My joke file

Going through my Facebook posts and culling out the good bits.

“Hey, can I try some of your chloroform? ”
“Sure!” I said. “Knock yourself out.

Mixing levels of swearing. :
“Well boys, it looks like we’re just gosh darn fucked. ”
“I don’t GIVE a motherfucking darn!”
“Ow! Oh, I gosh darn hit my thumb with that darned hammer. Hurts like a motherfucker.”


Line without a script : “Wow, you really put the emo… in emoji!”

Some people learn to drink in college. Others learn NOT to drink in college.

Dear Voices.com :
What you ad says : “Hire Voice Over Talent”.
What you meant to say : Hire Voiceover Talent.
Your version makes it sound like you want people to hire people with great voices, not talented people.
It’s one word for a reason, people.

My next theatrical production will be called “The Punster : A Play On Words”

I’m not a depressed loner.
I’m an urban hermit.

Television has taught me that coming home early from work never ends well.

Me, at a ferry terminal : But Chris DeBurg told me not to pay till I get there!

Approximately how old will I have to be before I can justify being cranky?

I bet kinky librarians use the phrase “leather bound” a lot.

Father : Who sat the baby down on the cheque for the landlord?
Oscar, cocktail dangling : Looks like you… got a little behind on your rent.

I wonder who shows up when a collection agency doesn’t pay its bills.

 

 

 

Detailed outline for Paragon Episode 1

  1. Philbert and Yellow discover the clean underwear mystery
  2. Philbert and Yellow come back to HQ to report about this new case. This involves Philbert, much to Yellow’s chargin, insisting upon stopping and saying hello in every single department,. and voila, world-building exposition.
  3. The Director decides that the case has Paragon written all over it – ridiculous phemenon, obscure and banal subject matter. a genuine Fortean mystery that is just plain too stupid for anyh other agency to touch it. He sends the pair out to gather more information and/or underwear.
  4. Out in the field, Philbert and Yellow interact in a humorous way as they intercut scenes of them getting pair after pair of clean underwear and noting the size,manufacturer, style, location, time, approximate level of soakage, unique characteristics if any, and of course, the results of a full psychomtric scan. Yellow can’t believe that this is what he is doing with his life.Philbert just shrugs cheerfully and gets on with the job.
  5. Cut to the director looking at some large chart of some sort. Reverse angle reveals it to be a hug map of tghe city with clean pairs of men’s underwear pinned to it in various places and connected by various colors of yarn. He is staring at it with the fixed intensirty of a chess grandmaster scrutinizing the board. This culminates in Philbert walking in, taking one look, and saying “Oh cool, a double helix. ” The Director stares at him agape, then recomposes himself and says “Well of course it is. “
  6. The Director tells P&Y that analysis of the phenomenon’s obvious double helical structure reveals that the entire phenomenon is centred around a tiny three-machine laundromat in the back of a seedy mom and pop convenience store in a run-down part of 5 road. They are handed a dossier, and the last thing we seen in the scene is Philbert saying to Yellow, “Wow this really must be serious. ” “What makes you say that?” “He gave us QUARTERS.”
  7. Our intrepid duo head cautiously into the tiny laundromat. The middle dryer is running and making loud clunking and banging sounds like there’s a pair of boots in there, but when they open it…. there’s nothing in there! With some trepidation, they feed all the pairs of underwear into the dryer, feed it quarters, set it in motion, and stand back. At first. nothing unsual happens, But then suddenly, the dryer starts shaking and vibrating towards P&Y, backing them into a corner. Suddenly, the dryer stops, its door flings open, our heroes are bathed in kaleidoscopic light, then fade away.
  8. They reappear in a small, eclectic-ly decorated room shot at a weird angle a la David Lynch. They are greeted by the Great and Majestic Ruler of the Land Beyond Time, who is a sock puppet. He informs them that they were chosen by the Gods of Cosmic Harmony to be the agents of a very important temporal adjustment and that from now until the end of time, they will be remembered as great heroes by the Inter-Cosmic Government.
  9. The sock puppet says “And it all went smoothly thanks fo you guys remembering to turn the load size indicator to Large. ” “But we said it to small!” “YOU FOOLS! YOU’VE UNBALANCED THE LOAD!”. Alarms go off, flashing colored lights flash all over the place (or whatever cheap showy crap we can come up with).and there is an enormous white FLASH.
  10. Next is a a montage of shots of various pairs of clean wet underwear landing in placeds where P&Y found them, accompanied by bits of dialogue distored by weird audio effects.
  11. Finally, we fade from white to P&Y sitting in Philbert’s care, visibly shaken. Yellow asks Philbert, “Did… that really happen?” And philbert thinks for a few moments then says “Some of the time…. yes. “
  12. The car drives off into the distance, and the last shot of it we see is the rear window… with a pair of wet male underpants stuck to it.

Not bad for a first try.

I kind of made a lot of it up myself as oppoosed to implementing the notes. I found myself incapable of processing the notes at all. I read two of the files and I was hopeleslly confused. It’s too much information for me to process into a single coherent story. I had no idea I couldn’t do that kind of thing until today.

And now, I have a problem, because what’s the point of Felicity taking the noytes if I’m not going to use them? I’m going to have to work out some way of handling the info load. Maybe take notes on the notes, but notes that I can put into a logical order that makes sense to me. That would help a lot.

But basically, I am relying on my partners in crime to tell me all the important plot details I forgot, which ones I got conflated, and which ones I misremembered entirely.

That’s the world of entertainment. Fuck your ego, get shit done. It was humbling to realize my limitations in this field but there is no sebnse dwelling on it when the problem can be solved via collaboration.

