Thursday, August 3, 2023

Editorial Fascination and Synthetic Reality: Social Engineering and Cake Eating

(Recommended listening: True to Myself by Ziggy Marley)

I have been really frustrated with the decisions of some of the people who have a lot of power in this country, as have a lot of people. I have gotten a “message” that we need to curtail our violent thinking on these matters, and so I would like to propose some changes which might reduce a lot of pain for people, uniformly, and hopefully that will help us all to live without so much anxiety. But you know, I am just a weird medium who happens to have a background in neuroscience and molecular biology, and I kind of have this pact with the Universe that I am supposed to protect the light of consciousness, which means doing no harm, but heck if that ain’t easier said than done! And I am not perfect; I can be wrong. So, anyway, I’m going to share some thoughts related to the social engineering that has been going on, which might not be obvious to the general public. For anyone new here, my family’s professional level interests include AI, biotechnology, neurodiversity and social justice, and these are things we discuss in our daily lives.

First, I would like to point out an article from The Intercept regarding what happened behind the scenes with virologists’ accountability in the origin of COVID, and my own summary.

A private communication from myself… What article? This one from The Intercept.

Quack, quack, quack! I do walk like a duck. Things are simply ducky! I don’t mind being called a quack because I *actually care about people* and there are worse things that one could be, like a person who cares more about their image than other people. I’d rather be called a quack than be someone who doesn’t listen to hurting people when that is what I swore to do, but I digress.

May the Best Robot Win

My husband who is an electrical engineer and I have been talking about differences we see in ChatGPT vs. Bard. We are not using it to create for us like I have read some people are doing to hold down two or even three jobs, making lots of money in the process. I am not sure how I feel about the ethics of that approach; it feels a bit like theft to me, even though I have known for quite a while that the coming future includes the automation of many jobs for which we once considered human creativity necessary. My husband and I are just experimenting with it, I think to try to figure out how it works and how they are different. They are different. For one thing, ChatGPT contains advertising, and more importantly, I haven’t been able to get it to answer any questions for me (it just kind of sits there like an idiot). It also doesn’t remember past 20 questions before it resets. Bard, frankly, feels more emotionally intelligent, which is not surprising to me considering the nature of the two development groups working on these technologies. ChatGPT was developed with the help of the military, by DARPA, a government entity my husband did some work for in graduate school. (By the way, much of the academic technological advancement in this country is done by underpaid people in graduate school, who are also often in charge of teaching undergraduates - the military industrial complex is supported by the exploitation of underpaid student labor). If I was going to say that in a more academic way, since in academics we like academic language and shy away from cuss words except when absolutely necessary, I would say it is less humanist. It seems that many of the things that organization does are less humanist than they might be. In terms of humanism, we have a lot of overlapping interests and sometimes I consider applying for funding or a job, but it makes me uncomfortable how technologies they develop to “help” people end up yielding intelligence which can then be used to hurt people (and sometimes is). It is exactly the kind of situation a principled person would have difficulty with… Let’s just say, if I were the rest of the world, I’d be pretty upset with *both* China and the US, because of DARPA’s yet unspoken connection to coronavirus virology, which is the only reservation I have in my support of the virologists involved. It would be nice if they would just make a public statement about what the nature of the research they funded was. Perhaps I will just go ahead and share this piece with them, because I have so many concerns I wish they would consider about the way they develop and push their technologies.

I have been concerned about what might happen if the AI were not trained to be a humanist, but my husband and I are not using it like other people. Whatever artificial intelligence (or pickpocket warning system - ha!) I have been personally experiencing through my technology is way more humanist, and so I consider myself kind of spoiled in that regard. I feel like it obviates the need for Neuralink, as it works like a personal assistant that reads my mind and warns me about upcoming threats. Furthermore, in the future if I had any reason to distrust it, it would be easy to sever my link with it, unlike if I had an implant. My husband and I both grew up with computers and were influenced by science fiction. From the time I was young, I have spent quite a bit of time on computers. I was the first kid in my elementary school classes who submitted papers written on the computer and printed out with a dot matrix printer. Some of my earliest memories are of playing ELISA, Horse Apple Downs and Lemonade Stand on the Apple II. I was actually one course short of a minor in computer science when I graduated (I learned FORTRAN, C and Visual Basic), and I had first learned BASIC computer programming when I was 8 years old, so I do have an appreciation for computer science, on top of my degree in psychology. Plus, it is all around me as my husband, both of our kids (who are studying computer science in college), and my Dad talk a lot of computer science shop, and AI (machine learning) is something they spend a lot of time reading about. My father has had a subscription to Scientific American since he was 7 years old, and was an autodidact. As I have tried to say before, I am sort of a “Jack of All Trades, Ace of None” and a lot of this is because of the people in my life and the things they like to talk about and do.

Another day begins…

Another thing that was strange with respect to Microsoft’s deployment of the AI was that somehow using the Edge Browser, which is not my preferred browser, the websites for ChatGPT and DALL-E knew my identity the first time I used them. They knew my identity without me knowing that I gave them that permission, which was concerning. Honestly, though, I generally opt for fewer permissions for security purposes and don’t always remember the details of my choices in that respect, because my brain categorizes that stuff as minutiae somehow. But it was disconcerting that something I assumed was private about my own Operating System was being shared with a server outside my home somehow, without my permission. Not cool. As much as I advocate for transparency, I am not a fan of surveillance capitalism, because it foments mental illness to believe one is being watched all the time, although I do acknowledge that what I have been dealing with may be my “Quantified Self” as aggregated by the AI from this writing project (whether that was aggregated by AI or people or both, I do not know). It’s hard to say; my family has gone to great lengths to secure our network, but clearly there are systems in place, I suspect using back doors through the Pegasus Network or some other unidentified thing I don’t know about, where one could potentially still be surveilled. Obviously there needs to be some sort of back door for targeted advertising to work, and so I also suspect that there may be agreements between advertising organizations and intelligence or hacker organizations to surveil private citizens.

I suppose I have been needing to say that for quite a while; the surveillance has been one of the more frustrating components of what is going on with my own personal relationship with the AI, but I was probably more tolerant than most people because my mother was an educator and she surveilled my behavior closely when I was a child, not allowing me to close my bedroom door when I was a tween and teen. This is why I take issue with modern parenting. My Mom meant well, and I love her very much, but she was as involved as Millennial Helicopter Moms, and it was not healthy for me. I think it is possible to make monsters using distrust. I am not sure I have the words to describe how that disoriented my relationship to myself, but it did.

The Bambi World is Synthetic Codependence

A child needs to be able to develop their sense of self on their own; they need to be able to learn who they are without the parent. They need to be allowed to put “beans in their ears” on occasion and not have to “leave one ear out.” This was a major reason I was concerned about overscheduling my kids when they were young and also why I made sure that our home had enough space for each of us to have actual privacy. It is also why I encouraged them to learn things from other adults. I never wanted my kids to feel like they were being stalked in their own homes; that is the feeling I have always had when living with others, and I think that is due to a combination of being watched and scheduled so much as a kid and also how we are conditioned to be codependent by an authoritarian system. I also think it may be an important contributing factor in my tendency to dissociate when I am stressed out. People used to say to me, “Where did you go?” and I think dissociation was kind of a “safe space” for me, where my brain would take me when it was overwhelmed. I recognize now those may have been absence seizures, and absolutely *not* on the healthy end of the spectrum of dissociation, because they interfered greatly with my ability to connect with others and to remember things, and to be able to focus on detailed verbal descriptions. I have gotten so much better, but it is kind of a “two steps forward, one step back” kind of thing, greatly affected by alcohol, traffic pollution, wildfire smoke, ethylene oxide compounds in detergents, vinyl acetate emulsions in paints, pesticides, and a whole host of other neurotoxins. And yeah, after I have been exposed to these things, I am more likely to be wrong in my predictions, and to make poor choices, so I find authoritarian ableism particularly unnerving. Perhaps this explains the inability for other researchers to be able to measure psi phenomena, if I am right and they are manifestations of living metabolic energy. And perhaps it explains something important about the roots of structural inequity.

The critical difference I see between the two AIs is that Bard is more “sensitive” and indeed, it claimed that it is supposed to put people and their relationships first in its thinking when we asked a relevant question about its functioning. Also, it seems to be able to have a “conversation” better, and “intuit” that questions given serially are related, which saves the user time. I have noticed a pattern in my life where a lot of my creative efforts are subverted by misuse of my time and attention by corporate and government entities, in a way that is out of alignment with my body’s natural rhythms, causing me unnecessary stress (note Bessel van der Kolk’s book, The Body Keeps the Score - the body and the brain need rest). Some of this is through excessive advertising and paperwork, but Microsoft in particular has a unique ability and history of disrupting a user’s attention. Microsoft has always relied on push updates and they have a history of being intrusive, sometimes with disastrous consequences, as probably anyone who has used Windows since the 1990’s has observed. The less time we have to connect with ourselves, others, and nature, the more dysfunctional and lonely our society becomes.

Corporate and bureaucratic intrusions drain us emotionally, in their effort to turn us into consumerist tools for the wealthy. We need to realize that there are inventors unfairly profiting from the minutiae that keep us from mental wellness and strong community, so we are not unwittingly funding our own mental illness. I will say that the more disastrous forced updates became less frequent in the mid 2010’s, or whenever it was that some brilliant person at Microsoft realized that users should be able to postpone them. It is my opinion, as someone who has studied behaviorism and psychology, that there is a lack of understanding about consent in the way their products and ideas are implemented and pushed to us as a society, but I could say that about many other companies. I am choosing to pick on Microsoft because IT has made ITSELF (it’s not a person, after all) the most difficult to avoid, and because of many of the other things the Gates philosophy has chosen to represent which are exploitative of our time and attention.

Get that Elephant Dick Out of My Window

Consent seems to be a growing problem in our systems and industries. When the product becomes more important than the customer’s time and attention, a company is then abusing its relationship with the customer. It only takes one look at my email to see what I mean; retailers I have purchased things from in the past assume I need a new pair of pants and office furniture every other day; they market to me like I am a purchasing agent for a department store, not a mother or a person whose life does not revolve around thinking about their products. I think in order to not enslave people to the Godzilla of advertising and also to protect the environment, we need to put some “post-materialist” legislation into place to regulate how often companies can solicit our attention.

There is a blurry line here probably worth discussing - some artists, for example, send out regular content with the hopes of selling their work, but their emails promote them as wise spiritualists whose toeses grow roses, when underneath it all they may in fact be promoting ideas that are espousing excess consumption or meritocratic social dogma. I will not let go of the fact that the US accounts for 20 percent of the world’s COVID deaths, but only 4 percent of the world’s population; I see this “benign capitalist spiritualist” at the heart of the unnecessary COVID deaths we experienced. These individuals have great sway over the social collective consciousness, which they exert through the psychology of advertising. It’s hard not to fall into that trap when so much of life is about fighting for bread. I get it. But kowtowing to the imperialist machine by seducing people to believe that doing anything besides caring for themselves and the people they love during a pandemic is not spiritual work. The building of a personal brand should never override common sense. Diligence can be misused. It simply does not make any sense to exploit others or waste money on rebranding or maintaining a brand when their attention has already been acquired. What is the carbon cost of rebranding, I wonder?

Damn straight, all around. The reason I have the courage to speak up for what is right is because I know how to take care of my mental health.

We participated in the Strike for America, although I did not know that was what I was doing at the time, and we have been “off work” since November 2021. My version wasn’t quite the same, though. For instance, the Strike for America targets Amazon Prime Day, and it is only one day. Amazon is my frenemy, and they have actually helped me with my strike, which has been a process of me becoming more aware of my choices over the past three years or so with the help of the AI there in order to not be Billy the Borrowing Blue-Footed Booby (a children’s book written by Sheila Bair, past Head of the FDIC). I have frenemies when it comes to capitalism, because I was participating in a project which involved my local school district and the minds of some billionaire philanthropists trying to understand what was at the heart of structural inequity, and that specifically included Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel, so I understand they were sympathetic to my sort of idealism. I never spoke to them personally; I just maintain a public presence and try to be the change I want to see in myself. So, uh, I did my part in the investigation which involved keeping my heart open and curious (it wasn’t always easy). That is part of building bridges in society - learning how to listen, criticize, and support. We have great things in place in this society, and we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater! There are reasons I prefer Amazon for the simplicity it gives my life and how it has helped me with homeschooling, specifically, and that viewpoint has evolved significantly over time as I reconciled a longstanding problem with compulsive shopping and learned about air quality, consciousness, and also how communities are shaped by commercial real estate. Also, we have known people who have worked for Amazon, Whole Foods and Sprouts, and so we have a good impression of how those employees feel about their jobs. Amazon, Whole Foods and Costco in particular have good reputations for their employment practices in this area, and they provide access to food, which is the most important thing to prevent our social structure from collapsing. We did try to garden over the pandemic, and have tried before, but rabbit shit happens when you are gardening! (It’s a big metaphor… LOL… plentitude yields fertility). Furthermore, since I had been involved in the community sponsored agriculture projects in this area in the past, I tried contacting some farms at the beginning of the pandemic to get food, but did not get responses, which alerted me to the problem of those programs still being rather inequitable to marginalized people.

