I just added a photo to the home page, and revised some of the text on the other pages. Soon, I plan to post my new personal "Health Manifesto" - things I'm setting as process goals for my daily life. Stay tuned!
A year ago, I predicted that Donald Trump would not be elected president in this blog (see post below). Well, I was wrong.
I guess I had good company (the election results were a surprise for many people!). But I take little solace in the idea that I have a lot of company! After all, I pride myself as a radical 'out of the box' thinker, and to find myself just as wrong as many other people bugs me a little. Why didn't I see this coming when others didn't? What kind of prophet, futurist, visionary am I, if my prediction was no better than the common one?
Ok, enough of my personal lament! Let's get down to business.
First of all, I have been much more active in posting to the Topic Blog on my Message Rain site. I really went to town, the day after the election (around 3 AM, as soon as I got news of the election results!) by writing up a storm. I posted frequently in the weeks that followed.
Second, I posted there a lot because I'm about to come out with a book. It's a memoir and reflections on gender identity, and that's the site I'm using to publicize it. But now that the book is written and I'm in the editing phase, I'm starting to think more about health, the main topic of this web site. I'm also planning to integrate these two sites more closely in the near future, although I'm not quite sure exactly how a the moment.
My motivation is this: I have a pretty good sense, based on some symptoms, that I would do well to change certain factors of my diet and lifestyle to improve my health and stay away from the doctor's office. My mother is 96, eats tons of vitamins and supplements and swims 1/2 a mile at the Y at least twice a week. In contrast, I sit too much and take a minimum of vitamins and minerals. I eat a lot of carbs & dairy and my A1C came in at 5.9, which they consider 'borderline' - or 'pre diabetes.' That means my blood sugar was elevated over normal for the last 3 months, on average. My armpits have started to really stink for the first time in my life. Something is going on and I'm starting to think I have to make some major changes. I think the bicycle is the ticket for me. I bought a new one last fall and I'm going to hop in and ride about a bit more starting around now.
Meanwhile, I'm starting to learn of more progress in understanding soil health, which leads to better food nutrients, which leads to better human health. Hmmmm....
So, stay tuned.
Back in 2014, after the mid term elections, the Republican Party took control of the Senate, thus controlling both houses of Congress. At that time, some friends of mine lamented that 'things are getting worse.'
I told them that this was, "The Republicans' Last Hurrah." I am not sure exactly why, but my intuitive sense told me that this was the last two years they would have to make trouble. I say 'make trouble' because of their own commitment to stop anything President Barack Obama proposed, regardless of the merits of the legislation.
Now, it looks as if I was correct in my prediction. The rise of Donald Trump as a candidate for President of the United States is strong evidence of a fracturing of the Republican party. There are probably more than two factions, but there are at least two at the moment. The language on both sides is intense, each against the other (in favor of Trump, or opposed to him).
My prediction now is that the Republican candidate for president, no matter who it turns out to be, will lose this fall, in the general election in November.
So, what of the Democrats? My message to Democrats is, your turn will be next. The public statements between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are much more polite, of course. But the blood of the people is boiling beneath the surface, now that the Occupy Movement has done its job. That job was to give us the terms "the 99 percent" and "the one percent" for use in daily conversation. Of course, the Occupy movement did a whole lot more than that, but that's a story for another time.
Although both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders seem to represent strong central government, moving toward more socialist programs, more of less, my prediction is that the days of the US government managing giant social programs is largely over.
If you look at the tenor of the Trump supporters, for example, they are not going to stand to have huge government programs 'shoved down their throats.' Whether these programs could benefit them or not, they are the 'horsepower' behind the fight in Congress against Barack Obama and his agenda. They are 'fed up' with Congress, not because it blocked the President's agenda, but because their own agenda is also going nowhere and even falling behind.
One example is the advent of same sex marriage, from one state in 2004 to national policy in 2015, just 11 years. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who thinks this is 'going in the wrong direction,' for just a moment. They have a lot of fear that 'traditional moral values' are losing ground rapidly. If anything their cries for 'smaller government' seems contradictory to their wish that federal policy would reach down to the individual and control who can marry whom, who can have an abortion, who can patake cannibis (smoke weed), etc. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.
As we now see, the power of the Federal Government to limit personal choices such as these is more and more limited, whether it's access to abortion (the left wants it, the right doesn't) or easy access to guns (the left doesn't, but the right does).
So, if the Federal Government is becoming less and less effective in dictating what everyone in the entire country can do, what happens next? The answer is that the USA is breaking apart, in a sense. No, no, there won't be a revolution tomorrow. The US flag will continue to fly over the White House for many years, and we're not likely to need a passport to travel from New York to Pennsylvania. But power clearly is shifting down to a more local level. The less that can be done in Congress in Washington, D.C., the more that will have to be done elsewhere. That means the state level, in cities and towns, neighborhoods, etc. And overall, progressive causes will continue to gain over regressive causes.
When I was in school, I thought I hated history. A lot of it was about war. Who won or lost each battle. Which general outwitted the enemy?
Why would most of this matter to me? I was certainly not interested in a military career! The rest was mostly about government and politics. OK, but it was still too much detail for me.
Later on in life, I realized that I love history. I was always excited about discovery, invention, creativity, and breaking new ground. It turns out that I was studying plenty of history, I just didn't call it that. In junior high school, I was often in the library after school, reading all about the discovery and use of electricity, radio, electronics, computers, engines, motors, the power grid, movie production, audio and video recording, and so on. All of these things are intimately connected with art and culture as a whole.
As I looked back I felt cheated by the public education system (and yes, I went to "good" schools). I never got any grades or credit for what I was doing. I realized that all the things that I was excited about have had a significant impact on life today, but were omitted from the history curriculum, and still are, even today!
