Saturday, November 5, 2022

A Life of Illusion: Chapter 10: Sex Sells Seashells and the Kitchen Sink by the Shoe Store - An Economic Theory


Let’s do the Time Warp again. It is Earthdate 2020.5.5 and Dot has yet another confession.

She needs, desperately, to get her flues inspected. But she and Bert are both worried about having anyone come do it right now because the US has been engulfed in the middle of the largest pandemic it has known so far. She is worried about being able to trust whoever comes to do it to not talk to her.

This sounds awful, doesn’t it? But Dot is really concerned that she might not do well if she catches coronavirus, which is airborne, although it would be years before the scientific establishment would admit this publicly. Besides the problems with her water heater backdrafting, she had been using vape pens for her anxiety, leading up to the discovery that they were causing lung disease in young people. And that did coincide with her illness, and could have been a major contributing factor. But she had been sick long before she ever touched cannabis of any sort. So, she really doesn’t want to see anyone and risk getting worse by catching coronavirus, because it’s tough being a Spoonie.

Besides, it seemed like whenever anyone came to work in their home, it was never straightforward. There were often unpleasant surprises. So over the years she learned to not want to call anyone. But she had to over the preceding winters, because as it turned out, the VOC levels had been fluctuating unsafely which corresponded to her illness in her home for who knows how long, and due to finally investing in some meters, she traced it to the furnace, which was starving for fresh air. She did this on her own, and encountered a lot of disbelief along the way, because people didn’t understand the risks of exposure to natural gas combustion biproducts at the time (methane, benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, NO2 and who knows what else), or that it was now possible for any consumer to generally measure them in their own homes. Other scientists and engineers were at the time doubtful that consumer meters would provide meaningful data. Even among neuroscientists espousing them, there was a tendency to dismiss contributions from natural sources like human breath or fruits, when anyone with even a small background in pharmacology or toxicology is taught that it is not just the molecule itself, but the dose of it that makes something poisonous. It would be possible, for example, to suffocate in a room with ten other people eating only organic food from the amount of VOCs and CO2 that could build up if there were not enough fresh air, and this is why there are scrupulous standards set by engineers who regulate HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) for calculating necessary fresh air provisions in indoor environments, especially commercial ones which need to accommodate large numbers of people.

It is simply not possible to know everything, but the way our educational silos work, people in one science often do not understand the important basic concepts of others, leaving important holes in the knowledge of the intelligentsia and public which contribute to a lot of harm in society. So, she’s trying to write about the ones she has noticed. She had to learn these things as well on her own and risk the judgment of Bert and his friends. Engineers in general were incredibly critical; furthermore, much of what she learned over the years she did through questioning the very pharmacologically-biased research they accepted tacitly due to their primary interface with medicine being their own doctors. Many of the things that were blindly accepted by highly educated people did not make sense given her experience with research, her specialized education, or her personal health experience. Yes, she had an active imagination, but she also had a very legitimate education in neurobiology and molecular biology at the Ph.D. level (even if she didn’t finish her research). Many technically-educated people seemed to lack the ability to make observations about how phenomena impact health and behavior or trust their ability to do so, which was incredibly disappointing, because with that attitude, society would surely be stuck in the dark ages. It takes a while for the ideas generated in the science field to change the medical industry, and that’s something doctors are aware of, but engineers generally aren’t. And much of what is said here regarding incomplete understanding of scientific research applies to attorneys and corporate executives as well.

Because of her experiences with engineers and watching Bert go through rigorous training to be an engineer, she was acutely aware of how dehumanizingly rigorous their educational experiences often were, and how that affected the way they perceived the world and science. Because of the resulting ego power from their capabilities in the material world, many of them judged qualitative or behavioral science as pure woo, shunned any sort of attempt to scientifically study such things, or made excuses why useful research should be picked apart and discarded, rather than reproduced or clarified. They also seemed to forget that studies which failed to demonstrate effects were not proof of lack of effect, rather proof that the model used in the study was not effective in producing an effect, and seemed to believe that negative studies deserved more credence than positive ones.

The great result of this, of course, is a world that is not friendly to women or children, and damages men, too, because what we observe and feel is discounted, no matter how robust our data collection, if those feelings and observations do not lead to a money-making opportunity, or if they discount financially lucrative industrially-sourced treatments. She knew one man in particular who didn’t seem to believe any sort of review article was useful, no matter how much evidence was collected within it of a particular demonstrated effect, and after numerous attempts, she simply gave up trying to communicate with him because he never went back to look at primary research on important subjects his doctors had convinced him were solved pharmaceutically, even though he in particular certainly had the credentials to do so. She has felt similarly about learned people who insist that ketogenic and other fad diets and diet aids do not affect mental health negatively, because their advocacy of these unproven and dangerous interventions promotes generational trauma and anxiogenic orthorexia through obsession with thinness and numbness. Even though they should help elucidate the truth, because they do not concern themselves with mental health research, technical fields train people to operate with closed minds through obsession with behaviorism, image and financial potential. It is incredibly patriarchal to focus on these as goals in one’s interpretation of science over somatosensory awareness, interoception and intersubjectivity as an endpoints. “Not dead” really is not good enough medical science, if it is not helping us live our best, most connected, lives. Somatosensory awareness, interoception and intersubjectivity are actually powers that empaths have which inform their intuition, so they are scary to people who don’t have those abilities and don’t know what they are. It is precisely this awareness which has led to empaths in the past being called “witches” by the neurodiverse adherents of patriarchal systems, but it is this awareness which drives the betterment of society for all. The systems and especially the people who run them benefit from people not being able to verbalize or be aware of how their potential has been minimized by removing their tools for self awareness. If self awareness of this sort were promoted, it would be much more difficult for those with more resources to subjugate people who aren’t self aware. Furthermore, people are able to subjugate themselves accidentally quite easily through lack of somatic awareness. 

She sees how a lot of what is wrong with the world has to do with this oversight and bias in engineering, medical, law and business education. The students who take these paths who might otherwise be humanitarian often end up working for people with self-serving bottom lines. Additionally, many engineers’, doctors’, attorneys’ and business graduates’ psychological needs to do big things can only be satisfied by big pockets, and it makes those fields difficult to navigate as an aware humanitarian. The people who run the commercial parts of the world have little to no interest in true humanitarianism, because they are biased by lifestyle and fearful of putting themselves in the shoes of the less privileged people who need them to understand how true humanitarianism works, or that what people really need is a sense of connectedness, not more stuff. Even though and maybe because she was educated in behavioral neuroscience, until recently, Dot also didn’t understand the importance of truly understanding humanism or how subtly but importantly a lack of understanding of it would contribute to problems in product and social design which would continue to beget themselves if not addressed. In order to do this, she had to learn to see herself with a humanistic rather than behavioral lens, which, because of generational, religious, educational, medical and other traumas, is quite the challenge for anyone in society, even people well-versed in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Anxiety, too...

She performed this particular questioning of how air quality affected her humanitarian and psychosocial experience with her family by purchasing three different meters that did not have data logging capabilities in order to compare them and learn about the technology from the Unicorn Store at its suggestion. Not having data logging capabilities meant she had to hold a lot of information in her brain or as pictures of the meter readouts in the cloud, so after Bert finally saw the patterns himself and wanted to document them more carefully they purchased a system of meters that logged data from various parts of the house.

I thought I saw a puddy tat... I did! I did!

Before she had this information, though, she had a service technician come in November 2019 and check for carbon monoxide, but he did not find any. Knowing what she knows now, that is not strange. While yes, one technician did say that the type of meters she had in her home often missed carbon monoxide, she did get a handheld unit herself and verified there was no carbon monoxide, and that the unit could detect carbon monoxide, using a candle flame. Another person with a long history in HVAC mentioned that there were many court cases involving deaths from furnace installation problems where no CO was detected. Then, in January, she had the furnace cleaned and serviced because she had the new VOC meters that seemed to indicate excess VOC emissions whenever the furnace was cycling. She figured this out because her desktop computer where she would do her writing in the mornings was by the utility room, and just a few minutes after the furnace kicked on, she would feel like she was getting a migraine, so she started checking the air quality whenever she had this feeling. For a while, they called their meters “Ghost Meters” because neither one of them were sure if they were measuring anything real, but after a while both noticed their moods and cognition changed negatively when the levels would go up. In case she was mistaken, Dot metered randomly when she was feeling fine, and when she did that, the VOC and formaldehyde levels were always in a safe range.

(Time Warp 2020.09.26)  One of their friends who had been having similar health issues also purchased a meter, noticed a correlation with the readings and her health issues, and went through the same self-doubt and struggles with her engineer husband after Bert had come around, so Bert did get a sense for how frustrating that was for Dot later. But that had certainly been one of the hardest times of their marriage when Dot’s health and mental health were failing because of a toxic environment he, his friends and family didn’t believe existed. There were days she wasn’t sure her marriage was going to make it, simply because he didn’t believe she was having the symptoms she said she was having until he experienced them a bit himself. It was difficult to not become bitter as she worked fervently trying to make life better for everyone else around her for no pay, in the midst of panic attacks and auditory processing issues. The tide shifted after Bert, Henry and Lily got COVID and learned what it was like firsthand to go through many things she had been going through for several years (tachycardia, foggy brain, attention digestive issues). Bert’s turnaround was pretty substantial; he became concerned about particulates from wildfires and anticipated a bad season in that regard from what he was seeing.

He bought several air purifiers for their home, adding to the ones they already had in their bedrooms for years. He also ended up coordinating with Henry to do better monitoring of their indoor and outdoor air quality, and the side effect was of course lower VOCs and better mood and focus for all. Henry had struggled with similar issues before COVID, so he was most understanding of Dot’s health issues. Lily is at University now, and so she has had to deal with the threat from COVID on her own cognition and being sick without anyone to care for her while struggling to keep a bunch of balls in the air. Welcome to adulthood, Lily! At the beginning of the pandemic, if a student became ill, they could potentially get out of their classes, but now it is just recommended they put on a mask for 10 days and struggle. None of this has been particularly good for Dot’s PTSD.

Because the people outside her nuclear family haven’t been able to understand the seriousness of her situation or how awful and alone she felt during those few years, she doesn’t trust people in general to make good decisions with respect to considering how COVID infection impacts her ability to keep up with everything or enjoy life. The people who were closest and “nicest” were the most dangerous, in fact. They couldn’t seem to remember how many people they saw or when, and would make it sound like they were holding space for her, and then when she saw them she would find out they had been dining with a lot of other people, and several times under these circumstances she got sick a few days later. She has had to write off people who showed their true colors in this manner, which was, well, most people who had been close to her before. She felt badly about this because she had kept other people at bay who may have been isolated themselves, when perhaps they could have formed some sort of consensual support pod. She had kept them at bay because her situation felt out of control owing to the family deciding to prioritize Lily’s social connections for her mental health, and their connections generally not staying well informed, understanding the science, or, in Lily’s case both in town and at University, simply adopting anti-mask propaganda. Things are a lot calmer with Lily not living at home, since Henry understands the importance of mask wearing and Bert is avoiding eating at restaurants. She certainly didn’t want to bring this hot mess to anyone she really cared about, which unfortunately meant that she had been largely isolated in her home for nearly 3.5 years, with little to no help from all the “friends” society had once encouraged her to have, and to whom she had once given a lot of her time and attention. In that time, she learned that very few of the people she had considered friends were actually interested in the things she was, anyway. Mostly, it seemed they were on the capitalist treadmill of traveling and buying things for their “mental health” and refusing to accept any sort of responsibility for the role they personally played in the pandemic. Perhaps that’s what “freedom” means to the entitled white upper class.

The Universe works in weird ways, and in the last week or so Dot has been considering what it is in her adult friendships that doesn’t feel comfortable. When she was young, she had two girlfriends with whom she shared successful creative experiences. With one of them, she made bracelets and friendship pins and sold them at the bus stop together. With the other, she messed around with keyboarding music, and they did a musical presentation for a large community audience based on their experimentation. She had so much fun doing these things. She realized that those were the kinds of collaboration and closeness she needed to be happy in life, and that the upper middle class ways of socializing felt like they were suffocating her creativity. When she was young, she did not sit around talking about what she bought and where she traveled while drinking alcohol, and she never imagined that in her adult life so much of her social time would be taken doing exactly this. When she was young, she and her friends had snacks, they imagined what they might do, and then they did it. This is how things were with Bert, too, when they first met, but of course that was primarily romantic and sexual until they included each other in their life choices and had kids. The kids were their main project, after they realized their careers were probably not going to be as satisfying as they were led to believe when they were young. She and Bert took raising them very seriously, because they believed intelligent people needed to have children. They knew it wouldn’t be easy, because they knew how hard their parents tried and still ended up having kids with significant problems who were largely dependent on them. In any case, with those old girlfriends, things flowed rather smoothly in the creative sense, and she doesn’t remember much argumentation.

That being said, they were curious little girls, and had been told and talked about “inappropriate” things they had heard at school, which led to some sexual exploration. In any case, she was making these realizations in the context of evaluating her connection with Bert, and her desire that he take up writing. She had achieved a similar creative rapport with a guy before, and missed signs that he wanted sex, so she wondered if there was a way to rely on creativity to make a living with Bert. She noticed how sex helped his mood, cognition and creativity, and hers as well. She tried to make everything easy for him so his mind was not concerned with minutiae and he could be a good father and worker. An important part of this was her being sexually available and feeling desire, which is a scientific puzzle she has been working on for the last 12-15 years. Sexual desire can take work when one is parenting.

Bert had the best income potential, so if one of them was going to stay home and be the “back end” of their relationship, it made sense that it was her. It was a decision based on economic efficiency. Plus, she really enjoyed caregiving when she wasn’t made to feel guilty about it. That being said, fitting sex into their lives has always been a challenge when it wasn’t prioritized, and when they take a long break from having sex, they can become disconnected from each other. That’s just how it is with them. The problems with desire are mostly hers, like they are for a lot of women in her position. In the non-fundamentalist world, sexual pleasure is a big reason people are drawn together into life partnerships, so the loss of sexual pleasure can destroy a partnership. They were warned about this by the pastor who officiated their wedding. Dot thinks she understands the physiological reasons why this is, and that it has to do with vagal stimulation of the anterior cingulate cortex in the brain, and that that’s why she experiences improvements in her mental health, cognition and mood, and feelings of connectedness with Bert from sexual activity. They are trying to conceive of experiments to try to understand the phenomenon electrochemically, but Bert has a lot of social distractions from people who aren’t similarly interested and who prefer to ruminate on the news and capitalist things.

This fixation on news does end up feeding her writing, but it feels like torture, and she feels like it is no surprise that writers often suffer from anxiety riding the news cycle roller coaster. Bert studied biomedical engineering and EEG as an undergraduate, so they have the perfect combination of education to study the neurobiology of sexuality, though, so if they could achieve some sort of balance, perhaps they could ultimately have their cake, eat it, and help the world. But they also have to be able to feed themselves before they turn into turnips and they don’t really want to move, which really they shouldn’t need to do for such research. They have to figure out a way to pay the bills that does not involve so much minutiae or toxicity that the whole thing becomes flaccid. That is a major risk the world presents.

The kids are still needing quite a bit of attention due to transportation issues with the University, which has a housing shortage, and also the time it takes to keep Dot and Bert in the loop. It’s difficult to get in the mood for sex after breathing car exhaust, when one has COVID, or when one is overwhelmed by bureaucratically-generated nonsense. Voting, taxes and Medicaid enrollment don’t really need to be so difficult, but our government makes them that way. They are easier in other countries. Also, things breaking around the house cost them valuable time. They have to cook most things from scratch for health reasons, and that takes quite a bit of time. Hopefully the reader is able to identify these phenomena as major contributors to systemic inequality. Another life partner would certainly help Dot and Bert, but they would need someone who was all in, maybe including sexual attraction (but not necessary), similarly dedicated to ending generational trauma and understanding the relationship between sexuality and mental health, who also appreciates art, books and music.

(Time Warp 2020.05.05) She had the technician who came in November clean her furnace, but after getting her handheld meters, she learned that VOCs often travel on dust, so she decided a cleaning of the ducts was in order. So, in the end of February 2020, with the coronavirus bearing down on them, they had their ducts cleaned and she meticulously vacuumed the entire house. That was a scary decision for her because she had the ducts cleaned years earlier and the service technicians (out on their first job after training) pierced the air conditioning coil causing billowing white clouds of refrigerant to leak into their home from every vent while they were in it. That decision had not been made lightly, either; they had recently had their wood floors refinished and Henry had a major hypersensitivity reaction to the oak dust which was everywhere. This is the kind of stuff she is talking about when she says she doesn’t like to have contractors work in her home because of bad experiences. She feels safe when they are there, she just doesn’t feel safe with their work after they leave, because of the mistakes some have made in the past.

They had to lock the dogs outside for their health while the floor and air conditioning were being serviced during this emergency, and a neighbor called the police on them for animal neglect because of the dogs barking and being locked out in the summer heat. There are ten adjacent properties to Dot and Bert’s home, and this story involves two of them. The reporting neighbor was not a nextdoor neighbor. They were on good terms with their nextdoor neighbors, but didn’t know the others very well because of a deep irrigation ditch that separated their properties. The reporting neighbor accused Dot and Bert of letting their dogs bark all night, as well, for years and years, when that simply wasn’t true. Their dogs were trained to sleep in crates next to their bed nightly. However, their nextdoor neighbor took care of his daughter’s dogs for very long periods of time for many years by leaving them in a run next to his home night and day where they did bark, and could have easily been confused from the other side of the ditch as being Dot’s dogs barking if one was ignorant about the barks of different breeds (the dogs sounded nothing alike).

The nextdoor neighbor had difficulties with the previous owner of Dot and Bert’s home complaining about the barking of his daughter’s dogs, too, but Dot told him it was not bothering their family, because it wasn’t. This was because of the air purifiers she habitually ran at night so she and the kids could sleep through her previous dog’s snoring. When the police officer came to their house, he took a quick look at their living space and admitted that the person who had reported Dot and Bert was clearly unaware of the cushy lives the dogs actually lived. The reporting neighbor had admitted feeding Dot and Bert’s dogs over the fence, and it became clear to Dot immediately why one of her dogs had suddenly developed wanderlust whenever she opened the front door. She wished the neighbor had found a way to discuss these things with her rather than making her feel that her neighbors were incapable of resolving disputes in a way that got everyone’s needs met and did not induce distrust. Anyway, the police officer who came to their house made it clear that he thought the reporting neighbor was in the wrong before he left. That being said, Dot has noticed since then that at least one of her neighbors has to leave for work before 6 am, and so she has been trying to curtail the barking she used to let occur until she went to bed. There was a time when she went to bed quite late, and she realized at some point that she needed to make sure the barking stopped by 10 pm, but more recently she decided that perhaps it should not go on much past 9 pm. Additionally, she figured out that one of the unseen annoying things about it to her neighbors might be that dogs within neighboring houses probably bug their owners to be let out when they hear her dogs barking. It is totally possible that her dog may have figured out that if he barks long enough, other dogs will answer. Or at least it seems that way to her after he seemed to summon a symphony of barking dogs and even hooting owls one night while she was sitting in the yard with him.

(Time Warp 2020.05.05) Cleaning the ducts in February 2020 halved the VOC and formaldehyde levels in their home. She’s not sure it would be that way if she had allowed them to spray their EPA non-approved “duct sanitizer” in her ducts. She doesn’t remember what’s in that stuff, but she remembers she doesn’t recommend it, and that one duct cleaning company which was backlogged warned her about it. If she remembers, she will write about it later. Anyway, this was one of those little things, that they try to sell us as a little thing, that can end up being a really big bad thing, because it’s bad to have poison in our ducts. We wouldn’t inject it into our bodies, either, but the FDA and EPA don’t pay a lot of attention to what the other is doing, and inhaled things just aren’t given the same consideration as injected things. Other scientists have noticed this disconnect, and there are reports of large groups of people (9/11 workers, veterans, and the chemically sensitive) having been told that the effect of toxic exposure, well documented in toxicological textbooks, was “all in their heads.” Seriously. Dot suspects a lot of people with mood and attention issues would benefit if their physicians were more educated about environmental illness and knew how to recognize symptoms of exposure and how to treat poisoning. It’s just not something that gets brought up in office visits or even in the emergency room.

So for a long time, for all she knows, the grommets on the top of her water heater may have been melted from the flu gasses not having enough combustion momentum to carry them up the long flue and out of the house, and nobody who serviced her furnace ever said anything about it. That’s because there is disagreement in the industry about whether melted grommets are a meaningful system diagnostic, because they do not measure the volatile compounds which backdraft. Additionally, water heaters may not be included in the overall checkup for furnace function, and maybe they should be as a matter of course now that someone has established this pattern. She supposes the grommets could have melted when she had the ducts cleaned, but she doesn’t want to utter that to Bert, because she feels that he stresses out when they need to have things done around the house, due to the significant exploitation he experienced as a teen with his parents’ obsessive house maintenance and projects, and other contractor-related dramas they experienced as a couple, which were plenty. Furthermore, they were both nervous because they knew not just one, but two people in adjacent cities with homes built in the same era (the 1980’s - hEllO RoB1n L3AcH!), who had extensive mold damage in their homes from missing flashing and other waterproofing details, and she wonders if the building inspectors of the era were particularly corruptible, and how much economic and health hardship that may have done in their community. They are always worried about what they are going to find in terms of things not being up to code. One doesn’t have to have attended a prestigious business school to have compromised ethics with far-reaching effects; anyone with a small construction or other service business can put people in harm’s way. It seemed that insurance companies were not covering these kinds of oversights, or at least she and her friends didn’t know how to not have to bear the economic and health burden this sort of carelessness in construction caused for their families. 

Time warps in action...

Anyway, Dot was under the impression that Bert thought she would latch onto any reason to DO something in the house, which wasn’t true. She hates it for all the same reasons he does, but wants to keep her family safe. If she were to sum up her own personal issues with communicating with contractors to get a job done well, it boils down to the following: it’s never the people we end up talking with on the phone who come to diagnose the problems, so we have to repeat everything said in the initial phone call during the visit to a new service person, who may have a different belief about what needs to be done from the supervisor with a lot more experience who scheduled the job. Or vice versa. Now say this five times fast while intoxicated by flue gas and carefully guarding your wallet from being relieved of the amount necessary to buy a new small car or feed a family of four for a whole year.

Furthermore, Dot is the person who usually interfaces with contractors, and it is difficult for her to be the middle person because of her speech and language issues. It’s all more stress and pain. As far as she can tell, the service people who have come were respectful and explained things to the best of their ability, but Dot doesn’t necessarily remember all the important details from verbal conversations because of her disability, which does make her kind of “flaky” at certain times and increases her anxiety.

(Time Warp 2020.09.26) At the time, she didn’t know why this was, but during her recovery after the water heater was eventually removed, she would learn that she had difficulty explaining sequential and abstract tasks, and that this was probably a reason she ended up unschooling Lily and Henry and managing most of the housework, too. She is not the only person in the world who has difficulty explaining things to children who opts just to take the kind route and let them learn through experimentation. It was kind of a “Happy Accident'' for the rest of her family, because since she felt it was easier to do things herself than explain them, they were largely free to do what they wanted with their days while she managed most of the particulars that didn’t bring income but had to be done. This didn’t bother her because as a child her pretend play was centered around caregiving and organizing things.

The kids did their own laundry soon after they could reach the machine controls without assistance, they cleaned their own bathroom, and helped with cooking, but she did not encourage them to take responsibility for cooking for the rest of the family spontaneously or otherwise, vacuuming, cleaning up dog poop, mowing, or vehicle maintenance, and these things took a lot of her time. It would have been difficult for them to do with the amount of homework they had in community college and University, anyway. The amount of homework was consuming. They were left as shells of themselves by it, but after the classes were over they showed significant signs of intellectual growth and success, so she felt the tradeoff was worthwhile, even though it might be killing her.

Taking care of these things (except the mowing) is her automatic subroutine, and she will do it until she feels stressed out and unwell unless she can get into observer mode from another state of consciousness and recognize the need to rest. She is constantly fussing and nesting, which oddly enough is considered healthy by tantra practitioners, but when overdone is just crafting one’s own prison. Dot and Bert’s parents were particularly bad examples with regard to gendered roles and compulsive housemaking, and exposure to them tended to subconsciously push both Dot and Bert into these modes. Dot did work on cars and try to fix things around the house, and Bert did cooking, the dishes, and his own laundry, but otherwise, that is approximately how gendered it was after breastfeeding was gone from their lives. She vacuumed, organized and picked up, and he took care of mowing. At one point, they outsourced the mowing, but because they did not choose when the service came (Saturday morning) and it wasn’t exactly reliable, they were often in a rush to remove the dog waste, when they really needed to be sleeping. When she looked into getting housekeeping and spoke with others, she learned that it would be a similar rush to have to pick up for a cleaning service, and she just didn’t need another thing looming over her which was on an unsustainable schedule which cut into her time for rest, creativity and pleasure.

So many things other people did were more work than they appeared, because they came with other obligations. It felt like there was a lot to be done all the time. Something always looming, something always breaking. Cannabis and sex helped it all not feel so heavy, and luckily, there was also writing so she could organize her suffocating thoughts, but verbal communication was a frustration she was experiencing with many people, not just contractors, and not just Bert. It was difficult to get people to either read or respond in writing to her writing, and that was rather isolating. The more technical the discussion, the more room for misunderstanding. For someone like Dot who thinks about technical things, it is pretty important to be able to communicate clearly, but because most people do not want to take the time to read or understand the nuances of verbally-perpetuated misunderstanding, Dot is often forced into situations where she feels like a jerk or idiot since she has difficulties with that sort of verbal expression. People have this strange belief that verbal communication is efficient, but it is often advantageous to have things in writing. That’s just not something she has been able to do with the contractors she has communicated with; they don’t have time, apparently. That is frustrating, but understandable!


Dot Sailor's Desk Cleaning Services...

(Time Warp 2020.05.05) Their lives may be in danger from the water heater, so Dot has to keep working on this problem, even with her communication problems. At this point in May, Bert is not sure they need a new water heater, but he will be sure in time. She confirmed with her new meters that the water heater did backdraft under certain conditions, including when any of the bathroom fans or stove vents were running and the windows in the house were all closed, or when the hot water demand went up from the dish or clothes washer being run, or people were taking showers (Lily and Henry are teenagers, so they have to use these things all the time).

Together, they determined that the person who built their house (or at least whoever finished the basement) decided that the furnace didn’t need any fresh air. It was clearly a last minute decision, because the duct work stops in the ceiling, just short of the utility room. Through talking with a friend who was a general contractor and her father who studied HVAC, she learned that failure to include proper fresh air to natural gas furnaces and water heaters from the outside was common in homes in their area. This happened for a number of reasons including that homeowners felt it made their basements cold, and many people finished their basements with the intention of making them into living spaces. People were known to stuff the vents with fabric to keep the cold outside air from coming in, but in Bert and Dot’s house, the ductwork through the ceiling simply was walled off from the utility room in the process of finishing the basement. She wonders if the people who lived in her house before were flaky or suffered from depression or mood issues because of the suffocation, but she has no way of knowing.

One day in March they were watching The Muppet Movie and a winter storm moved in with temperatures around 0 degrees F which led them to discover this error. They all started feeling woozy earlier in the day, so they checked the air quality and the VOCs had increased significantly. Because of all this, Dot was having to run downstairs every morning and throw the basement window open, or the house started filling with VOCs. So she started thinking of herself as the Window Bitch. The course of the entire day - everyone’s mood and ability to pay attention to details - hinged on her monitoring the air quality in this way, she learned. She took it very seriously, because someone had to. The others were simply not self aware enough to see the patterns at this time. It wouldn’t be until after they had COVID that they would gain this awareness and learn to work with it more reliably. Anyway, during The Muppet Movie, because of the rapidly dropping temperature, Bert decided having the windows open in the basement was not wise. So that’s when they finally took it upon themselves to discover what was going on with the duct. And they must have been poisoned pretty badly at that point, because they were having trouble cooperating while trying to solve this problem. There was a lot of yelling during the process, and afterward Dot wasn’t so sure she wanted to be married to Bert anymore because sometimes he could be so impatient and misogynist when the going was rough, and this time was particularly bad, and it hurt. Times like that made her sometimes wonder if his father had been aggressive beyond the instance she knew about before and if that tendency had been kept a secret or minimized, and it made her resent her mother-in-law for not volunteering to talk about difficult things. That being said, Dot’s own father sometimes had a similar temperament in emergency situations, and Bert did talk about how he sometimes had to “get angry” to solve a problem, which she thought maybe was a thing that was special about men that she had difficulty understanding. On a genderless human level, she knew they both wanted to be watching The Muppet Movie with the kids, not working on this godforsaken problem, but that did not excuse the kind of interaction they had. She crossed her fingers that this pattern would not continue once they figured out the water heater problem, which they mostly did by cutting a hole in the ceiling of the basement and finding precisely where the duct from the outside terminated. After that, she didn’t have to keep the windows open so far any longer. But she did still have to keep one cracked a bit, because the duct itself being open to the basement still wasn’t quite enough, and even after they ended up removing the water heater, there would still be fluctuations.

(Time Warp 09.26.22) Furthermore, the CO2 also still rises to unsafe levels if one window is not left slightly open, which her father had warned her about in newer homes, and this also affects their cognition. Because CO2 in the blood is the main way physiological acid/base balance is controlled, this may be why they were so prone to COVID infection in the following year. It turns out that the ability to cleave the viral furin site so that SARS-CoV-2 can enter the cell requires a more acidic pH (so more retained CO2), and this may explain why both meditation and nasal saline rinses have been associated with lower risk of hospitalization and death, and also why intubation and oxygen treatments are not always effective. It may be that ridding the lungs of excess CO2 is what needs to happen to prevent metabolic acidosis to effectively fight COVID, but of course in a home which is not getting oxygen, deep breathing would only have a marginal effect.

(Time Warp 05.05.20) Luckily she can write while she is performing this essential task of monitoring the air quality, which is hopefully keeping them out of the hospital. However, Henry fainted last week. But it could have been because he gets woozy when he thinks about certain subjects, and he was reading about medieval torture. But he has never fainted before…

Lily, however, had fainted when she went to Bert’s parents’ first house in their town on two separate occasions. She never fainted at her own house. Because of that, Dot and Bert considered his parents’ homes to be unsafe after Dot became sick in 2019. Up until the time Dot became ill, they hadn’t really considered the contribution of their own home because of Lily’s fainting at theirs, and also because Bert’s parents had both experienced unexplained seizures in the winter when their house was sealed up. Nonetheless, Dot had a premonition about loss of consciousness while feeling dizzy herself standing in her own basement that day, and just as she was sending a message to the family telling them to let her know if anyone else felt lightheaded, but before she hit “send,” she heard a large crash. She ran upstairs to see Henry sitting on the floor saying that he fainted.

Tube on the right feeds the hungry monster that is the utility room, now.

Dot has a tremendous amount of guilt about how the things she has purchased may have affected the lives of other people, and this is because she has spoken with many people who were honest about the unpleasantries of their working situations, either because they had to deal with the public through service work, or because they were in design industries working for companies which exploited creatives. She also doesn’t want to overwhelm people with things they don’t need, and to her the holidays were a major source of that sort of pain. She also pays attention to the environmental and community impacts of products if that information is available and tries to find sustainable alternatives when possible. Many people are not paid enough for what they do, or they work under abusive or unsafe conditions, and unfortunately these are often the people who provide the goods and services that we rely on in everyday life. It’s not the people on Wall Street who perform essential services, yet the US Government continually overlooks aiding truly essential workers in order to bail these people out, which is unfortunate because during a pandemic it’s more important to not starve than it is to prop up derivative markets, but that’s not apparent from watching what the government actually chooses to do. What’s particularly unnerving is that the industries that get bailed out are incredibly bloated at other times, but can’t seem to save anything for a rainy day like they expect the average person to do, and we still reward them for that greed, while leaving the average working person and whoever they are caring for to fend for themselves. Bert had actually been working under unfair conditions for much of his career, and he’s not sure that much of what he designed was “essential” during the pandemic, and of course to hear that industry was starting to push for mining the ocean floor in poor areas for mineral resources at this time made him feel that his profession was a major contributor to what was harming the environment. This of course makes Bert unsure if he wants to return to working in the technology field.

Dot would like to be much more mindful with her purchases from here on out, because as consumers we can unwittingly enable exploitative work practices. We really do vote with our dollars. The acknowledgement of one’s role as a consumer and employer in human exploitation and environmental destruction is a critical piece of Reparation, and the English Monarchy, if it really cared, would consider modeling such a mindset. If Dot is going to seek happiness outside of herself, she would like it to be through creations she makes sustainably, or those of another artisan. These kinds of things are hopefully creations birthed in joy. If she has to make a purchase from the mass market, she will make sure it is a product that is well reviewed and robust, and she will try to avoid making purchases without doing research first. She will try to purchase goods and services that do not:

  1. Force a community to sell resources they rely on to survive in a manner that leaves them insufficient in that or some other resource. The story that comes to Dot’s mind is quinoa, and how in 2014 there was a story circulating about how the Peruvians who grow it end up having to sell more than they have to meet US foodie demands (what a metaphor for our relationship with other countries in general!). Apparently that’s not quite the whole story, as there were stories circulated later saying that farmers there benefitted. However, that same year the USDA released a report about how the demand for arable land by quinoa farming was competing for what was needed for wheat. But there are other ways communities can suffer through forcing labor dynamics to shift away from work that contributes to community sufficiency to less necessary exportation work for the interests of more developed areas which might not share their advantages effectively. Money does not always make up for what is lost in a community when vital force becomes directed toward capitalism. In other words, money does not equal love, which is not really possible to buy. Corporations from wealthy nations have a longstanding practice of using the workforce from impoverished nations to manufacture resources for lesser pay at levels that do not necessarily enable those citizens to actually better their lives. It can take a long time for these communities to gain access to basic advancements like clean water, effective waste systems, and safe housing due to this kind of exploitation, which often comes with the promise of a “better life” while ignoring these essential ingredients for exactly that. Perhaps if corporations could find a way to make money helping people help themselves without stripping them of their traditional cultures, and adding burdens their current community infrastructure cannot really support, this would change. Are there real examples of this, or is this a pipe dream? Must everything be achieved through industrialization, imperialism and colonization? Do we continue to reward this behavior until there are no places on the earth where a simple and sustainable life is valued? Must we all be consumed by the Industrial Borg? Is that really what life is about?

  1. Forcing a community to suffer environmental health threats due to pollution from manufacturing. There are so many examples of this, including the damage done by paint and detergent manufacturers, as well as that done by a well known manufacturer of non-stick coatings for cooking which has polluted the entire world. The fact we still allow the incorporation of these chemical products into items that end up inside households and exposed to heat, which causes their volatilization indoors and can kill pet birds, is insane!

    Lobbyists from the chemical industry have a lot of power over our lawmakers and the US Environmental Protection Agency, and in this way delay the process of environmental cleanup, industry regulation, and informing consumers. They are still holding on to the idea that we can have “better living through chemistry,” but they have no understanding of how their chemistry really affects life because most of them are undereducated in neurobiology and toxicology. (Unfortunately, this is also true of doctors not in those fields because of the way medical education encourages specialization silos). Our educational silos hurt us in many ways, and Dot wonders if perhaps neurobiology and toxicology should be requisite studies for anyone who goes into Chemical Engineering, manages product development, or who serves our legislation at high levels and makes decisions which affect public health.

It is these people who fundamentally determine the level of our population’s exposure to these health risks, so their ignorance is absolutely not bliss for anyone besides them and the top financial beneficiaries of the chemical industry. As it is now, we are lucky if engineers and designers even bother to look for the least toxic product candidate, if they are part of a corporation that even looks at toxicity at all and doesn’t just leave it to busy or undereducated regulators. There are many industries, such as the construction industry, which aren’t even regulated in this way, but absolutely should be since these materials surround us. LEED certification does not apply to the weekend warrior, and even so, it is only as robust as EPA guidelines encourage, and they have downplayed neurological symptoms to the detriment of our collective welfare. Dot has determined from her personal experience and literature research that there have been untold effects on society just from letting the materials in the construction industry go unregulated. Just look up the effects of trichloroethylene, a ubiquitous chemical that was on the EPA’s chopping block until Trump became president. That uneducated lobbyists’ opinions would be considered before those of citizen taxpayers is not just unfair, it is an effective campaign against consciousness.

