HuffPo: Texas Textbook Massacre

This recent development has me extremely enraged, in a time when I can afford no more of that emotion without bursting at the seams.

From the Huffington Post:

AUSTIN, Texas – A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.

The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum’s world history standards on Enlightenment thinking, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

Swiss-Cheese Morality

The concept of “Swiss-cheese morality” is coined by Dr. John Van Epp in his book “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk” which he points out could be conversely titled “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerkette” for jerkdom knows no gender.

This matter get’s my goat, in that certain kind of way. Speaking from personal experience.

A person appears normal enough, polite and appealing, but with time you become aware that there are gaps between this person’s very moral fabric.

They might hold certain standards quite ardently but when it comes it other types of standards they simply lack any ability to recognize their callousness and lapse in values, or are in heavy stages of denial about it.

There are little early warning signs: the inability to admit personal faults or misbehavior, hiding friends and past relationships from you, not disclosing important things that you discover later in a less than pleasant manner.

We are looking for phrases like:

Actually, I was kind of less than honest about that. It was actually more like…

I was wrong, that was a stupid move.

I got upset there, I can get a little hot under collar / frazzled sometimes.

It’s not about seeking out people who just roll over and immediately take all the blame unto themselves. It is more about recognizing a person’s willingness or unwillingness to confront the reality of what they are putting out there. The ability to link their actions with consequences, not just sometimes but all of the time.

Anyone can make a mistake, but some people appear to have “Swiss-cheese morality” in terms of recognizing certain kinds of mistakes. It is as if they simply cannot imagine they have poor standards, so they simply declare to themselves that they do not. Therefore, they fail to learn from the mistakes that fall within the holes of their “Swiss-cheese morality.”

“Snow Crash” and “Reefer Madness”

I have two reading suggestions for you today:


Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson

I have but scratched the surface of this science fiction novel that has been recommended to me many times over. I am fast seeing this book as one that sits in the all-time-favorite pile for me, as well as just being a lot of fun.

Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market” by Eric Schlosser

I have also only just begun to read this book but it is obviously a highly informative, if somewhat outdated (2003), observation of the American Black Market. This is the “unspoken” piece of the economy as a whole.

There are strange parallels between these two books that I am only just being to piece together.

The Failings of “Self-Help”

(Miss Pink Slip)

The truth of life lies in the middle, not upon the edges.

Many people as of late tell me things like: “stay positive” and “look on the bright side of life.” What I hear in these well-meaning words is: “stay deluded” and “ignore things you don’t like.”

Telling someone like myself to “stay positive” is much the same as telling me to “stay negative.”

The truth is most people saying such things have absorbed flawed and profit-oriented “self-help” notions that fulfill only the most basic and simplistic concepts while neglecting the raw and often cold truth of existence in the modern world.

Telling people that life rarely works out the way you want it to and that misery is a vital element of life as well as pain being instrumental in personal growth is hardly what people want to hear when they already know much of misery, loneliness and emotional pain.

Telling people, falsely, that listening to you will cure them of their insecurities and personal failings is exactly what people trying to break free of the doldrums of their daily lives want to be told.

My brand of “self-help” will likely never catch on because it doesn’t excuse you from taking responsibility for the world around you and where you fit into it.

The fact is, the people like myself who dissect and analyze everything before them cannot be effected by these flat platitudes and narrow definitions of living our lives.

These “sunny dispositions” touted by many are just a means of excusing that which is unjust and a method by which social tyranny is bound to spread under.

There is a strong desire in many to be “lifted up” by a “guru” who holds all the answers, and I realize these days that I am that “guru.” But this guru doesn’t care to wrap you up in fuzzy blankets of feel-good notions and instead seeks to destroy delusion while cultivating critical thinking.

This is not what those seeking “self-help” wanted to hear.

As my ex-girlfriend recently screamed at me over the phone: “I like it simple!”

She is right, in so far as that my personal ethic is not some quick little program to follow like a robot repeating a repetitive task or a dog barking on command.

People might have to exercise their brains if they wanted me to be their “guide on the journey of life.” One might have to make a decision entirely on their own judgment without preconceived patterns dictating their response.

In essence: you have three choices.

You can be negative, apathetic or positive.

I make no judgments as to which you choose, but I do ask people see that they made the decision in the first place.

What concerns me is that which is the greatest failing of mainstream self-help. That being your true, genuine and honest feelings and the nature of complete imperfection of self being not only ordinary but in fact more healthy than the denial found in purely optimistic stances.

This denial of self promoted by mainstream self-help is, in my opinion, destructive to a healthy psychology.

I say people need to be contented with eating stale bread if they want to be truly happy in the here and now. I say “manifesting your destiny” is a false notion that originates from people who know little or nothing of loss and dashed ambitions.

Some people live their whole lives without ever finding love or realizing even the most minor of their dreams. Perhaps you are one of those people. If so you would probably rather talk to me than those who accuse you of creating disappointment and failure by value of what a poor person you are in attitude and / or mentality.

Some listen to me speak and conclude that it is my sole mission to depress you into submission to my version of reality.

I would contest that it is more a matter of reality and truth themselves that are highly unpopular, more than it is something native to my psyche or message.

Statements like “love is never enough” and “God wants you to think for yourself” will never beat out statements like “love is all you need” and “just obey the Bible and then God is happy.”

Positive thinking is no more than a tool to combat negative thinking and I would never advocate against positive thinking itself. What I advocate against is delusional thinking and herein lies the gray area that quickly destroys my popular appeal and makes for the divide between myself and most every other person who ever spoke of these matters in public.

Also, some of my ideals are highly unpopular in “New Age” thinking.

Shame, guilt and regret are vital to good personal ethics and if we live in a situation bereft of these there is no consequence for our own ill behavior and the harm we do to others in the course of our lives.

The moment I heard the words “I don‘t have any regrets about the time we spent together” from my ex-girlfriend is the same moment I realized that we had grown so far apart in these years away from each other that the gap is completely unbridgeable.

Not all mainstream self-help holds fast to these destructive levels of personal delusion, it is important to point out.

One example is Dr. Wayne Dyer.

The concept of “excuses no more” is something I can stand behind fully.

This quote sums up what I like about Dr. Dyer:

If you tell yourself it is going to impossible and extremely hard to do something then you are setting yourself up for failure and if you look at it from the perspective of it being easy and completely possible then even if you don‘t succeed you at least gave yourself the best chance of getting what you want.”

That is where positive thinking and attitudes have their real value. You can increase your chances of success by taking a optimistic outlook and may well destroy that same chance with negative thinking but it is still just a matter of chance and circumstance more than any amount of “manifested destiny” at play.

Furthermore, I am a person that believes that more is gained by failure than by success in almost every personal situation. Or rather that is to say that more is learned by failing than is learned by succeeding.

What we must fight against is living static and / or delusional lives. Promoting this false notion that we all can have what we want or that we will all find fulfillment in this life will only lead a certain number of people to a dejected dead end that no “self-help guru“ can properly address.

Whereas my unpopular and mainly rejected ideas leave no one behind or out in the cold anymore than I myself am.

I guess I have to write a book about this…

Former-Evangelical Frank Schaeffer Speaks Out

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Frank Schaeffer

“In my evangelical days I would have said: ‘Well if you are not in the church I belong to you’ll be lost, maybe burn in hell forever.’ I don’t think that way anymore.”

“A certain type of certainty that writes off other people based on the fact you may disagree with their interpretation of some theological or philosophical idea is just crazy. And it‘s crazy for this reason: It’s got nothing to do with peace and love. It‘s crazy practically. Look, we are like ants–our view of the universe is like ants on a roadside watching passing traffic. We live a few years, we read a few books, we draw a few conclusions, we try to love the people around us and we are gone. Anybody who can stand up in the middle of this process and say ‘I am absolutely know I’m right about something’ I think is hooked into a kind of deadly uncertainty that simply can‘t exist.”


I could not agree with Schaeffer more in regards to the true harm in fundamentalist belief structures.

This “deadly uncertainty” is my only issue with the religious right.

There has to be some room for doubt or else you can justify the worst of crimes as simple religious practice.

In my view absolutes are weakness, and allowing for consideration is an element of true strength.

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Arthur C. Clarke: A Tribute to Genius

Arthur C. Clarke was a genius science fiction author.

I am in love with a certain short story of his found squeezed next to one I am far less fond of, but is still an excellent read.

The City and The Stars” & “The Sands of Mars” are two different short stories contained in one novel.

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THE CITY AND THE STARS The 10-billion-year-old metropolis of Diaspar is humanity’s last home. Alone among immortals, the only man born in 10 million years desperately wants to find what lies beyond the City. His quest will uncover the destiny of a people…and a galaxy.

Diaspar” is, in itself, a commentary on all society.
The entire body of this short story is like a large running commentary on the arrogance of humanity, and it’s immense value as well.
This place is like a real city in my mind.
One possible outcome of all human civilization. One of many possible worlds.
A place of stagnation via perfection. Tyranny via acceptance.
A world where truly original thoughts and adventuring spirits are not just silenced, but wholly absent.
For those who dive deeply into his work, there is much to discover.
Not only did he accurately predict advances in science by means of science fiction, but I believe he held an insight to the greater elements at play in our world:
The Human Condition

The Foundations of Society

The Collective Self


Video Links:

The Libra-Scorpio Cusp

Scorpio-webscorpio_zodiac

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There remains many definitions within Astrology in terms of the issue of the “cusps.”

Much debate between the hippie mothers and the Wiki doth battle…

Each net-source I go to has a different idea and notion on this one. No big shock to me. You gotta read those big stuffy books that don’t fit on your lap to get down on this vibe!

I’ve been told to be a Full Cusp in Libra-Scorpio you have been born on October 22nd, in the afternoon. Which is me. Think some of my own research backed that up … that was an age ago that I read books on Astrology instead of Astronomy.

I’m more on the scientific side of things these days but there is no doubt in my mind that some amount of truth lies within Astrology…

(From About.com)

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— The Sign of The Libra —

Keywords:

charming, fair-minded, diplomatic, sophisticated, artistic, sociable, clear thinking

The Shadow Side:

people-pleasing, gullible, passive, indecisive, gossipy, co-dependent


constellation_scorpio_art

The Sign of The Scorpio —

Keywords:

determined, intense, ambitious, passionate, formidable

The Shadow Side:

vengeful, secretive, jealous, manipulative, cunning, obsessive

***

I have often spoken of an internal war being raged within myself.

Two wolves … one white, one black. Fighting over the same piece of meat.