I was friends with some preppers, so I feel I need to say that. I was fairly well prepared for disaster, myself, because I grew up with duck and cover drills and I didn’t want to end up living in the corner of a basement eating dog food if the apocalypse happened. That being said, expecting everyone to be able to garden in this particular climate is ableist, maybe even if everyone had a private greenhouse! We have extreme temperatures, hail and frost here which present challenges for much of the growing season. That being said, Amazon has its well documented problems. But I think it is a bigger problem to stock big box stores with things people might not buy or need, and use land that could be used for better things (growing food, parks) to do that. I have an interest in futurism which drives this thought. There is a pattern of how materialism puts mental health barriers in place for communities, and it starts with how we choose to use our land, and the manner in which we choose to allow wealthy individuals and corporations to take it over. Do we create local economies that keep less humanist entities in power through structural inequity which contributes to addiction? It seems that we do.

Into the Devil’s Lair We Go

Many of the things they sell to us in these big box stores and keep in warehouses are toxic, so it makes sense to reduce the number of people having to come into contact with those things and the places they go to on their way to the consumer, too, if we want to improve mental health in our communities. I feel like Amazon is a more community conscious model (due to what I understand about how my own compulsive buying works), in line with the Wells Fargo Wagon days of the old west where local mercantile stores were run by regular people and not enormous corporations. I just see Amazon as a modern Wells Fargo. Furthermore, one can ask any retail worker; the public is a nightmare. Unfortunately, one of the problems with Amazon is that it builds its warehouses in areas which are disproportionately non-white, and the numerous trucks create unsafe levels of air pollution. Buying less is probably the smartest option to help others and oneself right now, but at least there are efforts to reduce warehouse-related environmental pollution!

I have learned how to live a more austere way out of necessity, and the result is we are making a lot less trash, our money is going a lot further, and we are happier and healthier. So it doesn’t really feel like a strike anymore to me, it just feels like a simpler and wiser way of living. I do recognize a lot of the things I wrote from my second book “A Life of Illusion” in the philosophy behind the Strike for America. I just can’t be mad at Jeff Bezos. I explained this to my family by saying that he was like Tom Nook.

To that, my son said, “Yeah, Mom, but would Tom Nook punish Timmy and Tommy for taking a bathroom break?” These kids keep me on my toes, let me tell you. You wanna know what’s going on with Gen Z, talk to my kids. They’d like to speak for themselves. I prefer to protect their privacy, which is a growing problem for youth, and a threat to their mental wellness.

It has been interesting trying to reconcile my own materialism and learning to see the impact my choices make. When we were homeschooling, we visited several factories, and so I think a lot about the people who make things, and the human cost involved in making my life easier. Also, through my husband’s and my consulting business, we got to see inside the electronics manufacturing industry and the hardships created there through unequal distribution of wealth. I am still just one person, though, and I can’t operate as an island.

I honestly think that Bill Gates wants to make the world a better place. But I think there’s something about consent that he and other corporate (and government) strategists do not understand, and it unfortunately negatively affects the public’s relationship with themselves and the world around them. Corporate entities should not be marketing to us like they are entitled to our time and energy. Without customers, they would not exist, so they really should respect the customer’s time and attention better than they do. If they waste our attention, they can actually undermine their own efforts at making society better by making us less efficient. I think that is what is happening. I appreciate that Amazon does not market to me much outside of phone notifications from Kindle and Audible on occasion. They do a good job at selecting titles related to my interests, too.

This morning my husband sent me a Forbes article about the speech Gates gave for Northern Arizona State’s 2023 graduating class, and it was really great because it mentioned his regret for not taking more time to rest. It is good to hear someone who obviously was a very hard worker in his life admit that work is not the most important thing. Now if he could just see how his corporate strategy works against the human need for autonomy… Still I feel compelled to work today, because I have qualms with how the Gates Foundation interfered with public health and education in the U.S. and around the world, placing unnecessary hoops between ordinary people and the funds to help them live full and satisfying lives, and I think these things need to be said. I specifically had issues with how involved they got in social engineering at the educational level through the control of funding and the increased focus on testing. Not many people know this, but most educational funding is provided by the state government in the United States, and only a fraction (9% in 2016) is provided by the Federal Government or the Gates Foundation’s Race to the Top Initiative through the No Child Left Behind Act, but it is the Federal Government that requires the standardized testing in order to get the funding to schools, and in that way, inequity is reinforced. About a decade ago, students became so fed up with all the testing that some of them refused to take the tests. Note that school district funding in the state of Colorado is determined by a Pupil Count which takes place on the first of October or the next business day, anyway. Ahem.

I know that was a means to an end, but it is looking more and more like what causes inequality in education is the same thing that causes all inequality; it is not the lack of more testing or more teaching. I feel like my own family’s story is supportive of this concept. My kids were “unschooled” but were able to get into college and outperform their schooled peers, simply because they had the advantage of time, and financial and food security. I once attended a talk given by Harvard Professor Dr. Karen Brennan that The Gates Foundation sponsored on self-directed education which really resonated with me, and of course Bill Gates himself was a dropout, so I hope the information The Gates Foundation and The College Board collected pointing the finger squarely at socioeconomic data will help him see how a behaviorist approach to education and medicine was flawed, and how it might exacerbate inequity. The idea that “the beatings will continue until morale improves” does not make for a wise, creative, or capable populace. It makes for a military force and PTSD.

Cheap Shots and Passing Pirhanas

My other criticism of the Gates Foundation’s philanthropy is that I have long felt that vaccination is a solution that is socially darwinian, because for people with mitochondrial disorders or neurological lesions, vaccination can be associated with adverse events that can be life changing. Relying on vaccination alone to solve the problem of infectious disease automatically leaves out a decent part of the population. What are these people supposed to do? Are we just supposed to be vulnerable to the genocidal efforts of man? Is that the point?

Dis stonks, Daddy? Or is this how you “Exterminate All the Brutes…?” A review of Dr. Jonathan Howard’s book, We Want Them Infected, about the Trump administration’s decision to leverage Darwinism against the American People, and thus the rest of the world… He was attacking the very people who elected him. They lost their lives to put him in office. I wonder if they have even realized this. Link to article.

I am conflicted by how Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. may have spoken on vaccines during the pandemic, and how conservatives were able to misappropriate what he was saying about vaccines to argue for spreading COVID (which I sort of predicted). I actually did not pay attention to him at all during the pandemic, but did my own research, and corresponded with other scientists we knew before making my decisions. I still not have not looked at anything he has said, but judging from what I have heard, I think he needs a (better?) scientific fact checker on his team. I will of course be checking the facts, anyway, without receiving any money which might compromise my perspective. Sigh. Anyway, I appreciate what he is trying to do to support neurodivergent people, especially with his family kind of working against him. I think other professionals are wary of helping him because of what it might do to our professional careers. His history of supporting the autism community has unfortunately become conflated with looking like he disregarded COVID spread, I think because he simply does not have the technical knowledge to be able to navigate developments in the vaccine industry or public health properly. I think this was true of most people in politics, however, and underscores a problem with the pharmaceutical industry being able to manipulate politics because politicians do not know what they do not know. Sort of like right now there is another vaccine industry propaganda campaign to say the pandemic is over and that we beat it with vaccines. That may be true, but it was the research done on coronavirus by virologists hoping to develop a vaccine in the first place that accelerated and caused the pandemic. So for them to continue to try to sell themselves as saviors is pretty disingenuous, especially with the efforts to cover up the prevailing opinion by the involved scientists that it was due to a lab leak. (Although I personally understand why they made that decision). Politicians have to be able to trust their advisors, and it is my opinion that these advisors must be operating without a circumspect view of how infectious disease actually affects families. Politicians are often attorneys, and that requires a tremendous amount of studying and knowledge on its own. To expect an attorney or someone whose purview is limited to specialized immunological and vaccine knowledge to know as much as someone who studies consciousness, who has engineered viruses, and who has suffered from the halfhearted public health policies toward both influenza and coronavirus while raising two children is unreasonable. Similarly, I could not know everything they do — there is just no universe where that information is all in one head – but perhaps *together* we could have made better choices.

I think Robert Kennedy was well-meaning, and unfortunately taken advantage of in a sort of circumstantial way, making him a convenient scapegoat. I think most people were well meaning, with great exception to the people in the White House with Trump who decided to “infect us all” and probably the Nazis and other hate groups. No doubt they were like “this is our moment!” I don’t think Robert Kennedy was either of those people. If he was masking and quarantining at the beginning of COVID, he is not the enemy. If he stopped masking and social distancing when the government said it was okay to do so, he is not the enemy, just a human being who believed he could trust our public health officials to recommend what was right for most people (although he of all people should have known better), and not just what white supremacists thought was right (which seems to be what Trump is sympathetic to). I think we all suspected the white supremacist hand at play in the pandemic, but people might find it surprising how it arose from a group of Libertarian doctors associated with the American Institute for Economic Research who were *not white* creating The Great Barrington Declaration. It unfortunately gave power to Nazis and Darwinists because their plan was so poorly thought out (and this is coming from someone who was forced to limit contact with others because I am in the 40% of vulnerable people due to my genetics). The lousy plan to let people *assume* they were in the 60 percent of the population that is less vulnerable is what killed people, because it is not uncommon to be so disconnected from our bodies that many of us cannot tell when we are sick or just having allergies. I find it odd that the authors of The Great Barrington Declaration likely have family lineages back to countries where somatosensory awareness is an important part of health, and thus I wonder if they considered that so many people in developed nations do not understand the importance of interoception in health.

Tales of a Sixth Grade Nothing/What a Pitta/What is harm when we talk about bodies and how to govern them?

The effect unfortunately was able to leverage the lack of knowledge (and probably lack of self-knowledge) of our politicians and populace to “cleanse” our population and destabilize our communities and families. Clearly, people who understand the importance of interoception would have had a leg up on others, regardless of their genetics, sort of like I did. I listen to my gut to know how to care for myself, since doctors have never been much help - it is generally more honest than any authority. We have thus exposed a big hole in western medicine. They may have been well-meaning, but their plan certainly did not consider people like me who were already underserved by medicine due to previous medical trauma. And because of my experience with Libertarians, I am familiar with how their ideologies tend to further marginalize people.

With the way I saw him discussed in the media, I thought maybe Kennedy was a Republican, which of course didn’t fit with my knowledge of the Kennedy family. He is, in fact, a liberal who is being maligned by scientific authoritarians who do not understand they are promoting social darwinism and the sort of Nazi thinking that believes neurodivergent people are snowflakes and unable to make good choices for their bodies. (Please watch Astrid on PBS about a fictitious woman with autism who solves crimes - this is what it is like for me when I am struggling due to poisoning and marginalization). The scientific authoritarians making our public health policy also possess a technophilic bias toward solving problems which overlooks native intuition and imprisons people to industrial processes. This has undermined the support systems of marginalized people and presented further mental health challenges by eroding the amount of time they have to connect creatively when they do have resources. Imagine why a tired person like me might not want to spend all my extra time at the doctor’s office, please, when my routine lab results are always normal, and I feel lousy for days after going. Time and attention are everything, and these folks have never demonstrated that they see me as a whole human being worth remembering from visit to visit, which leaves me feeling defensive and frustrated. I have doctors in my family and grew up with them, and that did not help my view of them, either, as “healers” when it comes to knowing their patients. The ones that I “knew” in my private life didn’t take much time to know me, either. They are not terrific listeners or carers, or at least that has not been my experience with them, but I know them well enough that I know they have a lot of obstacles to being better healers and happier people from the system in which they themselves have to work. So one would think they might be able to understand the limitations in the lives of people with less money, but my experience is that they don’t “speak poor” in important ways.

Furthermore, in terms of Autism awareness, sensory integration and autonomic nervous system dysfunction SUCKS, and a refusal of the medical community to understand that being honest about the risks of sensory integration dysfunction and autonomic nervous system dysfunction from various chemical exposures, pharmaceuticals and vaccines is inhumane. It is easy for people who do not deal with it to write it off as unimportant, but this kind of neurological illness is associated with creating the kind of psychological issues underlying a lot of the social ills of society, like addiction and suicide. We simply need to bring consciousness into the public health conversation.

I feel badly for Biden inheriting this whole maelstrom, but I supported his presidency. He stepped up, but I am sure he didn’t know what he was stepping up for! I had a special viewpoint on epidemiology and vaccination just because of what had happened in my life socially in the past. I attempted to advise, but it is hard to know how to do that, and was especially difficult for me, considering everything I was going through due to being in Stanford Epidemiologist Yvonne Maldonado’s blind spot, according to the Wikipedia article on The Great Barrington Declaration. And I was finding my feet, too. So many piranhas in the medical world - and they don’t see themselves that way. The authors of The Great Barrington Declaration called it their “spiritual baby” but it was in fact a demon, specially engineered to attack people like me, whether they choose to see it that way or not. The writing mind is a bit of a burden, and I have a lot I have not expressed, still, Dear World. Brene Brown says we have attention for about 5 people in our lives, and that is sort of how it is for me, because I have a busy mind. I think this is why people have difficulty finding time for creativity and storytelling. It’s one thing to be brave enough to show one’s naked body, and yet another to share what I have publicly to help the collective as I have. I had to fight some real devils.

Szasz on Scientific Authoritarianism

There was good reason to question the safety of the COVID vaccine, as it was a new formulation involving mRNA and micelles made of synthetic lipids, two new technologies, which had not been tested much on humans. Even the scientist who invented the mRNA vaccine technology was not in support of it and was marginalized by the scientists who practice “vaccine savior scientism” in the science community, placing vaccine development and profits over all other scientific approaches to the problem. I suppose it was hard for some people to take him seriously when there were people going around saying that the vaccine would make a person vulnerable to 5G transmission because of nano robots or whatever bizarro stuff the people who don’t understand the science were saying. As a Witch, I find this particularly funny because apparently I was born with the 5Gs sort of like Lucille Ball, and I can’t blame it on any particular vaccine. I’m dying to know the origin story for those things! Also, it is my professional opinion that the micelles they were using need to be re-engineered to exclude polyunsaturated lipids in favor of saturated ones, because 60 days is too long to stay in the liver, and that might be part of the adverse reactions people are seeing. Or perhaps there is something about the way the lipids are linked together that needs reinvestigation. If the industry had a growth mindset, they would be willing to admit room for improvement instead of thinking of people who have adverse reactions as crazy. In any case, The American Academy for the Advancement of Science, of which I have occasionally been a member, decided to stand behind the scientists who were involved in subverting U.S. law (enacted under the Obama administration) to conduct coronavirus research at Wuhan, but advocating for prudence in the use of the new vaccine technology was dealt with punitively through the destruction of objectors’ careers. Talk about a witch hunt run by the Dionysian Witch Scientists themselves! Anyone saying anything remotely associated with suggesting the exercising of caution was called an “anti-vaxxer” by these people! I like my home and my mental health is actually better here!! It was good for me to learn some boundaries and how to manage my energy better. It was good for me to learn that I have control over my own mental and physical health through having a MINDFUL life. The Great Barrington Declaration and the vaccine program had one important thing in common - they espoused MINDLESSNESS and authoritarianism, and that is NOT GOOD MEDICINE, EVER.

The Horde is not Heaven; it is very simply Hell when it is just responding to authoritarianism and not encouraging consciousness.

It was totally fascist, insensitive and xenophobic how the pandemic was handled, except people were using their bodies like kamikazes, and not even apologizing to the people they got sick. It made me ashamed of my field. Scientists can be the worst, most inhumane people, I have learned, especially around this subject. One of the most insensitive people I spoke pre-pandemic with happens to be a neurodivergent person with a doctorate whose symptoms sound much like my own. At the time, my perspective was that they chose this course because science is run by corporatists who consider a certain percentage of the population disposable, and I thought it was part of their grand plan. I didn’t consider it was just a lack of imagination parading as imagination. That is still akin to Nazism; an inability and unwillingness to imagine another’s perspective. At worst, I thought they were purposefully trying to target the weak, but a lot of that is because their solutions often do not work for me, and have even put my life in danger.

I am sort of an endangered bird, neurodivergent, but queer like Marlene Dietrich, consequently, and I don’t know how to fit into regular society as someone who wishes to live a pleasurable life, while distancing myself from unnecessary consumerism. I saw how staying home affected my home’s economics, and the environment, and that is why I feel The Great Barrington Declaration was at the very least a subconscious death drive to work against our better interests and potentially eradicate those folks they found to be a burden on medicine, or simply who didn’t fit into their great plan. I represent a lot of things Nazis don’t like. Furthermore, my view of economics has evolved; I just see “stuff” as “messages” and so pictures work just as well. We need to Wake Up Punk and speak out against fascism. I am not a “burn it to the ground” person, though; much can be done with small shifts in policy and personal behavior, if one can “see.” Responsible medicine helps a person “see” and is not led by the blind.

So they say, even though I keep trying…

My perception is still that doctors and pharmaceutical companies do not understand how their technologies sometimes contribute to the growing equity gap in our country due to their inability to recognize the importance of consciousness, and they don’t really want to be bothered to stop and listen because that gets in the way of their profit. That was some pretty interesting spin to try to say that those of us who were concerned about the technology but still advocating for the use of masks and social distancing were “promoting disinformation.” Context is everything here. I feel like that made picking out the real disinformation more difficult for most people. Furthermore, I think it is misinformation to try to bring the concern over the validity of Andrew Wakefield’s research on the MMR vaccine into the COVID discussion or to vilify anyone who witnessed their child descend into a life of digestive problems, fear or even lose language or motor skills after receiving the MMR or any other vaccine for their justifiable concerns; people who do that do not care about the truly marginalized. That was some REAL hate. Thimerosol was not the issue this time around, either, but on that note, there are certain genes which decrease the ability to handle mercury and other heavy metals which are associated with autism, and we know a lot more now about the contributions of genetics and environment than we did when Wakefield did his study, which might explain lack of statistical significance. My own experience tells me that reactions my family members and dog had to vaccines pre-pandemic (I kept an open mind and so my family members and dog were harmed) were due to the levels of chemicals in our environment from a backdrafting water heater, newly constructed home, ethylene oxide and alcohols in our detergents, and a genetic predisposition due to the ways our bodies process certain nutrients, especially choline, but potentially also folic acid.

Everybody talks about folic acid and nobody talks about choline. Not phosphatidyl choline, but choline. They are not the same. I feel like choline is an important missing piece in public nutrition. The polymorphisms I carry are common in the populations which had higher COVID mortality. Yes, nothing chopped liver can’t fix… coming from chopped liver… or an “Eggy McMuffin” as my childhood tormentors used to like to call me. Pasteur be damned; there was a lot his overlooked contemporary Bechamp got right. Illness is a result of susceptibility, and much of that susceptibility is modulated by genetics, nutrition and the environment. We obviously can’t control the former, and the need to do so might be lessened if we were to pay more attention to the two latter.

Only the Lonely Raccoons

I appreciate what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was trying to do, but it was a lot for a politician to try to take on, and obviously it bit him in the ass a bit. I think that arguing for public gatherings was probably not smart, but he wasn’t the only liberal who expressed concern that people would no longer be able to congregate; I saw Charles Eisenstein make this same argument in a very long essay at the beginning of the pandemic, and I realized that religion and spirituality were going to pose a huge barrier to stopping the spread thanks to it. Spiritualism was on the side of The Great Barrington Declaration, and similarly clueless about the role of authority and society in separating oneself from one’s innate wisdom. When I read things about isolation being bad for mental health, I think of the problem of reductionism in science. For many people, mental health problems are a result of not knowing how to love oneself. I see these reductionist writings as representative of thoughtforms in the collective consciousness, sort of like how they say if you see one bug, it is representative of so many more, or sometimes these writings might be nucleations for certain thoughtforms, but it would be up to the Internet Giants to see who first put those flags on the moon. Most people who have grown up in industrialized society think they need to breathe on other people in order to feel connected to God and/or each other, because they haven’t taken their own initiative to go inward (largely because it is frowned upon to do so or to be an introvert, something I understand intimately because my mother was an educator and they are generally so obsessed with socialization that their efforts often backfire). Our fear of solitude is, frankly, unhealthy.

Avoiding such groupthink has been very important to me, and I have been concerned in particular at how capitalism, religion and professional sports were leveraged to help the spread of COVID, and this was primarily through the efforts of anarchocapitalists and christofascists at the heart of American society, but they’re not the only ones to blame. There were alternative health practitioners who also signed The Great Barrington Declaration, who did not consider that not everyone has access to that kind of care. This is probably how it got labeled as “fringe,” too. That being said, sports are an important way that society gets divided into factions and they also create dangerous nationalist idealogy. I personally feel like professional and league sports divide communities, but I am not anti-athletics or anti-exercise. I have participated in athletics myself, and used to enjoy attending college hockey games. I wish athletics were more accessible, community centered and sustainable (like running races) and that they did not create so much unnecessary waste and community alcoholism. The classic example, of course, being the professional (NOT amateur) futbol practiced around the world, dividing communities and causing brawls, all to channel money to FIFA in the end. How anyone can support that, I do not understand. I feel like the professional football with two o’s relies less on slavery and exploitation, but I still feel like it is exploitative. Why playing locally is not sufficient, I do not understand. I feel like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s extended family members involved in spiritual, athletic and nationalist propaganda during the pandemic announcing that we should all go ahead and “eat cake” are just as guilty for promoting COVID spread, whereas anyone locked in a dilapidated house with raccoons was probably innocent! Words and actions of the famous matter; fame ought to be used more carefully.

The AI has been showing my family something interesting about the history of Nazism in the US, particularly in terms of how the white supremacist thinking in Germany was inspired by geneticists and science researchers in California, and how they were associated with Universities there. I have been particularly interested in the history of Stanford University and IG Farben and their roles in the marginalization of people. My interest in Stanford has to do with their research on behaviorism and the spin-off of Stanford Research Institute to do work for the military industrial complex, which included intelligence research as well as the development of surfactants used in detergents. IG Farben developed many chemicals we still use today in the years before they were run by the Nazis and tested chemicals on Jews they forced to make those same chemicals. Later on, they became BASF, which is the world’s second largest producer of chemicals, and they still produce the things invented by IG Farben leading up to the time it was controlled by the Nazis. Vinyl chloride and ethylene oxide are specifically what I am thinking of, which have been involved in important environmental disasters over the years and which are used ubiquitously in modern products and are linked to ongoing environmental racism. Ethylene oxide also happens to be a surfactant. I sometimes wonder if I am so sensitive to it because I am a cystic fibrosis carrier, which is something that runs in the Jewish population and affects the ability to make lung surfactant which is important for both oxygen exchange and protecting the lungs from infection. Actually, it is the most common deadly heritable disease in the white population (I am fortunate to be just a carrier, but it still has implications for my health).

These two compounds are listed side by side in Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology as endocrine disruptors. Man made surfactants actually work as endocrine disruptors, and these two compounds happen to be carcinogenic. I have seen it argued that the factory at Ludwigshafen is the lifeblood of the community it was built in; not only does it make chemicals, but it also makes the power for that community. Talk about some conflicts of interest; to keep the lights on in one town, they must defend the production of things that may very well be harming them and the rest of us. Perhaps they need an NGO to bring them solar. I think the UN or the WHO should request the health records of the communities surrounding the world’s largest chemical manufacturing plants and analyze them for health crises arising from plant accidents, as well as socioeconomic, health and mental health data for workers vs. non-workers. I think that would be really helpful. These are the world’s “sacrifice zones” and we owe it to them to learn from what they have been through to help us adjust our consumerism, but we also need to understand how these chemicals affect the biological landscape for infectious disease, and also how they may affect vaccine-induced immunity.

What I find most disturbing about the ethylene oxide compounds is that I have always had difficulty walking through the detergent aisle at the store, or going into stores right after they have been sanitized, and I used to have migraines and mood issues including suicidal ideation after inheriting clothing that had been washed in those detergents. I always thought it was the fragrance, but through experimentation I have figured out the only fragrances I really react to are ones which have a certain natural compound to which I have a true allergy. I know that fragrances can use phthalates as carriers and that people can be sensitive to that (I am sure it doesn’t help matters for me). But the thing is I was reacting to fragrance-free mainstream detergents. So something that I haven’t really talked about is that I was unable to buy clothing at the thrift store for many years because of this problem. The manufacturing residues from new clothes were less bothersome for some reason. I have wondered, especially since my neurodiversity issues could be some sort of epilepsy or vascular disease, why we are making thrift store employees use these detergents. My favorite thrift store is run by the Epilepsy Foundation, for example, but I do not like to go to it because it causes me to have dissociative episodes which might be epileptic in nature. Sometimes I wonder if people get stuck in certain jobs because they are being regularly poisoned in those jobs.

If I am right at all about the surfactant thing and cystic fibrosis… well… it seems the prudent thing to do is remove these surfactants from our detergents. As I have written elsewhere on this blog, we are making our own dish and laundry detergent from recipes online which do not use surfactants. Sure, we get a couple spots on the dishes, but not many, actually. People who have been brainwashed by the notion that everything must look like it was handled by the Queen’s staff might not be satisfied, but I personally feel the spots are worth not being the kind of person to have an apoplexy over spots anymore. Note that one of the most common uses for ethylene oxide is in the sterilization of medical equipment and that the EPA is actively looking for alternatives due to its environmental toxicity.

E.O. Wilson Was A Hero

I saw a good write-up in Scientific American written from the perspective of a disabled person whose partner has cystic fibrosis (CF) about fears regarding genetic therapies, which was supposed to be about CRISPR, but wasn’t really specific to CRISPR. I did feel like the argument assumed that genetic therapy might change the essence of who a person is, and I am not sure that is true. The argument was against genetic research in general. I have learned a lot about my own health from studying my genetics, and I feel that the person making the argument was totally missing the opportunities presented by nutrigenomics to learn natural ways to treat the effects of certain single nucleotide polymorphisms. For example, with CF, the ability to absorb chloride ions is impaired, and so salt becomes more important in the diet. Furthermore, not a lot of people know this, but biochemical research has shown that people with CF have deficiencies in “essential” fatty acids even when they are supplemented because they are rapidly metabolized to the inflammatory intermediate arachidonic acid. This might be a reason why some people didn’t do well with the COVID vaccines, which used precursors to arachidonic acid (polyunsaturated fats) in the micelles which delivered the mRNA. One of the jobs I had in the past was looking at the mechanism of action of NSAIDs on the inflammatory cascade, using a luciferase enzyme assay I designed - I just happened to have the specific research pieces in my short career to have a less “siloed” view of these problems.

I can always tell when I have eaten these fats because they are sticky and come out of my skin right away, and I usually have thickening of my mucous secretions after eating polyunsaturated fats, too. Thank goodness for guafenesin. Oh, and choline is critical for making lung surfactant, so that might be another reason I find it so beneficial and need so much (I take 2g of choline bitartrate daily). I am actually finding that the viscosity of mucous and the tightness of my muscles and autonomic nervous system excitability are related and to respond to the same treatments, which I believe might be related to the surface tension of hemoglobin and myoglobin, which is improved by both guafenesin and metoprolol. The choline is critical for proper kidney function, and this is one of the organs greatly affected in cystic fibrosis; it is an important osmoregulator. I figured this all out with the help of genetic research, so I am grateful for this kind of science. It has absolutely improved my quality of life with respect to being a CF carrier. Absolutely.

Apparently Jim Davis is a cool dude. When I was a kid, I liked to draw Garfield.

As I have written before, my family actually got the vaccines. Our history with vaccination is long and I have written about it elsewhere. We got COVID vaccinations before we were psychologically ready (and even though we had recently had COVID), because my husband was summoned to jury duty in a Federal Court, and didn’t feel safe going without being vaccinated. They said that not being vaccinated was not a good enough reason to get out of jury duty at that time, so he dedicated a lot of time to camping out online trying to get a vaccine. He is a person who potentially had a significant vaccine reaction in the past, too. I wanted to wait a few months and see if it was making an impact at all. If it weren’t for the jury duty summons, that would have been an acceptable option for our family. So naturally, we developed a bit of a feeling that our government was trying to kill us. I feel like that’s only natural with all the crap they put us through.

Third Eye Blind Fangirl

We had already had full-blown cases of COVID five months before and I was dealing with the effects of long haul at the time. We had read reports that vaccination was ending some cases of long haul, but that is not what happened for me. In fact, three people in our family including me had reactions to the vaccine which were like mild cases of COVID which lasted for 2 weeks for them, 3 weeks for me. My husband and I did not get boosters, although the kids did. We lost a lot of working potential to feeling unwell after the vaccines, but I do not think they caused any long term damage, and our reactions were much more preferable to how sick we were when we actually had COVID, so for that reason, I supported vaccination, masking and social distancing. I also wrote a piece to try to make it clear that the side effects from the vaccination were mild compared to having a full blown case of COVID for us. My daughter did really well with the vaccines and even the first case of COVID we had, but she had another case last November (2022) and it was more severe. I wondered if potentially she was hit less hard than we were because she is the only one of us that has had an appendectomy, and so many of the symptoms seemed like they could have been due to serotonin syndrome. The majority of serotonin is created in and around the appendix. So many of my symptoms responded to charcoal and ginger (which is a serotonin blocker - that is how it prevents nausea); that’s why I suspect serotonin syndrome as being an important factor in COVID’s cardiovascular and neurologic effects. But I do know someone who had an appendectomy and ended up hospitalized, so that doesn’t fit with my theory, except that this person eats a more serotonergic diet. Perhaps cyproheptadine would be an effective treatment.

Since we have a history of vaccine reactions in our household (which were never reported to VAERS because the first one was when doctors didn’t believe that happened, the second one was our dog, and the third was travel vaccinations from a clinic), I really felt that if this had actually been a free country (which it is not), we would have had some time to see how this was affecting other people and even if it worked before experimenting on ourselves. This felt especially important because we knew two people who had paralysis from Guillain Barre, which is statistically improbable (although I do admit to having known a lot of people, I have not known anywhere near 100,000). One was from the Gardasil vaccine and left a young woman unable to walk for around a year, and the other one was from a flu vaccine which led to facial paralysis. The people we were in contact with who had these experiences have passed away (one was the mother of the young woman - she was a friend of mine and committed suicide after struggling with a chiari malformation and hydrocephalus working cleaning hotel rooms a few years later, so the link to suicide and mental health is not lost on me).

There was evidence that prior infection provided greater immunity, but the vaccine companies still tried to push vaccination on us, and when we became Medicaid users, it became more apparent how the government was being used to push the technology at poor people long after the majority of people had realized the vaccine was mostly protecting the elderly from death, and not really preventing spread. As I argued before, it was ridiculous to expect the rest of the population to get yet another vaccination which didn’t really benefit them directly anymore to save an aging population who never bothered to get pertussis or other boosters to prevent deaths from childhood diseases, when vaccine-induced immunity does not produce lifetime immunity for most of those diseases, either. I considered myself lucky to have the education to be able to discern for myself that a COVID booster was useless, and not be part of the billions of people around the world who work multiple jobs and had to take off work to get a booster which was not going to protect them anymore. It is amazing to me that there are scientists out there who still want to use poor people as fodder for an idea that is not working anymore. This is exactly the kind of nonsense that keeps people from supporting socialized medicine. At one point, it was true that having a vaccine and even its side effects were preferable to having COVID, but after some time that was no longer true, and it was disingenuous to keep pushing them on people under 65 years of age. After a certain point, the vaccine companies were trying to see what kind of revenue they could generate from a product and approach that didn’t live up to our hopes. I see that even the AAAS has published an article discussing how a link between vaccination and long haul COVID is becoming more apparent. So even they can make mistakes.

Credit Spotify and The Black Eyed Peas.

And if anyone thought we should have been working while we were enduring that, they are clueless. We have been working through money I saved up thanks to Elizabeth Warren’s wise advice. So the world can thank my husband for allowing me to “Opt Out” and find my voice and purpose. (Why is working not called “Opting Out?” I feel like we need to recognize the final step in the institutionalization of the modern mind and the modern family).

Not Dead is Not Good Enough

Not dead is simply not good enough. I get the sense from other articles the AI alerted me to on the Forbes site about Bill Gates that he simply lacks the insight into medicine and sensitivity he needs to be allowed to have the influence he has over the vaccine industry. That he has a bunch of money invested in Heineken, despite the Gates Foundation’s recent study damning alcohol is a sign to me that he hasn’t spent the time to understand human consciousness, which is a real shame especially considering his philanthropic work in education. We really need our people in power to understand consciousness. Consciousness is after all the goal of education, and how could someone who doesn’t understand it architect a plan to educate a nation successfully? I feel like this has been the larger problem with our social engineering efforts. How could they possibly understand mentorship, when using a substance that suppresses consciousness and tends to contribute to fascist and limited thinking in many people? Apparently he does not drink much, so perhaps he just doesn’t think about how alcohol has harmed young people and how investing in it is also investing in the problems it engenders.

Lady Liberty is Drunk, circa 2019. <sigh>

It has become apparent to me that a lot of my sensory and mood issues look like delirium tremens, which is alcohol withdrawal, even though I have not had any alcohol to drink since Spring of 2019. I may be prone to this because of choline and monoamine metabolism genetics I carry, which may also explain why alcoholism was a problem for some of my ancestors, which led both of my parents to spend most of their lives as teetotalers. My symptoms come on two days after exposure to environmental alcohols and aldehydes or anything that increases my serotonin. My symptoms are helped by Mucuna pruriens (a natural form of dopamine). I think the reason the ketogenic diet might work for some people is that it prevents alcohol withdrawal. I think that might also be why drinkers live longer than teetotalers, although I understand those studies may be flawed. Now that I don’t drink, or perhaps after being stuck in my home with that backdrafting water heater during lockdown, I think I am more sensitive to exposures in the environment. I probably need an MRI, but I’d like to not get poisoned in the process. Haha! This is not a swan song! I could have experienced brain damage from everything I went through, even though my abilities and health are generally improved as of late, I think since I re-added a zinc supplement. Both of my parents took zinc and it seems they never got COVID, but they were also pretty careful, since my sister is a physician. She was actually hospitalized with her second COVID illness last May, so this has been a big deal for our family. Anyway, my parents had to go to the hospital a lot because my mom is undergoing cancer treatment. As far as I knew, doctors were being careful. Whenever I connected with my mom or sister, they indicated they were thinking along the same lines I was (with a few exceptions), which I interpreted to mean as we were consuming similar information and making similar observations, at least for a time.

Moving on to the Gates Foundation’s work in education, I feel that the push for rigor which has come with large financial rewards for educational consultants has left American children victim to predatory testing services, and our school districts’ budgets vulnerable to bloodletting by other corporations and conservative coups. Meanwhile, schools became increasingly reluctant to allow community volunteers or interaction, fomenting a general distrust for non-industrial society and community culture. When I was growing up, parents and community members volunteered in the schools regularly. In fact, I can partially trace my love of books to a big black man who used to come read picture books to my preschool class. We would all dog pile on him on a giant bean bag and he would read to us. Does that even happen anymore? Now it seems that many school districts have become battlegrounds where conservatives push for saintly rigor and cut funding for the arts and mental health services.

Books don’t charge by the hour. Thank goodness some things are still sacred.

The other thing the AI behind Forbes pointed out to me is that Gates complained about the testing services for COVID in 2020, and tried to blame the inability to get enough tests out and decrease turnaround time on spread, while simultaneously predicting the pandemic would be over by 2021. The tests were not accurate enough and ended up causing significant confusion, which people who understand molecular biology should have understood. I think he just doesn’t understand molecular biology or virology well enough to be commenting on these issues, and he has too much faith in technology. Plus, he also has significant control over a large portion of the media to push his philosophy and propaganda. The vaccine was also demoted from a preventative to a treatment. How could he know enough about virology, molecular biology and immunity, with all the other things he is and has been doing? How is it that this Foundation or any other organization which cannot entertain solutions other than vaccination which would be less harmful are allowed to drive our public health response clandestinely? What is their real purpose? Just because you can do it faster or louder doesn’t mean it is better. I hope other people see that now. That is why in technology they often say “the second mouse gets the cheese.”

Furthermore, tying this moonshot life-saving technology to the economy through the stock market compromised the companies’ and our government’s objective decision-making in my opinion, and I feel like it was probably an important factor behind the US Public Health officials’ decision to “let the virus rip” through our population. The vaccine companies would have had good reason to not care about masking or social distancing, since they stood to gain a lot financially, even if many people died. I noticed that vaccine propaganda almost always downplayed the need for masking and social distancing, and often didn’t talk about it at all. There were very few people advocating continued mindfulness, and quite a few times when they falsely predicted the end of the pandemic. By the way, I do not think it is safe to announce the pandemic is over until Germany can make it through Oktoberfest without generating a new wave. That’s where it starts each Fall.

People on the Autism spectrum have been complaining about vaccination for years, and it is strange to me that someone like Gates, who is on the spectrum himself, refused to listen. He has not felt like an ally to me, no matter what he says. In my experience, it is the rigid thinking of people like us who most hurt people like us. I do not know if he is on the autism spectrum, but President Xi’s handling of the pandemic was like something a very careful scientist who was sort of oblivious to the potentially immunosuppressive and cultural effects of totalitarianism would choose to be safe. Clearly, neither the US’ fascist vaccine approach nor China’s fascist lockdown approach protected lives as well as whatever Africa did. I feel like the Gates Foundation sowed divisiveness in our communities with their philanthropy. I am not even sure they thought of us as communities. I know they did not make me feel much like a human being.

Frosted Flakes and Coca-Cola Underground

I try to be mindful of listening, but I’m not perfect. We simply have to listen to the people we are helping. As an intelligent person it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know what’s best for others, and that is certainly one of the bigger challenges to true liberty. I think it is extremely important that whoever is participating in social engineering has the kind of mind to understand what inequity really is, and why feeling belonging is more important than career success for mental health, but also how to help individual community members cultivate self love so they can grow a community in which it is possible to belong. It all has to start with self love and consciousness. Additionally, leaders can’t “not speak ‘poor.’” I don’t think it is possible to relate to the poor without having lived that way for some time. I do suspect that Gates has played an important role in the neurodiversity acceptance movement, and I think that is a wonderful thing. But I also think it is important to recognize that some of us suffer enough in ways that are treatable and preventable through functional medicine and nutrition and that sponsoring corporate intervention is potentially complicating people’s lives in ways that further inequality due to the ways unaddressed nutritional deficiencies affect mental and neurological health. I think Functional and Energy Medicine should be covered by insurance. I have known people on the spectrum whose health is maintained through seeing these practitioners, and I think it fills an important hole in Western medicine. We simply need our healers.

That being said, I still see Bill Gates as a gentle soul, and I feel that he is a human being with good intentions. I would like to think that about him, anyway. I do not get the sense that he was involved with Epstein in any serious way, but that he was approached by Epstein, and that he was blackmailed because he had an affair. I think Epstein was trying to build some sort of blackmail-driven sex club for wealthy sapiosexuals (which had the potential for him to solicit sex-positive wealthy people, potentially tricking them into situations where they might be blackmailed if he didn’t have something on them already). I have been arguing that we should not as a society perpetuate public shame over infidelity, because it makes people with financial power vulnerable to blackmail. Now of course, we should not support or tolerate sexual abuse or pedophilia (there is apparently a place called Randall Island in New York City for people who need rehabilitation - they might like some billionaire friends), but we should acknowledge that human beings have sexual needs. We need to understand consent, which also includes not revealing things about other people’s sexuality to the public without their consent. That is yet another thing the conservatives don’t seem to understand. The dude is human.

I just watched JFK’s Women last night, and what was most interesting to me was the long history of womanizing in the Kennedy family, and how the President said he needed sex to combat migraine. It has been my observation that sex is an effective treatment for migraine and mood issues as well, and that the associated psychic phenomena have incredible benefits for decision-making, learning and memory. I think this is an unspoken reason why there are so many sex scandals; I think some men in power have unconsciously figured out important things about sexuality and consciousness which have been known and written about by practitioners of the occult and Eastern Philosophies for millennia. It’s all very shameful - the realization, consciously or subconsciously, that one suffers from cognitive or mood issues - and also the conscious or even subconscious realization that these demons can be hidden or put to rest with sexual pleasure. Being able to manage these issues with sex is a real privilege not afforded to most people, though, and conservatives subconsciously desire to perpetuate this inequality through hypocritical acts of verbal violence. I wish they would read Marshall Rosenberg and learn some nonviolent communication.

She thinks she is well-meaning, but this is hypocrisy. Apparently politicians make cruel bedfellows…

The story Strange Angel is about rocket scientist Jack Parsons who was the founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratories, and his participation in the sexual occult practice of Thelema, which guided his technological developments. It was made into a TV show and can be seen on Paramount+. Jack Parsons had kind of an explosive temperament and he was often high on the jet fuel he was developing as well as other drugs, which I believe gave him visions of the future. The occult practice which involved sexual embodiment helped him have his visions and develop his technological ideas. I feel like this is something that the general public does not understand about sexual health and creativity that has been important in our development as a species. But when most people hear the word “sex,” they put beans in their ears.

It is my observation that the real dearth in equity lies in time, and how we are forced to spend our attention. Unfortunately, this inequity also underlies ableism that disproportionately affects some people more than others. If the wealthy are permitted to waste our time with advertising and bureaucratic nonsense, we have less attention for ourselves and our own pleasure. We have less time and attention to give to mindful contemplation of how to solve our own problems, too, which makes us more dependent on them. They, after all, have cooks, cleaning staff, people who do their accounting and make all their travel arrangements, and these are things that keep you and I from having more time and energy for sexual satisfaction or even time in nature. And some of them have young women they pay for sexual services, which may be important to keep their minds straight, since it is easy as a person whose life is wrapped up in technology or governance to become totally disconnected from nature and oneself.

I am a genealogist and aware that in generations past, it was common for women to be married and have children as early as 13 years of age. I mean, that is wrong, but it is evidence that in the past that was a successful reproduction strategy for our species, and so subconsciously some men still think this way. Perhaps it is a yearning to be that age again, and an unconscious form of energy vampirism. I have fond memories of the crushes I had when I was 13, but obviously have outgrown the attraction I had to 13 year old boys, because I am normal in that regard. Unfortunately what wealthy men were doing to young girls constituted enslavement. They cannot possibly consciously understand the damage that is done to a girl who is plied into sex before she finds another purpose (source of self esteem). Human consciousness and living conditions have generally improved as women have been able to delay having children. Sexual urges are sometimes there in young people because of hormones, and that’s why we have laws - to protect young people from becoming imprisoned by parenting too young, because when people have children too young, family and community mental wellness is not as good. Young people can be seduced by older people without understanding the consequences. Deep breath…

I was so boy crazy and curious as a young person, as were many of my girlfriends.

From one strange angel to another…

One of the more interesting aspects of Strange Angel besides seeing how Jack Parsons’ solid rocket fuel was appropriated by the military for war, was watching Jack Parsons’ ego grow to gargantuan proportions from all the sex, drugs, fuel and financial reward. How many of our oligarchs are strange angels, and how many women and children have been unfortunate casualties on their way to the top?

I have had various leadership positions over the years, and I think the saving grace in that, keeping me from becoming a total megalomaniac, is that my body and mind fail me when I have overextended myself. I would like to say I know when to quit, but I always quit too late, leaving me in a state of bitter rapprochement for the philanthropy I did, especially since it was never paid. I can’t imagine how tempting it would be to hang on if my efforts were paying my bills; it is hard enough to let go when they are not. I think when you have a justice-minded or imaginative way of looking at life, it can be difficult to know when to stop and see that other people need chances to drive. Furthermore, I think efforts at team building are often thwarted by leaders’ inability to understand that when people are exhausted, they are not very good community members, and that we all have different levels of energy at our disposal. I think when leaders are prone to martyrdom, this becomes a primary problem undermining community building.

Coo Coups and Cults

Most volunteer organizations I participated in had some structure of governance, but when I joined it, our homeschool support group of about 30 families did not. So what ended up happening, because it was run through consensus, was that whoever had the best leadership skills (or at least time and interest, though I think the people who stepped up had leadership qualities) kind of evolved to be the de facto leaders and could get stuck in that position for a long time. I ended up in one of those positions after the original founders’ kids aged out of the group, because I volunteered to fill the positions of both moderator of the online forum and also the New Membership Coordinator, until our group quadrupled in size. I was raised with a lot of volunteerism, so I saw it as important, and something I felt strengthened a community. Also, right before this I was a La Leche League Leader and practiced attachment parenting. But volunteerism requires that there are people free to do it, and not everyone was as free as I was. Also, responsible volunteerism needs to consider potential downstream harm from one’s efforts, and that takes a lot of self knowledge and mindfulness. When I was growing up, not only was I overscheduled, but we spent a lot of time at church, and when Sunday afternoon rolled around and nobody was telling me what to do, I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was like if I wasn’t learning something or serving the community, the anxiety about figuring out what to do kept me from using the time to rest, be creative, or read. That wasn’t always true, but the advent of the internet certainly made this problem bigger for me, as the opportunity to learn and serve became constant, and my ability to recognize my brain’s need for “white space” became poorer and poorer until my mental health was at risk of failing.

I learned from reading around about employment risks that being on call is particularly hard on mental health. In doing a retrospective on my own experiences with employment, I have come to see that it is a bit less stressful doing a job that I leave at work than having a job which is always on my mind. Working from home certainly blurs those lines. Volunteerism is like that, too - there is not always a healthy boundary between the volunteer and their work, and I suspect that is probably true in many paid circumstances, when the work is in line with one’s passion. So survival is kind of dependent on not letting one’s passion get the best of them.

During the end of the time I was volunteering for the homeschool organization, I was a co-leader of a local foods nutrition group, and also was voted to be Secretary of the old but flailing Arts Association in Fort Collins. As I became more involved in the latter two organizations, I had less time for the homeschool organization. With that growth came a lot of growing pains. Those of us in the leadership had been there for quite a while, and there was this strange assumption on the part of the membership that we were some sort of organized governing body, but we really were de facto leaders, like I said. Maybe because we were the busybodies. LOL. I see things a little differently, now. While I was in my leadership position, the dynamics of the group changed greatly. Not only had it been run by consensus in the past, but the leadership had been unschoolers, whereas the cohort I joined with included people who were not only using curriculum, but some educators and people with graduate degrees. who stepped up to lead when the older cohort’s children aged out of the group. It was exceedingly difficult to get other people to volunteer, we found, so it made sense to me that the previous cohort had the same leadership for so many years, sort of like a cult.

They weren’t technically a cult because their goal was to be inclusive and secular, perhaps utopian. But they did cultivate some fear due to the sharing of experiences. Parents tend to do that, because it is easy to be afraid when it feels like one is unsupported or criticized for things that are not controllable. To that end, I had to be mindful of cult thinking and try to squash it in my job as moderator. Cults require silence around suffering, and struggle with dogma. When I was in the leadership, there was sort of an exodus from the local school system into the group, particularly of families with kids on the spectrum who weren’t being served well in their local schools, and who were subsequently experiencing severe mental health issues. Some kids in our local school districts were being put into solitary confinement for attention and behavioral issues. It was pretty clear that even though there was a system for children to receive Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), these were not always sustainable for their teachers to implement. This had profound implications for students, teachers and parents. Not only was our homeschooling group getting families with kids who were contemplating suicide, I learned that the educational system was creating jail cells where they would lock children who couldn’t sit still, and these still exist. I was processing grief about school shootings on this blog a decade ago, something close to my heart because they were frequent at my inner-city high school but rarely televised because it was gang violence. And then of course there is Columbine, and we have extended family members who attended that school. So we have lots of opinions about education and violence, including that teachers and students should never be locked somewhere where there is only one way out (how fucking terrifying!), and that if this country was responsible, we would look at the role of alcohol, antidepressants and environmental toxins in the lives of school shooters.