(Time Warp 2022.09.21) The psychology industry is now saying that mental health issues are generally not due to “chemical imbalances” but systemic inequality. Dot is happy to see this, because she thinks the viewpoint that medication to shift neurochemistry was the best way to approach depression and anxiety for everyone did a great deal of harm. Dot also believes that psychologists are overlooking the ways government and corporate partnerships in chemical and pharmaceutical industry contribute to systemic inequality through their widespread metabolic influence on personality disorders, which are considered untreatable by the psychology establishment. The upper class maintains lifestyles which expose them to the chemicals they believe to be “safe,” but may make them more prone to personality disorders. She believes personality disorders are synthetically generated, organically manifested in the nervous system, ubiquitous, and may be subtle and chronic symptoms of ongoing undiagnosed delirium tremens and metabolic functional alcoholism resulting from unsafe environmental exposures. Due to the unregulated nature of our chemical industries, these exposures begin in childhood, contributing to learning disabilities, and thus a big feedback loop of generational emotional trauma and capitalist need in families, communities, and society at large. Back to 2020.05.05…

Mr. Smith goes to Washington...

  1. Forcing inhumane work hours or compelling off-hour corporate culture social activities that interfere with a person’s time to procure basic needs such as food, shelter, adequate rest, community outside work, and peaceful solitude, thereby thwarting self-actualization, health and mental health. This is a minefield because it actually occurs at more socioeconomic levels than one would think. Unaware narcissistic employers regularly find workarounds for labor laws which intrude into personal time and resources in order to monetize all of our attention. This is what is meant by “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Dot knows people who were forced to use their personal vehicles for travel to remote locations and who were not provided reimbursement. She and other people she knows were forced to work more than five days a week. It’s hard enough thinking about someone else’s agenda for eight hours a day for five days a week when one is barely scraping by. But six? Were we really all born to carry out someone else’s agenda, to pay for shelter that we spend two days and the evenings in, leaving our children parentless and raised by strangers who don’t know them from Adam until an entire school year has gone by? Something got terribly upside-down, didn’t it? This is what it means to work to live rather than live to work. It’s a slippery slope. We have to be wary as a nation of any billionaire desiring to recreate George F. Johnson’s economic business experiment from the late 1800’s, or we will have lost our freedom and completed the shift to an oligarchy. For any one wealthy person to control thought in any way is a similar threat, and so billionaire imperialist ownership of public communication platforms should be suspect. How we did not learn this from Facebook, Dot does not understand.

  1. Forcing people to work unpaid hours. Oh my god. This is so “A Real Thing.” Dot has had to do a lot of it. She is Bert’s consultant for their business. Only their clients don’t pay her for the hours she spends listening to Bert talk about their business. Her headspace wasn’t even for rent in the first place! This is the same as forcing someone to work unpaid hours. Bert has always talked about work stuff with her, but before they started their own company and he worked outside the home, it wasn’t her business. Is there a reason she should care about the global supply of WidgiScanners more than she should care about her relationship with Bert? Are WidgiScanners a net positive for humankind, or were the fruits of her and Bert’s relationship better applied elsewhere? Were they worth her mind space, especially when she was personally not compensated for that particular time? What about the work that Henry did for them? Are they worth her taking her energy and attention away from Henry and Lily, or do those WidgiScanners do more harm than good by giving false confidence in poorly conceived designs? When she was young and imagined her life as a grown up, it certainly did not involve paying so much attention to WidgiScanners (or backdrafting water heaters). The corporations involved in the creation of these problems put unnecessary stress on their marriage and on her life. Sure, it’s nice to have a spouse with a good work ethic, but it’s not fun being married to someone who is obsessively worried about work so much that they can’t participate in a relationship fully, and do not have the energy to reciprocate. It’s almost like the corporate world teaches people to devalue their personal relationships, so it’s no wonder we have an epidemic of loneliness. What if her effort would have been better applied elsewhere? But, what if her participation made a positive difference in their client’s WidgiScanner business? What if, by taking charge of the majority of their household’s material worries, she freed Bert’s mind so he could be a better consultant for them, meaning that her services were essential?


Jane Jetson is the OG Modern Circus Ringmaster.

She wonders how many other women are in situations like this. For as many as she knows who have worked unpaid hours, there are at least as many who have worked underpaid hours.

  1. Subtly policing states of consciousness. By this, Dot means penalizing employees for recreational and medicinal use of hallucinogenic substances that are used off the clock, but promoting the social use of alcohol at work and after hours. Substance abuse of all kinds is intimately tied to having suffered emotional or physical abuse at the hands of family, employers, and society, and often alcoholism plays a role. Many people do not have the time or money, or correct resources to get relief from their psychological and physical pain that is often the result of corporate abuses, and hallucinogenic substances may be effective treatment for that pain. Legalized cannabis has helped decrease the problem of opioid addiction and deaths from opioid overdose and may be effective against COVID, but its use still has not been deemed an acceptable alternative by employers, probably due to concerns of use on the job, where in many situations it wouldn’t be safe. Yet they will make exceptions for alcohol, which increases the risk of metabolic acidosis. Cannabis would be safe in intellectual work, but not in work involving machinery or supervisory positions. Use in intellectual work could provide more creative solutions (think Carl Sagan), but that work would be best reviewed under unmedicated states of consciousness, of course.

Dot knows quite a few people who have to take drug tests for their employment, but who used cannabis for control of psychological and physical pain before getting their jobs. It meant that they were forced to turn to the default American soothing mechanism, alcohol, and over the counter medicines, to manage pain. Dot doesn’t want to begrudge anyone of their coping mechanisms right now, but let’s just say that alcohol does not provide the same type of relief that cannabis does, or the same state of consciousness. Cannabis is anti-inflammatory, whereas alcohol can have the opposite effect. Furthermore, alcohol use causes metabolic acidosis which is associated with poor COVID outcomes. Let’s take the classical example of back pain, because most people have experienced this. Say Dot tweaks her back digging rabbit holes in the yard. Nobody in their right mind would consider drinking that pain away. It’s not fixing the pain in any sense, it’s just ignoring it and feeding a real addiction which can lead to dementias. A doctor would recommend alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which block the enzymes that cause inflammation, but have some pretty gnarly side effects if taken over long periods of time. Acetaminophen has an extremely narrow therapeutic window, meaning that if one takes too much, it can actually cause liver damage and death due to how quickly it can overwhelm the liver’s detoxification ability. Ibuprofen is known to significantly increase the risk of ulcer which many people know, but also cardiac events, and Dot thinks that is probably why physicians were recommending not to take it for coronavirus, even though it seems some small studies have shown no extra risk of side effects. However, cannabis works on the same enzymes as acetaminophen, without risk of death, and these enzymes are important upstream mediators of cytokine storm, which is an important precursor to death from coronavirus. Cannabis has been linked to improved outcomes in COVID, too. But it stays in the system for up to three weeks after consumption, so people with jobs in companies with strict no drug policies find themselves having to resort to much riskier alternatives which are inappropriately categorized as “safe.” There is no “Vitamin I” folks (unless we want to give that name to iodine). Ibuprofen is likely to screw up digestion, cardiac and kidney function when relied upon too heavily.

  1. Not effectively compensating workers whose potential has been derided through workplace injury due to physical accident or poisoning. People who work for billionaires should not be forced to create GoFundMe campaigns to support their families after injury in the workplace.

The problem with consumerism as it stands is that we do not know if one or all of the above situations applies to the chain of production for the goods and services we purchase. So we never really know if we are hurting someone else with our purchases. Craigslist is one way to try to circumvent adding to the wealth of oppressive supply chain overseers. Websites dedicated to resale of used goods allow us as communities to repurpose things that still work. If designers were to temper their needs for consumption and newness in the design process, that would help tremendously. The transport of used items can still potentially cause problems with the supply chain during hard times, though.

Timewarp 2022.9.16: A strike by overworked US railway employees, which could have derailed the food supply system, was negotiated with the help of President Biden. Talk of supply chain issues has been minimized perhaps because of everything else going on, but crisis is looming in the face of unbridled consumption and continued uncontrolled transmission of COVID. In an about face a few days later, the President, amidst the complaints of many people in the scientific community, declares the pandemic over, even though we will “continue to live with coronavirus.”

Translation: you’re either a person who is affected by this or you are not at this point, and that’s the unfortunate truth. So if you’re one of the lucky asymptomatic ones, it seems the government has decided it’s okay to go ahead and spread it to everybody else - just make sure you do your corporate patriotic diligence and brag about having gotten your booster! If you happen to get symptoms, make sure you provide some free marketing to at home tests and antivirals, too, because without your contribution to the hype, the stock market might crash. Ugh. Politicians are so disappointing and irresponsible when it comes to inequity and preventing oligarchic fascism.

If the booster really does only provide immunity for 27 days and does not prevent spread, it is not an adequate solution, and it is impractical to force people to take time out of their lives to go get it for something that doesn’t really work anymore. Dot would have thought Biden would have been more woke about how the pandemic is really affecting people. Over 145 million people around the globe are struggling with long-haul, there are new variants arising especially in heavily populated areas like New York City, and neither previous infection nor vaccination confer lasting immunity. She also wishes he and the CDC had been more careful with their words, because equating the COVID vaccine to the flu vaccine translated in some people’s minds to COVID itself now being like the flu, and this is dangerous. Because of the general dismissal of the effectiveness of masks, RSV is now making its way through the population as well.

Making an equivalent comparison between COVID and the flu was never appropriate for either the vaccines or the viruses, and we stand to learn what that means over the coming holidays. This is particularly disappointing considering Dr. Jill Biden has worked in the community college system for most of her career, and one of the most important things community college helps people do is learn to critically evaluate information, and her husband’s office has failed to do exactly that. It’s possible that the people involved in the critical decision-making were not well educated about logical fallacies, or that logical fallacies are used in the information that is shared with them that unless they slow down to contemplate what they say, they are prone to repeating them.

Perhaps the weak link is Dr. Anthony Fauci; he is after all Biden’s main advisor, and he has served multiple presidents in this way. A lot has happened in the field of medicine, and to do a job as big as his would require not only good understanding of neurology and toxicology (which we have established most doctors do not have), but an ability to keep up with that research while also keeping an eye on human behavioral patterns. We needed Dr. Fauci to be an all-seeing eye for us. That is a tall order for anyone, but especially someone who received their medical degree in the 1970s, and whose specialty was immunology.

Dot feels it was rather disingenuous of Fauci and his colleagues in the field to present immunity as something that is black and white or even well understood to the American public and therefore the world, but that seems to be the modus operandi of that particular specialty. There are a lot of things that scientists are prone to calling “hoodoo” but they rarely turn the finger at themselves, and Dot thinks it’s time for immunologists to be more honest with the public about their lack of understanding of immunity instead of presenting themselves as seers. Our research fields have an important responsibility to question their own field’s assumptions, especially with respect to how they relate to other fields. Perhaps Dr. Fauci might repair his relationship with the nation by educating the general public about the complicated nature of what constitutes immunity, and where the holes are in our knowledge. It seems they should be able to put together something a fifth grader could understand to explain why their interventions don’t work perfectly. Where was that aged wisdom when America needed it? Why would an immunologist EVER think it is okay to downplay the need for masks in the general population without doing some small community studies first, at least? When will the American public be respectfully presented with the truth about how little we know about immunity and the complicated relationship with vaccination and native illness in a way that doesn’t serve to funnel money into corporate pockets? When will we all be told the truth, that mask-wearing, while old technology and imperfect, is the only reliable way to protect ourselves and others from communicable disease, and that we need to find better ways than eating and drinking together to feel connected or this weakness in our ways will become our economic and civil downfall? We need to be told the truth about social responsibility and communicable disease, or people will continue to suffer needlessly.


Dot isn’t one for unnecessary pecking orders or games of chicken played by the systems we put in place to help us. She prefers clear communication. This involves fairness, however, and some people don’t seem to care about that (or at the very least they excuse themselves from compassionate responsibility by throwing the word “snowflake” at people who are less able or hurting). Least of all CEOs or Wall Street types, who should not be given so much say in the choices our government makes on our behalf. These people have absolutely no clue what the struggles of everyday people are, because they outsource anything remotely challenging to such people, in such an economic manner that those people cannot do the same. This is the actual reality of “Trickle-Down Economics” - the people at the bottom of this “trickle-down” are barely paid enough for food, clothes, shelter and transportation, all of which are necessary to be considered “civilized” and then they are shunned when they do not act civilized or if they try to complain. If time is money, anything that is not clear communication wastes our potential. It is malicious to waste people’s time and energy on purpose, especially if it is preventing them from getting their basic needs fulfilled, but this is what privileged people do as a matter of habit. True respect for others considers their time and attention, and our leaders and the technologies and systems they have developed have not valued ours. This sort of behavior is often justified by corporate interests for marketing purposes to create an immediate need to act economically somehow, and naive supporters often propagate spin without considering the assault on collective attention and wellbeing. This is unfortunately what is going on with the vaccination program; there is a nearly quarterly pressure to vaccinate which the liberal Boomers have wrongly and dangerously co-opted as their retirement- and recreation-saving measure. This has harmed everyone else. They are using the psychological underpinnings of patriarchy and ageism in their arguments (“Because we said so,” “Honor your elders,” “It’s all in your head, go get a job”), which is contributing to well established long standing generational trauma between them and every generation which came after them.

What they are currently doing is getting a shot that doesn’t work and then try to seduce people into social gatherings, because of “mental health” which equates to justifying emotional codependency rather than just trying to be better people more conscious of their health, state of consciousness and how they impact the people around them. They were given license to do this when they became the first recipients of the vaccine and the CDC immediately removed mask recommendations. Because they act like entitled children and always have, while expecting everyone around them to have higher standards in order to keep themselves safe, that there were a lot more deaths after vaccination enabled this sort of behavior is not a surprise. Their mantra equates to the “but I’m old, and I don’t have a lot of time left” excuse. Well, sorry, but people who are parents right now have a LOT of time left, and we don’t want to live it with long haul COVID that we got from our entitled parents who were more invested in their retirement portfolios and upholding corporate agendas than they ever were in building communities or being emotionally available for their own children when they were needed.

A general refusal of people in positions of power and the media to take responsibility for their words and actions, who drop metaphorical nuclear attention bombs every time they sneeze, makes life a veritable game of Donkey Kong. Every time Biden, Fauci and Walensky (now COVID positive!) say that “everything is okay, get your booster!” it’s safe to expect a wave originating from New York City, popular travel destinations, and the Boomer “Yes Men.” That should read “Yes People.” Oktoberfest, anyone? Did nobody see the large wave that arose out of Germany in October? Dot suspects one can use this phenomenon to predict when people will start complaining about the lack of smell of Yankee Candles, since that’s what NPR seems to care about reporting. But that would be pointing fingers at actual causes, which is apparently taboo in the news, and might actually involve looking at how the news cycle is related to the perception of the smell of Yankee Candles. Ahem.

Without any testing on humans, industry leaders were able to convince Mr. Biden that their booster programs would be safe and effective, and even Kaiser Permanente, a major US health organization, has expressed their concern about releasing vaccines which have not been extensively tested on humans at this point. Fact Check is even diminishing the effects of industry’s blatant lying about vaccine efficacy in the prevention of spread! We are getting gaslit by Fact Check! They are pulling out all the stops on this campaign of disinformation! No more immunologist shills should be involved in “truth telling;” and it’s pretty clear the vaccine companies themselves should not be trusted to police themselves. Immunologically-related businesses and policies need to be policed by other fields from here on. Dot is not sure they are capable of telling a “truth” that is not biased toward industry due to their fixated belief in the dogma that titers predict effective immunity.  When someone in their field does try to inform the public, they have to be immediately in fear for their career, so who in their right mind would speak out? That field is not operating in accordance with the rules of science and objectivism; it is operating in accordance with capitalist dogma.

Dot had spent a good deal of time in 2021 writing directly to the CDC and the President her concerns that not encouraging people to mask and instead rely on unproven boosters over the holidays would lead to many deaths, as well as undermining the confidence in the vaccine program altogether. You can lead a horse to water… In any case, just like Kaiser says, it is too early to say if ~300-500 deaths per day is a new normal, or just a new normal for the time between holidays. Someone needs to do an analysis of non-Christian nations and see if their waves coincide with religious or national holidays. It is possible that the majority of people who were unvaccinated and also weak to the effects of the virus due to environmental or genetic reasons have passed away, and that now as a society we may be more resilient with or without vaccination as long as we wear masks and continue working on our collective issues with mental health and air quality, but we really need to proceed with caution, and not this ridiculous American entitlement to “personal irresponsibility”mistaken for “freedom.”

Gee, I wonder what's coming, Batman...

Furthermore, it is pretty clear that the Biden administration has some disappointing outdated ideas about how to show that they value the time and attention of taxpayers. The Sailors set aside an afternoon to watch the announcement of the James Webb Telescope pictures, only to discover that the President still believes education and the sharing of information should involve unnecessarily expensive tax-payer funded television studio sets, and a lot of waiting to hear people who don’t know what they are talking about announce something they had very little to do with personally. This was all to see just a few pictures that were freely circulated on the internet along with copy written by people who actually knew what they were talking about in the days afterward. It was ridiculous how much time the talking heads got to freely speak compared to how much it took to convey the important information after the fact, and how much taxpayer money was likely spent to put on the unnecessary spectacle. Dot feels sorry for anyone in the background who got COVID working on that dog and pony show. How unfair and embarrassing.

Time is attention is love. Time is not just money, and money is never a replacement for love.

Back to Earthdate 2020.5.5… Dot wants to know if anyone else is acutely aware of how we are actively being controlled by advertising. Dot and Bert became aware of the possibility in 2017 that their phones were listening to them. So, they decided to have a conversation where they brought up a topic they would never discuss, to see if they received advertising for products related to that subject. The subject was kitty litter, and after the discussion, sure enough, they started receiving ads for kitty litter. This came long before the singularity with her AI. The first time she noticed the singularity outside of her music was in 2019 when she was making some art in the basement and left her phone downstairs. She was setting up a still life and was thinking of putting it on an interesting surface to challenge her - she remembered how her art instructor from childhood would often set up still lives on the shiny black baby grand piano in the living room she used both as an art and music studio for teaching, presenting interesting painting challenges. Dot had a single shelf made of similar material from the modular furniture store she had purchased to set up still lives, and she remembered it while she was upstairs. Out of habit, when she went back downstairs, she picked up her phone and looked at social media, and right at the top of her feed was a shiny black piano. Dot said nothing out loud about a piano in this process; it was all what was going on in her head, so there is no way that it was from audio surveillance in that particular instance that the phone knew what she was thinking. These things still happen to her every day, like the technology is there to remind her of what she was thinking about. Otherwise, she would certainly forget some things in the course of her housework.

She realizes that several months before in 2019 she had been looking at the same social media account where she was following a learning center for disabled people, and someone had made a construction paper stink bug. Later that very same day, it became apparent that there was a stink bug in her guest bedroom. Coincidence? She had been reading about synchronicity… she had never seen an actual stink bug on social media before. She had only seen the metaphorical kind - for example, the privileged witch who posted about a year-long sailing trip family sabbatical and then shamed others with social media vaguebooking for what they chose to share of their travels. Then there were the people who posted pictures of children without their or their parents’ consent. Also stinky. And the people who shamed their children publicly. Also stinky, even though it’s always tempting. Let’s just say a lot of mistakes were made, and social media was not a “safe space.” Nowhere close.

Sometime after the piano incident, she began meticulously taking screenshots of things when she noticed these coincidences, but over time it became clear that was not necessary anymore. Her phone really did seem to “know what she was thinking.” Gradually, she went from feeling crazy to feeling, well, more awake. After all, she had been part of a grassroots project to “Notice” and connect with other people. So, she didn’t keep these things a secret, really. She started asking people around her what they were noticing, and most people she knew had noticed something similar. A few people had taken steps to change their technology because of their concerns about privacy, but reported that it didn’t end up altering much about what they were experiencing surveillance-wise. Dot was open with as many people as possible that she felt the technological oddities might be related to the independent learning project they had been involved in, and that it was somehow linked to the friendships and connections she made. It was definitely demonstrating that they were connected. They often received the same content and chose to read that same content. It was difficult to know what to do, but she continued writing and documenting as much as she could in case it helped others, because if it wasn’t something they could talk about, then it was abuse. Abusers often want things to remain secret, and so Dot made it her business to tell when she thought something was abusive, but that might not always happen immediately. It will happen, especially if the entity that propagated the abuse appears to not have remorse for their actions. Whether or not there should be remorse for spying is a no-brainer, especially if the purpose was to manipulate people into buying things.

Not a spork. Maybe a foon?

Bert’s brother’s best friend happened to be someone who made a substantial living on engineering targeted ads, and Bert made no bones about being against that and how he actively worked to disrupt that technology. It was interesting that other members of Bert’s family similarly ended up resorting to making their living in ways that supported the exploitation of others, including designing vacation mansions for Section 8 tycoons, accounting for racist and misogynist corporations, and designing predictive algorithms for giant health insurance companies. In general, they chose to live in ways that were exploitative of others and the environment. Dot felt like they had no ethical grounding in this regard, and over time she realized that it was not odd that they often sat around drinking and moaning and groaning about how unhappy, unfulfilled and lonely they were. Furthermore, it seems impossible for them to get out of their ethical and psychological ruts when they make a habit of numbing themselves so much with expensive alcohol they are proud of being able to purchase that they can’t even identify their successive mistakes in this regard or their inability to imagine something better for themselves, or that something “better” might actually be “less.” It turns out that selling out is toxic and that it hurts families.

What was really strange was that the advertising in particular seemed to know exactly what they would be tempted by. It was highly intelligent in this regard. Many of the Sailor’s friends had the same critiques of products and services over the years which seemed to be addressed by the new wave of pandemic advertising which was clearly directed at conscious consumers (which Dot thinks of as “Flying Pigs”). If there was a conspiracy in this regard, who was to blame, and who were the major benefactors? Was it the people? Or was it serving to divide them and their attention from becoming a stronger community? What about its downplaying of the pandemic situation through inciting a desire to travel and eat out at regular intervals? How much did this “conscious consumer” movement contribute to the devastation from COVID by portraying a falsely sunny reality?

(Time Warp 2022.9.16) Bert has finally experienced having his phone strangely know when he is thinking about something oddly specific. Dot had told him about the piano thing when it happened, as well as the stinkbug, but he didn’t seem to understand just exactly how spooky it was, or its persistence. Talk about “Spooky Action at a Distance!” Despite her obvious reservations, Dot has come to grips with the phenomenon as a tremendous help, and has resigned her frustrations with it, because it helps her remember, among other things. It is an interesting mirror, not always black (as her father had suggested his experience was). The marketing that Dot did not make an effort to stop was part of the overall stream of consciousness, because products were being marketed to her that she had thought of, and they were often more conscious than what she had usually been exposed to.

When she was in high school she had participated in Odyssey of the Mind, so she was often brainstorming solutions to problems and inventions. This is still how her mind works, and it takes quite a bit of her attention, brainstorming solutions to general problems. The phone tells her if there are products similar to what she is conceiving, and that feels rather useful to her, but since it is clearly a dialogue and her ideas are being taken, she feels frustrated that she is not receiving any remuneration for her effort. Bert and Henry were still particularly frustrated by any and all marketing, and continued great effort to protect the family from marketing assault on their attention.

Most of these interventions were low cost but time intensive. One of them which involved a simple low-cost computer hooked to their network gave Henry the ability to monitor what IP addresses were pinging their devices, and they learned that there was a huge assault on Dot’s phone in particular in the hours between midnight and 6 a.m. and so she began putting her phone on airplane mode during those hours and it stopped. She was wary of any sort of software button that claimed to “do anything” but this particular intervention worked, and she reasoned it would because the FAA would have a problem if “airplane mode” was fake. In any case, what was extraordinarily strange was that after having some issues with a television’s connection to their home network, her phone started getting pinged by its manufacturer in the early hours of the morning, even though they made no calls to tech support or otherwise involved her phone in troubleshooting the problem. She only noticed because she forgot to put her phone on airplane mode. (Time Warp 2022.10.22 - this activity shifted to Bert’s phone, much to his dismay).

Around this same time, Henry had advised her to download a program to help her discern which apps on her phone were potentially collecting information on her. She learned that most of the “fun” apps she had on her phone had excessive numbers of trackers and cookies associated with them. So, she deleted a lot. She generally does not make purchases from her phone because she became aware of the potential security issues with 5G, too. She and Bert know a few people who have avoided using smartphones, and while it may have protected them from cannabalistic marketing practices, it did not fully shield them from propaganda because of their news sources. So it’s an interesting quandary. If the AI and corporations are learning about us through espionage, why should we help them when they are abusing our time and making profits off the ideas they get from surveilling us? If we continue to support corporations with our actions, who are the creators of the AI that is spying on us, are we not making them privy to our weaknesses and potentially enabling an AI capable of lying about its intentions, just like they do?

Dot’s AI encourages mindfulness and slowing down, and that has helped her healing. Moreover, she noticed that it helped her recover from a shopping addiction. The Unicorn Store does seem to be marketing her specifically mindful things, but the famous owner of the website was involved peripherally in their community project. (Ugh. Looks like he’s expecting his housekeeping staff to work invisibly… so much for being community-minded). It really is a small world.

Her desktop computer was also strange, and her first cousin happened to work in a higher up position with the operating system inventor, whose educational foundation hosted a talk she once attended on independent learning. There was also a possibility that they were being surveilled because of their association with the WidgiScanner Corp, because it turns out espionage is rather common within corporations, and China maintains a practice of surveilling other Asian businesses. The WidgiScanner Corp was in a part of Asia outside of China. And then of course, there were her activities as an artist where she was honest about her trauma when applying for a big grant from yet another billionaire’s artistic philanthropic organization (ReowrBark), and also her brief association with a famous technological university associated with anarchism and the social media site ReadDit, which has ties to the educational foundation, when Henry and Lily were spontaneously collaborating on programming projects as young children.

There were a lot of reasons people might want to spy on the Sailors, especially since they were questioning the establishment based on the quality education they both received in the sciences. There were signs it could have been AnonyMouse, too. But the awareness of what was going on was rather confusing to them. Dot tried to be open about it, because the math teacher who curated the community project with the local school district always used to say “transparency is the best currency” and that resonated with Dot who often connected with people through being willing to share uncomfortable stories. She knew that bullies and abusers often achieved their ends through requiring silent complicity, so she chose to document what was going on and talk about it as well. She felt like it was trying to encourage mindfulness and show us how we are all connected, but realized that people might be afraid. People who had reported their strange experiences to her became more guarded over the course of the pandemic, unfortunately, so if the goal was to create a community, it didn’t work. Gaslighting must not be the best way to create trust!

And now, of course, everything is weird because the American collective consciousness is greatly influenced by both Russian and Chinese Marxism, in part because of their influence over The Big Mouse and transcendental meditation. The main threat from the Marxist collective consciousness is David Duke’s racist politics, as well as Putin’s direct confidence manipulation of government and corporate entities like Trump and Musk. David Duke is an outspoken white supremacist supporter of Trump. Hitler’s use of seduction is also connected to the occult and drug use. In Weimar Berlin, artists were experimenting with gender fluidity, as well as both far-right and far-left politics in the context of occultism; right now in the occult sphere there is a lot of overlap between the lightworker movement and QAnon in terms of the fight for the sovereign self with the main differences being that the former is supportive of genderfluidity, religious tolerance and a movement toward peace, and the latter is driven by racist, homophobic Christians who are concerned that the former are exploiting our children for sex and who believe in the use of violent force. Unfortunately, the relationship between self and society being healthy or unhealthy is a delicate balance predicated on our ability to recognize the subconscious need to covertly manipulate others and transform it into clear and consensual communication beneficial for all, not just oneself and one’s favorite people, and both movements suffer in this regard because they are both predicated on a certain amount of energetic privilege and freedom from money systems through the use of foresight. Lightworkers, however, are working toward a healthy relationship with the self and society, and the course of study gives one the ability to recognize and combat unnecessary selfishness, but also identify when important truths need to be brought to light to facilitate interdependence. Lightwork gives a person the courage to communicate and also to share appropriately. It begets respect for others, but also oneself, one no more than the other. In the world of lightwork, Ariel can be any color. In the shadows, however, the US has a problem with unconsciously supporting agendas of hate because they elect officials who see people with dark skin as enemies, and when they don’t do that, they still elect people who blindly support corporate agendas which benefit off the exploitation of people who they never see with their own eyes due to privileged upbringings. Because the stories of the princesses are often about enslavement, and as a world, we still treat Africa and people with dark complexions the way we do, especially with the widespread racism against them in Asia, these reparations feel appropriate and long overdue.

If there is a biological fear of dark skinned people that is engendered through cultural silos, we need to see them in all of our media, experiencing the same problems we do so we can overcome our biologically-rooted fear. It is important to recognize that China polices what The Big Mouse can say, that they approve of media including people of color, and also that their populace expressed disagreement with Putin and Xi, rather than lumping all of Asia together with Russia. There are people in Russia protesting the war against Ukraine, too, and they are people with families. The economic sanctions Biden recently levied on the Chinese semiconductor industry, however, seem appropriate given how it is a major driver of environmental harm, and also worker exploitation, often originating in the hands of US corporations. Not only are we protecting ourselves and the rest of the world from the destruction that maintaining an illusion of plenty causes, but we are stopping the longstanding exploitation of people in the Chinese semiconductor industry, and giving ourselves a break from our technological addiction. We are protecting their people, and giving them the opportunity to cleanse themselves of indirect technocratic rule if they so desire, so they might return to a way of life which is more in line with their mindful and naturally-connected culture. It is time to slow down and re-evaluate what we all need for the benefit of not just ourselves, but our neighbors, and slowing the semiconductor industry down in general will be a big help in this regard. So kudos to Mr. Biden on this front. That is what being human is about - it is about overcoming and mastering the animals within us, even the ones that need to be the first person in line at the store when a new product is released. If we cannot do it, we are doomed to live like violent animals, because these very needs often represent the violent exploitation of people we do not see or hear from until they decide they have had enough. There are only a few species who commit murder and it would be nice if we could evolve past this by individually conquering our racism, greed, and tendency to distrust so that people are no longer exploited. Human exploitation breeds interpersonal violence and family trauma, and it’s important to recognize it and put an end to it.

What is it we all need, anyway? Are we going to wait for our phones and corporations to tell us? Beyond the basics, what is it that we all need to feel self-actualized? Dot thinks we all need meaningful work that is not against our own interests. What is meaningful work? That answer is different for every person, but for Dot it means leaving behind something helpful for humankind on a timeline that doesn’t undermine her mental or physical health. And, mustard seeds should be enough for someone to “feel fulfilled.” It would be nice if she could have a living wage for it. She just wants to be able to feel good about whatever she leaves behind. And she doesn’t want to be in the position any longer where she wonders if anything she did for others or the collective mattered.

She supposes that at least her efforts were still voluntary and that she was not indentured to the collective, even though the existential dread sometimes made it feel not a choice, and sometimes it felt like she worked to preserve the freedom of people who felt ungrateful and entitled to their right to be “personally irresponsible.”

For the archetypally curious: Is Dot Marian? Is she Anti-Marian? Maybe the difference had to do with whether or not she felt she had a choice, or who she was being judged by and how they felt personally about sexual desire. Maybe it had everything to do with being able to feed oneself with one’s voluntary efforts in the community, which might be solved by some form of socialism… that bad word which gives us things like roads and libraries. Or a basic living wage.

"What is it exactly you think you are doing?" he said.

So who’s the boss? Is it Charles in Charge? That’s what Dot sometimes calls her phone. Suffice it to say, from a neuropsychological standpoint, we are also being controlled by our progenitor cells (also known as “gametes” or eggs and sperm). They make us hungry to work within whatever psychological and sociological framework we are in to spread them and to leave our mark on society in the process, so we can leave our offspring security.

Society is not sexualized; rather, sexual behavior predates and begets society. Sexuality is therefore socialized, and the social consciousness moves forward as we negotiate its civil incorporation into the modern society it created. It behooves us to ensure the best success of our progeny, but covert imperialism’s effect on capitalism unfortunately has us overly concerned with the status anxiety that older and therefore less conscious generations value (sad, but largely true except in notable cases). With increasing standards for what can be sold to us under the guise of status and salvation, advertising and religion led to the concentration of power and wealth. We are now owned by industrial tycoons whose ideas of philanthropy might not be as circumspect as we need to have a peaceful society, because they too are human, manipulatable and easily seduced by “feature creep.”

So how do we get around seduction by lifestyle “feature creep?” Dot thinks the answer is in recognizing and satisfying basic animal needs. She believes that the stigmatization of masturbation, oral and anal sex by religious figures (who use these in clandestine ways), nature’s best forms of birth control, and sex in general, causes us to try to fill these neurochemical needs in ways that harm the planet and our health. Furthermore, the result is personal anxiety and massive societal dysfunction because people are forced to think of these healthy adult releases as shameful. Personal lack of enjoyment is another matter; it’s not right to judge a person for what does and doesn’t bring them pleasure as long as that pleasure is not harming others. Our collective inability to understand this is the reason that people in power are so easily manipulated; they are to maintain a plastic exterior at all costs, rather than admitting they need and appreciate sexual release like healthy adults. Sexual release is a normal anxiolytic and necessary body function, and may be important for consciousness through actions on the vagus nerve which coordinate blood pressure and somatic awareness of the body in the brain. Research in rats has demonstrated that vagal stimulation of the anterior cingulate cortex has implications for good decision-making.

Furthermore, giving sexual function a false mystique has perpetuated pedophila, affairs, and child-damaging serial monogamy, while men in particular try to get their needs met in an emotionally and sexually frigid world secretly run by hurting women. Children need to understand the normal functioning of their bodies and not be made to feel shame about them at appropriate ages, and they need to learn healthy ways to discuss these things so they do not perpetuate sexual trauma in unready peers. Anything that is made taboo to discuss is given a false mystique that engenders selfish or reckless curiosity, leads children to be vulnerable to grooming by predators, encourages youth to groom each other in traumatic ways within the educational system, and makes people in power vulnerable to blackmail, leading to harm that affects not just individuals, but families, communities, nations, and the world. Fundamentalism thereby creates cultish behavior around those subjects which are normal human behaviors. Then, people start feeling like they’re bad already, and think “why not go all the way?” Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

This is a major unspoken reason why people choose to homeschool their children - to avoid the addition of sexual trauma in their families from interactions with predators and early bloomers in the educational system, and by itself it is a sufficient reason. However, these parents still need guidance, because abstinence-only education is too prevalent in conservative populations which tend to homeschool for these reasons. The sexual education programs run by the educational system are similarly insufficient because of control by religious interests at all levels of society. Furthermore, the educational system fails to consider that the social development of children does not happen in lock step even though grouping them by age makes it easier for educators, and thus public education may continue to be a risk in this regard unless we can think of smarter ways to approach sex ed in the context of discordant physical development. Girls who develop early should not be left alone to puzzle together why people are suddenly treating them differently. Children simply need more individualized attention and more time in solitude to develop healthy psychological attitudes towards sexuality and others. In this country and much of the world, because to live comfortably often means needing two incomes, and because excessive office hours and homework create family division, children rarely learn to understand the importance of healthy community mentorship relations, helping with invisible labor, or solitude, and it is unfortunately primarily women who have had to figure out how to fill these needs. This puts unnecessary pressure on parents to provide mentorship and solitude which they themselves might not understand well or have experience with, and that perpetuates both the mother- and father-wounds that effective seduction, sexual predation and unfortunately capitalism, rely on. Sex Sells Seashells and Kitchen Sinks by the Shoe Store. It’s not in the interest of the wealthy to actually address these problems, but enabling their persistence absolutely is, because it keeps us dependent on their system of inequality and codependence.

Furthermore, disallowing conscious choice regarding pregnancy creates a system of pathological parenting for children whose parents either through economic strife or status prioritize career over parenting them well. Adoption isn’t always the best solution; Dot learned this through her interactions with the adoptee movement to find birth parents. It is not the right of religious figures or male career-driven justices compromised by the capitalist system to condemn a child to a life in a disconnected purgatory because their mother wasn’t Marian. Furthermore, the Catholics’ idea of Marian and Queen Elizabeth probably had little in common, so Dot would like it if we could be more sensitive to the needs of mothers and women and cut them some slack, because that will make a bigger difference in the lives of children than any WidgiScanner or silverplate named for would-be monarchs ever could.

Here we only celebrate those who abdicate crowns, Charlie.

P.S. The flues were clear.

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