And the good kind, the kind that happens with sane, competent, responsible people working together with a common sense of purpose.

Not like group work. Fuck group work, too.

After I get feedback on all I did wrong, I will do a further expanded outline, The kind where detail everything that happens in the episode.

“Bob asks Margaret what she meant by that. She laughs him off and accuses hi of being deliberatelty obtuse. He get very angry, and punches a hole in the wall. Then he turns into the Hulk. ”

That kind of thing.

And then I will do the ep. I am looking forward to it, I have a lot of fun ideas. I might ends up skipping right to the writing, in fact… I know that’s not the way things are supposed to be done, but I’ve never been good at doing things the “right” way anyhow.

I get it done my way, and that will have to do,.

Time for me to rest my rain.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

I’m no good at this

Fuck natural talent. Fuck it in the ASS.

And I say that as someone who, by most measures, has an absurd amount of it. I was born with a high IQ, I am amply creative and insightful and witty, and I have a unique and appealing kind of charm.  This means that  there are a lot of things that come easily to me that are an intense and difficult struggle for others.

And that’s the problem, for me and for many others. When important things like schoolwork come easily to you, it sets up an expectation that life will continue to be that easy, and that can inculcate a kind of laziness that says that the important things are the ones that come easily to you and everything else is not worth the effort, and that therefore it’s fine to avoid those things entirely if you can and put minimum effort into them when you can’t.

So basically, it leads to thinking that if it isn’t easy, you don’t have to do it. You can coast on that natural talent for the rest of your life. Anything that suggests otherwise is a grave injustice and completely unfair and cruel beyond all comprehension.

But natural talent only gets you so far.  Sooner or later, you have to work.

No matter how gifted you are, you are going to need to develop the ability to do things you do not feel like doing because they are boring, scary, stressful, or otherwise not the cool easy fun ride you have come to expect out of life.

People – myself definitely included – don’t like to hear this. They continue to pursue the toxic dream of a life without stress, toil, or challenge, sometimes unto the grave.

Life is work. There is no way to escape that. Not even with money – money can make things easier and a lot nicer and more fun, but it can’t maintain a relationship for you, or get you the recognition of your peers, or do any of the other things which fulfill the human needs beyond the two lowest levels of Maslov’s Hierarchy,.

Everything you need to know about human happiness can be found in this chart.

Learning to overcome mere mood and strive to get what you want is a foundational stage in the development of a healthy personality, and natural gifts can delay or even completely prevent this stage of development from occurring.

And that can have a crippling effect on one’s life.

People who know me know that I am talking about myself here. A lot of factors have gone into me being barely starting my adult life in my forties, serious mental health issue being one of them, but denial of the basic truth that life is work is also another of them, and I shudder to think of how big a factor it might be.

The stark truth is, I have wasted a lot of my life’s potential by thinking that if something was hard, that meant I didn’t have to do it.

And it’s truth. You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to do anything at all.

Unless you want to be happy.

For me, it started on my very first day of school. Most of school was laughably easy for me from the very beginning. The things that didn’t come easily, like arts and crafts and gym, were resisted with all my intellect, force of personality, and implacable stubbornness.

I really thought it was an injustice to ask me to do things I “wasn’t good at”.

And that’s the phrase that sparked this little missive of mine. A friend talked about how they were writing something but “weren’t very good at it”, and that got me to thinking about how toxic the whole idea of being good at something can be.

Because when you say you aren’t good at something, what you are really saying is that you aren’t naturally good at it – it doesn’t come easy to you.

That means it is not as immediately rewarding as, on a deep level, you expect it to be. You have internalized this expectation of things coming to you easily, and the implied permission to skip anything that is difficult.

So when you can’t do instantly do something well enough to satisfy this expectation of immediate reward without strain, you conclude that you just “aren’t good at it” and that means you should just stop trying.

Look at this way, it’s easy to see what an utterly absurd and unattainable standard that is. Nobody is so talented that they will produce top notch work the first time they try something. Not even the people who objectively the best at that thing.

Michael Jordan didn’t win his first game of one on one football. Stephen King didn’t write Carrie the first time he sat down at a typewriter.  Even Stephen Hawking did not show up for grade 1 already a scientific genius.

Getting good at something requires doing it without the immediate reward of total success. You have to keep doing it and take your reward for it in the sure and certain knowledge that the more you do it, the better you are getting at it, even if that improvement isn’t immediately obvious.

That’s how I have improved my writing skills. By writing tons of stuff. This thousand word a day blog thing is a big part of it. Some people might be able to learn how to write from books on the subject, but I can’t.

I have learned it by doing it. And truth be told, what keeps me doing it was the fact that writing gives me an outlet for my very deep need to express myself and that makes it well worth the effort and the self-discipline it takes.

So much of life boils down to “just keep doing it”. And people without a lot of natural gifts get this. They fully expect everything to be hard work because that’s been the only way they have gotten anything done for their whole life.

It’s only us naturally talented  types who have the luxury – and the problem – of expecting things to be easy.

Fuck natural talent. Fuck it in the ASS.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

Functions of belief

Picking up where I left off yesterday,  today I am going to examine how belief works in the human mind and attempt to correct some of the seemingly logical assumptions we liberal intellectual types tend to make about it that nevertheless lead us unto error.

We’ll head for the heart of the issue in a moment, but first, a simple fact must be established : there are layers of belief.

Our beliefs are not merely pages in a book, with all beliefs on equal footing. They are strictly ranked in layers according to importance to the individual.

That could be an article all by itself, but the layer I am interested in today is the outermost, lowest priority layer, which is the layer that deals with things which are entirely external to our lives.

Not completely irrelevant – then there would be neither need for nor stimulus to form a belief in the first place. But beliefs about things which are not part of our daily lives in any directly connected way, and therefore the penalty for incorrect belief is small if not entirely nonexistent. If you are wrong about the name of one of the craters of the Moon, unless you’re an astronomer or an astronaut, it will have very little impact on your life.

Being wrong about whether gravity works, on the other hand, could get you killed.

Political beliefs are part of the outer layers of beliefs. Not the outermost level, because our political beliefs are connected to both our morality and our understanding of how human nature and the world in general work.

But for the most part, being wrong – as in, believing politics which are not objectively true – is highly unlikely to have direct consequences on one’s life. There might be social consequences depending on where and when unpopular opinions are expressed, but other than that, the price of error is low.

That frees political beliefs from the burden of representing a true and actionable model of the world and lets it perform strictly psychological functions.

And that’s true for everything in those outer layers of belief. In theory, someone could believe that the moon is made of owl feces and that there’s no such thing as France and it would have very little impact on their lives as long as they kept it to themselves.

But of course, nobody would really believe that because despite being freed from some of the limitations of actionable objectivity, beliefs must still be consistent with everything else the person knows. That’s one verification process that cannot be bypassed without consequences in the form of cognitive dissonance.

So in order to believe that France is a myth, someone would have to think that everything they have ever seen or heard about France was a lie or a joke and that everyone who says they have been there or that they are from there are part of some enormous conspiracy to perpetuate fraud for unguessable reasons.

It’s possible to believe this, thanks to the miracles of modern conspiracy thinking’s handy toolkit of ways to believe whatever the fuck you want, but it would take a lot of work and would therefore have to fulfill a very deep psychological need.

Either that, or the person would have to be quite stupid. One of the things that makes it hard for liberal intellectuals like myself to grasp how someone could be indifferent to the Ultimate Truth™ of things is that they do not understand that the need for internal and external consistency in beliefs scales with IQ.

Essentially, the smarter the person, the more information can be mentally encompassed at the same time and that means that more information can be checked for consistency by the mind’s internal processes at the same time as well.

So beliefs which are glaringly inconsistent and/or massively hypocritical to us are less so to people of average intelligence. This leads to the usual sort of angst and frustration on the part of us brainy types because we can’t BELIEVE that people don’t SEE it.

High IQ grants many powers but comes with many costs. We’d be better off if we could make some sort of peace with our roles as, well, shepherds  for the flock, but that is too inconsistent with the noble egalitarian ethos of modern democratic society.

Back to the subject. Basically, my thesis[1] is that people’s beliefs are a combination of what they must believe (due to things like the consistency check) and what they need to believe because it satisfies a deep emotional need.

A racist redneck Neo-Nazi, for example, might believe in their racial superiority because that belief is what they have used to counter the massive amount of societal messages about their inferiority compared to normal, decent, middle class folk.

And because they have a lower cognitive consistency demand, the fact that those smug middle class people are mostly also white people

Somehow, when these Nazi types think about “the white race”, I don’t think they are imagining wimpy gay intellectual liberals like myself.

I must admit, though, that physically, I could pass for a big fat Bubba type redneck easily. When people think “intellectual”, they are usually not imagining someone who looks like me either.

It’s very common today for us liberal intellectual types to throw up our hands at people like Trump supporting Fox News watchers and declare that these people have divorced themselves from reality entirely.

And that’s true…. for a given value of reality. Because they are incapable and/or unwilling to change their minds based on new information, their political reality has to be absurdly flexible. They have no choice but to believe what they are told to believe.

But of course, were their concept of everyday reality so slippery, they would lose all ability to function in the world.

Makes me wonder what would happen if Donald Trump said that gravity was a liberal lie concocted by the fake news media.

Would they goad each other into jumping off skyscrapers?

Or would they finally snap out of it?

Good thing it’s only a thought experiment.

I really could not be trusted with power.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. I’m as surprised to find out I have one as you are.

My metaconscious is defective

I’m serious. The damn thing is out of control.

Quick explanation of the term[1] : your metaconscious mind is the part of your mind that monitors what the rest of the mind is doing and intervenes when necessary in orer to correct your thinking, prevent disaster, or keep you from making mistakes.

For example : if you have ever started to say something then stopped because you were suddenly aware of how rude or stupid or terrible it would sound, the part of you that made that realization was your metaconscious mind.

it’s also the part that lets you restrain yourself by staying calm and logical when you are feeling extremely emotional. By staying out of the emotional stew, the metaconscious lets you keep hold of your long term interests even when you are anything but rational.

But that’s the metaconscious working correctly. What about when it malfunctions? What if it becomes so toxic that it’s like you are constantly being prosecuted by a malicious judge who is venting his rage on the first available target.

Kind of like my Dad. Food for thought.

That is what I think my own metaconscious mind has become. It does try to keep me out of error – thank goodness for that – but it does so via methods which are harsh, arbitrary, excessive, wrongheaded, and just plain mean.

And it’s chilling to realize that your metaconscious mind is your worst enemy. It’s like finding out your anti-virus program has a virus in it.

Right now, my feeling is that I need to take a step back and view what this crazed lunatic inside my head has to say. I want to remember that what it says is highly suspect and that its judgment is anything but impartial.

And it hates me. Never trust anything said by someone who hates you.

This ideal of detachment is simple but hard to achieve. We count on our metaconscious minds to, as it were, look out for us and keep us safe, in the broadest definition of the word. It’s our highest level of day to day consciousness.

If you can’t trust it, what CAN you trust?

Well for me, there is always the fallback position of strict logical thought. It helps a lot in certain circumstances. When I feel like I am going crazy and all kids of wildly negative thoughts are going through my head, it can be very soothing to have an inner resource that can talk me down from my tree.

But for the most part, it’s errors in my metaconscious processing that lead to the self-loathing and sadness and abysmal self-esteem of depression.

The chemical condition of my brain warps its reasoning capacities when it comes to anything about myself. Statements that, to a caring but dispassionate observer would be obviously false, suspect, and downright wrong are accepted not because they make sense or explain the evidence but because they conform to my pre-existing warped idea that I am horrible and hideous and toxic and don’t deserve to breathe.

Against this chemical condition, my metaconscious mind is helpless. In fact, it becomes warped into working for the enemy, essentially. It guards the depression and makes sure to disarm, disable, or deflect any and all challenges to the existing order.

That order being the whole set of irrational beliefs about oneself that stem from this negative chemical state.

And depression has inertia on its side. The longer these irrational ideas persist, the more deeply entrenched in the mind they become. Eventually, that persistence becomes subverted into a substitute for evidence – after all, you’ve believed it for so long, it must be true, right?

And changing your mind takes energy, admitting you were wrong, willingness to pass through a time of instability in order to achieve a superior stability,. and all kind of other things that are hard and scary and that nobody is actually making you do.

Much easier to ignore the evidence and the testimony of those who love and admire and respect you and go right on thinking you suck.

And in a terrible and tragic sense, it doesn’t matter whether you actually suck or not. You will keep on hating yourself regardless. There are people in this world right now who are, by all reasonable standards, at the pinnacle of success in their field and yet they hate themselves and have the same ten sub-basements down self esteem as any other person with depression.

In fact, the distorting effect of depression is so strong that people will convince themselves that all that success was somehow fraudulent and unearned and that one day soon everything will find out how awful they really are.

It’s called Impostor Syndrome, and it demonstrates the power of depression. Even perfectly intelligent, reasonable, and sensible people who have had great success in life and have all the evidence of their worth that anyone could ever need nevertheless conclude that none of it counts because they still feel worthless and awful.

And the truth is that our feelings determine a lot of how we see the world, and even the most rational people will find that, if they look at the playback of how they made decisions, they will see just how little reason had to do with it.

They simply solved their emotional vector problem. The most primitive form of reason is simply a device that resolves conflicts between instincts.

Even fish have that. If they didn’t, any situation of competing drives would paralyze them and those little fishies don’t live long enough to reproduce.

The situation is the same with us big-brained higher mammals as well. That primitive part of us that resolves emotional conflicts makes a lot more of our decisions than anyone would care to admit.

How the hell did I get here? Jesus.

I guess the point I am trying to make is….

*spins the wheel of possible points*

That depression hijacks out metaconscious minds and that puts us depressives in the position of not being able to trust what our own minds are telling us.

And that’s a terrible place to be in.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Yes, I know most of you already know this. Indulge me. I am feeling didactic pedantic and want to explain stuff.

20 Fun Things To Do In An Exam You Know You’ll Fail Anyway

20 Fun Things To Do In An Exam You Know You’ll Fail Anyway

1. Instead of the actual answers, answer each question in the form of a highly penetrating and acerbic analysis of the professor’s character flaws and psychological maladjustment, as illustrated by the inclusion of this question on the exam.
2. Write a letter to your mother in the blanks. Praise the professor’s wisdom, erudition,
personality, and refined good looks. Suggest a date. Remind your mother how much she likes men who give her child good grades.
3. Learn obscene origami. Nuff said.
4. In the middle of the exam, stand up and exclaim “Ha ha, foolish professor! You cannot fail whatyou cannot SEE!”. Then strip naked while cackling like a madman. For extra effect, begin picking up small objects and moving them around while making spooky “oooweeooo” sounds.

5. Read the exam as though it was a deeply personal letter from the professor. Laugh, sigh,blush, and giggle. When you’re done, draw a big heart on it, hand it back, and say to theprofessor “Right back atcha, you stud. ” Then leave. Bonus points if the professor is female.

6. Hum droningly. When asked to stop, sudden fall silent and look at your professor with hushedawe, then in small voice whisper “You mean…. you can hear it too?”. Then resume.

7. Refute the entire existence of the subject of the exam. This is especially fun with physics or human biology.
8. Number the pages of your answer book in a widely spaced progressive series (like 1, 7, 15,22). Make sure each page after the first starts with something that implies the previous, “missing”page contained something really interesting and salacious, like “..which could only be explained by the size of his phallus. ” Page endings should be similar.
9. Read out each question as though it was a poem. Use a highly ornate Shakespearian
declamatory style. Or, alternately, rap.
10. Act all smug and conspiratorial. Talk about how you know have to take this “exam” (wink) so you can pass the “course” (nudge nudge) because you really need the “marks”. Then pass your answer book in with $2 really obviously taped to it. Wink at the prof one more time, then stagewhisper “Worth every penny!”.
11. Complete nearly all of the exam, then stands up and exclaim “Wait, this isn’t History of the Male Orgasm!” (or some other fun course to imagine) and leave.
12. Treat the exam as though it was an opinion poll. Answer “some of the above” for at least half of the questions.
13. Show up in your underwear. Complain about how much you hate this dream. Pinch yourself repeatedly, then progress to slapping your own face. Then go to sleep.
14. Write a heart-wrenchingly poignant plea for mercy. Cite family tragedies, illnesses, and
nobility. Beg piteously to be allowed to re-take the exam. Then, write the “outline” for this letter on the back page of the exam booklet. Include such sections as “Lie about relatives” and “beg idiot to allow a re-take”. End with “If the moron falls for it…. ski vacation!”.
15. Bring your significant other. Discuss each answer with him or her, out loud. When the
professor complains, say “What? They’re my better half. You wouldn’t want half a student to take your test, would you?
16. Bring a pocket tape recorder. Narrate your life in minute detail into it. “The poor, starving student entered the cruel confines of the exam, trembling in anticipation of another cruel and unfair exam at the hands of a man who takes out his frustrations with his lack of academic credibility and his latent homosexuality on his innocent students.”
17. Make up a highly intricately diagrammed answer for each question. Include map symbols, flowchart arrows, Greek letters, and a lot of schwas and ergo symbols.
18. After having filled out half of the exam in English already, suddenly start speaking a made-up foreign language. (If you’re stumped, just talk like the Swedish Chef. ). Claim, in gibberish, that you don’t speak English, and demand a copy of the exam in your native tongue. The only two words of English you know are “No English!”
19. Pretend the exam is really, really turning you on. Moan things about “yeah… test my
knowledge! Make it hard! I’ve been a bad, bad student!”. (How far you take this is up to you, but don’t sue me if you get arrested.)
20. Answer each and every question with “It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.” or “I AM THE LIZARD KING”.

Ten bullshit issues

I’ve been thinking about public delusions lately and that got me onto the subject of the various forms of moral panics that have gripped the world, faded away, and left people wondering what the heck that was all about.

And a lot of them do not stand up to the slightest bit of verification or logical examination. In other words, they don’t make a lick of sense, and they never did.

So I have put together a little list of ones I have observed in my life along with a basic description of why they were so very, very stupid.

  1. The Amazon Rain Remember this one? People were all over this bullshit. Someone would quote a number of football fields a day of the “world’s lungs” disappearing every day, and there’d be scary pictures of a bulldozer moving menacingly towards a jungle. You know, like this L

    Look out, it has a knife!

    But it was 100 percent bullshit. What nobody mentioned was that the Amazon rainforest is so huge that you could deforest at double the peak rate and it still would take thousands of years for it to have a noticeable effect on the rainforest, let alone its role in creating oxygen.

    Oh…. and oceanic algae produces most of the world’s oxygen anyhow.

  2.  Pornography

    It’s sad that the American right wing has brought this one back to life seeing as they lost so definitively on the issue the last time.

    Back in the Eighties,. Reagan put together the Meese Commission. They spent many years and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in an attempt to find a link between pornography and violence against women.

    At the end,  The head, Attorney General Edwin Meese, was forced to admit that they hadn’t found one…. but he was sure there was one.

    That tells you all you need to know about motivated reasoning forever.

  3.  Landfills / Overpackaging / Biodegradablility

    Another one with a stock set of tropes. A bulldozer pushes a huge pile of garbage to another spot in an enormous landfill. Pictures of plastic and Styrofoam packaging  littering the side of a highway. Talk of how fast garbage is added to it, with the clear implication that if we don’t do something right now, we’ll be hip deep in used diapers by Tuesday morning.

    Bullshit. There is plenty of room for landfills. Most of what goes into landfills is yard waste anyhow, and that’s super biodegradable. But even if that wasn’t true, even places like Tokyo and New York have plenty of room for trash. There’s no danger of running out of room. This was NEVER A THING.

  4. Illegal Immigration

    This one never dies because xenophobia appeals to people who can’t handle the reality of diversity and want a tiny bit of a fig leaf to cover up their naked racism.

    The rhetoric always goes that some group of immigrants, legal or non, is some how going to “take over” and force the dominant culture to live THEIR way.

    That’s as mathematically impossible as squeezing a lemon into the ocean and turning it into lemonade. A tiny percentage of the population cannot change a massive culture and any claims to the contrary should simply be taken as ready to be “I am a pathetic coward who is too stupid to handle there being a lot of different kinds of people who are all equal and so I am racist as fuck. “

  5. The Ozone Hole

    Another blast from the past. People got all freaked out over the fact that a small patch of Antarctica was getting unfiltered solar radiation. Like in the other examples, this small nugget of truth was then projected into the future via only the most overdramatic misuse of statistical analysis until it spelled IMMINENT CATASTROPHE. What do you know, the world’s about to end… AGAIN.

    This was also never a thing. Yeah, it would be horrible if we lost the entire ozone layer. But that was never a possibility. We could have tripled our use of CFCs and it would have only made the hole a little bigger. As it turned out, getting rid of them entirely was not that big of a hassle, and so we did that. But there was never any danger of a naked Earth.

  6. Gay Marriage

    See, not all my examples are from thirty years ago. This example is quite recent but it follows the same pattern of ludicrous claims exaggerated to the point of hysteria. Many otherwise sane and normal citizens somehow convinced themselves that society would go down in blood and flames if two people who happened to have the same gender chromosome pairing could sign a government document that made them legally married. Trying to imagine the mechanism through which that could happen boggles the mind. And here we are, in the era of widespread same-sex marriage, and what do you know, nothing changed. The straight couples are just as married as they were before and the only real difference between a straight marriage and a queer one is the quality of the catering.

  7. Water Conservation

    This one also goes under the category of “how the hell would that work?”. Some subnumerate individual takes the amount of freshwater in the lakes of the world, divides it by the water usage of the world’s population, and declares that we are like five minutes from the WHOLE WORLD DYING OF THIRST.

    And people start taking shorter showers, they stick bricks in their toilet tanks, and get pissy at people for watering their lawns.

    But the thing is, we’re not hamsters with water bottles – it’s not like there is a finite amount of water and when that runs out, we’re fucked.

    What anyone should be able to see if they have any sense is that water comes back via an exotic process called rain. It rains, the local aquifer fills up, goes to your house, you drink the water, pee, the water goes through the sewers and into the ocean, where it evaporates, forms clouds, and rains down again.

    That’s Grade 7 science people, and even if you don’t understand the process, you have to understand that everything alive needs water and there must be some reason we haven’t run out yet.

  8. Kids These Days

    This one has been around since the ancient Greeks. The lyrics change but the song remains the same. Someone takes some report of a few youths doing something bad (or even just weird) and blows it up into dire predictions about how the world is doomed (again) because this entire generation is horrible and sure to destroy the world when they take over…. which is ANY MINUTE NOW Aaaaagh!

    Every single generation has had this said about them by older people who can’t handle the fact that the world will go on just fine without them when they are dead, so they latch on anything that says that isn’t so and that their generation will be the last one and the world will crash and burn without them.

    And every single generation then forgets it did that and does it to the next generation that comes along.

    Oh, but that was different.

  9. Anti-nuclear Activism

    Has there ever been another movement that shot itself in the foot so thoroughly as the environmental movement did when it opposed nuclear power? And for no other reason than what amounts to “nuclear things are scary? ” By any sane measurement, nuclear power is the answer to every environmentalist’s dreams… well, the more logical  dreams, anyhow. Even via the old fashioned Homer Simpson cooling towers method, nuclear power has a microscopic environmental impact compared to generating the same power versus oil, coal, or natural gas. Sure, other techs like solar and wind can compete with nuclear now, but what about the forty years worth of carbon dioxide that got pumped into the air just because a bunch of namby-pamby art major liberal types couldn’t look at the numbers and realize we were way better off with nuclear? Sheesh.

  10. Terrorism

    Terrorism is not an important problem.

    It just isn’t. Terrorism is scary but that’s not the same thing as important. Terrorism kills way fewer people than alcohol, cigarettes, or even vending machines. The media loves terrorism because it’s very dramatic and visual and it makes it easy to whip people into a frenzy that makes them want more media. Politicians love it because it lets them get away with taking away all kinds of freedoms and not only get away with it, but get reelected for it.

    But it’s just plain not important. It’s certainly not important enough to let minimum wage fascists make life increasingly humiliating and aggravating for air passengers. It’s not important enough to justify anyone invading anyone. It’s not important enough to label some nations “terrorist nations” just become someone from there did something crazy and wrong.

    I mean, how racist is that?

    So fuck terrorism. The only way to beat a terrorist is to refuse to be scared. They thrive on the fear and chaos they create and revel in all the hatred and vitriol aimed at them. That just proves how powerful they are.

    Ignore them instead. Take precautions, but treat it like the rare bad thing it is, like a freak windstorm or someone famous dying in a car accident.

    It’s the best way to take all the fun out of it.

And that’s my list. I am sure there are many more – I never even touched overpopulation or desegregation – but this thing has already gone on long enough.

The main thing I want you to take away from this is that all these inanities have the same formula : a tiny or nonexistent problem is blown into a massive panic by the fact that it confirms or at least is consistent with people’s existing beliefs and the result is a period of time that history reacts to with a laugh and a shake of the head.

And all because people were so eager to believe this confirming lie that they never even gave one thought to whether it was backed by any evidence or whether it even made sense in the first place.

So here is your mantra for today, kids : there is no relationship between how much you want something to be true and whether or not it’s true. None.

And with that, I bid thee farewell as I have other stuff I should be doing

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

The tale of Philip the Ghost

It was like any other seance. People linked hands around a table and assumed a relaxed, open state of mind. . The spiritual medium called out to the spirit world and beckoned a spirit named Philip to come and answer their questions. And sure enough. the table rose off the ground and the group’s questions were answered by way of loud knocks on the table – one knock for no, two for yes.

It all went exactly like the seances you have seen in the movies and on TV. But it was different in two important ways :

  1. this seance was done by ordinary people with no particular talent for spiritual matters as part of a rigorous scientific experiment conducted by Doctor George Owens in 1973, and
  2. they made Philip up. He was entirely fictional. Before the experiment began, they had. as a group, come up with his name, his era, and his tragic biography as a man with a frigid and unloving wife who fell in love with a gypsy girl, only to have his wife discover their affair and have the gypsy burned at the stake as a witch. This drove poor Philip to commit suicide.

No such person ever existed. He was no more real than Sherlock Holmes. And yet, all the phenomena associated with contact with the dead via seance occurred. The participants swore there was no trickery or stagecraft involved. Observers found no evidence of fraud and many of them went away with their fundamental beliefs badly shaken.

It was called the Philip Experiment, and it rocked people’s foundations.

Seems like the sort of thing you would have heard of before, doesn’t it? Seems kind of important. But alas, this research was doomed to disappear for three reasons, presented here in ascending order of outrage : \

  1. The research was Canadian, and people don’t listen to us. Especially Americans.
  2. The forces of pseudo-rationality and false skepticism would want the research discredited then buried in a deep deep hole. and
  3. they didn’t document anything

That’s right. All we know about how these experiments went down is from eyewitness accounts. Scientifically speaking, they didn’t do a damned thing. ARGH.

Now in their defense, the experiment took place over a long period of time and involved a group of people who would become very good friends meeting once a week for years.

I can understand how that would promote a relaxed, party-like atmosphere that is largely incompatible with such things as careful observation and precise documentation.

But still. ARGH. Write shit down, people! Listen to this man!

Now as a few of you may know, my approach to this kind of phenomenon is what I call the phenomenological approach. That means that I view these things  from a point of view that does not demand that such simplistic valuations as “true” or “false”. Rather, it simply studies them as phenomena – things which occurred on some level.

And that is one of the fundamental tenets of my brand of parapsychological inquiry : that however we explain these phenomena to ourselves, they happened. These are not in any sense unreal experiences. If they were not real, we would never have heard of them.

Why? Because unreal things can’t possibly have any effect on real things.

If these events were not real, then there is no logical way in which they could have any effect on the real world. Something caused these phenomena. Something objectively real. Something you can point to and say “That did it. ”

Whether or not they took place outside people’s heads or inside them is another matter.

So something causes this group of people to believe in the events they described.  Whatever your explanation, the mere fact that this happens – that people come to believe they had experiences which defy rational explanation – is fascinating in and of itself.

From the psychological angle, what I find most interesting is how the behaviour of the Philip entity – which, again, was entirely fictional – changed over time. It became bolder, more rambunctious, more eager to show off what it knew or could do.

Now, Owen’s theory was that human beings can develop things like telekinesis if the conditions are right, and that therefore everything Philip did was a manifestation of the collective unconscious of the group.

The same sort of thing has been used to explain the results of the Ouija board.

And to me, that is the most interesting thing. Even if we suppose that all of the unusual phenomena had some kind of rational explanation – people were doing things to cause them unconsciously, say – the fact that a group of people who know one another well can merge their unconscious minds into this sort of gestalt is mind-blowing.

It calls into question our very idea of what it means to be ourselves. We live in a very individualist age and we tend to think of ourselves as separate islands in the same river.

But drain the river, and you can see that we all spring from the same riverbed.

As individualists, we live in fear of anything that threatens our sense of individual autonomy and identity. This brings us freedom – and isolation.

But what if we could access this collective subconscious at will? Bring it out of the realm of mysticism. poetry, and religion, and into the light of science and the everyday?

Imagine if everyone learned how to access it at the same time they were learning their ABCs and 123s. It could become a spiritual Internet, where people can connect with one another in a way that defies isolation and instead brings people closer to the sense of oneness that is key to transcendental religions worthwhile?

I think the first step towards that goal would be to gently deconstruct the idea of absolute individuality just enough to let in the idea of “separate but still part of a whole” into the public mind. The idea that there is more to human life than individual atoms of humanity passing one another in the night.

And opening ourselves up to the notion that there is a level of closeness – of humanity – beyond our personal circles of friends, family, and colleagues.

That there is a thread connecting every human being to every other human being on Planet Earth, and none of us are ever truly all alone in the world.

You just have to open up and let people in.

Take it from me…. someone on that same path myself.

It’s worth it.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

 

Ruling by outrage

We have to stop paying attention to the outrageous things Donald Trump does.

I’m as addicted as anyone else to his antics. As the exploits of supposed prudes has taught us, you do not have to approve of something in order to enjoy it. You can be vehemently against it and use that as a cover to keep enjoying it.

And I think we are becoming addicted to the shock and outage of the Donald Trump Show. And that makes us all a tiny bit complicit in his Horrible President Show.

And I think he understands that on some primitive level. He groks that his safety lies in keeping people shocked and stunned by what he does and that encourages him to keep acting out in order to keep us (secretly happily) shocked and woozy.

Being outraged can be fun, just like being frightened or disgusted can be fun. Outrage gives us a little adrenaline level spike and the feeling of utter righteousness that comes from the observation of behaviour far outside what we consider acceptable. This comes from comparing ourselves to the misbehaving person and feeling, very strongly, that we are way, way, way better than them.

And the worse the behaviour, the better we feel about ourselves. And because the bar has been set so low the bottom is visible in China, even relatively shitty people can get in on the fun of towering moral superiority.

Thus, Donald Trump gets the oodles of attention that any bratty child wants (remember, all the brat cares about is that it’s all about THEM), and we all play along by being shocked, saddened, or enraged by what they do.

And that means that we who oppose him have to get smart about these thing and refuse to play along with him by rewarding him with attention.

In short, we need to learn to ignore him.

That’s not going to be easy. We’ve been watching his Watch Me Do Bad Things show for over a year and we will miss it when it is gone. It has been rewarding us with fun outrage and the feeling of moral indignation (and hence, superiority) and it will be hard to give that up, especially when you know that there are  a billion people still enjoying it.

I mean, just think of how hard it will be to ignore the link to something awful Trump has done that a good friend posted on Facebook. Imagine said friend saying “Have you heard the latest about Trump?” nd how hard it would be to say “No, and I am not interested. ”

You would be so damned tempted to say yes, wouldn’t you, even though you know that what you hear will only upset you and that you have no power whatsoever over whatever it is he did.

You have to ask yourself why you would seek out such an experiece.. What is it you are getting out of it? What would happen if you stopped cold turkey?

Don’t feed the trolls, man. It’s one of the most basic rules of the Internet…. and the hardest to follow. Fighting with the trolls feels good. It help us vent our suppressed anger at all the little indignities of life in a way that has no personal consequences.

But the only way to cure a brat is to ignore them. No matter what they do. Even if you have to intervene when they do something damaging or dangerous, don’t pay any attention to them. Don’t make eye contact, don’t react, don’t engage, and do not say a single world. Treat them like they aren’t even there.

And keep it up for as long as it takes for them to get the idea and stop misbehaving. The minute they are doing the right thing, reward them lavishly with attention. Make it crystal clear that behaving poorly gets them ignored but doing the right thing gets them all the attention they want.

Granted, this will be nearly impossible with Trump. The media love him and they are going to keep people as outraged as they can because that’s what drives clicks. Every media outlet today wants to be your source for your next hit of outrage and is actively spinning every story to be as outrageous as possible.

And no matter how much we publicly denounce such shoddy and destructive journalism,. we still tune in, and that is all that counts in the long run.

The best attitude towards both the media at Trump is to ignore them as unimportant and not worth dealing with. That will drive them crazy and at first they will escalate their efforts in order to get a reaction out of you. If you do react, react with placid acceptance of whatever it is they are4 doing to get your attention. “That’s nice, dear. ” you say, not really paying attention or taking them seriously. Make sure your tone is faintly but distinctly patronizing. Never pay direct attention to them or treat them as important at all.

Of course, this only works if you can get enough people to do it to have an impact. In the grand scheme of things, this will be very difficult,  because I have said most people are now addicted to the Trump Outrage of the Day and most of them don’t know it, and even those who do know it don’t grasp the role they play in it.

I’m not sure even I could do it. It would mean not watching Colbert and the Daily Show any more. That’s too high a price to pay,.

SO perhaps what we need is a show that treats Trump like he is not important at all. That replaces “Can you fucking BELIEVE what this asshole did today?” with “Oh, and that silly harmless old man did something pathetic to get attention today. ”

Done right, that attitude could be infectious because it give people a way out of that cycle of outrage that takes such a toll on people.

We are addicted. But we are not happy about it.

People need an escape route.

Maybe I will build them one.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

North Korea is not going to attack

Let’s get real here for a minute, okay?

I know, for an fact, that North Korea is never, ever, ever going to fire a nuke at the USA. Ignore the media hype. Refuses join in the scare-yourself game. Detach entirely from what “everyone” thinks.

And most of all, stop worrying about. It’s waste of time. Worse, it turns you into a puppet of unworthy people desperate to draw attention away from their own massive incompetence and massive corruption for even a second so they can all scuttle away into the crooks and crannies of the public consciousness like the goddamned cockroaches they are.

Right now, Kim Jung Un is playing a game with President Trump[1]. Let’s call it the Let’s Play War game, or maybe Saber Rattling For Dummies. It’s a simple game. All you do is pretend to be really mad at the other player while knowing the other player is just playing a game and doesn’t mean the crazy shit they say either.

That way, you can convince your people that you are really gonna GET the other player without the slightest risk of consequences to yourself. And it’s such a rewarding game. It makes the hawks in your government because it feeds their desperate need to feel powerful and manly without risk of personal harm, and all at the public’s expense. It forces the international media to pay attention to you and increase your prestige by playing up what a threat you are (In other words, how powerful and awesome you are) and how you could destroy EVERYTHING if you wanted to. And best of all, it gives all the conservatives in your country the thing they want more than absolutely anything else in the universe : an excuse to stop thinking.

Conservatives loves that shit. Can’t think, we’re at war/in crisis/ scared of our own shadows. No doubts – doubt is disloyalty, and we’re at war, you traitor! How dare your question what our leaders are doing…. we’re at war!

Because remember, conservatives hate and fear uncertainty more than anything else. Doubt threatens to put them into a position where they might have to think for themselves, and they are totally not down with that.

Consequently, they ferociously attack any source of doubt. Absolutely anyone who causes them to doubt any of their beliefs for even one second is automatically assumed to be evil because it is the source of the brain pain and terror of doubt.

Every time they shout down a liberal – even the imaginary ones in their heads – they feel a great relief at having “won” against evil people deliberately trying to hurt them.

But that’s not why you are reading this. You want to know how I can be so sure that North Korea is not a threat. It’s simple : they are not a threat because Un, not being a total idiot (unlike some people),  knows that if he launched anything towards anyone,  his entire country, with him in it, would be wiped off the map.

Think about it. What would happen if Un did press the button and send a nuke heading straight towards Washington? What then?

  1. A couple dozen satellites instantly alert the world.
  2. That gives the USA the entire time it takes the thing to cross the entire PACIFIC OCEAN to respond.
  3. Before that, China, Japan, and everyone else in between the ICBM  and the Asian Pacific Rim get a crack at being the ones to bring it down and be heroes.
  4. If it made it past them, it would then have to make it past all the air craft carriers the USA has in the Pacific, which are armed with things like sea to air missiles, massive guns which can shoot shells the size of compact cars 500 miles, oh, and the world’s best fighter planes which could send someone up to fucking beat ont he thing with a hammer if they wanted to.
  5. If it somehow made it past all that, it would then have to cross nearly the entire continental USA with all of its anti-missile defenses, including even more jet fighters, tanks that can fire a shell into the next county with pinpoint precision, drones, ground to air missiles, and hell, a ton of heavily armed rednecks trying to shoot the motherfucking thing down so they can mount it on their wall.
  6. But if it made it past all THAT, and actually landed in Washington, there’s a good chance it would not even go off because the thing is made so cheaply and poorly that the complex timing and sensing mechanisms of an actual ICBM have been replaced by a cuckoo clock and some popsicle sticks, and the bird died.
  7. The worst case scenario – for Un – would be if it made it there and DID go off. Because then the entire world would declare war on North Korea and invade the fuck out of it. That’s also what was going to happen for even firing the thing, by the way, But a successful nuclear strike would take it from the bravado of “this kind of thing can’t be tolerated! We should invade some time soon and teach Un a lesson” to the white-faced grim determination to invade with everything immediately and kill the bastards who just killed millions of people in DC.

Don’t believe me? Look at how the world freaked out at 9/11. And that was only three thousand people. DC proper has 670,000 people. So it would be 9/11 times more than 2000, raised to the power of nuclear fallout.

So no. We are not on the brink of annihilation. North Korea is. But that’s only if Un is stupider and crazier than Donald Trump.

It’s all theater, folks. A show to keep you scared and distracted. The USA and North Korea aren’t enemies. They are Frenemies With Benefits.

Damn. That’s what I should have called the games.

So relax, feel safe, and know that you have my full permission to treat the entire issue as the fiction it is and ignore it.

Spend you time thinking of ways to get rid of Trump instead.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. That was my first time typing that phrase. I feel dirty,