Harriet the Monster

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The daughter recommended it, the wife read it first, and now I’ve finished it.

Monsters.  Specifically, My Favorite Thing is Monsters.  By Emil Ferris.

It’s dark and it’s beautiful.  She draws (literally) upon many iconic images from Chicago during the 1960s, and she draws upon many of the works of art in the Chicago Art Institute.

Since I’m devoted to studying behavior, what does this monster-based thriller teach us?

Here’s where another book comes in, Harriet the Spy.

It's a classic.  Please read it if you haven't!Harriet is also out to solve a mystery.  She’s also learning about the world of adults.  And she’s also wrestling with who she is as a young woman.

The similarities end there.  For Harriet is a tame post card of last century compared to Monsters.

And that’s where our learning comes in.  The differences in the way such a similar subject is treated tells us more about what underlies society than reams of studies and surveys.  Art, done correctly, becomes one of the best ways to look into the deepest psyche of our collective soul.

And that, my dear friends, is where you can find the real Monsters.

Happy Hunting.

 

 

Two A-Salty for Words

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In my writer’s group, I listen to everyone read their material and tell myself I’m way better.  It’s great for my self confidence.  Of course, they probably do the same thing to me, so our karma balances out.

We live in the snow belt.  Feels more like the snow crotch.  This belt is made of snow, and despite my carbon butt-print, global warming isn’t enough.  Too much white stuff.

Snow.  Not drugs.

Our lake sits on top of salt deposits.  If you live in a place that uses salt during the winter, it’s probably our salt.  Thanks.  Salt, and assault, seem to be everywhere, even here.

Amy sits between me and Nerdy Bill.  She knows Bill as a co-worker and writer.  They’re talking about a working date.  Bill’s got a wring on his fing, is a lot older than Amy, and is quite a bit bigger.

I’m not trying to listen, but I hear him making references to not getting drunk on a weekday.  Ha ha.  Isn’t that funny.

Then he says something about her sitting in his lap.  Yuck, I’m thinking.  What lap, dude?  He has to reach for his computer keyboard.

Wait.  Now he’s telling a story when there were so many Bills in his elementary classroom that he was rechristened Will.  He’s laughing.  I’m crying.

Amy is laughing!  Now she is saying “that’s funny!”  I’m thinking Amy is having a stroke!  Or was she flirting?

No, Amy has a boyfriend.  She is probably only being nice.  But Bill is being yucky, with extra YUCH.

I should have told him he was making me uncomfortable.  He was.  I shouldn’t care what Amy thinks, or should I?

That was in the middle.  At the end of the meeting, our leader, Charlie, was suddenly attacked by a dog-loving woman.

Charlie also loves and owns dogs.  For some reason he’d brought one to the meeting and left him in the car 3 hours.  He’s not allowed to bring him in.

Yes the weather is cold, about 30 degrees F.  Before you get all “poor doggie,” the dog had a sweater on, and, here’s the best part, he’s still a dog.  Dogs can handle cold weather for a long time.  I’ve seen huskies in Alaska in minus 20 degrees F staying out all night.  They’re fine.  They’re dogs.

But this woman bolted in at the end of the meeting, accosted Charlie, told him he was cruel to animals, and called the police!  Then she ran out.

Did she think she was helping the dog?  Did she think she was teaching Charlie?  No to both.  Her assault was violent and uncomfortable.

So, maybe it’s winter.  Maybe it’s people.  Maybe it’s the salt.

 

PS – