happy, basically.

But you should probably ask your doctor about that.

My mother used to do that, sleep during the day, stay up at night watching TV or reading. The thing about that, especially now a days is that it has been proven that you need sunlight and if you think you don't, you are probably wrong about that. You will however try to rationalize reasons to support your behavior. Why? Because once your body finds a way to make you feel better, you want to maintain that status quo, because in the moment it works even if in the overall picture it doesn't.

There is something about getting up and facing the day that is healthy for you. For HUMANS in general. Yes, there is a condition about this not needing sunlight, or sunlight being bad for you in some ways. But again, odds are that you probably don't have that.

Sleeping all day and staying up all night is also a symptom of certain types of schizophrenia. So all you have to do there is to get up in the morning. Harder than it sounds for some, but typically they have simply fooled themselves into thinking this behavior is "good" for them in some way, though it's just a rationalization and skewing of reality.

Sleeping during the day by choice is also a way to avoid reality, people, and basically, your life. If you are in that state of mind, slowly (or quickly if you can face it), get back onto days, get back to facing people, face reality, face your life.

I worked for five years on nights, all alone in a big hospital in the computer room in the sub-sub basement, and I loved it. Shopping was easier while everyone was at work, I had fewer drama incidents in my life and so on. I'm a solitary type anyway so it enhanced that way of existing. The trouble with that like many things is, a little or enough is good, more or too much is not. Like ice cream is good, but eating it for every meal every day, will kill you, or at least make you obese.

Sleeping during the day, staying up all night can for people up through their 20s, simply be a holdover from childhood. Once you are an adult it's just fun. It's doing what was forbidden before. It's not night time for some so much as being opposite from what is normal for those around them, and so on.

It can be done for reasons of decreasing over-stimulation, and the number of people they daily have to interact with. It can come from a perceived lack of control over one's life, an attempt to gain full control. The former could be a sign to get professional help, the latter could be simply a mechanism to gain control. But then you also have to recognize when to ween yourself off of it and get back to feeling that control and achieving normal sleep patterns once again.

Day sleeping is a go-to behavior for both drug addicts and those descending into mental illness. It can be a warning sign. For my mother it was both.

When I worked nights, I was up all night because I was working a good job for the first time in my life and supporting a family. My son was then born and we didn't need others to watch him since one of us were always awake. I would come home and sleep, then wake and my wife would pass him off to me so she could go to work.

But our relationship suffered and we eventually did divorce. After a while I couldn't wait to get back on days. Perhaps a deteriorating marriage was working in concert with my night job until the marriage was over and then a possible depression began to evaporate. I came to realize that I needed to be up and out and about during the day.

But it was nice for a while. As I said, I shopped when few people were about, streets had less people on them when I was out. But there was also a downside. Services and companies I needed or wanted to deal with were open during fewer hours of my waking day. Mandatory meetings required me to get up in the middle of MY night and attend them at the hospital then show up that night, tired.

Now a days, I love waking before the sun comes up. I start my job early and get off work at 3pm.

But those are major issues. Some issues are much smaller. Some habits for instance.

Like when I take out the trash, but don't take it all the way to the garbage can outside. If I'm in a hurry, I might change the kitchen garbage and put the tied up plastic bag on the raised upper back deck. I put it against the sliding glass door so that later when I have time, I'll notice it and walk it down the stairs to the garbage can. I help myself, help myself.

Otherwise, as someone just did here yesterday, they took the garbage out while there were already two other bags on the deck, left there out of site and forgotten. Which is why you put things where it is obvious or make it an irritant to you, to push you along to finalize things.

Then there are the other smaller things. Like smiling more.

Ask yourself: If you're unhappy, how much do you smile throughout the day?

Research has shown that if you smile, it uses facial muscles associated with mental activity of smiling, wherein if your brain tells you to smile you do and, if you tell your brain to make you smile, it engages those very same brain areas and actually affects your mood. It may not feel that way in the beginning but over time it really is effective.

In the same vein, if you notice the beautiful and the amazing in daily life, it simply has to affect your overall mood. Notice things. Notice, the good things, and stop noticing so much (if it's a problem) all the bad things. Stop watching shows on TV that rant on about the horrible in life. Limit your intake of horror news. Read more about the future, the happy. You don't need to become delusional, just balance things in your life.

The Dali Lama said a few years ago that we have more peace in the world than ever before. It just doesn't seem like it. All this nonsense with religion and ISIS\ISIL in the Middle East notwithstanding as it is a temporary glitch in history really, life isn't that bad for most of us. But the media would have us believe in order to raise their market share, that the world is falling apart around us. Surely there are things going on that need to be fixed. But will those things actually kill you tomorrow? Next week? Probably not. So relax.

Do things to help the world be a better place, just don't let it kill you over it.

I did that years ago, tried forcing a smile more throughout each day, tried to focus on the good rather than the bad in my life, back when I was very unhappy. After a while I did start to see more of the positive in daily life, less of the negative and my life sloly changed over time simply because of that.

IF nothing you do, and you do all this, pinpointing your issues, setting up positive and productive workarounds to them, and you still do not find anything in life worth living, you may be depressed. This can be a byproduct of these kinds of things getting out of control and so you should see the help of a professional.

The thing is however, so many of us are not that dysfunctional, never do seek help and actually can help ourselves with just a little bit of understanding, education, effort and application.

Notice the next sunrise or sunset, and the next beautiful thing you run into that you wouldn't normally notice. Smile more at things (appropriately). Remember that humor can easily be described as pain + time. Don't hesitate to laugh at yourself, your situation, your life even. Put it in its place in the story of your overall life from birth to one day, death.

Apply humor or even sarcasm to yourself, but in non-threatening or positive ways.

See the clever all around you. Take the power and control away from the stupid by enjoying the humor in it all. Appreciate the interesting and fascinating in life around you. See if in doing all those things your life doesn't take a swing up from the down and dirty miserable aspects of what life can be and do to us.

And it can suck, life can. Just don't let it.

If it does, change your life. It can be painful, but sometimes, that's just want it takes. Changes in either very minor or very major ways. In the end you will appreciate it as well anyone close to you in your life.

Just about here is where some idiot will point out how some people have lives that are truly miserable, true horror stories. Like in the Middle East or Africa where some group came in and slaughtered families or something. Obviously this blog isn't about them. Those are horrible things and life like that is a truly inhumane existence and for another blog another time.

This blog today however is about those whose lives aren't that terrible, who have only minor problems or issues that they can easily apply changes to in order to evoke from themselves (and subsequently from those around them, which itself has a dynamic that is more helpful than not), in order to make their life better.

When you are happier, people around you respond to that, and you respond to them, then. Just as if you are miserable, it makes those around you miserable and you are more miserable because of them (because of you). Just be sure you aren't part of the reason you're miserable, when you don't have to be. It happens that way. It happens a lot.

As I indicated above if you have more serious issues then you really need professional help, a therapist, or an intentional intervention.

The entire point of this blog is try to under-strand that some of the things in your life, those that you can change, are normal and natural and really can be changed. YOU just have to take the time to notice and address them. Just like you may need to take the time to notice and address the wonderful in your life if you're not noticing it.

In my 20s I had a period where I was truly miserable.

A few friends told me I was doing it to myself. I thought that was rather offensive. My life SUCKED and they're telling me it's my fault?

Until one day I really took it to heart and I started trying to apply what they were telling me. Because I was sick of my life and wanted change. I finally got to a point where I would try anything.

Eventually over the course weeks and month, of that next year or so (and it remained miserable for a while and I had to force it at first, making the fix seem counter-intuitive), my life did get better.

People started to relate to me better. People who I just met liked me more that it had been going for a while up to that point. People started being attracted to me once again and the rest really, is history. And it is mostly a good history.

I found again that I had a kind of charisma. I always had had that, but I lost if for a while. Though not really because people were attracted to be around me, but at that low point in my life, they quickly realized something was wrong. So when I got back to normal, my life changed, drastically for the better.

Granted, I've made some stupid choices in life that went bad. We all do and that just happens. Sometimes because we're not paying attention, or we follow what we want more than what we need, or what we wish is there over what is really there.

But what didn't kill me did make me stronger and all along I have kept my sense of humor and fascination at the wonder all around me. It's really all up to us and how we wish to relate to the world and allow the world to relate to us. How we manage our internal for how it relates to the external.

For most of us, our lives are in our hands. Believe it or not. Look at yourself. Can you fix yourself? Can you see ways now that you can better your outlook? To trick yourself to be happy until you truly do become happy? Life is good. Or it should be. Make it so for you.

All I can say in closing therefore, is...

Cheers!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day, April 22, 2015 - My First Earth Day & Bert Thomas, Swimmer and Diver Extraordinaire

Today, is Earth Day! Hurrah Earth!



We really do need to push ourselves and our governments (and other's) to leave things better than when we found them, rather than abusing things for fun and profit. Existence on this planet, IS a profit for us by the way.

We need to do big things as well as the little things to sustain and fix our planet. The biggest thing we can do however is to change our ways of thinking, especially as it relates to big money and governments.

As individuals, we need a paradigm shift in our thoughts about how we live, how our community and country lives and how others live in their countries. The world is a contained unit. It's like we all live in the same room and if someone lights up a cigar, we all suffer for it through their pleasure. If someone does one bad behavior, it does have a ripple effect across the room, or the world.

Like the burning of tropical forests to plant palm trees for palm oil. A hugely destructive and yet, profitable behavior. Insects are dying off, like bees and when they go, they say, we go. Insects after all, do not need us, we need them for survival.

We need to act on climate change whether or not is is affected by our activities as there is great debate among the laymen about that, although there is not among informed people, like scientists. We need to at least think about our planet and our actions. We need at least one day a year to think about it. We need to therefore think about it, at least, on that one day.

Wednesday April 22nd, 2015 - Earth Day
Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. - Wikiipedia

It's a day of respect for the planet we live on. I reflect on how we have and are treating it, and to feel gratitude it would deserve just as if it were a person. It's what we humans have to do sometimes, to anthropomorphise things in order to see the degree of respect that we should attribute toward them, for our own benefit.

Here's an interesting web site for today, EarthDay.org, the Earth Day Network. Also, there is BTNW to take a different slant on things..

I first because aware of Earth Day when it was started. I took a NAUI certified SCUBA class that year in 10th grade at and through the Tacoma, Washington Lincoln high school that I was attending, eventually to graduate from in 1973.

I started this blog only about Earth Day but then in the writing of it something became obvious to me and that was that my famous diving instructor, Bert Thomas, seems to have disappeared in history.


Allow me to say that I'm a better person for having known and learned from Mr. Thomas, as is much of the world. As a SCUBA diver and one trained by Bert Thomas, as well as having been a life long resident of such a special place as the Pacific Northwest with it's many waterways, diversity of population and life, and its amazing places to visit on land, I could only grew up with an innate sense of ecology. I also took two quarters of Oceanography in college.

So I'm going to tell you a little story and give you some background. Allow me to explain....
Bill's Boathouse 2013
When I was just starting high school, a local dive shop called Bill's Boathouse located on American Lake in Steilacoom, Washington, wanted to run a trial to train and certify local high school students toward their SCUBA certifications. This would increase awareness of SCUBA diving overall as the infant recreation diving sport that it was, as well as increase sales for the products the dive shop was selling.

Lead by Bert Thomas, world famous for a variety of things such as attempting to be the first to swim the English Channel, and successfully swimming Seattle to Tacoma as well as helping Jacques Cousteau in the development of the aqualung or S.C.U.B.A. system (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) back when Bert was a Navy hard hat deep sea diver.

Bert also swam non-stop from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and there is now a plaque on Ediz Hook indicating the location he swam away from at Port Angeles..He swam the 18.3 mile distance in 11 hours on his fifth attempt on July 8, 1955, almost two months before I was even born. 1,500 people where there to meet him when he arrived in Victoria, BC.

Port Angeles, WA
Although he had failed in his attempt to be the first person to swim the English Channel, he then not only crossed the channel from Cape Griz Nez, France to Dover, England, he was then "pulled from the water after reaching about midway on the return trip."

May 15, 1956. 
Bert was born in Durango, CO, but called the PNW and Tacoma, Washington his home.He was a Marine drill instructor in San Diego and a platoon sergeant in a demolition unit. Later he was a Navy frogman instructor at Pearl Harbor.

Odd. My first Ishinryu Karate Sensei the also great bear of a man, the great Steve Armstrong was also a Marine DI only in Okinawa. I don't use "great" lightly with either of these men, either. Bert has been described as a "human polar bear" and a "professional cork".
"Description: Tacoma distance swimmer Bert Thomas is embraced by his wife Mary at the end of his swim from West Seattle to Old Tacoma on May 15, 1956. Thomas swam the 18.5 miles in 15 hours, 23 minutes in 40 degree water battered by high winds and the tide. His feet touched the bottom for the first time at 3:05 a.m., 15 feet out from the shore. Visibly exhausted, he staggered in to shore and collapsed in his wife's arms. He appeared ghostly white with blue lips. His wife struggled to get him into his bathrobe to warm up. When he could speak, the ex-frogman's first words were "Man, it was quite a haul." Mrs. Thomas had supported him on the swim, aboard the "Sharon Two." She fed him through a tube every hour and lit the cigarette that he smoked, continuing the swim on his back. Also aboard the craft was his 12 year old daughter Sharon and Erling Bergerson. The other support craft was the "Memories," skippered by George Peterson. (TNT 5-15-1956, p.1) ALBUM 9". - Historylink.org

Oddly, coincidentally enough (considering this blog today), Bert ended his 15.5 hour swim from Faultleroy, Seattle, 18.5 miles on May 14, 1956, at the Tacoma Old Town dock (I'll get back to that in a minute) where there were 5,000 people to meet him.

Having known him personally, he and his wife also got to be friends with my mother and sister, both of whom who were motivated by my achieving my own SCUBA certification in getting their certifications. I can honestly say that Bert was a truly great man to know and be trained by. My NAUI certified SCUBA card was signed by the great Bert Thomas himself. It indicates that I had 41 hours of training and I received my certification in May 1971.

In writing this blog, I found very little record of Bert online (there are however these interesting photos and descriptions I did find). So, I thought I'd go into a little more about him out of respect so at least he will be slightly memorialized in more detail, somewhere.

My SCUBA card signed by Bert Thomas and dated 1970
Bert was a great bear of a guy and a pleasure to be around. When they opened their second dive shop, Philippe Cousteau sent a bouquet of flowers to the shop. The dive instructors were a great bunch of guys and Bert was a real character. As was old Bill, who owned Bill's Boathouse, though he was old even back then when I knew him.
Bert Thomas Obituary, 


Bert's fatal event, as it was explained to me, was in attempting to stop a student surfacing too fast during an open salt water certification dive. A new diver thing to do which can be potentially lethal, as it was for Bert. As one of his students was rushing to the surface, Bert raced up after him to stop him from getting the "bends", also known as decompression sickness, divers' disease, or caisson disease.

Officially, Bert died on Thursday, June 8, 1972, having suffered a heart attack at Tacoma General Hospital. It's been conjectured however by one of his dive instructors, that it was that event with the student that led to his passing. 

The student came to his senses and stopped on his own, but by then Bert had too much momentum and couldn't stop himself from surfacing too quickly himself. He was rushed to the hospital but didn't make it which isn't unusual in this kind of thing.

However, he died doing what he loved, diving and teaching.

Before all this happened, we had started a SCUBA club at my high school.

Lincoln High School Newspaper Oct. 22, 1971

Those teachers in my high school SCUBA class also included Mr. Vincent, my biology teacher who initially didn't want me in his class, kept throwing me out of his class (usually for good reason) and just didn't much like me. But after we had to do ditch and don in he school pool where you have to dive to the pool bottom and ditch your gear, surface, breathe, then dive and don your gear, his attitude about me from that day forward dramatically changed for the better.

Mr. Vincent, Biology Teacher May 1971
He nearly drowned (he thought so anyway, though he was fine aside from a little sputtering) and I was there to help him. Being the fish in water I had always been, I gave him some support and advice and did not make fun of him, but showed him compassion.

The Author (right) on open (saltwater) certification dive May 1971
I had several years of search and rescue experience, being a commander of others in Civil Air Patrol and before that in Karate. Yes, I was a pain in class for a teacher sometimes. But in a real life situation, especially a dangerous one, I was very effective both as a leader and a companion in arms, so to speak.
Diving in 1978 in Hawaii at a vacant Hanauma Bay on O'ahau Island.
Once he saw that side of me, everything changed between us. We never became best buds, but he did have a respect for me from then on that equaled the one I had always had for him, from the beginning.

Over that next year or so the now officially certified students of the first 1970 Lincoln High school graduating SCUBA class, all kept talking. At first we joked that our next effort would have to be sky diving and for some of us, that happened (for me nearly two years later when I was 17, then ended up a parachute rigger in the USAF years later, among other things like working on the B-52 nuclear bomber\weapons platform).

We started the Lincoln High SCUBA Club. One day someone brought up that we needed to do something to raise people's awareness of SCUBA diving and concerns about our planet, conservation, and clean up. Someone mentioned the new Earth Day.


If you lived in Puget Sound, you'd know many of us who grew up here are highly concerned about our environment.

It's like living on a microcosm of an ocean at your front door. We are seafood lovers, nature lovers, mountain climbers and hiker.


Washington state has just about everything here other than tropical environments, though we do have rain forests (I live in one), but we also have deserts, mountains, waterways and so on. You can go to where there is snow, and that same day to a desert, any time of the year.


We kicked around ideas of what kind of event to plan, where, why. We finally decided on cleaning up under the Tacoma Old Town Dock.

Tacoma Old Town Dock History
"Old Town Dock was first built in 1873 and served the shipping industry until trade operations moved to the Tideflats. After that it quickly transitioned into a popular public space. It was closed in 2008 after an engineering study found it to be too weak for pedestrians. After five years and $2.3 million in renovations, it reopened May 15, 2013."

Our thinking was that this dock had been around "forever" and had to have a lot  of junk under it that didn't need to be there. We knew we couldn't even make a dent in it, but it was a statement and figured, wasn't that was Earth Day was all about? To bring things to people's attention and in the course of that, do even a little good?

It was agreed and decided to go forward with it. It occurred to me that without people knowing we were doing it, it wasn't much of a statement. So I mentioned that if we were going to do this, someone needed to get the attention of the media, so people would hear about it in a timely fashion, or at all.

I was designated to find the attention. I wasn't exactly thrilled with that as it seemed a bit daunting for an 11th grader, but I brought it up, so...I got it. I followed through. I called TV stations. No one would bite. I'm still not sure why they found it uninteresting but concepts like Earth Day back there were still thought of by many as just "more hippy crap".

It seemed like an obvious video event to shoot and a good news piece as a human interest story, though admittedly, someone contacting the media wasn't thought about until the last minute and so I was calling mere days before the event.

One TV station suggested newspapers and so I called around from bigger to smaller. Finally I got one to bite who said they''d send a photographer. Success! They were a small publication called the "Tacoma Review (Combined with Tacoma Buyer's Guide)".


Sure enough, the Tacoma Review photographer showed up.

1972 Tacoma Earth Day Old Tacoma Dock SCUBA clean up
Under the docks we found trash, lots of it but I also found a few antique bottles I kept, some medicine some alcohol but all small at around six inches high. Within a year, I donated them to an older friend of the family, to her husband who had a bottle collection and was old and very ill. He died within a year or so but the bottles had cheered him up. Although I'd love to have those bottles now, I simply cannot feel any  regret in my actions.

LHS SCUBA Club Diver extracting under dock garbage
We also found several bicycles, and more than a few fishing poles. We assumed that people biked to the dock to fish and wind or accident found their transportation and fishing poles in the deep water, lost to them forever.


It was eerie diving under that dock, among the wood pilings encrusted with sea life, barnacles, mussels, sea anemones. That previous Christmas, I had gotten some SCUBA tanks from my parents. Duel 72 cu. in. US Divers brand, black, steel tanks. I could stay down for about an hour around 30-40' with proper and controlled breathing, which takes a little practice (first rule of SCUBA diving: "Stay Calm!" always, breathe slow and easy).
Your humble narrator diving under the  Old Tacoma Dock 1972
When the newspaper came out and I saw the diver with the dual tanks, being the only one in the club with duals, I knew it was me and that I had made the front page! Pretty cool, especially since I called them to come shoot photos of us. I got ride of the gear over the years as it got older but I still have those French, Flotante fins as well as my US Divers Turbo fins (which didn't float) and my wrap around mask, though I haven't been diving in some years.

In the end, this was the end of this event. The few who read the edition of the Tacoma Review with us on the front cover knew about it, but no one called, and I didn't pursue more media attention even though we had made it into a local newspaper. Now I know, I should have followed up, but I was sixteen. The event was Saturday, the newspaper came out on that next Wednesday. And that was the end of it.

After high school graduation the SCUBA club fell apart, or at least, I wasn't around anymore. We had done the Earth Day event. We had done several group dives. And that was it. I'm not even sure if there were other dive classes, but I believe there were until I graduated and I know they had moved into other area high schools to teach, but I don't' know how that all turned out. I know they had expanded to another dive shop and were doing well last I heard around that time.

All of this led to my producing a wood block print (linoleum block actually) of a free diver. Not great but for a 10th grader with no talent for art, not too shabby either. This is the only surviving print of the eight print run in Mr. Thomas' Creative Crafts class.

"Skin Diver" print 8 of 8, May 1971
Now, getting back to the original point of this little jaunt into history back to the beginning of the advent of Earth Day....

We all need to help our most favorite planet, to consider how we relate to it, and how we should act toward it.

It doesn't have to be a large effort, some international committee you set up, or even a small Earth Day SCUBA diving clean up under a dock type of event. It doesn't in fact have to be any kind of event at all as it is more about how we act on a daily basis that most counts. It can merely be in the way you talk to others about the earth and how we treat it. Or in your posting about it, or simply in your altering your habits even a little bit toward the better.

The earth is not unlike having a car when we were teenagers. It may get messy inside that car, after all its yours and you don't have to keep it as clean as your parents car, but eventually and hopefully, we mature to the point that we realize our environment indicates a big part of who we are and how we want to live.

If not taking care of that car leads to a lack of care about more important parts of the car than just the interior, things like the engine or the brakes, then eventually things will start to break down and one day, probably when we most need it, it will simply stop working.


When I think about Earth Day, I can't help but think about my first foray into environmental activism. or about Bert Thomas. Or the waters he swam in to break those records back even before I was born. I think about our Puget Sound waters and how there are places where there is so little oxygen in the waters now that there is nothing living there. I think about the huge ball of plastic the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I think about Japan's failed nuclear plant due not really to a tsunami but due to it's poor design and maintenance of their Fukushima plant, its radioactive materiel still floating around in the Pacific Ocean. I think about coal burning, carbon issues, war zone pollution, the killing off of the Amazon basin's forests. I wonder why we are so bent on killing ourselves, just for more money.

Take a moment this Earth Day to consider your environment, think about our truly amazing world and make a change. Or, two.

It's really not that hard to do and it's really the least we can do.

Not to mention it's really only in our benefit to do so.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Information Overload

I think I figured out a way to make understandable what we've been seeing in recent years, going all the way back perhaps to the 1990s.

Informational overload. Overload of information we are unable to assimilate and so many of us, simply get annoyed instead of understanding and appropriately reacting. It's the only answer I can think of to why people are believing nonsense and support those who are actively working against them.
graphic from Dafna Shahaf
Look at it like this.

It's like people with a high school education have been immersed into a collegiate environment, where many of them if not most are not in the least collegiate.That being said, you might reply, well some of the people you're referring to do have degrees, some even from Ivy League schools like Harvard. So there!

Yes, but you also have to consider what their actual mental capabilities were in college and just how much did they learn, or learn outside of their specialty or major. Obviously, there are a lot of people who just do not get it.

I've known people with college educations where although they could handle an academic environment, once you take them out of that protected environment, they became pretty dysfunctional.

In fact a girlfriend of mine when we were at our universality together was a prime example of that. She was very smart, straight A's, better at getting good grades than I was and yet, to be honest, she didn't have a certain capacity for complex synthesis at times. She lacked street smarts. In recent years

I've met a lot more people like that as the years pass. People with book knowledge, but too stupid about somethings to not walk into a wall. Like they watch YouTube videos but don't consider the source, or the accuracy. Many people have become emotional over intellectual and so vote with their heart and not their gut, or their minds.

My concerns in college were much less with grades and much more with learning, absorbing all I could educationally and intellectually. I came to understand that to get the best education it really wasn't about grades, it was about learning.

My grades were still good but my concern wasn't in getting that "A", but in how much I could actually learn, could cram into my brain while I had the opportunity and the resources of an amazing library and highly educated professors.

There were times that I spent in the library, hours upon hours researching to acquire the information for some class paper, when I'd get side tracked.

I would search for information and note it for future reference, or would continue following it to the end (time allowing which it seldom did), depending on what seemed the most prudent course to follow. My papers were always in on time or turned in ahead of time.

Where many of my friends finished the night before because they were out partying and delaying getting the work done as soon as possible, allowing time for mistakes and unforeseen situations. Frequently they  would be stressing out the last few days before an assignment was due, when I had gotten onto it as soon as I got the assignment.

There are many political pundits out there now who were like that too, partying, but getting that degree. But are now treated as if their college education was the end all be all of their learning, when frequently it wasn't. Though their grades may or may not have reflected the reality of it. My point being, college education doesn't make you a genius, how you handled it, does. That's not always reflected in the grades you received, however.

People never look at your grades after college anyway and even if they do, it takes really talking to someone to find out just how smart college made them. From what I'm seeing in politics, our colleges must have done a really poor job of educating people, or people were just partying too much toward their degree.

In college you have to do the course work, but you have to go beyond, you have to do work, on your own. Otherwise you just may likely walk out of there with a degree, and simply book smarts. You need to learn critical thinking and you need to absorb good materiel, useful and accurate information.

Counter-intuition.

This is another thing that some people who get straight As may not get. I see this especially on the conservative end of the spectrum. Though to be sure, we see this on the left but it appears to be far more spread out across the right wing. Surely we see much of it in the media; so called "intelligent" or "educated" people spewing nonsense or disagreeing with the science on things time and again.

Why?

Because their brains can't handle all this information. As Fareed Zakaria put it the other day, some of what we have to face now a days was never in our lives, it's hard to digest, difficult to grasp, perhaps, even counter-intuitive.

Between informational overload on over to connective dissonance and various types of biases, people are lost awash a sea of information, much of which may disagree with their previous beliefs, typically those based in religion. A dangerous situation as they then lead others astray who believe they are following someone who should know what they are talking about.

And yet, they aren't. Even though they may have their bone fides as they say, those are just not the appropriate intellectual capabilities, not the correct bone fides to accurately analyze and explain news and information to others. Even when that is their professional job to do so.

Now look at the American public.

Let's skip those who are home school and the percentages of them who are poorly home schooled, entrenched in archaic concepts or beliefs that their family adheres to and which may go against at times, common sense or the science of the situation and where homeschooling is a way to avoid reality and seek a continuance of selective ignorance due to a preconceived belief system.

According to the New York Times, about a third of all Americans are now college educated.

That is up from about 25% in 1995. That, is good. But that also means that two thirds of America are not college educated. If you are not college educated, that's not a bad thing. And there are non higher education types who are quite smart or even brilliant. But let's face it, they are the outliers.

Of those college educate people, some were the ones hanging out by the keg at the college parties every weekend and their desire was only to get a degree, a better high paying job. Not so much, about actual learning.

Of those who wanted to attain "actual learning" there are concerns about how they went about it, their teachers, and so many other factors. So a college degree only means so much in the overall scope of things.

Still, a college education is better than not one, and once again, overall.

We are now being deluged with a morass of information about local, state, national and world problems. These are tainted with special interest groups, mostly big money, then religious concerns, us versus them mentalities and other issues. So much of what we now hear is tainted with special interests that we cannot even accurately see  anymore what is just news and what is political diatribe or economic agenda.

Climate change, petroleum verses renewable energies, jobs, "bubbles" in markets, and so on.

Life, has become very complicated and typically there are no easy solutions or ways to understand it all.

Basically the situation we find ourselves in is a college environment with people in various stages of pre-college education down around the grade school, junior high or high school levels. Some of our college graduates, graduate college merely at advanced high school levels and some of our high school graduates are really only at the junior high levels; that being education-wise and intellectually speaking.

Shen you consider all this, how can we NOT see the confusion we see now a days in people who do not understand or refuse to believe in what is right there before them? Twisting things to their own ends to fit their beliefs, rather than believe the science? All because it's easier for them to believe in and to support.

Life's not easy and yet we've been trying to remove all the risk factor from it, while purposely trying not to educate people to have well honed critical thought capabilities or an ability to correctly assess risk. When the only "safe" way TO make it through life is with good critical thinking skills and an accurate ability to risk assess. Calculated Risk. Critical Thinking.

Yes you could cite types when the science was wrong. But you'd be setting yourself up for failure overall when you do that. Sure, take it into consideration, but don't throw out the baby with the bathwater as so many are doing.

That is part of the issue....

People do not seem to know when to apply certain elements into certain situations. These are some of the things life teaches you if you are old enough, paid attention enough and have the capacity to allow for the assimilation of information well enough, and the forming therefore of correct opinions. Which is to say, forming the most accurate opinions.

Where people fall down lately, sadly, is typically in the area of defining what an accurate opinion is. What is accurate for a conservative may not sound accurate to a liberal or a progressive. Then you have to delve into why they are a conservative or otherwise.

Is it any wonder the world is such a mess anymore?

You cannot simply hear things on Fox News and think you know what's going on.

You need to understand how to know what to believe, and what to not. How to know when you've learned a fact or absorbed a "factoid", a piece of information that sounds like a fact but is really just a nice sounding popular belief or desire for something to be true.

Merriam-Webster defines a factoid as:

1) an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print;
2) a briefly stated and usually trivial fact.

Factoids are not facts.

You cannot believe everything you hear or read on the Internet. The Internet is a wonderful, even marvelous invention and a useful tool, but you need to use it for things to research, not simply believe.

There is an old journalistic belief seldom used now a days sadly, that states that you need to triangulate all information before presenting it to the public. I've talked on this many times before.

When you hear a "fact" consider it a "factoid" until you've vetted, proven it a fact. Find three locations or sources that speak to it, considering the facts and if they support it or not. But choose sources who are vastly different (and accurate, sane, or reasonable).

Look at the opposing side(s) and even who disagrees with the information and see what they think. Then triangulate on that. As you can see, believing isn't just believing. It's complicated. Especially now a days with so many sites on the Internet who are "satire" sites, or who have an agenda to push and ingeniously project their lies as facts in order to push their desires over that of others. Because who really matters now a days, everyone? Or, just you?

For so many anymore the answer is simply, Me. If the answer is Us, then there are groups who will jump into your face and call you a communist. It's sad really. Because the only thing that works in society is a mixture of things such as capitalism, communism, socialism, and so on. A pure aspect of any one thing, is doomed to fail.

And so we end up with a lot of factoids people believe as facts.

We end up with states passing laws where you cannot use the term "climate change" because it would cost them money, while their current shorelines are disappearing, their water levels are getting higher and higher and they need not to ignore it all, but to immediately become proactive, to take measures, to expend funds upon these issues and situations. To DO SOMEthing!

We are becoming progressively more stupid. And many of us don't even see it, or understand what is happening and so, cannot see it.

But it's quite obvious what is going on.

We need to accept at times those things we really don't want to hear, rather than metaphorically putting out hands over our ears, closing our eyes and loudly yelling, "Nah nah nah nah, I can't hear you!"

We need to face the facts, real facts and act on them. We need to become progressive when needed and also do nothing when needed. But we can't just always do nothing. Because it's the cheapest, the easiest, the most pleasing to us or our group.

It is true that one of the biggest tools in the management toolbox is simply to do nothing.

So many things fix themselves if left alone. However, people have turned that into an art form, thinking if a little is good, more is better. And it's not. Or people think you just have to work hard, put your head down and work, work, work, and all will be right in the world. But that is not true, either.

For one thing, corporations will eat you alive if you don't pay attention.

It's how we got into this situation in the first place. People didn't pay attention, didn't understand what was going on all around them. Then they started to think they did know what was going on (having cleverly been secretly told by the corporations and big money) and so they felt better about things. They voted for those people who big money bought and who  do not have their (our) best interests at heart.

Big money became smart big money. We can thank industries like big tobacco, and big oil for that.

For years of their killing off their customers and spinning it another way, any other way. Look at old ads in the 40s of doctors saying tobacco smoke is healthy. Look at oil companies and add up all the people around the world they have killed to get oil including wars, ground waters they have permanently poisoned leading all the way up to our current issues with insufficiently regulated hydro fraking.

There is a backlash against all this from out of our country now and we see it in wars and groups like ISIS\ISIL, Al-Qaeda, and so on. They aren't just murderous bastards. They came into being for a reason. Yes in some cases we started or helped them to fight our common enemies but then they turned on us. Why? We need to look at not just that but our own prioritizes and how they got so messed up.

Also, why can't we see what is going on all around us, thinking many times, it is something entirely different?

Are we stupid?

Please understand, I'm not saying all of America is stupid. I'm not saying the conman man or woman cannot ever understand today's complicated issues. I am saying that many of us do not understand that what we are trying to understand is actually more complicated than is being considered. That sometimes, many times today, you cannot think that you understand a topic well enough to act on it without effort in first appropriately learning that issue before hand.

Many will attempt to make you believe you can, however. Fox News is one of those, the premiere element in that area. Not just to pound on them however, because they are only the best in a paradigm that news has been forced into now for decades.

Just as with politics, we need a need to show a profit taken out of our news media. I'm not saying they should never make a profit, just that they are a special case who needs to be protected from NEEDING to turn a profit as it can pollute their information and how they deliver it. They should be considering how to deliver the most accurate information in ways we can most easily assimilate it and form opinions. Now in the best way to turn a profit.

Politicians are great at that, pushing their party's agenda and platform before any real concern for citizens in thinking that is good enough for them to consider as having done due diligence. And it's not. Many times I hear people around me saying they understand a situation, they know what happened, in the white house, in the military industrial complex, or in another country. And they don't.

Not only do they not understand it, they can't possibly. They couldn't have received enough or correct enough information to have an opinion. But we are an opinionated people as a race adn we want our opinion, to feel special, smart, in the know, part of the group and screw the other guy because he's stupid and doesn't have our knowledge.

Sure. Right. Okay....

I had a guy at work the other day tell me that the Middle East is not that hard to understand because someone on Fox News told him about it on TV. Because hat news person had predicted things that would happen and then those things did and so, that person must understand the Middle East and it mustn't be that complicated.

That is foolish. I've seen many times news people predict things, and years later we came to find out they couldn't have been more wrong. Yes you see, you can predict something, and be wrong. You can choose a horse in a horse race for one reason, it wins, and yet, you were completely wrong in that it din't win because of it being fast but because another horse was off it's best run that day and so you won a race by accident. Happens all the time and it's what leads to, superstitions.

The Middle East is one of the most complicated areas in the entire world and yet, a few minutes listening to someone on a news network and know YOU understand that region, when nation states don't and even the Middle Eastern states themselves have trouble following their own nation's and regions interests and situations?

Please. At least TRY to be reasonable.

People talking on TV and the Internet who profess to know what is happening, generally find a paradigm that fits a situation and then claim, exhibiting it as they are trained to, their self-assurance in order to sell the fact(oid?) and that is what they are good at. Selling information, regardless of if it is correct or not.

For the first half of my life I spent a lot of time reading and studying world problems and espionage. I became adept at finding the truth in situations from the past by reading what people said who were there when it happened. Without boring you too much on my process, you come to learn to read between the lines, to triangulate and to play one side against the other. Eventually things become more clear and you get an idea of what really happened. At times it's like trying to see a black hole in space. you can't. it's a black hole. But you can see it, by not seeing it. In seeing what is around it, or not. And you can very accurately, find exactly where it's at.

Time and again I found that what was said in the news, what people who should know, who claimed to know, who gave reasons and explanation for things that had happened, in some cases even saying they were there, or claimed they were, though as it turned out in the end, things were seldom what they seemed, or claimed to be.

And so it is now. What things look like, are seldom what they seem to be.

It goes this way with conspiracy theories, another issue of frustration and near insanity where people claim they "know" what is going on when in reality they are utterly clueless. But dammit, they will figure it our or at very least, have an opinion. Because it's better to have a wrong opinion, than no opinion at all. Or so they seem to think.

Any time you take known information and apply it to past situations in hindsight, things look dramatically different than what reality actually was going on at that time. This has been shown to be true time and again (granted not always, but mostly always).

When I first learned of conspiracies in the early 1970s, instead of simply believing, I started to study conspiracy theory itself and how it worked. Then I was better informed to read about conspiracies and judge for myself the veracity of the theory and it's proponents. And that was before I even started college, around the time I had graduated high school then on into my late twenties when I was in college and after I had been in the military (Air Force).

One cannot know what one doesn't know, even when one thinks one knows. One has to be very careful about that. Some people can be very good at that. Most, aren't and just want to believe they are.

We are creatures heavily based in pattern recognition.

When we don't have enough information or even incorrect information we will sometimes think we have enough and form a pattern from it. Even if it's wrong and sometimes, even if we know it's wrong, we will proclaim we know. Because being wrong with a pattern can seem better than right when lacking a pattern. We can feel relief at the incorrect belief that we know something when really we do not know.

And so we have news networks who claim a market share for monetary gain, like Fox News. And others, though Fox News is the best example of the worst of catering for market share rather than properly informing their viewers, which does a disservice overall to the public in general. There is no end to the types, people and groups who cater to this disability or loop hole, in human nature.

So, be aware!

See the world as it really is and as best you can.

Don't blindly believe.

Don't think you understand when you probably don't.

Do try to understand it as an informed but incorrect opinion is always better than an uninformed and incorrect one.

And if you can't understand it, do try to find those in the world who actually do and who are trying to do something to fix things for real, without personal, platform or news network agendas and then, support THEM.

Otherwise, we will soon not have much of a world to argue over.


NOTE. Come back on Wednesday, it's International Earth Day and I have a special blog ready from my past:

"Earth Day, April 22, 2015 - My First Earth Day & Bert Thomas, Swimmer and Diver Extraordinaire"

Monday, April 13, 2015

Stop building and privatizing criminal training centers (prisons)

I've been complaining about this since the 80s when I was in college. The facts are in, America has the highest incarceration of prisoners in the world for the purpose of breaking them, giving humans cruel and inhumane punishment like solitary confinement. We have been training prisoners to be angry, bitter and better criminals once let out, rather than the law abiding and productive citizens we wish for.

And yet, our actions don't support our desires.

Why? How did this happen?

Two supreme court justices came before congress to point out how bad things are and suggest we institute changes. And it's about time. America should be ashamed on so many things.

We need to start turning those things around.

And we are, as the war on drugs (war on American citizens) has drawn to a close and Cannabis is being legalized in state after state after state. And the results are it, it's hurting the drug cartels just as we'd said it would for decades and law enforcement said it wouldn't. Except, shout out for, LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of our existing drug policies. Those policies have failed, and continue to fail, to effectively address the problems of drug abuse, especially the problems of juvenile drug use, the problems of addiction, and the problems of crime created by criminal control of illegal drug sales.

On all that, first allow me a brief aside.

LGBT communities have been given protections, that conservatives are now however trying to repeal, to work their slithery hands around to strangle those protections under the fallacious guise of "religious freedom", a disingenuous misnomer if ever there was one.

Why we have to fight all over again for something like Roe vs. Wade, when it was settled decades ago, just shows you the archaic viewpoints of some of the vocal minorities who are trying to subvert freedom in America to be freedom under their auspices and how only they view it, but not the majority of modern, intelligent Americans.


One delectable example of how religious Onanism in politics can backfire is the recent Indiana "religious freedom law" where Wiccans are now saying that the law will allow them such things as polygamy and nude rituals at the capitol. Not that they are wanting or asking for it, just stating that people need to understand what they are doing in trying to subvert America from rule for all to rule for some.

The article says:

"The Daily Beast‘s David Freedlander spoke to Dusty Dionne, a High Priest and High Summoner of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, who confessed that while he believes “these bills are horrible,” they do provide a unique opportunity for practitioners of his faith."

I've been saying myself for years that religions need to stop involving themselves, dabbling in politics, as it's only going to backfire and it has, time after time. The more they try to skew things toward themselves the more it will come back on them in ways unforeseen and negatively affect them. We have a good system, the more you muck with it, the worse it will get. So in a way, keep it up, but you need to know you are working more for us, than yourselves.

We need to have a secular government to allow religion, all religions, not just those who think they are the "chosen few" as so many religions do, and  openly profess. Religions tend to be bullies by the mere nature of their beliefs. If we are to be a mixed salad nation, as we are, we cannot have merely Christianity be the national religion.

We have seen enough around the world of religions trying to govern a diverse (even a monotheistic) populace.

Religion has in so many cases led to a pettiness, mostly from the ignorant vocal minorities of the religiously stunted, professing what they have been told, motivating them to act on emotion rather than rationality.

Mostly they blindly follow those with greedy political or economic intent to better their own personal positions under the auspices of better life for their community or constituents, without realizing those they are following, are only using them.

Wake the hell up people!

I would personally like to see religion fade completely away, as they are now, though much faster than their current speed of demise. As religion seems to teach us to be foolish in our choices, rather than look for the best solutions for all, to follow them up without having to go through the false filters of religious doctrines that are simply not a fit for everyone, there are better ways to live.

That being said we also need to kill off certain so called "religions", like Scientology, the scourge of religious freedom in America and worldwide. I might also argue the same for newer religions like Mormonism, another ridiculous theology, though I have to admit, Scientology takes the prize for an truly asinine "theology" based in pop psychology and literally, science fiction. Look it up.

But getting back to the point of all this....

Supreme Court Justices Blast The Corrections System.

Justices Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy during a congressional hearing Monday, March 23
This goes along with our stupidity in other areas based in other protestant religious nonsense. If we could just stop looking at life through the defective filters of old time religion that has been ingrained in us, mostly the old bastards in charge of this nation (since childhood and generationally) and then that monster of money... corporations, industry and even the privatizing of prisons (why should we need to privatize prisons unless something is broken?), we might find other countries who have worked out better ways to treat prisoners.

As I have been saying myself, prisons are a way to retrain and make productive again, those who have been caught breaking the law and not, as institutions for high criminal learning and ingraining anger against the system, as they now are. HOW is that productive? There may have been a time when this was a functional system, back in the 1800s, maybe. But this is a new millennium.

We need to try thinking, using new information, and sloughing off our old and archaic religion based theories of what works, to see how it doesn't work. Then turn our enlightened eyes toward other things that don't work. Like bigotry against just...people. Where religion tells some to turn their backs on those people and treat them like animals or worse.

Face facts my friends.

We are supporting broken institutional and conceptual processes while there are answers for how to make these things work far better. If we would just, open our eyes.

Why aren't we making things more functional rather than throwing money at and trying to make work, those things that simply do not work and have not worked now for nearly 100 years? The war on drugs has failed almost on the day it had begun, and we are only now facing that. Finally.

Isn't it now also the time to face all those other things we have stupidity supported for apparently no good reason other than tradition, to make more money, to support dysfunctional mindsets we once found emotionally pleasing for apparently juvenile religious reasons and so continued to blindly support some of the most foolish and abusive processes in our modern history?

Isn't it time for a new way? A more educated, modern way? Ways that are being proven around the world in other more enlightened countries?

I really think it is.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Brain Lock in Political Mindsets

The problem with conservatism, fundamentalism, esp. in religion is, brain lock. Call it what you will, mind lock, concept lock....

Whenever you take that tact, you lock out being open minded and able to see the whole picture. We desperately need open minded people, to be open minded. In fact, more so everyday. Do not view life and things through emotion, preconceived beliefs, personal and platform agendas.

We do not need more people who point at the open minded and claim they aren't being open minded. When what they are really saying isn't that those people aren't being open minded, they are actually saying those people are not open minded to... their closed minded ways.


View things through a yearning to know the truth in things.

Support what is the actual and not, what should be.

Work toward what should be (in your mind) if you wish, but don't force reality now as it is into what isn't. Even if you believe it should be a certain way. Face it. If it's not, it's not.

When conservatives (et al) look at so called liberals or progressives who aren't afraid to chance change in a calculated risk attempt to better things, they will claim they are the ones with brain lock. But that is because those people are already open minded and against being closed minded, so that to any closed minded individual, it would certainly appear to them as brain lock.

When you have the truth, how can you alter that? The trouble there is the other side claims the same. Only they can't back it up with facts, just faux facts, twisted concepts and emotion.

As an open minded individual, one can only be, in interfacing with those types of people, compassionate enough to communicate. With brain locked individuals, in order to communicate with them one has to keep communication open (as painful as that can be at times), while trying to properly explain reality to them.

Because they believe they have the truth, in their minds, how can they alter it? It seems to them, in their spiritually sick ways at times, that they are trapped. They don't mean to be bad people, it's just that their mindsets, their beliefs and the basis for those beliefs, are defective. That's always been the thing I found most disturbing about religions.


They claim to have all the answers (if God is talking to you, even through a book, he's obviously knows everything, right?), and yet, they don't. Logic and reality dictate that sooner or later you will hit a situation that is a conundrum and then what? Well, things usually don't goo very well from that point on.

Whereas, in accepting the difficult in life and that we don't always know everything by simply following the rules or God's laws, we can effectively evoke change and find the best and not just the most accepted answers to problems. Those ways of thinking are in part what has led us to the current situation with high prison populations, so called wars on drugs (citizens), anti so many things like gays, women's rights, human rights (questioning what those are in the face of God's dictates), and so on.

In being the open minded individual, that leaves the closed minded, the brain locked ones to think you are the closed minded one.

It is a conundrum and a mental and logical loop that is exemplified in how Iran deals with gays, to take an extreme example in order to personify a point.

If you are gay there, you are considered against the quran, Iran's laws, and therefore their petty god (there, that is a prime example of how not to talk to the closed minded by denigrating their beliefs, their holy book, their deity).  It may even feel good to you do do it, but don't. Negative behavior puts you into their camp, and I'd suggest whole heartedly to stay away from there.

If you try to accept a gay in Iran, you are going against their laws, the Quran and therefore, God.

The Quran (therefore God, both) say you must kill gays, and so?

Transsexuals.


The Quran says nothing about that, so it must be okay. Though I assume had Mohammad known about this technology back in the ancient desert days, he'd have commented upon it. Funny God didn't mention it was coming, to him. It would only take a couple of mentions of things like that in the ancient (especially desert religions of the middle east) holy books, to prove their points, and yet, nothing. No mention of Transsexuals, the internet, or cell phones.

If you're Gay in Iran, your options are that you can die there (put to death either by the state or friends and loved ones), leave, or have a sex change.

Can you imagine how that messes up your head to lose your gender, when you don't want to, in order to be who your insides are screaming at you, that you are?

Bad things are going on in not just Iran, not just, America, but in other large and great nations like Russia with the current vein of Putinism. Nationalism, is dangerous. It's a great thing surely when positive things come of it, but as we have seen in the past, it can turn quite ugly too.

God rules? He certainly does in Iran. With those who are closed minded. And we want that here, Christians? Now I know not all Christians want that, but if you don't shout from the top of your church pulpits and shout these people down, then you are tacitly agreeing with them.

You do have a responsibility to speak out when those representing you, do, and mistakenly so. Just as they do in Islam, and have, but still not loud enough. And shouting to the world isn't good enough. Some action, at some point, is or may also be necessary.

America was based on having a more open mind than England.

So why are we trying so hard to be even more closed minded than England, or Iran? We have a ways to go before we achieve Iranian levels of closed mindedness, but as they are loosening things up there lately, we are tightening them up here and running the risk of one day, surpassing them.

Do you really want that? To be more closed minded than someplace like Iran?

Hopefully we will at some point, and before we hit equality in that, to notice what damage our closed mined are doing, those who are not seeing yet the errors of their ways. In some cases the massive error in their ways. And I group the gun nuts in all this mess, the open carry fools, the anti immigrants types and, the NRA. People all who may never see the error of their ways.

Which was why America was set up in the first place. Right?

Now, if we can just keep from letting them control our nation...completely.