In a moment of anger and frustration a few years ago, I devised this test. It's a PDF file, so if you want to download it, print it, or share it, that's fine. There is a link below. Please just make sure you give credit to me when you do.
This morning, I read an article about how a woman's life was changed radically by a single tweet on Twitter. The article ran in the New York Times Magazine.
I had a few thoughts about what is happening. Perhaps her plight is rare - the vast majority of tweets fall into oblivion soon after they are sent and read. But her story brings up some interesting aspects of how we communicate these days.
You may have noticed that what you say in texts and even Email is sometimes misinterpreted by recipients because text does not carry intonation, body language, etc. with it? By narrowing communication down to just one sense (reading), we lose a lot of what we humans have evolved to use to express ourselves. Try this: Look directly into someone's eyes for even a short time, perhaps 10 or 15 whole seconds. Say nothing. What happens? You'll end up feeling a great variety of things, I'll bet!
Well, if Email and texts can get you into trouble, at least these media are intended to be somewhat 'conversational' in that it's easy to reply with questions of clarification. There's no obligation, of course. But it's implied by the media itself: Emails have that nice big 'reply' button sitting there, and texts come in with a nice space to type a reply and keyboard just sitting there on your screen as an open invitation.
Now consider Twitter. Take the limitations of a text-only medium (yes, I know you can attach photos, videos, etc. - but the basic system is text based), then limit it to 140 characters, and then make it a broadcast medium - what you send is seen by many people. Add to that that the 'reply' and 'retweet' buttons are the same size. Sure Email has a 'forward' button, but to forward something to lots of people takes at least some effort; with Twitter, retweeting always means that you are 'forwarding' the original to many people whenever you hit the button, without stopping to consider who they are.
I submit that these factors greatly increase the likelihood that what you originally tweeted can backfire on you and perhaps others: Limited to text. Very short message. Little or no context. Sent to many people who can resend to many others who are total strangers. Does this sound familiar? I'm thinking of a phrase common in the early 1950s, "Nuclear Chain Reaction." If that doesn't bring up an image for you, think of lighting a match out on the beach (it will burn, rapidly at first, with its own oxygen, but it goes out harmlessly, even if you drop it). But if you're standing inside a gasoline fuel storage depot, the result could easily be a violent explosion, followed by a fire that can't be put out until it burns out.
But this story carries with it a lesson in human nature as well as media. I think of the book "Made to Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath. In the very first chapter, the describe why absurd 'urban legends' spread very wide and fast, even though they're completely false. It has to do with stirring some primitive emotions, being a story (not just a factoid), and having a little plausibility thrown in.
There is also a very profound book, "The Lucifer Effect" by Philip Zimbardo. The subtitle is "Understanding How Good People Turn Evil" Philip also has some excellent video recordings of his lectures & a TED talk available on the internet. I recommend looking at this Lecture at MIT a few years ago. This is a very long lecture (almost 2 hours), but I have watched the whole thing more than once and I recommend that you do as well. In it, he explains how, "... in the right circumstances, ordinary people can swiftly become amoral monsters. Evil is not so much inherent in individuals, ..., but emerges dependably when a sequence of dehumanizing and stressful circumstances unfolds." I consider Philip's stories and analysis crucial to understanding what's going on in the world today. It is so common to rush to blame each other without considering the context, the environment, the medium, the 'situational aspects' of what may be an horrific event or sequence of events.
I think of this in relation to the story that I mentioned at the start of this post - about the attack of one woman by thousands of strangers via Twitter (and other social media). The question is, why would so many people, who have never met this woman, know little to nothing about her, suddenly do something that essentially ruins her present life - gets her fired from her job, harassed by the main stream media, and fills internet media with other messages that vilify her in the extreme?
Why, indeed. I am not a deeply schooled expert in social psychology, and I cannot begin to enter into a discourse of the fine points. But it seems to me that it behoves us all (or at least as many of us who have the time and opportunity), to avail ourselves of the perspectives and understanding that are already out there, available to everyone by now (a more positive aspect of the internet). This is area of study is what used to be called "mob psychology" but it is way much more than that. It is how we, as intelligent human beings, in a highly evolved society, can still take part in evil acts without even realizing what we are doing, much less how incredibly hurtful it can turn out.
I speak about spreading love throughout the world as one of my main missions in life. Indeed, there are thousands of proverbs spread on Facebook and elsewhere that encourage us all to love each other and love nature and the planet. I wish it were just that simple. But along with those wonderful little sayings and feel-good messages with images of of puppies, kittens, and beautiful sunsets to go with them, I ask you to also understand how and why we humans so often inflict violence, emotional pain, and so on on each other. Why did Doctor Gary Slutkin come up with the idea that violence in urban areas is actually spread just like a disease? How is it that otherwise good, ordinary people can do such harm? What are the circumstances under which they (we) do? And how can we, through our understanding, help immunize ourselves against it?
Think you are a good person? That you'd never do such things? Please! Watch Philip's video or read his book. These are powerful forces, and the vast majority of 'good people' counted in the studies, fell victim to the spell and did horrid things as a result.
I know some of this is hard to watch or read. Sometimes, that's the price to pay for truly doing good in the world, I think. I won't blame you if you just can't find the strength. And if you do, thank you for hanging in there!
Today, I'm starting to office a new service called "Comfort Couch Service." This is an idea I had recently when I realized that I already do this for friends of mine, from time to time, and I seem to have gotten pretty good at it. Why not offer this to others?
I just created a page devoted to this on this web site, under "Services."
A friend of mine just posted a link to this article on an Email list. I thought it so pertinent, that I recommend it here: