Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cakras

Chakra, pronounced like Chuck the name, plus ru from "run", means wheel. Cakras, as discuses, were also used as weapons, in my understanding.

For my own purposes, I deconstruct human social systems as consisting in endless little wheels, connecting to other wheels. Unlike cogs, though, these circulations are approximate, not mechanical. They are informed by the principles in the social systems being examined.

An idea, when it goes "out there", influences the flow of activity, of thought, of motion. Ideas are very powerful. Look at all the hells Marx has enabled. Look at what the genius of our Founding Fathers has enabled.

To this notion I would juxtapose the notion of social "structures", which subtract from the real world all motion, which is to say all reality and all humanity.

The paradigmatic example is that of class structure. What can one say about a class structure, as in the United States, in which the classes are fully permeable, and both elevation and demotion regular realities? You cannot say the inequality is "structural", since with effort everything is possible.

Incompetence in thinking is the rule, not the exception, and most likely and common among those whose lives are supposedly dedicated to doing it well.

The past

We get to see, through modern writers, various ways of dealing with the sensitivity of memory to circumstance and propriety. For me, I from time to time am able to pull far enough away from my own dysfunctions to get a higher level perspective.

It seems to me it is true, as depth psychologists argue, that some foundational processes in our psyches endure through sundry external life permutations. We grow in some ways, and remain exactly the same in other, more subtle ways.

Does it not seem at times it would be a species of wealth to merely repeat what came before? To have an identified and clearly articulated set of values, traditions, habits, and ways of thinking that simply exist, as it were, OUT THERE, and never need to be revisited? To feel unwilling to adapt because it is UNNECESSARY, crass, and even WRONG?

Oh, is much of the world not already in this state? Is this not a terse definition of the underpinnings of Islamic extremism? Extreme, because their acts are not contained in the Koran, and seem rather to be locally individuated elements of what I have called Nechaeveism? To be expressions of the death of circumstance, and the elevation of the eternal through pernicious acts of horror?

I cannot call the so-called Humanities useless in principle. What I can call them is useless in PRACTICE.

I pulled from my shelf today a book I have never read, but carried with me somehow wherever I have gone: Walter Mehring's "Algier oder Die 13 Oasenwunder Westnordwest-viertelwest". This is a Dadaist text, one with scribblings from George Grosz on the cover.

What it symbolizes for me is a different way of living, of acting, of being. Greeks, for their part, are under the thrall of not so very different fantasies. Can we not approach our modern society from a standpoint of consilience, of wondering how something much better, much more HUMAN, however we define the term, cannot emerge?

This is the faith of those who are bankrupting the EU, in my view. They are irresponsible, plainly. They spend too much. But at root their hope is that something much better, some respite, is possible.

How do we reconcile the magical with the possible? It does not do to exile the magical, but we cannot live there in this world either.

For me, I walk the line, that between hysteria and emotionlessness; between abject conformity and insanity; between hope for the future and pragmatic planning; between passion and intellect; between Jewishness and that modern illness that rejects all that smacks of eternal law.

Where, indeed, is the middle? Should we even pursue the middle? In the battle between extremism and the status quo, surely the middle still includes change of some sort?

What do you do when none of the boxes offered you fit? You must create your own, and remain unnoticed, or convince others that yours is a way forward.

Few mumblings of a man who feels both old and unformed. Do with them what you will.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ann Coulter article

I don't repost things often--I don't think I ever have, actually--but this does make some sense: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=47570

The issue is one of trust. If we can trust Romney to undo Obamacare, then I will vote for him. At the same time, this is just a small part of our problems. Obamacare is simply going to make things much worse. They are, however, already unacceptably bad.

What is needed is cutting the Federal government roughly by a third, and either privatizing or pushing out to the States both Social Security and Medicare. Further, we need at a minimum to audit the Federal Reserve, and the IMF/World Bank. Both get our money. In the real world, any institution that gets your money gets the rights to look at your books.

So now, apparently, we have to go through the cycle of the media pushing Newt Gingrich​. This is going to be fantastic.

In addition to having an affair in the middle of Clinton's impeachment; apologizing to Jesse Jackson​ on behalf of J.C. Watts -- one of two black Republicans then in Congress –- for having criticized "poverty pimps," and then inviting Jackson to a State of the Union address; cutting a global warming commercial with Nancy Pelosi​; supporting George Soros​' candidate Dede Scozzafava in a congressional special election; appearing in public with the Rev. Al Sharpton​ to promote nonspecific education reform; and calling Paul Ryan​'s plan to save Social Security "right-wing social engineering," we found out this week that Gingrich was a recipient of Freddie Mac political money.

(Even I will admit, however, that Newt was great when he was chairman of GOPAC back in the '90s with Gay Gaines at the helm.)

Although Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- the institutions most responsible for the nation's current financial crisis -- were almost entirely Democratic cash cows, they managed to dirty up enough Republicans to make it seem like bipartisan corruption.

Democrats sucked hundreds of millions of dollars out of these institutions: Franklin Raines​, $90 million; Jamie Gorelick​, $26.4 million; Jim Johnson, $20 million.

By contrast, Republicans came cheap. For the amazingly good price of only $300,000 apiece, Fannie and Freddie bought the good will of former Reps. Vin Weber​, R-Minn., Susan Molinari, R-N.Y., and Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.* Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., was even cheaper at $240,000.

[*Correction: After Gingrich admitted last week to receiving $300,000 from Freddie, we found out this week that it was actually closer to $1.6 million.]

So now conservatives shy away from denouncing these crooked organizations for fear of running into Vin Weber at a cocktail party.

Sorry, guys -- on the plus side, you're millionaires, but on the downside, you've earned the contempt of your fellow man.

The mainstream media keep pushing alternatives to Mitt Romney​ not only because they are terrified of running against him, but also because they want to keep Republicans fighting, allowing Democrats to get a four-month jump on us.

Meanwhile, everyone knows the nominee is going to be Romney.

That's not so bad if you think the most important issues in this election are defeating Obama and repealing Obamacare.

There may be better ways to stop Obamacare than Romney, but, unfortunately, they're not available right now. (And, by the way, where were you conservative purists when Republicans were nominating Waterboarding-Is-Torture-Jerry-Falwell-Is-an-Agent-of-Intolerance-My-Good-Friend-Teddy-Kennedy-Amnesty-for-Illegals John McCain​-Feingold for president?)

Among Romney's positives is the fact that he has a demonstrated ability to trick liberals into voting for him. He was elected governor of Massachusetts -- one of the most liberal states in the union -- by appealing to Democrats, independents and suburban women.

He came close to stopping the greatest calamity to befall this nation since Pearl Harbor by nearly beating Teddy Kennedy in a Senate race. (That is when he said a lot of the things about which he's since "changed his mind.") If he had won, we'd be carving his image on Mount Rushmore​.

He is not part of the Washington establishment, so he won't be caught taking money from Freddie Mac or cutting commercials with Nancy Pelosi.

Also, Romney will be the first Republican presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan​ who can talk. Liberals are going to have to dust off their playbook from 30 years ago to figure out how to run against a Republican who isn't a tongue-tied marble-mouth.

As we've known for years, his negatives are: Romneycare and Mormonism.

We look forward with cheery anticipation to an explosion of news stories on some of the stranger aspects of Mormonism. The articles have already been written, but they're not scheduled for release until the day Romney wraps up the nomination.

Inasmuch as the Democrats' only argument for the big-eared beanpole who's nearly wrecked the country is that you must be a racist if you oppose Obama, one assumes a lot of attention will be lavished on the Mormon Church's historical position on blacks. Church founder Joseph Smith​ said blacks had the curse of Cain on them and banned blacks from the priesthood, a directive that was not revoked until 1978.

There's no evidence that this was a policy fiercely pushed by Mitt Romney. To the contrary, when his father, George Romney, was governor of Michigan, he was the most pro-civil rights elected official in the entire country, far ahead of any Democrat.

No one is worried Romney will double-cross us on repealing Obamacare. We worry that Romneycare will make it harder for him to get elected.

But, again, Romney is the articulate Republican. He's already explained how mandating health insurance in one particular wealthy, liberal Northeastern state is different from inflicting it on the entire country. Our Constitution establishes a federalist system that allows experimentation with different ideas in the individual states.

As governor, Romney didn't have the ability to change federal laws requiring hospital emergency rooms to treat every illegal alien, drug dealer and vagrant who walked in the door, then sending the bill to taxpayers. (Although David Axelrod, Michelle Obama​, Eric Whitaker​ and Valerie Jarrett​ did figure out a way to throw poor blacks out of the University of Chicago Medical Center.)

The Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, supported Romneycare at the time. The biggest warning sign should have been that Gingrich supported it, too.

Most important, Romney has said -- forcefully and repeatedly -- that his first day in office he will issue a 50-state waiver from Obamacare and will then seek a formal repeal.

Romney is not going to get to the White House and announce, "The first thing I'm going to do is implement that fantastic national health care plan signed by my pal, Barack!"

Unlike all other major legislation in the nation's history, Obamacare was narrowly passed along partisan lines by an aberrationally large one-party majority in Congress. (Thanks, McCain supporters!) Not one single Republican in Congress voted for it, not even John McCain.

Obamacare is going to be repealed -- provided only that a Republican wins the next presidential election.

If a Republican does not win, however, it will never be repealed. Recall that, in order to boast about the amazing revenue savings under Obamacare, Democrats had to configure the bill so that the taxes to pay for it start right away, but the goodies don't kick in until 2014.

Once people are thrown off their insurance plans and are forced to depend on the government for "free" health care, Obamacare is here to stay. (And Newt Gingrich will be calling plans to tinker with it "right-wing social engineering.")

Instead of sitting on our thumbs, wishing Ronald Reagan were around, or chasing the latest mechanical rabbit flashed by the media, conservatives ought to start rallying around Romney as the only Republican who has a shot at beating Obama. We'll attack him when he's president.

It's fun to be a purist, but let's put that on hold until Obama and his abominable health care plan are gone, please.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Presidential picks

I still like Rick Perry the best. He strikes me as honest. He was an Eagle Scout who grew up on a small farm where scouting and church was all there was. This sort of UNcosmopolitan upbringing does not foster the sort of confidence in public speaking that, say, being a CEO does, but it DOES foster a tendency towards common sense and instinctual honesty. If we consider that in practical decision making, you have more than 1 minute to decide, and are allowed to consult with people you have chosen to advise you, then momentary glitches in what is after all a performance, and not anything actual substantial, can be overlooked.

Perry wants to substantially downsize the government, and I believe him. He wants to figure out what the Fed is up to, and I believe him. He will give our troops what they need to succeed. He will keep taxes low.

Border security is in my view not even remotely as important an issue as reducing, dramatically, the size of the Federal government. We borrow $125 billion a month. We borrow $125 billion a month.

I would be fine with Cain as well, and would like to see the leftist hypocrites explain his successful nomination.

Rightly or wrongly, I do not trust Gingrich or Romney. I may be wrong. This would be a great thing, especially if one of them gets the nomination.

I like Michelle Bachman, but I don't think she can win a general election. She would be a good VP candidate, though.

Ron Paul, always the last, it seems: as I have said often, I am willing to risk what I see as his unrealistic idealism in foreign policy in exchange for his willingness to tackle the Fed directly.

It is a valid question, in any event: do we really need to be globocop? We are unappreciated most everywhere we go, and not under any conceivable threat of direct attack, at least by conventional armies, and if we are clear that there will be draconian consequences to any support for terrorist attacks on our soil, I think we might be able to stop patrolling the world, keep our men and women home more, and still live in peace.

To be clear: there is no equivalent to Nazi Germany out there, which is the counter-isolationist example so often invoked. The Muslims are stupid. They don't create anything, and by and large just want to live in their world free from history and time. If they are not saber-rattling--which would be stupid given our profound military superiority--then we can just leave them alone. Even if they are making noise, if it is not credible, we should ignore it.

Iran might be able to develop a nuke, but if we share with them in advance the strike package that will be awaiting them--10 megatons on Tehran, 10 on Isfahan, and a dozen cruise missiles in places of our choosing, including their oil refining and production areas--if they attack ANYONE with nukes, then that should be enough to dampen their ardor. We have, in any event, no really good military options. The bases are deep underground, and I doubt we can assume we have them all.

You do always have to paradigm shift with Paul, since he is not like anyone else. He is consistently in the top four, but even Bachman gets more attention than him.

His only hope is leftwing support. It will be interesting to see if it emerges. There are no rules against switching parties for primaries.

Thus, my three, in order: Perry, Cain, Paul. I may change my mind, but that's how I see it.

I will add, actually, that all the criticism of Romney is plainly being reserved for a time following his successful nomination. The media, which can and should be viewed as an integral element of Obama's election team, plainly wants Romney. The Republican establishment wants Romney.

But can any serious mind doubt that they have their own strike package ready for Romney? They attack everyone BUT Romney, creating the illusion that he at least is not tainted by scandal, where everyone else is.

But can you doubt that the tenets of Mormonism will not come out into the public space, with the seemingly serious minds out there questioning, for example, the role of men versus women in that polygamous religion? Or the underwear that they wear?

And who knows what else foul smelling, even if inaccurate, stuff they have dredged up or created? Some business deal where somebody did something dishonest; Romneycare, self evidently; some associate who did something illegal. This is the coin of the realm for people who cannot think because they have abandoned their desire for personal autonomy and thus the NEED for political freedom.

No matter who the Republicans nominate, strong attacks will be waiting for them, and in a spirit of collusion that makes direct State control of the media unnecessary, they can expect nearly universal negative press, outside of the internet, and Fox.

So much misery is caused by perceptual inability, itself caused by fear, sloth, and arrogance. May we one day rise above it.

The "1%"

Here is what all Republicans need to be saying so obsessively that the media cannot fail to hear it and repeat it, even with softening and obfuscating commentary:

The United States borrows $125 BILLION a MONTH, and there is no plan on the table to stop, EVER. EVER.

Further, the top 1% of taxpayers already pays nearly 40% of the income taxes. That is wildly disproportionate to their size.

However, let us make the logical Communistic extrapolation of full confiscation of wealth. According to this website , that 37% constituted roughly $318 billion. The top tax rate is currently 35%. If I divide $318 billion by .35 I get $908 billion and change.

If I then divide $908 billion by $125 billion, I get 7.2 months. That is how long expropriating the ENTIRETY of the income of the 1% would allows us to NOT BORROW MONEY. This would not even touch our actual debt.

Let us say it is all Capital Gains, which of course is not the case, since most of these people are working professionals like doctors, lawyers, and executives, then we use 20%. I get 1.59 trillion dollars. Dividing that out gets us 12 months.

Keep in mind half of America pays NO taxes at all, outside of payroll and sales taxes.

THE CONCLUSION IS INESCAPABLE THAT OBAMA HAS PUT US ON THE PATH TO FINANCIAL RUIN AND THAT NO POSSIBLE INCREASE IN TAXATION CAN PUT A STOP TO IT.

Shout it loud, shout it clear, and shout it with the future of your children in mind.

I will add as a footnote, that I am not even counting in the coming failures of our Medicare and Social Security systems. The monthly deficit is going to get much, much worse.

The question is not whether or not we will be downgraded again and forced to pay higher interest rates, which will make our cash flow situation even worse, but when, and even why it hasn't already happened.

Stupidity is a poison that works silently, until it is too late.

Unions

I was talking with someone who has worked in car manufacturing as a line worker for the last 12 years or so. He works for one of the Big Three, and so of course had to join the UAW as a condition of employment.

He said that absenteeism and sheer laziness are constant problems. He is one of the ones that works, but at least half the people working there are constantly trying to game the system--usually by getting some sort of bogus medical note that allows reduced work loads--and exerting more effort avoiding work than they would have done had they just done their jobs.

Often, he said, they have 2 people trying to do the jobs of 7 since 5 people called in "sick", which amounts to "not wanting to work today".

He said the Union bureaucracy is enormous. There are a great many people employed by the UAW who produce literally NOTHING, but whose salaries are paid by those who do, which is to say, ultimately, by Ford, and even more ultimately, by those consumers who still choose to buy Ford vehicles, despite the patently better quality at similar prices of Japanese vehicles assembled here by American workers who are NON-unionized.

This system is idiotic. It indulges the worthless, and punishes the productive. It leads to massive, regular layoffs, since Ford is constantly having to retool to compete.

Here is my net conclusion, studying most unions: unions lead to increased levels of unemployment, since by increasing costs for job-creators, they lower the overall demand for labor. Less buildings are built. Less people are employed, in the United States, by the Big Three.

Now, I work alongside union members on job sites all the time. They are noticeably more professional than non-union members, and in particular it has long seemed to me that where electricians in particular are concerned, there is clear benefit to buying union; but this is, and should be, a process of free markets. Where a given product--here, labor--makes sense even at a higher price because of higher quality, then no coercion is necessary.

As things stand, though, there is no difference in what the UAW does--in having negotiated a collective bargaining agreement across three large corporations, and having gotten government protection for this patent collusion and labor monopoly--and what would be the case if Ford, Chrysler, and GM got together to force wages DOWN, through lockouts and similar methods. The first just happens to be legal, and the second illegal. Further, unions are tax exempt, yet still allowed to contribute to political campaigns, whereas corporations have to pay taxes.

I have repeated Goldwater/Bozell's ideas in "Conscience of a Conservative" often, but here they are:

1) One union, one company. Let each union work out its own deal with its own company. No more labor monopolies.

2) Union membership needs to be voluntary. If it is a good deal, then it will be a no-brainer. However, take the guy I was talking about at the beginning: if you told him that he could make what he's making, put it into a FORD backed pension plan (versus Ford-funded UAW administered plan), and do away with all the malingers and whiners, he would jump on that in a heartbeat.

3) If you don't pay taxes, then you don't get to lobby or contribute to political campaigns. If you think about it, what unions do, in using union dues for political campaigns, is force people to contribute to political causes they may not believe in. Since union membership is compulsory, then there is no way out of this, if you want to work, and can't find another, better job. This is ludicrous.

To this I would add that it is logical that all tax payers should have a voice in the political process. Corporations pay taxes, and therefore are entitled to make contributions. However, the same logic applies: it is a violation of the principle of individual sovereignty in the political process. You may work somewhere, but not approve of the use to which the income you help generate for that entity is being put.

My conclusion is that corporations should not pay ANY taxes. Zero. And their ability to make political contributions should likewise be ended.

Most Ivy Leagueish intellectuals will never have tried to form a corporation. They don't really understand how business works. It is all crass to them. Money grows on Ivy League trees, as far as their practical knowledge goes.

Some years ago, though, I investigated the advantages of various forms of incorporation, which mainly act as legal barriers in law suits. There are two principle types of standard corporations: S Corps and C Corps (I'll leave aside LLC's and other forms of organization). In an S corporation, intended for very small businesses, the net profit/loss flows to an individual, who pays taxes on the profits, if any, of the corporation as ordinary income. That is the way I recall it.

In a C corporation, on the other hand, which is what most large corporations are, the corporation pays taxes on its own profit, but every individual in that corporation ALSO pays taxes on their income.

Let us take as an example a C corp consisting of one person. Let us say that I invent a new mousetrap, and go out to market it. First year I have $200,000 in sales, and $100,000 in costs. My corporation has made $100,000. The corporate tax rate is something like 30%. I don't know if it is progressive, but let us use that number. That means that I pay $30,000 to the government. If I then distribute the entirety of that $70,000 to myself--which is probably a bad idea, since reinvestment is generally need for growth--then I get taxes AGAIN at something like 30%, so my $100,000 in apparent profit is reduced by another $21,000, so that out of $100,000 in apparent income, I have only made $49,000. This is very discouraging.

What people forget is that no business is destined for success. For every Bill Gates there are a number of John Smiths, who nobody remembers because he FAILED. Now, success would be much more likely if you only paid the 30% on your income, and not both your corporate AND individual income, no? The more cash you have in ANY business, the more likely you are to endure the vicissitudes of business cycles.

All of these things--everything I just stated--is to my mind blindingly obvious. I am left to wonder once again just how such stupidity as we see daily in our media became such an endemic parasite on the quality of our shared lives.

History

I get stuck in my dreams sometimes in history. Once, I was Roman, defending a building full of old statues that were gradually being covered with water. The burden of the past was immense. The Romans used to keep their family crest outside their homes, as a constant reminder of who they were.

Last night, I dreamed of both Sweden and Japan. Sweden felt like a congenial, comfortable place, well insulated from most of the pains of life felt in places like the United States. But it was gradually emptying. I saw a very nice mansion, that had held a zoo and many very interesting buildings, that had been abandoned. There was no one to live there.

Japan was being inundated with water. This of course echoes the very real tsunami most seem to have forgotten now outside Japan, but also echoes, I think, a cultural decline. The Japanese are disappearing. Their very rich and interesting culture is slowly vanishing into the undifferentiated mists of time now gone.

We always live in a burning moment of time, if we are living. The Present is eternal. It never tires or wears out. But WE do, as we attach ourselves to given forms/times.

As I see it, we are more or less condemned to dual identities in this world. We are spiritual beings, temporarily slowed down by the molasses in which we live, yet we feel the need to belong somewhere, in a society, in a family, in a place, in a time. But that form always passes; it must pass.

As I see it, we should now be thinking about the next ten thousand years. In my own detached, likely impersonal way, I see myself as existing in this moment, in this ephemeral world, tasked with figuring out how to create what good I can, where I am.

Hitler dreamed of a 1,000 year Reich. He spent his last days dreaming of the cities he wanted to build on the Soviet steppe, after killing most of the Slavs (root word of slave, remember) and enslaving the rest.

This dream was fantastically effecive, was it not? It was a coercion of history, a twisting of histories arm behind its back until it cried out in submission, where before there has only been chaos and fear. It answered the longing for order, for purpose. Hitler could predict the future because he intended to CREATE the future. He wanted a New Rome, which of course endured far more than a thousand years, if we count the Byzantine Empire, and the ROMAN Universal Church.

You cannot live more than a moment at a time, and this applies if you are a mayfly, condemned to hours of life; and if you are an eternal being, destined to live forever. Beyond this life, beyond time, perhaps that moment swells to occupy every possibility of awareness, of sensation, but here the task at hand is all we have.

We need to connect the worlds, in my view. As comfortable as Sweden is, it lacks a reason to continue living. This is the real underpinning of Conservatism, in my view: it does not look to politics for meaning, but rather looks to politics to PROTECT what meaning systems already exist. This is a crucial distinction.

But we can blend science and meaning. Where we need to start is by bringing the study of the after-life into the realm of mainstream university research. We further need to bring field conceptions of life back--they have been there before, and abandoned for not very good reasons--into the study of biology. We need to understand how we are all interconnected, and work on building what I suppose might be termed a social "moment", an agreed upon place of rest and contemplation, into our shared dialogue.

As long as our thought leaders view death as a final extinction, they will continue to view the only source of continuing life to be a social arrangement that is permanent because coerced, by them.

Make no mistake: people like Al Gore and George Soros have abandoned traditional sources of metaphysical consolation. What they want is an enduring legacy imprinted on the foreheads of every living man, woman and child, that tells them who they MUST be. This is evil, and it must be fought. We have alternatives, and the fight will consist in vigorously pursuing them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Work and Love

Freud said these were the secret to happiness, and I agree with him.

I work hard, but I have never felt like I come close to working WELL. I am spasmodic, all too often. I work hard, then rest, then work hard. Proper work is an interaction devoid of friction, of fear, of resentment, of worry. It is teasing out a long line, steadily. It is not relentless--you can rest--but it is in a condition of attached awareness, of connection, of affection.

Love, it seems to me, is over the long haul the same thing. Relationships, all relationships, are work. This is not a bad thing. Work is life. But how we do that work makes a huge difference.

To my mind, the acme of both love and work is reaching a point where you are so relaxed AND focused that you constantly have an overabundance of emotional and physical energy that more or less just flows out of you. Everyone you meet, you are building them. Every task you meet, you feel affection for.

This is an ideal, of course, but a good one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The politics of longing

I listened to a lecture on Wagner the other day. In it, he played a selection from "Tristan and Isolde". The core dramatic element of the play is that Isolde, the female, wanted to give Tristan, the male, a death potion. She wanted to die, and for his part he did as well, due to a rightfully guilty conscience. But instead of a death potion, they get a love potion. They fall deeply, madly in love, but can never requite that love due to the social context within which they live. Both of course finally die, as they must in a tragedy, and presumably meet again in another life.

The theme is longing, unscratchable, unquenchable longing. Longing was the core element of Romanticism. Wherever you were, you dreamed of distant shores, or long ago times. The pedestrian present was never enough.

I remember lectures on the German author Novalis, and his theme of "Sehnsucht nach dem (der?) Tod". Sehnsucht is untranslatable fully, but amounts to a vigorous lust for something absent. It has always felt like there was a gap, a hole in you, that sought desperately and to no avail to be filled. Tod is death. Novalis had loved a young girl, who died. Ever after, he longed to die and be with her again.

Death and longing are connected. If you can never be fully who and where you are, restfully, then you can never be anyone at all. If there is a gap in you, can your form, your self, be said to be whole? Can you be said to be fully alive, and not existing simultaneously in some other imaginary moment?

Longing is like sand eroding under your feet at the beach. It undermines everything.

Wagner's music made me feel weak. It was the same feeling I used to get when listening to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". It is the same feeling, I suspect, that fans of Avatar and the Titanic felt. It is simultaneously sickening and addicting. It's like sugar, and has the same effect emotionally that actual sugar does physically: it give you an energy rush, then a down, and over a long period of time it pulls you slowly into a host of preventable ailments.

Let me connect this with politics. Wagner, as I understand it, was held in very high regard by the Nazis, who saw in the quasi-religious ceremonies of his music dramas the potential of a new form of society, one based upon spectacle and shared emotions. Nazism was not just a political movement, but a lifestyle, a "Weltanschauung"--worldview--as Hitler often said.

Are people who long for more more or less susceptible to the snake oil salesmen that have plied their trade as long as societies have had kings? They are MORE vulnerable, of course.

People forget that Nazism was organic. It was about getting back to nature, caring for the "Heimat" (home, but stronger, and related to the nation as a whole), being physically fit, enthusiastic, and overall having a can-do spirit. Being recklessly alone, this is what Heidegger found so enduringly appealing about it. It made sense.

Or consider this quote from Obama's ideological godfather:
A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage -- the political paradise of communism.


"The political paradise of communism": does this not seem to imply that, in the end, he has a simple minded longing for a world which does not exist? Do not most revolutionaries and radicals long for a different world, one that does not have all the limitations which our does? Do they not want the world of Avatar and not the one where their milk is pasteurized by law, and they have to live by clocks?

What does the word "Hope" connote? The satisfactory resolution of a longing.

Bottom line: the more empty people are, the more amenable they are to crazy ideas. Many more or less want to be lobotomized, to surrender their autonomy, goodwill, hope, and character, and just be told what to do. This is something aspiring tyrants are only too happy to do.

Making it hurt

This is my place where I just let words pour out, which doesn't take much effort on my part. I just watch the screen, think "oh what a clever fellow" from time to time (as I have said before, I find I agree strongly with nearly everything I write), and hit Post.

When I want to tackle something, though, that is large and important, I make it hurt. I focus my attention so intently that it becomes a physical effort. Your mind wants to wander; you can't let it. You push and push and push, until this energy builds up in you where you feel like you have x-ray vision and can see everything. It is like rolling a rock up a hill: you can't let up, at least until the necessary insight appears. It is not Sisyphean, in that you can reach the top . It IS Sisyphean in that after that, you take up another rock, and then another.

This is not futility, though: it is the energy of life.

I say this as an apology in advance for the following post, which I have been wanting to make for several days, and just can't find the energy and time to make it hurt properly, to hammer it into a better form.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy Main Street

This is a better name for the movement. They are interfering with ordinary citizens trying to do their jobs, pay their bills, and raise their families. There is no positive counterbalance to this. They are attacking people and police. They are trying to shut down the ports on the West Coast.

And to be clear, any "revolution" will necessarily hurt most ordinary, God-fearing Americans, most of whom are mostly decent.

When one studies the rhetoric and practice of class warfare, a reality emerges. There are the supposed elites, the "1%". There is the supposed 99%. But the group making these distinctions, which itself is perhaps 1% of the population, does not include itself, the revolutionary class.

In the old Russia, there were a number of classes: the land owning aristocracy, the peasants, the proletarians, the capitalists, the bourgeoisie, and the REVOLUTIONARIES. What Lenin did was instill naked greed and hate in the peasants, greed and hate in the workers, and used that lust to kill large numbers of adversaries, then used that power to kill and control large numbers of, who? PEASANTS AND WORKERS.

Marx said revolution would be organic. He failed, in his economic analysis, to see how widespread the benefits of the Industrial Revolution would prove to be, and how effective Capitalism as an economic system would be at raising the standard of living of EVERYONE, even if unevenly.

As I have said often--actually that is a lie, as I have only implied this--what is often labelled "Marxism" ought properly to be labelled "Nechaevism". Read the Catechism of a Revolutionist. This is the actual model Lenin followed.

Marxism cannot be "practiced" any more than gravity can be practiced. Marx thought he has found inexorable natural, historical laws, that could not be controverted. When they were, his theory was falsified.

Nechaevism--for which the term Nihilism was coined in Russia--has no content. It has no more content than the demonic doctrines of Saul Alinsky, who found actual gangsters to be his natural associates.

There is no practical difference between using the alleged victimization of the workers to gain power, and using the purported problems of overpopulation, Global Warming, racism, or anything else to gain power.

Practically, the two classes are a functioning, organic, relatively stable social order, and those who want to destroy it, to topple it.

Much of our financial system is in fact unstable, for reasons I have stated. Much of the instability is in my view, however, created intentionally by the revolutionaries. The people around FDR were tickled pink by the Great Depression, as it enabled them to implement programs they otherwise would never have been able to push through, much of which was actual Fascism, which was struck down by the Supreme Court.

To be or not to be: this remains a question the answer to which dictates, in the end, your politics. If you want death, then some variant of Nechaevism is where you will fall.

Just look at these people in New York and elsewhere: do they actually look like they are affirming life, or simply choosing to continue their process of zombification in public?

Enough

All you really need for happiness--and this is an overabundance, but I include all the items I value--is indoor plumbing, heating/air conditioning, a roof, useful work to do, people to love, health and time to sleep 8-10 hours a night. That should be enough for anyone.

I will add that, as I think I have mentioned somewhere, I have seen heaven three times in dreams (hell once). It is so much more beautiful, happier, than here, that the life of the most privileged person on Earth pales besides a handful of moments there. What do literal and figurative kings and queens do? They worry: about keeping their power. Those around them scheme to get it. Yes, they have perks of office, unique privileges, but none of them amount to much. To be innocent is to be free.

Listen to this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMc0ok9_V7Q

The bats are in the belfry
the dew is on the moor
where are the arms that held me
and pledged her love before
and pledged her love before

Chorus

It's such a sad old feeling
the fields are soft and green
it's memories that I'm stelaing
but you're innocent when you dream
when you dream
you're innocent when you dream

running through the graveyard
we laughed my friends and I
we swore we'd be together
until the day we died
until the day we died

Repeat Chorus

I made a golden promise
that we would never part
I gave my love a locket
and then I broke her heart
and then I broke her heart


Watch Tom Waits. He is such a sensitive soul. It is no wonder he is so notoriously private/defensive in interviews: he is already out there. He doesn't like it, but it is what he does. Creation is how he deals with his tragedies. He has always felt innocent to me, despite his best efforts. It is comical in a way, for those with a taste for such irony.

There is no better way to destroy a good idea than to push it too far. It is right to be alert, to "fear" God, to remain aware of God. It is wrong to live in fear.

It is right to be loving, but ridiculous to think you can be loving every one, all the time, and that a failure to do so constitutes a failure.

As I tell my children, God, too, has a sense of humor. What loving being can fail to empathize with our frailties, with all the stumblings and to-and-fro-ings to which we are prone on this Earth, which is so resistant to our wishes?

Heaven, in my view, is for most people, except those who are willfully cruel, some of the ranks of which are the supposedly religious. To pervert sacred teachings through hypocrisy is one of the worst crimes, since it damages people not on the outside, which they can endure, but on the inside, which affects their ability to endure.

I am working extremely hard, but woke up today feeling good. May you have a very pleasant day. If it is sunny where you are, enjoy it. If it is rainy, enjoy it. Whoever you meet, try to appreciate what is good in them, and try to be a bit kinder than you normally are. Most of the time this just means actually hearing what people are saying between the lines. More than anything, people want to be heard and appreciated for what they do. This is the most effective form of love in my view.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Synthesis

I keep hearing turkeys gobbling. Many are dying now, in preparation for our national feast day. I choose to eat meat, but I can find common cause with those, ordinarily on the Left, who want massive reform in our food industry. That is a topic I will explore in another post.

Another example, then my point: I can find common cause with those who find Wall Street greed unacceptable. I cannot imagine a world coming into being any time soon without greed, but I can imagine legal reforms which would prevent the greedy from taking without also giving. Henry Ford because very wealthy, because he made something many people wanted, which he made affordable; that something would not have come into existence when it did, had he not lived. We were fortunate to have him.

Jamie Dimon, who is the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, and not coincidentally who also sits on the Federal Reserve Board of New York (or did until recently), does not make things. He moves money around, much of which is created for him by the Fed or the process of fractional reserve banking. No actual, tangible wealth is created by what he does, yet he is able to seize the actual wealth created by others through what he does. This is wrong.

My point: imagine two streams of water, colliding head-on with one another. What happens? As it happens, they cancel out, and the water falls. We have a fountain here like that. What happens, though, when they hit from similar vectors? They add to one another. Both become stronger.

There is no such thing as a Hegelian thesis/antithesis in the real world. Such dichotomies are the artifacts of our brain architecture and following intellectual sloppiness. We live in a web of interconnections. Sometimes, a tone issued from one place causes vibration elsewhere in the web. If it then responds, something larger emerges. This is proper synthesis.

The Left and the Right can come together, if we find our common ground, which will begin by defining shared problems. This would have happened a long time ago, had the Left not largely abandoned actual problem solving in favor of complicity in brainwashing narratives that subtracted the possibility of reconciling intent with solution. All it is capable of doing is generating non-substantive rhetoric, repeated with minor variations for all topics and situations.

This is ludicrous. I do not believe all Leftists are stupid or wicked. I think many of them are lazy, and that their contempt for the right blinds them to the fact that alliances are not just possible but necessary.

Idolatry

I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant the other day, and the song "God Bless America" came on. The owner, a former Mexican who came here illegally, was deported several times, and was finally granted citizenship, has a picture of himself and "God Bless America" prominently on his wall, along with this story.

As I listened, the word "Idolatry" popped in my head, and after pondering it, it made sense. Idolatry is reducing the infinite to the finite. God cannot be contained in an image. God cannot be confined to granting very selfish and local wishes. He is not the subject of banquets and special favors.

Patriotism, likewise, is granting special favor to specific lands and people, rather than the ideals to which they in theory aspire. Patriotism, in the time of the French Revolution, led to tremendous death and destruction, despite the supposed attachment to "liberte", which of course meant tyranny.

America has been a great nation, a great experiment in genuine idealism. That is what makes us great. We are not great simply because we happen to have been born here. There is nothing sacred about our land, our language, or our culture, EXCEPT to the extent it supports the infinite, of which every worthwhile ideal is an example.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Meandering

I read my own posts sometimes, and wonder: What the hell is he talking about? Where did that come from? Non sequitur, ambiguity, randomness: all found here.

I type out loud. I let the words flow. I'm not trying to build structure, so much as watch what happens when I let my mind wander. Sometimes it gets caught in eddies, but the words keep flowing, and eventually it moves on.

Here is a nice song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSfrIvE0nAc

I'm big on self referential irony. I count seven uses of the word I as well. Make that eight. Ah: can you start anywhere else? Not as far as I can tell.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Musical history

It is hard for me not to see a sharp divide between Mozart/Haydn and Beethoven, in the sense that a film should show "and here it broke: the dogs were let loose and destroyed everything".

In Clockwork Orange, why are the hooligans so obsessed with Beethoven? Because it MAKES SENSE. Gone is order and proportion. Yes, some of his work is beautiful, but it
is broken. He has built a machine condemned to missing the cogs that make it affirm life.

Highly subjective view, but I just finished the Viennese Classical period in my music course, and am now being assaulted by the Romantics. Oi.

I am not exaggerating when I say I see little difference between Beethoven and the Ramones. That comparison might well have made him happy.

Now, I have nothing per se against songs about Teenage Lobotomy, but is that culture? Is it the culture of sensible people, making rational, measured decisions?

Do I want to blame the Sex Pistols or the New York Dolls for our national debt? Sure, why not? I would be willing to take that position in a debate.

Giving

It seems to me that there are more people hurting in this world than helping. There is a negative emotional cash flow. If you hurt, but are not giving, then you are either taking, or wanting.

The logic of Christianity, of love, is simple: if you want the world to attain a positive emotional balance, then you have to give rather than receive. You have to take the hatred you are offered and at least not make it worse, and ideally soften and even end it.

Looking at the world around him, the solution of Christ was eminently logical. He never ended Mosaic Law, but rather completed it, by pointing out the important parts. If thou shalt not kill, then thou shalt not kill ANY part of a person. Thou shalt not attack them, hurt them. Thou shalt honor that which is sublime in this world. Thou shalt honor those who made you who you are, and in so doing honor yourself and those who will follow you. Thou shalt not be envious and resentful.

As I see it, victory over another person consists not in attaining their submission, but rather in helping them untangle knots in their own lives that prevent their full creative expressive potential from manifesting, and thereby infecting the world with the new, the joyous, the beautiful. That is victory. That is winning. That is the goal. Everything else is failure in pursuit of success.

Coda:

Tonight I sat next to a woman at a bar wrestling with addiction to crack cocaine. I found this out because I am good at finding things out. She in any event wanted me to know that she was moving in with a man who did not do drugs, because she was going to conquer her habit.

I watched her, at once hopelessly furious with herself, helpless, lonely, longing, confident, sure, antagonistic, supplicating, earnest and disingenuous. Back and forth, in furious circles. I said the things one says, but I don't think it will do any good. She is consuming herself, like a star in the grip of a black hole. She knows what she is doing, but the reasons she has to live for aren't enough to keep her off drugs.

Did Elvis Presley commit suicide? Yes, in my view. So did Michael Jackson. The details don't matter. If you are doing things to yourself that you know will shorten your life, you have chosen to shorten your life, no? A=A?

Christ came that we might have more life, which means more meaning, more love, more purpose, more "place". We are not all that different.

She was on my left. To my right were two Indians with very thick accents who insisted they were born in America. Bring up the Middle East or Pakistan, though, and you got some fierce words and looks. Kashmir: "why don't they just man up and bring it on?"

Circles--life is circles. Here is an example. I'm not drunk, either: this is how I am. It does collate from time to time, though, which is when I'm perhaps more worth reading. I feel deeply, but how does one blog that? You don't, of course.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Synchronicity

Would it not be INTERESTING to think this world was interactive? Interactive, not on a crass physical level, but to our thoughts, and feelings?

Synchronicity is one of these horribly unscientific ideas, if we define "science" as "if Siberian Snow Tigers really exist, then you should be able to show one walking out of those woods tomorrow at 11am on the dot". No tiger, oh sorry, it must not be "science". Ergo, snow tigers do not exist, and only stupid people insist on looking for them.

Interestingly, Michael Farraday was supposed to attend a seance of the then famous Daniel Home, to describe whom the word "psychic" was invented. Many, many times, he made tables rise up into the air in normal light, in front of many witnesses, when there was plainly no physical force capable of doing it. He was tested, and was able to make a violin play in a cage, and to change the weight on a scale without touching it. Farraday insisted that he be told in advance EXACTLY what would happen, and when informed that it changed often, refused to come. This is anti-scientific. If something can be seen once, then over some period of time, it can be seen again, even if it is irregular in its appearance.

Of course, I read psychology and know about the confirmation bias. Of course this effect exists. To deny it would be stupid. And yet, and yet: Jung came up with the term when a patient was describing an exotic, rare beatle, which just happened along as she was doing so. Not unreasonably, he attached significance to it.

Today I posted something in German on my Facebook, I believe for the first time. Tonight I ran into some Germans in a bar, for the first time in 3-4 years and got to practice my German. Apparently I still have a Swiss and not American accent.

Random coincidence? Somebody wins the lottery, right? I choose not to think so. That is my choice.

Exercise: watch for this sort of thing over the next month, and see if you are not surprised. I have every reason to believe the world we live in is magical in ways we cannot even imagine.

Following this blog

I indulge my vanity a bit by looking at the site stats. I'm certainly no superstar, or star, or even bright light. I'm a lamppost in the shady part of town: useful for some, but hardly front row center. Still, I enjoy seeing all the countries checking in, and the number of Americans who are clicking on some my posts.

My intent, however, is not to feed my vanity, but to share what I hope are good, useful ideas, and to that end I will point out that you can follow me on RSS, which basically means you get all the posts without clicking on anything; or you can subscribe by email. If you do that, you get a daily email in the middle of the night with my last edit of whatever I posted. I don't get notified of your email address, and frankly have no way of knowing how many people--if any--are subscribed via RSS or email. It's totally private, at least to me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Invisibility

Are we not all to some extent unwillingly made invisible? We fear discovery of our innermost secrets, but we still resent sometimes the failure of others to see them, who we "really" are. I dare people to understand me, and they fail. They don't even hear the question. This is stupidity, but very human, as I see it. It is vanity, my craving to be understood and recognized. We all have this flaw, to some lesser or greater extent.

Life is work, love and death. Work is an extension of love, done properly. Love is building form in the world. Emotional love, the recognition we crave, is building individual selves. Abstract love is building a better, richer, more interesting world.

It is no tragedy to lack people who understand you: the tragedy is lacking the capacity to care about others, and to work to build them. That is useful love. The rest is vanity, and as much as we like to have our vanity stroked, it is an unessential element, like carbohydrates.

Yes, I'm tired and complaining in my very abstract, analytical way. That is part of who I am. I have failed, in a way, and am working on soothing my ego, and doing so publicly in the hope my scribblings may be useful to someone else.

Change

This morning, walking the dogs, I was watching the clouds scoot across the sky, pushed by steady winds. It felt like change. "Good change or bad change?", I wondered. Then it hit me: Change. That is the word. The ridiculousness of my question made me laugh out loud.

We spend so much time defending our five feet of earth, don't we? Our own skies, our own views, our own interests, our own, our own. Yet we will all be swept away like clouds one day too, won't we? Flow is the only reality, and there are those who accept this, and those who lie to themselves.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Social effects of Central Banks and Fractional reserve banking

Everything that Socialists claim to want--decreased work weeks, better retirements, increased access to healthcare, an end to poverty, a more "humane" world--could have already been achieved, had we not granted 90% or more of our national wealth production to the banks, some of which they kept, and some of which they simply wasted.

The Federal Reserve, and fractional reserve banking system it enables and parts of which it represents, is the reason we have such high divorce rates. It is the reason poor fathers cannot provide for their children; the reason stressed out fathers and mothers cheat on one another and become emotionally unavailable because exhausted. The Federal Reserve is the reason we consign our parents to "homes" that are nothing of the sort, where they are fed horrible food, and in too many cases treated like profitable cattle.

The Federal Reserve is the reason so many children grow up in single parent homes, and never see their (usually) mother who is working all the time, and not very helpful when she is home, as she lacks the energy.

One could argue the Federal Reserve is the reason we so fear terrorism: it has enabled a fundamentally unstable financial system, that can be attacked reasonably easily, causing widespread, rather than local, damage.

The Federal Reserve is the reason for the empty eyes and shattered hopes one sees in some parts of town, and the reason so many of them wind up in jail, or dependent on Democrats very happy to make them so.

This is not a small, tangential problem. It is at the HEART of substantially every economic, political, and social problem we face.

These bastards have to be reigned in. I see Ron Paul has the support of the military, and unlike Rick Perry is not doing himself in--he of course has the help of the complicit media in making sure his message is not heard. It will be interesting to see if the organizing skills of the Left can be brought to bear to get Paul elected. The media are only polling active Republicans right now as to their preference.

The sheer extent of the LIES one sees in the media can be discouraging. I take comfort from a precommitment I have made to never quit, no matter what.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

From the Archives

Mixed bag below. Topics change.

I have a LOT of stuff on the internet. I use the term "Cultural Sadeism" from time to time, and this essay here is where I developed it.

Cultural Sadeism is what I referred to in the previous post as the yes/yes operator. It is the reason Apollinaire referred to Sade as "the freest man who ever lived."

It is the rejection of rejection. It is the rejection of form, and instead consists in relationships of power only.

No sadist can exist without a target. They are a pool of water without a container, endlessly flowing until the moment of contact when they can EITHER be abused or abuse.

Plainly, some serial killers/rapists/Communist leaders always want to be in control. Yet who are they in the interstices? They are nothing. They are less than human. This is where their energy comes from; they must push back from their void, their black hole, sucking them into nothingness.

This is my view. Sade himself, clinically, was BOTH a "Sad-ist" and a masochist. He was fine with being whipped himself. And one has to sense a certain masochism in behaving in such a way that he KNEW he would be locked up.

I will add as a footnote, as it were, that while I have never seen any reason to read Foucault, it is very interesting that he obsessed in his work about power relations, and in his personal life enjoyed homosexual bondage.

It would not be unwarranted, I think, to look to the lives of self declared "philosophers" first, and see if there is anything worth imitating, if they live happily and actually free. Only then might it warrant examining their work. Read the biography, then the theory. If the two do not connect, then you are dealing with someone who can and should be ignored.

Philosophy is about life. It is about building structures in which you can live. It is an artisanal trade no different than baking bread, pouring concrete, or fixing television sets. If it is not useful, then it should be ignored, no matter how pretty it might seem to be. It will not feed you, and instead will likely lead you both to hunger and an inability to feed yourself.

No amount of blood can ever bring a vampire to life. They cling: they do not live.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Yes/no operator

I play a lot, although my play probably would be between inscrutable and mind-numbingly tedious for most.

Anyway, I was playing with this yes/no operator. It seems to me that three basic cultural statements can be made: no/no, yes/no/yes/no, and yes/yes.

In a no/no system you are defined not by what you ARE, but by what you are not. This is a very strange place to be, but I would submit that it is the lot of most leftists. They are not imperialists, sexists, racists, bigots, homophobes, Islamophobes, etc. But what ARE they? What do they believe on principle? As it turns out, nothing. An act which will draw no comment at all when done by a Democrat becomes horrific when done by a conservative. Does anyone seriously think Bill Clinton never made unwanted sexual advances to anyone? Kennedy, Ted, John or Robert?

Or take the example I cite in my definitions of terms: Cuba. On Cuba are different types of prisons. The regime itself runs political prisons where "soft" torture was practiced--and may well still be practiced--for many years on persons whose sole crime was to question the regime's good intentions. They lock people in what amount to small doghouses and leave them there for months. Sometimes they block the air holes, so they can barely get enough to breathe. This elicits no comment from the Left.

Yet Guantanomo Bay, which houses the worst of the worst, generally people who have committed or tried to commit mass murder against civilians, and who are housed better than most Americans are for much lesser crimes, is somehow horrible

Wait, it's not horrible. Obama inherited it, he hasn't closed it, so now it is OK. It will become bad again if a Republican is elected and does not close it.

No, you are not a Republican, or conservative, or bible pounder, or "truther", or "birther", or idiot, or Fox News whore, or any member of the long lists of things it is undesirable to be. But who are you? You don't know. This causes anxiety.

An intact culture contains both markers for what you ARE and what you are NOT. If you want to say Americans value freedom, and that we are not barbarians, then you have included both. In the flow of events, both markers have to be present for FORM to exist.

The Yes/yes marker inverts the No/no marker by saying that there ARE no rules. You define yourself by what you do, and you do whatever you want.

Psychologically, as discussed in the book "Willpower", humans tend to lose all restraint once they pass certain "bright lines" of rules they have. As long as you don't cross a line, you control your behavior. Once you cross that line, though, behavior does not become SLIGHTLY less controlled, but the control evaporates entirely. The You who made those lines is gone, and you are now someone else.

As Voltaire said in Candide, the perfect connoisseur is not the person who rejects everything. And self evidently they are not the people who accept everything. They are characterized by standards that they hold to diligently. This is the task of culture.

Imagine a culture in which we all hold to our own chosen lines, and stray no farther. This would be wonderful. We need freedom, but we also need restraint. Yes, and no.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Soft Sadism

I would like to add an analytical category between Sybaritic Leftism and Cultural Sadeism: to whit, Soft Sadism.

We hear this term "codependent". That means that one person is seriously dysfunctional, but that their dysfunctions are enabled, facilitated, allowed to continue without consequence by, someone else.

That person, too, is mad.

I see socialists, and they NEED the poor. The poor are their raison d'etre. Without the poor (oppressed; somehow disenfranchised in reality, or more commonly plausibly enough that the facts can be created to support this need), they have nothing to do.

This is a form of cruelty. If you need me to suffer to feel alright about yourself, you are an idiot, and a mild sadist. You don't realize that you want me to not succeed, consciously, but it is there all the same.

That is why Sade is so "liberating" for many leftists: he says what they come to feel, that the sense of power is itself liberating in some ways, and that you need no longer even PRETEND to care about others.

If the Left gave a flying fuck about the poor of Detroit, Detroit would not be Detroit. But this is, of course, a counterfactual statement. What they really care about is power, and there is no extent of OTHERS suffering they are not willing to countenance to get and keep it.

Suffering lays as a blanket keeping the wicked warm in the cold winters of failed worlds.

As I say often, this is my think out loud blog. I can and do change my mind. That bit of poetic metaphor is not far off, though. The kings of old who did so much to oppress the poor of their lands are not so very different than the kings of Detroit City Hall, who live well, without doing ANYTHING to help the plight of their subjects. That their subjects continue to vote them in is testament to their powers of deception and guile, and, of course, naked corruption.

Birth Certificate, an idea

We'll be at well over a 100 stories on unsustantiABLE allegations by women who are presumably partisan Democrats soon. Yet most people don't know the names Rezko, Ayers, or what Obama's preacher for all those long years was saying quite openly, and in a manner he cannot fail to have heard or understood.

To the point here, if Herman Cain had issued the "birth certificate" that Obama has, he would have been torn to shred. The EVIDENCE of forgery is present. The EVIDENCE of Cain's misdoing is not present.

In any event, would it not be interesting to redo the posted certificate, to the same level of precision, with Buckwheat listed as his father, and Rosa Luxemburg as his mother? Or some other combination?

The extent of media complicity is truly breathtaking. We are borrowing $125 BILLION a MONTH, and they and their children will suffer the same fate the rest of us non-rich will when our economy collapses. Nothing good will happen, but for the 1% which includes both the rich and the government bureaucrats who grant them their power and immunity from scrutiny.

Monday, November 7, 2011

American Individualism

Keep in mind that "individual" means "Undividable".

Watched Die Hard 4, I guess it is, when hackers take over the country. Young techy dude asks McClain: Why are you doing this? Mclain (net, paraphrased): "because the work needs to be done, and it isn't getting done. Trust me, I have better things to do, but I'll be damned if I walk away from the responsibilities just dropped on me."

Can there be any better summary of the benefits of liberty, as combined with an accurate assumption of generalized personal responsibility? An attack of any sort comes anywhere. Local people organize, and respond, without external direction or prompting. They understand a problem exists, that it needs to be solved, and that the solution falls first to them.

Our system WORKS, if the people composing it understand the value of being free.

Moral Future

If you lack a belief in the capacity of all of us for progressively greater moral perfection, as seen in models (spiritual or religious) whose lines continue well past our physical deaths, then it is hard build a very large space for your life, in my view. To be able to grow--note, not necessarily to do so consciously, but to imagine it as possible--is important for optimal psychological health.

With Freud we see the sum total of human life reduced, in the end, to instincts no different in principle than those of squirrels. With Ayn Rand, the fundamental unit of human experience is elevated to the principle, but for all that retains a certain continuity with concept that to be is inherently to be selfish. For Freud, the point of life was self replication through sexuality. For Rand (to be clear, I have not read her in depth, but rather summaries of her work, which seemingly proceeds quite rationally from her basic premises; I have also spent a lot of time watching the behavior of her fans, which is interesting), it seems to me to be self replication through creative, nonsexual output. Both have always seemed constrained to me. I have not read Rand for the simple reason that I do not share her premises, so no matter how wonderful the edifice she builds on them, I will not be able to inhabit it.

People lacking an individual moral future, a clear path towards moral [I will note, too, that I differentiate this from psychological improvement, since historically improvement consisted mainly in the remediation of dysfunction; this has changed in recent years with the advent of "Positive Psychology", but the system itself still FEELS constrained. This may be unhelpfully uncharitable, so I am noting my subjectivity on this topic] growth, are disproportionately affected by calls for SOCIAL perfection.

In a very real sense, the choice between Liberalism and Socialism/Fascism/Communism is between the notion of individual growth and eventual perfectability, and the rejection of that notion, by, to be clear, individuals.

There is no "Society". This is a reification. There ARE individuals, who are always and necessarily the locus of decision making, and thus the logical center of moral improvement. You cannot improve a "Society", without improving the behavior of the individuals. Do they stop to help you when you break down on the highway? Are they honest? Can you leave your door unlocked? Are they intelligent, erudite, and principled? All of these traits can ONLY be expressed by individuals. The "society" is a demographic, statistical abstraction from countable individual behavioral acts.

"Society" is a creation of the intellectuals, who are little able to differentiate between their fantasy lands between their ears, and actual human beings. In general--and Obama is a great example of this--they are utterly lacking in empathy, because they see individuals as small cogs in a large machine, and not as intrinsically valuable on their own. They see no spark of God anywhere.

When I was in Europe as an exchange student, the graffito (I think that is right) "No Future" was commonly seen. Now, this was during the period of Reagan and the end of the Cold War, when many of us feared a large scale nuclear war. The forests of Europe were seemingly dying. Many feared (in my continuing view, irrationally) nuclear power. The list was long.

But at root, it has long seemed to me that what they were really referring to was purpose. "No future" could as easily have translated to "no purpose" and "why live?" Would the best and brightest have found solace in their institutions of acculturation, which for most of them were their family and school? Not if their family was not religious. Only in socialism could they find that solace, and then only by renouncing their individual identity, for submersion in a whole LESS than the sum of the parts.

This situation is unacceptable, and unsustainable. If we are to worry about any environment, I think our moral environment is the most important, as taking care of that will most reliably lead to taking care of our physical environment. Many if not most of the most "pressing" environmental concerns--such as "global warming"--are, properly understood, efforts to express coherent morality in a condition in which that is the only means by which to do so conceivable within that person's moral and ontological world.

This is the point of "Goodness Movement". I have not solved all the problems of the human race. You have to solve your own problems, you ridiculous human being. So do I, and I am ridiculous, too, in my own way.

Here is the thing: if you move forward daily, relying on certain core principles, and helpful metaphysical beliefs (the interconnectedness of life and the survival of death are both excellent ones, and in my view the most empirically defensible ones), then you will never get too far off course. If you want to reach the North Pole, and keep moving, always staying within 5 degrees of the proper direction, you will get there eventually.

This quote is useful on many levels: Our task is not to see what lies dimly in the distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. Thomas Carlyle.

Look around you. Are you caring for your children properly? Your spouse? Your parents? Your community? Are you educating yourself? Are you taking time in silence to feel what you really feel, and choose more carefully how you behave, upon the basis of principles that are important to you?

My confidence is complete that with enough people of goodwill--which I define very broadly as being a genuinely nice person--things will work out. Just avoid both complacency and pessimism. "Do what you can, with what you have, and do it now", as TR said approximately. "Then do it again", which I said. "And again." Me again.

See how that works?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mozart and Will

I am continuing to listen to Dr. Goldberg's Teaching Company series on "Listening to Great Music". Of course, he has difficulty saying too many nice things about the music of Mozart. What I found interesting is that he was very sickly all his life, and that he died at age 36 or so, of causes that are still undetermined. But he virtually every disease that you could get in his day and age along the way, including smallpox, which permanently disfigured his face.

He had major father issues. His father was very demanding, and in the end he had to run away from him. I wonder if his musical output, prodigious at substantially all times after perhaps age 20, was his version of escape. I wonder if he learned to use his will to create beautiful places he could not find in his own life.

As I see it, you can use will for creativity. Will, per se, does not create, but what you can do is clear a figurative, imaginative space, and wait patiently for it to be populated, with ideas that seep up from the ground. The trick is keeping the space pristine long enough for this to happen. This is something, I feel, that Mozart did well. In his own words he "wrote music like cows piss". It did not feel hard to him, but I wonder if that was because that exercise of his will was habitual, and necessary to maintain any semblance of psychological equilibrium

Random musings. Time for bed.

Obama's Wall Street protests

And calling them "Obamaville's". These are his people. They are the radical losers disconnected from common civility and decency, pragmatic problem solving skills, and the way of life of most ordinary people the world over, including most Americans. They are rudderless people who, without anger, have no purpose to their lives at all.

OF COURSE violence will happen. The entire concept--that of denying the use of a public space to any but fellow travellers--is in its very foundation violent, being intended to limit the civil rights of others, while preaching loudly about the importance of civil rights.

As I say often, it would be humorous, if these people really didn't want to hurt people.

Proposal, continuing

Hell, my experience in life is that everything is harder and takes longer than you think it will. You can normally count on this by figuring how long you think something will take, then add a third. That third will often save your ass.

As far as market readjustments following a universal revaluation, the more realistic timeline is six months to a year. This is something like a preventive surgery to eradicate a tumor, and it takes time to recover.

Still, I think my logic is sound. We let the actual people do what the banks do for themselves all the time.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My proposal, further thoughts

In its essence, it is LARGE inflation, followed immediately by LARGE deflation. It is treating money as the marker it is, but making sure all the coins fall in the right slots.

Now, the best way to do this would be just to do it. Don't announce it: just do it. That won't happen here, of course, so we need to think through some details. It literally does not matter if we even change how the physical dollar looks. Most money is 1's and 0's anyway, and that is where the inflation and deflation happens.

Let's think this through, though. The day is announced, and comes. For simplicity a national holiday is declared. All debts are paid in full. All banks are fully capitalized (in fairness, all the major Federal Reserve banks should probably have their collective assets seized; for pragmatic purposes, though, I am willing to let their ill gotten wealth stand, provided the system they used to get it is ended). Your credit card bill is gone. Your mortgage is gone. Our national debt is gone. Nobody owes anybody anything. The banks are full of money, and you now have more available cash.

What happens? What happens to that $500 you have in the bank in savings? We just quadrupled the amount of money in circulation. Now, the money the banks loaned was by and large created ex nihilo. When you get a loan, you pay it out. To build a house you pay carpenters and plumbers, who spend that money. When you pay the bank back, though, you take an equivalent amount of money, plus interest, OUT of circulation, negating its inflationary effect. [note, stuff like this is why it is so hard to measure "inflation", which is a very slippery concept]. I just paid the bank back for you, without taking it out of circulation. This means the inflationary effect remains.

In concept I have Dollar One, and Dollar Two. Dollar Two is worth, say, 10 of Dollar One, after our money printing is done. What seems to make the most sense is that by a feat of accounting magic, your $500 is simply converted from Dollar One to Dollar Two. We get professional, actually competent, economists to estimate how this should work.

The day comes, and there will be uncertainty. Coffee might be priced anywhere from $1/cup to $50/cut, because people just don't know. Your home might have been worth $250,000 of Dollar One, but with Dollar Two you just can't be sure, until people start buying and selling again.

This is, however, the beauty of free markets: even when disrupted, they are self stabilizing. Within a week or so, I would expect most of the uncertainty to be gone. It may be that the price of your home falls to $125,000, but this will also mean that the buying power of the dollar has doubled, meaning the price means nothing at all. All of this can be sorted out in countless individual transactions, unhindered by the government.

I think some small country can make this work. Do you suffer through decades of failure, only to fail more, or try something bold and untried?

I would suggest this for the Greeks, but they don't have a central bank, and are in any event too irresponsible not to wind up in the same place 10 years down the road.

Financial Reform

What would it take to get something like my proposal passed?

We could elect Ron Paul, but I don't think even that would do it. He hasn't proposed anything like what I have, to my knowledge, and many people think he's nuts for even opposing the Fed. He would get it audited, for sure, which would be a very good thing. They have made many people very rich, and many of them not even Americans (as if it really matters; they are a class of their own), at the expense of the rest of us.

Here is what I would like to see: some country, say Brazil or Jamaica or someone else, should just use their central bank to write checks to all their creditors, declare themselves debt-free, then revalue their currency. This is all Weimar Germany did (although they didn't get their war reparations paid: since they were printing literal paper money, they could not write checks).

You get long term inflation in places like Zimbabwe for the simple reason that the leaders spend more than they make constantly. If you pay off your bills, you cannot immediately go back to doing the same things. You must pay them off, then have a government that is the right size for the tax base. What I am proposing is a get rich slow scheme. Those are the sustainable ones.

There is little difference between what I am proposing and a default, except that my proposal is much cleaner. No one can say you failed to pay your bills. But for this to work, the follow up responsibility has to be there. Bankrupt nations like Greece can default. They can not pay their bills, but the cost will be that nobody will lend them money again. They have to be able to live with this outcome, and plainly they are not. They want their cake and to eat it too. Everyone recognizes this, so it is foolish to assume that the debacle will end prior to Greece being expelled from the EU.

The fundamental problem with my idea, for much of the developing world, is that the rulers rule by appealing to the greed of ordinary people. They say they can take from the rich, and share, but of course this never works. Hugo Chavez has caused tremendous amounts of wealth--and the talents it represented--to leave the country, and ordinary Venezuelans are in fact much worse off for it.

As I have said a number of times, salt water can slake anyone's thirst, for a time. But those who drink it do not live long.

Still, I hope there is a nation out there led well enough, and populated by sufficiently mature and sober people that they can and will pull this off. In its essence, this is a very simple idea. It takes the logic of the system and applies it to the problem of creating generalized wealth, rather than wealth shared among a very few.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cain and the race card

As I think about it, I think Cain should play the race card,which I am here going to define as speaking directly to matters of race for political benefit. Specifically, He should write a speech directed at black people. In it, he should ask them: what has any Democrat ever done for you? Is this Hope thing working for you? Many people thought Obama was going to pay their mortgages, and even buy their gas for them. He of course did nothing to discourage them from this misconception.

These people are bitterly disappointed. They know they were used and lied to. Expectations were set higher than was remotely possible. Always, every year, every election, Democrats portray themselves as the champions of African Americans, but their effects are horrible. Is Philadelphia a kind and gentle city because of all the social services, and "non-racist" policies of the Demorats? Of course not.

He needs to point that the people working at the Equal Opportunity Administration, or whatever it is called, make $70,000 a year and up, with great benefits. How much of that flows to the people supposedly protected by them? None.

Black people don't need rhetoric: they need good paying jobs. And Cain could attack this directly. What about federal tax CREDITS for corporations that create jobs in zip codes designated by their poverty rate?

He needs to tell them: look, you've been misled and lied to for 45 years. What do you have to show for voting Democrat? You need a job, don't you? What has Obama done to make that happen?

Strategically, I am beginning to think that we should nominate Cain for the simple reason that most black people have quite literally never heard any rationale for voting Republican, and will give him a listen. This is why the Democrats are crapping in their pants right now. He is WAY more "black" than Obama. He grew up in a black home; Obama didn't. He went to school with black people; Obama didn't. He experienced real racism first hand; Obama didn't. He has two black parents; Obama doesn't. Cain want to Morehouse College (MLK's Alma Mater), his wife Morris Brown College, both traditionally black colleges; Obama went to Columbia and his wife Princeton, both traditionally the destinations of pampered rich white people.

Further, Cain has not only had real, outcome oriented jobs, but has excelled at them. Obama literally has NO business experience; Cain has done little else.

This case is strong. Cain should make it. Do what the Democrats do and run it through some focus groups to work out the kinks, but I say go on the attack. That is normally my first impulse, but that is because if you are dictating the terms of the engagement, you are usually in control, and in control is a good place to be in any agonistic engagement.

Hope

I was in the liquor store last night, and talking with the cashier. The guy in front of me told her "there's always hope" in relation to some problem she was having. She said "that's just a cliche", then to me "hope has never done anything but cause me pain. I'm a black woman and that is just how it is."

I told her she could trust in persistence. She asked me if that was a cliche too, and I told that was the truth. Another black woman (I reference black since she did) in the store agreed. I told her you can't quit, and that is something you can rely on.

Hope is a happiness you feel, thinking something good is going to happen. When it doesn't happen, you feel worse. It is, therefore, a bad guide to the future for many people, except the lucky.

Yet, persistence IS a good guide for everyone. It is a form of what psychologists term "precommittment" (I read about this in the book "Willpower", and had not heard the term before), in that you make the decision in advance that NO MATTER WHAT happens, you will keep going. You will keep moving until God takes the breath from your body and you go to whatever is next.

This is liberating, in that you can rule suicide, formal or virtual, out of your life and mind, and therefore confirm within your self the decision to grow in some way or other for the duration of your existence on Earth.

Last post

Yes, this is a drinking blog. I need to "freedomize" (software to keep yourself off the internet) myself when I pop the cap. Sorry about that.

As I reread it, actually, it is not fully hopeless/idiotic. All that happens when I drink is I get more honest, which is hard to do, since I am very honest.

I took a personality profile once, which measured adapted versus "real" personality. They were in precisely the same quadrant, with the difference that I tone down my real self slightly. This, because I am an enthusiast, and most people are not.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Extinction

I check my posts, to some extent. As I see it, nothing threatens our shared survival more than those who simply cannot believe freedom, life, flexibility, decision are possible in large groups. Seemingly, some want US to die; to stop caring about the outside world; to stop validating perceptions consistent with long term viability.

We are so big. The United States of America is so large. Why do we so limit ourselves? Are there not sand pits, and small lakes, and unindulged Indian tribes to which to offer our affection and concern? Of course there are.
They know who they are.

My hope is that we all wind up under a grand banner declaring the greatness of the United States, and that we stand there, appreciating all the death and suffering and other sacrifice our comfortable lives mean.

My further hope is that we remember not just the designated "heroes", but all the men who did their job under horrific circumstances and came home intact, nonetheless. God Bless them twice. Those who died, or were seriously hurt, thrice.

Oh, I see the world unsentimentally We all have our claims on the bastard of existence, the claim made on our lives, our pain, our sorrow. I see past this. Please tell me I am a son of a bitch granting your dead the respect of having died bravely, doing their job under arduous circumstances. I feel this, I hurt this. That is all I can do. The rest rests with you. It will fade with time. It will never disappear. It will never fully go away.

OI. I should move along, but I feel your pain. If you should move along, move along. If a shortsighted dumbass helps, then I am your guide.

How many, I wonder, will grasp this post? What I seem to be is what I am.

Edit: I will note that I was drunk and tired when I posted this, not necessarily in that order. I left it up, because it is not wholly useless, even though of course it does lapse into the sort of incoherence I normally like to think I am successful in avoiding.

Bon Mot

Yes, I am capable of irony. I use it regularly.

Nothing is more pernicious in human life than unexamined assumption. Nothing works to the Good more than intelligence fortified with humility and goodwill.

Corrolary: No matter how clear you think you have been, someone has still misunderstood you. This effect cannot be fully erased, which means that all plans must have room to be amended. The people who do the amending are not normally the planners, but the doers. Such people are invaluable, even if commonly unnamed, unnoticed, unappreciated, and unrewarded. Upon them rests in large measure the future of the world.

Anti-Hegelianism

Just kidding. That is my sense of humor that would resemble dust if it wasn't so dry it's already gone. It's ether. Etheric humor.

I did want to make a point, though. This whole notion of thesis/antithesis/synthesis leads to some serious flaws of thought. The image conveyed is of two cars racing headlong against one another, colliding in a massive spasm of metal and gas fumes, tumbling up in the air and then apart, and something useful flowing from the wreckage. This is not even remotely the way the world works, yet it is the basic metaphor for revolutionaries, who think they must destroy what came before, so something new--a "synthesis"--can come of it. The OWS clowns think if they can just destroy Capitalism, something BETTER will come of it. They are assured by the "Marxists" (there can be no serious Marxist today, since his hypotheses have been fully falsified; they are necessarily Leninists, as I have defined the term) that "history"--which has all the empirical validity as the word "God" as it is commonly used--is on their side. This is patent nonsense.

The better metaphor is two rivers, coming from different places, flowing together in a wider place. Neither has taken from the other; on the contrary they have reinforced one another.

You cannot make the poor rich by destroying the rich. This has been tried: not once, but many times. It doesn't work. But, and this is a big but, it DOES serve the role of expressing hatred and rage, and the innate propensity for indulging evil that both those sentiments imply.

Herman Cain--some thoughts

First off, I just tried to donate $100 to his campaign, but the website was not secure. I tried to send them a message, but the software didn't work. These are both serious problems. Could be hackers, could be incompetence, could be both. Plainly, this needs to be fixed. I also don't like websites that I have to scroll across. This problem is easily and cheaply fixed. We will call this the "lacking Soros and Wall Street big bucks" problem.

(I will add: self evidently, George Soros has plenty of friends on Wall Street. His goal is not global freedom. He has done nothing to support that. His goal is the conversion of a de facto oligarchy into a de jure oligarchy, using the veneer of socialist "progress". "Socialism" has shown itself to be a useful rhetorical ploy for power mongers over the last century.)

Back to Cain. This is go time. Figure out the money situation, then counterattack. Make a list of ALL the sexual harassment stories on Democrats that were buried by the mainstream press, then confront them with it. Choose say the last half century. Hell, start with the facts that Kennedy slept with a woman who was not his wife nearly daily, and that FDR had a long term girlfriend and that he didn't even sleep in the same room as his wife. In Kennedy's case, quite obviously there were many women who were propositioned, and who said no, and who in this day and age would have sued him. Clinton will yield plenty of material. Ted Kennedy and his houses of hookers, not to mention Mary Jo Kopechne. Make a list, a long list, and publish it. Ask: why does a powerful black man scare you so much?

Here is the actual answer. Blacks constitute about 12% or so of the population. They vote at lower rates, in my understanding, in most elections than the rest of the population does. But they vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. For Obama, it was over 90%. Let us say that half of all eligible black voters vote in a typical election. This means that some 5-6% of the population will ALWAYS vote for the Democrat. In big cities, where blacks are disproportionately present, this number goes up substantially. In cities like Chicago, or Philadelphia, or Detroit, it is probably not overstating it to say that whoever gets the black vote wins the mayoral election and City Hall.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. He was a Republican because the Democrats have ALWAYS been the party of racism. They were the party of the secessionists and the segregationists. You will hear that the racists left the Democrats after the mid-60's and joined the Republicans, but I see no evidence of this. Take Robert Byrd. This man actually JOINED the KKK, and in my understanding held a leadership position, and was LIONIZED when he died by the Democrats. Can you imagine a Republican KKK member being so treated? Of course not.

For the Democrats, the issue is not combating "racism". It is protecting their power and privilege by making entirely insincere claims that they are protecting black people. Yet their policies consistently lead to high unemployment rates, out of control crime and hopelessness in inner cities.

Barack Obama is no more black than I am. He reminds me of Niles Crane, a prissy boy who always wants hand sanitizer near him, and drops his g's only when he wants to be one of "them", the real black people. Keep in mind he was hired as a community organizer in Chicago by two Jewish students of Saul Alinsky, who needed a black face to do their circus act, which amounted to a racist rounding up of the monkeys (I want to be clear: this is not how I view it, but how I visualize them as having viewed it, since organizing never was intended to help the people involved, but rather to exploit them to acquire power. Power is all that is of interest to an Alinskyan/Leninist). It was cynical and detached at its very heart.

Herman Cain grew up in a thoroughly typical black southern family. His parents both worked multiple jobs. He experienced real racism. And he raised himself by his bootstraps. The contrast of Cain and Obama would be very, very striking. Obama's phoniness could not be hidden, if standing on the stage next to Cain. Every black viewer would see this, and if they hear from Cain's mouth an actually credible defense of conservative ideals, many of them will PERMANENTLY change over. Self evidently, there is no distance to which Democrats will not go to prevent this. They have no moral compass. Nothing is off the table.

But my hope is that Cain survives this storm. I don't know what the 9/9/9 plan will do, if enacted, but I like the idea of 10% cuts in all Federal departments quite well, which Cain has pledged to do when elected, and I know that freeing up both capital and confidence will work wonders for our economy. Putting a true businessman in the White House--as I have said, I count Romney as a CEO, not a businessman, with the difference being between political savvy, and the ability to grow a business--will work wonders for confidence.

How's this for a campaign slogan: Sometimes it DOES take a rocket scientist: Cain 2012.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Will and anxiety

I've recently come across some rare bits of good psychology. As a general rule, I don't think most psychologists have the tools to do anybody much good that they could not have better done themselves, under the encouragement of friends and church. Quite often, I think psychologists--pop psychologists and clinical psychologists--breed self pity and resentment, which makes things WORSE.

However, I will recommend the book "Willpower", by Roy Baumeister and (I think) John Tierney. I will also recommend the "Panic Away" set of exercises by Barry McDonagh.

The two are related in many ways, which continue to occur to me.

As far as willpower, what I found interesting is that it is a physical quantity, in effect, not that different than physical stamina. Like physical stamina, it can be built, but it finite in quantity, and used for all sorts of things we would not normally consider, such as suppressing emotions, suppressing the expression of emotions, paying attention, resisting temptation, and thinking new thoughts (this last is my extrapolation from their basic thesis). Every use of willpower pulls from the same pot, so logically putting up with idiots at work requires a lot of willpower, which is why it is so stressful.

When you run out of willpower you get more emotional, and everything seems more vivid. This is the feeling some of us have had where, if not on the verge of a nervous breakdown, we can at least see the street that deadends there.

Logically, absent other tools, combating anxiety also requires the use of willpower. I will allow myself a tad bit of autobiography because it might be useful to someone. I grew up in a very nervous, emotionally suppressed home. I took these traits into adulthood. Most who know me would not describe me as nervous or emotionally suppressed, but I see now I exert a lot of energy keeping emotions in check, which leaves me with less energy for other tasks.

The trick to maximizing willpower, you see, is using it in the right places. If you are using it to suppress emotions, then you have less energy to form good habits. Habits in turn reduce the need for willpower, since decision-making, too, requires willpower, and tires you. If you obviate the need for a decision, then that energy carries forward. William James said this 100 years ago, but somehow this book made this more clear to me. All of this is common sense, of course, but it only becomes common for any of us when we actually GET it. I probably only understand half of what I say. Maybe less.

It occurs to me too, that much of our culture is dedicated to the goal of making us more nervous, and less trusting. Look at all the CSI clones. Yes, of course like all crime dramas they are about bringing closure to a crime. But unlike all entries in the genre until perhaps the late 1990's or so (I don't watch them, so am not familiar with the exact history), the physical acts of murder, the details, are a character on the shows. People obviously want to see the bodies, watch the autopsies, and in so doing serve some ghoulish impulse in them that we all have.

The opposite of fear is not indifference. Courage, in many cases, amounts to indifference, since it can be the absence of fear. Sociopaths can be quite brave, for the simple reason that situations that normally induce fear in us, simply produce nothing for them.

The opposite of fear is love. It is the capacity to imagine being tender, completely open, and understood; to be in a warm room where everyone welcomes you, as you--with no pretenses, and no hiding of flaws and failures, and shortcomings. We all have them. Only fools (and scoundrels, for their own ends) pretend otherwise.

I am a great believer in the therapeutic effects of deep relaxation, and have experimented with it from time to time. I've tried Jacobson's "Progressive Relaxation", and have as my goal getting Luthe's entire series on autogenics. It is an interesting intellectual/political/business question as to how he has been so thoroughly shut out of mainstream psychotherapy, at least in the West. My understanding is he consistently achieved excellent results. Of course, the literature on him seems, on my superficial analysis, quite small. He was no Freud, no Skinner, no Rogers. He simply developed a body of work that over definable periods of time was effective at alleviating the most obvious symptoms of treatable, non-psychotic illnesses.

Be that as it may--and that was a long digression--I really like McDonough's work because he has apparently incorporated some visualizations from some spiritual tradition, likely Buddhism, that work to connect relaxation with the expression of love; and at that not universal love, which is hard, but simple love for someone or something that is personally important to you. He has that in the Seven Minute Exercise and the Deep Relaxation. In this, he is unique in my experience. Most of them just work to relax you. This is defense. Offense is creating an internal world in which you are actually comfortable.

A large part of my problem with deep relaxation has been that once I get relaxed, I get MORE irritable dealing with the countless details and idiocies that I encounter on a daily basis. Quite often, it makes my mood WORSE, which is not the goal at all, obviously.

I get the newsletter from Victor Zammit weekly. He is a quirky, probably a bit cantankerous at times, but all the same recognizable and lovable person who puts together weekly--at no benefit to himself--videos and stories dealing with evidence of the after-life. Viewed as a whole, the evidence is quite substantial, and some of the cases really don't have alternative explanations than that our consciousness survives physical death.

One week, he had "symptoms of inner peace". One was "A loss of the ability to worry (This is a very serious symptom)."

This makes sense to me. If you are spiritual, or trying to be, then you are trying to conquer fear and worry. We all have it. Most of us worry about something all day every day. This is no way to live.

That is why I got McDonough's series. It was a $100, which is not cheap. Yet, it's been worth it. I actually feel some progress. The series is principally targeted at people who have panic attacks. That's not one of my problems, but I'll close with some observations on his technique.

The tactic is to EMBRACE the queasiness and fear, then to ASK FOR MORE. This is strongly counter-intuitive. If something unpleasant is happening to you, the normal reaction is avoid it, to try and get away. Yet, as he points out, a panic attack is more or less one part of you attacking another part of you. Given that you cannot get away from you without lapsing into psychosis, then the best defense is a good offense, so you turn round, face it, and move forward. According to thousands of testimonies, this apparently works wonders.

This of course (I am often tongue in cheek with my streams of consciousness, if that is not obvious) led me to think of country music. Country music mixes the sad, the happy, and the silly all together. You might one of each, one after the other. For the seasoned country music listener, you're OK with Randy Travis's sad but inspirational Three Wooden Crosses, maybe followed by Miranda Lambert's "House that built me", and Jason Aldean's "My kind of party".

This is an emotional tonic. Three wooden crosses gets me misty eyed every time I hear it, because there is so much love in there. Love and tenderness are related: it's a good kind of sadness, one that strengthens you for the challenges of life.

I have other work to do, but hopefully the connection I am trying to make here is clear enough. If you have a world of troubles, I'd encourage you to try out McDonagh's work. Solving problems is hard enough--doing it with lots of worry and grief is even harder. If you can save your willpower for your work, you'll have more of it left for others, and for yourself.

I don't get paid for anything, and I'm not getting paid for that. That, for the more cynical among you.