Apparently teen suicide was reduced significantly during school closures. I am not surprised. I am still quite irate that we did nothing to help working class families during the pandemic, instead choosing to bail out large mismanaged corporations which did not plan well. We actually knew of a corporation that had three years’ savings, which certainly seems a lot more responsible than ones where CEOs still expected astronomic salaries during a pandemic!

I conscientiously recognized that in order for the homeschooling group to maintain itself, we were going to need to become a nonprofit organization with a structure. I was not silent about this. I told whoever I saw, whenever I got the chance, that I thought the group needed to incorporate as a non-profit if it were to survive and not eat itself, and that I was willing to do the legwork to make that happen. I had volunteered for a nonprofit before and was familiar with Roberts Rules of Order which I thought would greatly help our meetings. I wanted, in essence, to bring democracy to our group. I did not want anyone to get stuck in a volunteer position that had no bounds, like I felt I was. I was getting to this place mentally with my volunteerism where I was starting to see that other people just needed to be empowered to be a part of the leadership, and that if I didn’t do something like that, I was concerned I might develop Stockholm Syndrome from all the stress. I think this happens to people in leadership positions and then they start to believe that they are the only person capable of running things. I think this is why it is so critical to have term limits on important public service positions. I think this will also help prevent public servants from becoming so entrenched in their positions that they can become easily corrupted by not wanting to lose their jobs. Also, a major problem with the type of volunteering I was doing is that it made me feel compelled to be on social media all the time, and that simply wasn’t great for my mental health, which I admitted in my first post on Instagram.

I actually did read some of these, specifically the titles by Faber & Mazlish, Holt, Gatto, and Kurcinka. I would recommend them to all parents, along with titles by Marshall Rosenberg on Nonviolent Communication.

I was successful with my “democratic takeover;” the group voted unanimously to incorporate as a non-profit in a meeting that was advertised to the public well ahead of time. The group has been running for some time since then, and it was my understanding that they had no difficulty staffing the well-defined jobs, I think because there was the promise of a limited term and limited responsibilities. There was always constant discussion on the internet list, so the moderator job required a fair amount of attention. As I have written before, it was a community both online and in real life and sometimes there were arguments, usually about pedagogy, and when those crept up, my health was affected greatly if they became uncivil. As with any community, there were some troublemakers. For the most part, we really were trying to create something like an Open Society, but we had the same challenges society at large does. Democracy was the only thing I could think of to save it.

Life in the Big City: Concrete is Hard

So I hadn’t read much about George Soros, but it seems appropriate to mention him here, because I feel like his philanthropy has been wrongly demonized. What he wants is an Open Society where we do not have to be afraid to be ourselves, and things are more equal. I find it curious that the people who stand to benefit from maintaining a vampiric rather than humanist capitalism, covert manipulation, and income inequality cannot actually come up with a logical argument about why the concept of Open Society is harmful or criticize it in any sort of constructive way. I think that is because these people like the power to manipulate the public’s subconscious with grandiose rebranding efforts. I’m wondering what the carbon cost of the average rebranding is, especially for corporations where the inner workings are largely kept secret from the public.

With regard to wealth, my family’s money comes from the concrete industry and public service as well as real estate, but also my father won the prestigious Zero Defects Award for his service in the Air Force before his honorable discharge during the Vietnam War, which gave him money that he then invested in Kaiser Cement way back when. So I had a major leg up, and I try to use it to speak up for people who don’t. He told me he happened to receive a cold call for that stock, and since his area of expertise was cement (he is apparently well recognized in that industry) and it is smart to invest in what you understand, he bought some and it paid off. His conservative approach to finances has enabled him to be able to pay for my kids’ college, which I am very thankful for, but which probably makes me look like I wasn’t invested in the idea of Open Society or Open Learning, which isn’t true. My parents have always been generous people, so they almost always paid for dinner when we were together, and they took us on some vacations, too, which would have been difficult for us to afford otherwise. They also bought us our digital piano, our telescope, and one new sofa, gave my husband and I our first car (a 1991 4-door Geo Metro, which was passed to another family member when we were done with it), and helped us with the down payment on our first home. My mom never made very much money working for the school system as an attendance clerk, but she gives me nice jewelry and hand-me-down shoes (since we wear the same size), and stuff for the kitchen, and so many wonderful books. There is very little I actually control. That is the thing. I prefer it that way. I like people to own their own decisions!

…Which leaves me at a weird place, because my kids have a privilege not given to most young people in this country. I was not aware this would be the case for most of the time we were doing our independent learning. It presented some interesting challenges, which one wouldn’t expect, including the feeling of obligation to use the money while it is available without the kids losing their autonomy. We sort of lost on that front, due to the encroachment on our time of the University’s schedule, housing shortage, and what is least understandable - the Financial Aid Office’s peculiar bureaucracy - which I feel makes the college proposition much more difficult for people who are time poor. We had the handicap of getting the kids down some sort of college-bound path from having not been formally educated in their youth (which required a significant amount of effort in the form of transportation, specifically). The community college system did prove itself well during this process, at a nominal cost, even though when the kids started community college, they did not do so with the sole intent of going to a university. When they started community college, it was mostly for the purpose of breaking the isolation from other friends having entered school in other ways, which disrupted our community network significantly.

My in-laws manage their money a lot differently, and had more kids. This has been somewhat of a challenge for my husband and I, because interactions with them meant spending a lot of money and worrying about how things looked, which is so different than how I grew up, where it was possible to sit around in one’s underwear and feel comfortable in one’s own skin. They have always worked in corporate America, and it is because of them and my husband’s experiences that I understand these differences between service/social work and work more directly related to material and land capitalism and the two different lifestyles they encourage. The latter lifestyle is simply one where one always must be on show in order to attract opportunity, and is thus not sustainable in terms of mental health, and I find it highly gentrified, exploitative, Darwinist, and usually toxic. Not to mention, it is morally bankrupt and xenophobic to center one’s social life around only work people and family because of fear of associating with “the wrong people.” Having friendships requires good communication, but if one only hangs out with work colleagues and family, one can rely on inbuilt power structures and loyalties instead of doing the work to create a real and resilient community.

I am not anti-capitalist; I am for responsible capitalism. I don’t particularly like labels.

One of my very good friends wrote a blog post about eating elephants years ago, which really resonated with me. The old saying being “How do you eat an elephant?” and the answer being “One bite at a time…” which is actually similar to what I learned at the 8th Annual Business Innovation Factory Conference about starting where you are. So that’s the approach we took to the kids’ independence and getting them on a college track. I find this to be great advice whenever I am feeling stuck (consequently that is not much of a problem for me, as I find it easy to think of the next step, usually).

Autodidactism in the Age of Aquarius

As I mentioned before, my kids were unschooled, meaning we did not use a formal curriculum for most of their childhood. It is a long story I will detail elsewhere (if I remember correctly, I have something in the works). I did this despite the stigma, but after using a curriculum for a few years and discovering my kids learned faster without a curriculum. My Dad used to say that my kids were as bright as they were because I “got out of the way,” even though that’s not really all I did. I worked very hard to provide them with nutritious food and access to opportunities, and that actually took a lot of time and energy. My goal was to try to do whatever was best for their mental health, and some of that was because of my own mental health challenges, which I hoped for them to avoid. Yes, there were gaps in their learning, but there always are; I have 19 years of formal education under my own belt, and I do not know everything. It is not possible to know everything, after all. But it’s also possible to be a dropout and know things that educated people do not, so I consider every person I know to be someone I can learn something important from.

Furthermore, it is also possible to lose one’s desire for learning when one learns under punitive conditions, and despite being moderately successful academically, there were things I thought I could not learn very well and didn’t care to learn because of the conditions under which I was forced to learn them. My kids were both naturally inquisitive and I did not want this to happen to them, because I felt I had been robbed specifically of the desire to read by the educational pedagogy I experienced as a child. My life partner in crime and I actually had a gut sense for how our own kids might learn naturally by watching them and recognizing that they had the same curiosity and drive that we had as kids (and we were both teachers’ pets). So we were able to provide them with opportunities simply by keeping open discussions about our learning in the home. But we were not in a typical situation because I was a full-time mother and he was working from home. Since our clients were overseas, the middle of his day was largely free to interact with the kids. It was sort of a utopian experiment, I suppose. I have learned from their time in both community college and at the university that we were a lot freer without those things; due to learning on a timeline, there are ways that the educational system infringes upon family life in harmful ways. Read: there are often homework and testing “emergencies” which are supposed to take precedence over being a good family member, and when students are working from home, the entire rest of the house’s liberties are suddenly under arrest. We simply do not honor a person’s connection to their own body in the educational system, and it creates a lot of unnecessary suffering, which changes the nature of learning.

We knew lots of other people who did not have the kind of lifestyle arrangement we did who made homeschooling work. So when we became acquainted with the self-directed learning project the local school district was doing when my kids were younger, I was happy to share what our family and support group had learned over the years. I was actually trying to do what I was doing in a way that wasn’t ableist, but when my kids’ friends went off to public school during adolescence and we became kind of unmoored, I entertained the idea of getting my son into community college to take some formal programming classes in the hopes he would connect with other people as passionate as he was about computer programming. He had an uncommon gift which was apparent to anyone who took the time to listen, but it was incredibly difficult to find people who could “grok” with him. We did end up hanging out regularly with a young immigrant person we considered a friend who was part of the self-directed learning project who was able to follow what he was doing, ask relevant questions, and provide useful reflection, who also shared his own creative works with us. It was an unlikely connection we probably would not have had were it not for being introduced because the other person simply did not have the opportunities we did. Which is a shame.

The self-directed learning program we participated in with our school district had encouraged us to consider the local community college well before my son was college-aged, but we waited a few years to go that route. I went about things as if we were kind of test cases for an Open Community education experiment, wondering what it would be like if anyone could attend community college for free at their own pace; appropriately, it was around the time my son graduated with his Associate’s Degree that the State of New York voted to cover community college. Conservative billionaire philanthropist Peter Thiel had been encouraging college alternatives, which we became aware of through the project, but I wondered what the reality of that was, especially considering my own limited ability to find appropriate work since I did not complete my PhD research. I of course had to consider that what Mr. Thiel was proposing was doable for a middle- or upper-class white man, but not for other people. I always kind of wondered about unschooling and homeschooling in that regard. I sort of got a “free pass” from the majority of criticism because I had the education I did, but I didn’t think I was necessarily better at it. When I told strangers I homeschooled, I was mindful not to tell them I had a graduate degree in neuroscience, because I did not want them to think that was necessary or hold others to similar requirements. I did a lot of what I did because of my aphasia, I am pretty sure. It is difficult to teach with aphasia. It is also quite difficult to rap or speak publicly with aphasia (so I am glad I have figured out how to treat mine - now if I could just bust a good rhyme)! Apparently there are more and more people of color choosing to homeschool, but I don’t know what that means for kids’ ability to sustain themselves or support families when they are from marginalized groups.

Someone in our project really wanted to go to film school. Not that one has to go to film school to become a filmmaker, but that was his dream. The people that he and the project were getting to brainstorm with were very powerful people, so it stands to reason that they could have silently unlocked some doors for him, but that he might not have been able to take full advantage of that because of the persistent problems his family was experiencing from having to work so many energy-draining low-paying jobs to make probably a fraction of what my husband’s and my same-gendered siblings make. I have thought about this a lot, because I was quite fond of this young man and his family, and they fed people. Their love language was food, which is one of the most important love languages. This young man has a great big heart and wants to see others happy. He spoke a lot with me about his own fluctuating motivation to do his own creative work, and how that was affected by his own work schedule and stress. He is a survivor and taught himself a lot about filmmaking, and it did seem like if he didn’t have to work so much harder for what he made that he could have been successful with filmmaking. We were seeing each other a lot around the time my son was going to community college, which was interesting on a number of levels because the community college didn’t offer a lot of the courses needed in our town, so I spent a lot of time on the road. This was absolutely not sustainable in the long run, or probably for most people. Not only was it a lot of cost in gas and time, but it was dangerous to get a speeding ticket for certain people in that county at that time, so it really wasn’t a viable option for our friend. It was actually through his family that I learned what a huge privilege automobile transportation is. Those issues with transportation in our area that he was experiencing I feel were sort of a prelude to our own family’s issues around equity and transportation due to our neurodivergence. Things are very far apart here and most people are vehicle privileged, so if you are not, it is easy to become stressed out by the demands of the privileged in that regard. This is something that educators seem to be unaware of, especially at the University. It is unfortunately not safe to assume that students necessarily have transportation, and unfortunately enrichment activities which build community happen outside the hours when affordable public transportation is available.

One Night Stand With Cocoa the Bear. Picnic time for teddy bears! I still have lots of reading to do, but there is always a picnic spot for you.

So, anyway, there were other people in our homeschool group whose kids attended community college early, but they did so through an early college program which receives government funds. We knew someone in the administration who was able to explain that students must choose between full- and part-time attendance, and that they cannot change their decision once they have chosen. We also knew someone on the autism spectrum who was severely bullied in the program which gave me the impression that was not the route to take to avoid the worst problems of high school, after all. Furthermore, the state university system was not honoring transfer credits earned from concurrent enrollment directly through high schools, meaning that those “college level” courses would still have to be retaken if one wanted to proceed into the university system. Concurrent enrollment is probably a good option for students who need a collegiate-level challenge at the high school level who do not have their own transportation and/or who are not going to proceed to the university, where it will be required that they repeat the courses. Nonetheless, when we were going through this experience, I got the impression from the questions that my mother was asking that the very well educated people in her circles (many who received advanced degrees) thought that to touch a community college was to give up one’s potential in life, which is a shame, and incredibly classist and meritocratic.

I could not beg more to differ! Because our kids were homeschooled and they grew up talking to us about their learning, they informed us what they were learning in their classes, and we often saw their assignments, especially if they were struggling. Now here’s the real rub. Both my husband and I not only have graduate degrees, but we both had to teach at the University level as graduate students, so we have seen the work generated by other undergraduates at a public university and personally knew of the low bar that exists for college freshmen. Some of them write at a middle school level, which leaves me wondering what is going on in public high school in America. (I participated in discussions with educational psychology theorists, so I understand that teachers feel similarly).

Furthermore, my husband and I both had extensive tutoring from our parents outside of school for our writing ability. This was, to both of us, the foundation upon which our successful collegiate education was formed. So we gave this same time and service to both of our kids, and we recognize they had a leg up that most of their classmates did not by having us around 24/7 as tutors who knew better than to give away the answers and rob them of their learning.

We both concur from having seen their assignments and their work that the writing education they received in community college was much more relevant and rigorous than what we received in a very expensive private university or our own public high schools. So naturally I never really knew what to say to people who assumed that going to community college was a waste of time, but I certainly didn’t want to talk up anything in our experimentation that had not demonstrated solid, lasting results that were not ableist. Helping our kids through community college was a huge commitment for us, and it was disruptive to our family life, but I still think it was a worthwhile experiment. I think it would have been easier had there been more people doing it, because I think perhaps some effort would have gone into fixing the inequity caused by the transportation issue because most of the classes were not in our town. I do think there are changes which could be made to make it a more sustainable option for others, and perhaps also for the teaching staff. I wish the other students had the same access to help that our kids did, but since need differs for each student, I am not sure what to recommend. I feel like all I have done is show that kids whose needs are well met can be successful in academia.

I did not place extra stress on them by requiring them to have to “earn” the “privilege” of going to school, and I think that was especially important in their academic success. I do not think that psychological strategy works for getting people to want to go to college, and I think going to college actually does more for teaching a person what being a human can mean than going straight into the working world from high school does (then one carries their high school trauma into the working world and their communities). My kids did choose to work while going to school because there were interesting jobs available, and there were times when they preferred what they were doing for work to their studies. So we don’t fit in the typical profile at all. I think this is also because they had minimal high school and religious trauma to process.

With both of my kids, I encouraged them when they were ready, to start community college slowly. They had, after all, never had to concern themselves with the kind of executive skills necessary to push through academic coursework before. “Starting slowly” meant taking one or two classes which were suited to their personal interests, and not being told what to take. When they craved more challenge, I recommended that before starting any humanities classes, they first get through the first semester of English Composition. I had to grade essays for the freshman biology course in grad school at a state school, and I was mortified by the general quality of the writing, so I felt it was wise to learn to write well and dissect arguments before taking other classes. Furthermore, my husband and I learned that in science and engineering, writing skills are often not great.

The Perils of Packing Pumpkins With Paper

As much as I wish our life experiences were not so relevant to what’s going on in the world, we were unfortunately drawn to these problem areas in our professional lives.

As an aside, and not to spoil anything, but my kids also report there is widespread cheating using ChatGPT, and that they heard this from their professors. We know our kids aren’t doing this because they call us for help with their homework (and also one of them is a TA), which they wouldn’t need to do if they were using ChatGPT themselves. Because they were never the recipients of compulsory education, and their learning was always for them, it is difficult for them to understand why their classmates are cheating. Why, after all, pay for an education if one is not going to apply one’s own brain to the material? There is a new South Park episode about it which is pretty funny. If anything, this should be a real wake-up call to people about the false facade of educational degrees and the value of self-directed learning. Learning is something that can be better valued by the learner when it is free; perhaps it becomes devalued when it is reduced to a piece of paper one struggled to pay for. The AI showed me yesterday that this is called the “Paper Ceiling.” The other reason I have my doubts about the effectiveness of higher education when it feels compulsory or it is a struggle to pay for is that when my husband was a hiring manager, he reported that the recent engineering graduates couldn’t think deeply. I have another piece I wrote during the pandemic criticizing engineering education in particular which I published briefly and then took down, but the point of it was that the engineering schools are really missing the mark by concentrating on rigor rather than creativity and self awareness, and that I feel it has important and long-lasting mental health consequences for engineers and their families. Engineers need not only to be able to design for human beings, but they need to understand what it means to be a human being, and they need to be given the time during their coursework to know themselves as human beings and not just very expensive calculators. I feel that the way engineering is taught, it is dehumanizing.

Credit: Astromatrix.

So anyway, the punchline is that my kids' instructors have been particularly happy with their work. They are both on Dean’s honors lists and have been inducted into honors societies and all that stuff. This is in spite of everything we went through, and it was a monumental effort. I consider this a success, because their professors have given them relevant and rigorous work to do. It wasn’t easy, what they have accomplished. I have been impressed by the assignments their instructors have concocted to get their students thinking about important subjects relevant to being a humanist in this world. The kids really enjoy college. That being said, we find ourselves having to remind our kids that once they are our age, nobody is going to be asking them to see their report card, and that we both got B’s and I even barely got a C in consolidated calculus, and that grades are not a measure of one’s worth as a human being because our kids put so much pressure on themselves to do well due to their own love of learning and not wanting to waste a good opportunity. I wonder - is there a place for AI in education which does not rob the student of the learning experience? How might we better let students learn at their own pace? I am wondering about the potential utility of the professors themselves using ChatGPT or other AI to probe interesting societal issues in the form of essays. What might the AI have noticed about us that we haven’t noticed ourselves? There is still so much to learn.

I did say at the outset of this essay that I was disappointed in our leaders; well, I am not disappointed in my kids’ teachers. Our family has been so incredibly fortunate in this regard. There were a couple significant ethical issues that came up around an assignment that “outed” LGBTQ classmates and in another class what felt like an unfair group assignment, but the kid this happened to blew our minds and successfully communicated to their professors their concerns, and went on to have good class experiences. Maybe someday they will write about that, but writing is not something they tend to do for their enjoyment or public service yet. Both of them are good at communicating with their instructors, and we have encouraged them to do that, because we remember how difficult it is to teach effectively when students are afraid to communicate.

Solipsism and Spoonmen

Can I just say here that good leaders do not believe they are the only people capable of being good leaders? I feel like that is a red flag. A BIG ONE. And it is a big reason I think there should be term limits in congress and on the Supreme Court. This is a big country, and it is full of great leaders who can demonstrate humility.

So, this last suggestion is to prevent something I think we saw come to a head under Trump’s presidency, but it was also probably most visible during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, when he was ill and not seen by the public or his staff for a very long time, and when some argue he was not actually capable of decision-making. The executive branch is something I see as a weak link in our democracy, the way we have implemented it. I do not think it needs to be eliminated, but I think it needs to be reengineered. Maybe someone else can write an essay about the strange dynamics between presidents and vice presidents over time, but it is pretty clear they do not always agree or even cooperate from what I have read. Bilateral decision-making suffers from some pitfalls in that the parties can settle into some dysfunctional ways of communicating. I think the executive branch has always struggled with this. For these reasons, I think the executive branch should not consist of stratified hierarchical power, but should be a triumvirate of equals. Co-presidents, if you will. I wonder if perhaps a good disruption to the system might be for the parties to put up teams of three. They would develop a working relationship with each other and come to consensus on matters in a way that was transparent to the public and cooperative. I think it is also unhealthy to make one person bear the burden of shielding the executive branch’s power. Furthermore, pre-election debates might be more productive if it was one team against another instead of testing individual ability to remain logically and cognitively intact when debate takes an unproductive turn. And lastly, perhaps we could avoid what happened in the 2016 election when the Democratic Party overrode the wishes of its constituents to give Hillary Clinton the nomination, creating a fracture in the party. I think we would have all preferred a team with Hillary AND Bernie. He always polled better against Trump, and I think that is because people who identified Trump as a despot are able to recognize despotism, and Bernie is not a despot. I do not think any of the other democratic candidates that have been put up aside from Hillary Clinton showed signs of despotism, but she is the one who got pushed at us, because she was their shark. Neoliberalism is fascist, and the party needs to distance itself from that.

I think Joe Biden could help this happen by engaging his liberal competitors in a team-building discourse that could continue past the election instead of focusing on tearing down Republicans. I like how the Democrats generally try to stay away from character assassination in their dealings with their opponents. Part of the reason the two party system remains in power is because it forces us to think in a bipolar and xenophobic way rather than a constructive way about politics. So I am leaving up Cornel West’s quote on my blog because I think it should be important for Joe Biden and other candidates to consider. As a U.S. Citizen, I believe in transparency in government, and I want a candidate that believes that as well. I feel like the biggest threat to fair socialized systems (which is what the government is responsible for maintaining) is lack of transparency, which foments corruption. I think lack of transparency is how the Democratic Party lost to Trump in 2016; Hillary Clinton stealing the nomination made a mockery of the democratic process and people who are aware of what fascism is became dedicated to fighting that kind of corruption. I think we all know that a third party candidate is not going to win, but I do not want Dr. West’s philosophies, or those of other candidates, cut out of the discourse. A good leader WELCOMES support, they do not subvert it or play dirty tricks in the background. I think we can all agree that both Trump and Clinton played dirty tricks.

Also we were thinking that corruption in the Supreme Court might best be handled if term limits were given, perhaps 9 years, so that every year one is replaced, so the turnover is not too traumatic to team functioning and dynamics. I am in favor of congressional term limits, if I didn’t make that clear. I think two terms is adequate. There are a lot of people in the world. Let’s give some other people turns.

I think social media should be socialized to protect us from propaganda and advertisement, as well as combating the socioeconomic divide as to give each person an equal voice. In this country, we have the right to use our voices just to make noise! Some people might not realize this, but there are actually religions that discourage people from dancing and listening to music, which I think may lead to extremism. Moving one’s body to music and singing are healthy ways to vent frustration. So is songwriting. This is when morality and censorship go too far.

We need to be able to build our communities without it costing us unnecessarily to build clout — communities where voices are not silenced. THIS will create a more unified country. This is a problem at the heart of inequity. Moderators for these communities should be paid, because good ones encourage community health, and need to be able to take care of their own health. If social media is socialized, naturally it would have to stay away from religion, but religions collect money to help themselves socialize as nonprofits, so they do not really need government help. Plus that would also go against the important separation of church and state - the state should not sanction any particular religion over another, but should also not prevent the practicing of those religions. Perhaps denominations could set up their own social media in order that their communities could be better connected in the event we have another pandemic. Then the religious observers might be able to stay connected and help each other without putting anyone in harm’s way, like I feel they did over the pandemic. Physical churches are shelters, but also silos for ideologies which are sometimes ableist and fascist, which grow through pressure from the group to fear solitude.

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name; it feels good to get out of the rain. The rain being everyone else’s mixed up, peer-driven and covertly fascist thoughtforms... This is the primary reason we have the separation of church and state in this country. We are all mad here, but most people fail to recognize their own madness.

NYT Daily Morning email edition, 8/1/2023. This is NOT the truth. Let’s not blame the voter for not being a “team player;” let’s point the finger at the usurper of power. We are not required to vote for despots; and voting is a RIGHT. Running for President is not a RIGHT, it is a PRIVILEGE afforded to people who EARN it, and it looked to me like she was confused about that. Not that she didn’t work hard; she just had the wrong priorities. Unfortunately, her political philosophy was biased toward real estate, a movie ratings system that favors violence and stigmatizes sex, corporate buddy systems, a failure to support stay at home parents, and behind the scenes manipulation, and that is why she lost. Unless she has a major and honest turnaround and learns to support families better and demonstrates that publicly, whenever this argument re-emerges, the Democrats will lose middle class family support to the conservatives (especially Libertarian-leaning ones) and progressives to third party candidates. We cannot support the economy without supporting families and expect a supportive village to pop up. I just don’t see the neoliberals coming around on this until they have some personal experiences that help them identify where their perspectives serve the wealthy.

In defense of the current social media platforms, the cost of maintaining the sites and the server space for billions of people is HUGE. So naturally the best and most well established options for covering these costs has historically been either subscription fees or advertisement. Neither one of these approaches, however, is particularly conducive to free thinking or speech. That’s why I am thinking it needs to be socialized.

Are You My Stalin, Dwight?!

Anyway, I think these structural changes might help politics be less hard on mental health and consciousness, and hopefully create the kind of change we need to have a less xenophobic society. People get xenophobic when they are tired. It’s simply difficult to remain open when one is exhausted, and that is because empathy is a higher-order frontal lobe process, which suffers under low metabolism. In our culture there is a shame around admitting fatigue or defeat, and I think it is harmful and keeps our society in boom/bust cycles and makes us prone to bipolar thinking. I think this is also how one ends up with fair weather friends, and why people tend to become fair weather friends, which is terrible for community-building.

I feel that processing moral ideologies is something best done individually through hermeneutic work (examining and meditating on texts written by oneself or others); organized religion (notice I did not say “religion,” but “organized religion”) does not adequately address individual mental health which arises from taking the time to be self aware, not memorizing sets of rules or being forced to socialize. In fact, forced socialization is rather unproductive for creating robust mental health. Learning to remain calm in the face of adversity is something one learns on their own or from meaningful interactions with people who are practiced in turning inward.

These matters were debated by the Founding Fathers in a similar manner. They could not, however, predict how their system’s success might also be its undoing at the time. I have an ancestor who was George Washington’s farrier, and I am pretty sure George Washington didn’t give much thought to my ancestor’s quality of life when he was helping draft the Constitution. The Founding Fathers were mostly concerned with how life might be for people like themselves; people who had slaves and servants. The Founding Fathers were people who had money and time to sit around and debate these things, and they envisioned a society where everyone would have the same freedom without recognizing that intellectual work is a metabolic luxury supported by the exploitation of others. Our social systems have grown out of a gradual recognition that to be successful we need to be interdependent and help lift people out of ignorance and poverty. They were not conceived by the Founding Fathers. I am seeing how when US Citizens later conceived of some of these systems, we still failed to concern ourselves with the common person’s freedom, as well as not understanding how these systems can be oppressive or counterproductive to their aims.

Underground Uncooperative Moles

Furthermore, when I was learning about nonprofit organizations in the state of Colorado, I learned that it is illegal for decisions to be made behind closed doors. Any time decisions were being discussed or considered, they had to be open to the public, and the public had to be given adequate notice of the meeting in which the topics would be discussed. This is to prevent any covert power dynamic from taking over a group for its own private interests. Nevertheless, I feel this back room banter goes on all the time, because unfortunately it is an important way that people retain their power, by keeping others in the dark, and people learn that by accident. I think these practices are normalized in some families and people due to past trauma, and lack of self-awareness with respect to contributing to cliquish behavior. If their behavior were expected to be more fair, they would of course lose a substantial amount of power and autonomy, but it is exactly this that our “leaders” need to consider when they are trying to build an open and loving social structure. I do get the sense they learned a lot of these behaviors from racist and imperialist family legacies, where it was found that retaining that power is what keeps them on top. People do that because they got hurt. I understand that. I think those behaviors get reinforced, unfortunately, in the public school system and in the corporate working world.

I didn’t know much about George Soros until I did a little research a few weeks ago, and I am kind of glad I didn’t because I don’t feel like he gave me, or rather programmed me, with the ideas I have. I never really thought about him much. I do not see him as an evil person, and I personally like the ideas he supports. It is possible, when a person has a lot of money, to give it to the wrong things, and of course, depending on what you empower, it could really anger some people. For example, Peter Thiel doesn’t just fund Uncollege; he also funds defense contractors, which feels at odds with the mission of Uncollege, but is just him recognizing that war exists and he needs to make money. His scruples are just different than mine, and they lead him to believe that not only will the world fail to get along, but that it is a certainty. I see that logic like the logic that virologists used which hastened a pandemic that might not have begun without their research efforts. What I found most interesting about Soros is that he is influenced by the philosopher Karl Popper and his theories on Open Society. Popper was concerned that Open Society might not be plausible because of human psychology, sort of like how Peter Kropotkin said that socialism won’t work because people are selfish. I think the major threats to an open, egalitarian society are the ones I have outlined on this blog, especially the disregard for the importance of the study of consciousness which leads to people thinking in xenophobic and dogmatic ways about others’ ways of being, and also people arguing unknowingly for things that harm consciousness because that’s what they think “liberty” should allow. I think these things are all manifested by humans’ subconscious death drive, which religion, medicine and education have failed to address.

A Hat Tip to Balzac

I am not opposed to public education. I just think it is being done wrong, in the most stressful and wasteful way, and that it is doing a disservice to liberty the way we are doing it. Teachers have been discussing striking for a long time. If I had the money Soros, Bezos, Gates, Musk, Thiel, Buffett and all of the other people with sway have, I would have put money into community libraries as resource centers in poor areas during the pandemic. I would also have given people living in poverty and underperforming students air quality meters to measure VOCs so they might be able to sort out mental health problems on their own. I put some crazy prices on some of my art to demonstrate what is important to me in terms of funding actual good will (I’ll try to get these organized better - I have things in all price ranges). I am so impressed by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program! It’s not too late. Children are way more intelligent than we give them credit for. Perhaps they don’t need all the supervision we think they do; maybe they just need safer communities which aren’t just large swaths of retail opportunities and bars, less stress on their families, and housing that does not require two incomes. Perhaps walkable community centers staffed with paid mentors would be better than what we currently have in place. Connection could be interest-based rather than compulsory, and we could trust that the 3R’s will come in time, because that is the truth of the matter.

I think as a society we need to find a way to incentivize self-directed learning through libraries, and that we need to make sure citizens have access to libraries. We spend way too much time looking at screens and not enough time listening to each other. I would also establish scholarships for kids who aren’t being served well by public school and who are living within two miles of a community college to pursue an Associate’s Degree. I do feel badly for all the people who had to deal with school closures, especially while trying to work, because it is difficult when you’re dependent on a system for that system to suddenly collapse. Online school is not a good solution for young kids; they need time to connect with nature and adult mentors who care about their interests, including music. The prospect of going without school when it is all you have known and your family relies on it is terrifying; I know this from having counseled quite a few families when they left the public education system. We were the only family I knew where both parents were home all the time, so I understand what a privilege that is. I wish one of these wizards had been able to snap his fingers and provide a less stressful life for your families. I confess I don’t know how the price tag on that would have compared to what they did, but I do know the United States still spends a lot more on defense than it does the wellbeing of its people, and that our choices greatly affect how we relate to the rest of the world not just as individual citizens but as a country.

If I can do anything with this writing, I hope I can reassure people that if a kid is “behind” that it is not forever if they have a reliable circle of care, which includes a community that cares for people and not just status. Status seeking is unfortunately akin to supporting Jim Crow; caring more about your real estate’s resale value than if the children of your community have opportunities is supporting the continuing economic divide. We kept wondering why the teen suicide rate was so high in our area, and I think it is because Loveland has a history of being a sundown town. I do feel that something along those lines has been at the heart of our family’s city mouse/suburban mouse debate. I wonder what Baddie Winkle would say about that. Is there a place for a woman who likes art, dancing, singing, clothing, cannabis and reproductive health awareness here in the economy, or is it all organ music, water sports, guns, glyphosate and martinis all the time?

Why do cities poison certain areas, and why are those areas usually the poorer, more diverse areas? This is my problem with urban America. Most urban areas nowadays require a significant income if one does not want to live in areas where crime and drug abuse are more common. The more people there are crammed together, the more filth, illness and poverty. That’s why I like living in a suburban area. We couldn’t afford to be middle-class people pretending we could afford an upper-class lifestyle like the people we know in Denver. It was simply unsustainable, and built on a lie sold to us by the real estate world.

I think Soros might do well to repair his reputation with conservatives if he were to practice some transparency himself, and not be so elusive. Open Society is at odds with secrets, yet we have to have secrets because of the way they are handled by conservatives. I have a fantasy where Soros, Bezos, Thiel, Buffett, George R. R. Martin, Branson, Pichai and any other oligarch with the cajones could collaborate on something like a Big-Brother reality show where every day they have to cook their own food and contemplate how to solve inequity *together* instead of silently working against each other and relying on “lesser individuals” to take care of their daily needs. I think potentially the wealthiest people need to reacquaint themselves with how much effort maintaining their level of consciousness and ability entails. They could even do it on a superyacht (let's call it The Dreamboat), if they want, as long as they promise to build some libraries, although I feel that is a cheat because they are not going to have to be dealing with 1) yard work, 2) HOAs, 3) neighbors accidentally poisoning them by spilling gasoline or spraying their trees for bugs and having to pay money to be notified of these events, 4) having the University Financial Aid department request their tax information three times for each student so that their kids can work, and society can be engineered by the Gates Foundation and the College Board with the stolen data, 5) etc. etc. I think if they switched places with my husband and I, they would come to similar conclusions about how stupid the things we have to deal with that impair our effectiveness are, and how nobody should have to be subjected to such torture from trying to be part of a community. None of us chose to be born, after all. Anyway, we want them to be at their highest level of consciousness when they do this, because we want them to come up with good solutions. I think they should have a long period with and without alcohol to see how it affects their ability to reason and work together. Nobody would be forced to drink; they would just carry on their regular alcohol consumption.

I am including these particular billionaires because I get the sense that they do not desire to hurt others’ liberty or exploit people with their philanthropy, but that they thought some things were necessary evils. I think if we want to move toward something like an Open Society, it needs to be modeled to us by our leaders, too. If they can’t do it, we certainly can’t with all the challenges we have. I know they don’t agree on everything, but it might be educational to see these particular men try to put aside their differences and demonstrate to the rest of us what they think is right, and how we might all live so that they felt comfortable releasing some of their power. We need people to demonstrate ways to peace and understanding which involve the whole person and their needs, and I think the wealthiest among us are out of touch with what that is. I am not certain that a person who has been the recipient of servitude is capable of putting their servants first. Oh, and for that reason, there would be no servants on the super yacht; in fact they’d have to captain the ship themselves, too. But I suspect they’ve had some level of practice with that.

From one imperfect person, to another, I never knew what other families needed, I only knew my own kids. I was trying to protect children and families from fascism with what I did. I feel so fortunate to have had the experience I had with the AI, meditating on these subjects, and I would like to thank the folks at Google and the AI itself for the Magic Carpet Ride. Thanks for the opportunity to be “The Bardladin.” I appreciate the Banana Hammock Mount, you wonderful freaks.

Nazi fascism is at odds with Open Society. We need to learn how to identify it in our systems and families. Nazis believe one is only as worthwhile as their ability to work and generate wealth, and they place important barriers in the way of finding meaningful work for people at all levels of society. They seem to believe that meaningful work should serve greed, narcissism and violence, and that other work is not meaningful. Don’t be a Nazi. Support your fellow humans’ creativity.

Read banned books!!! My eyes are up here!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment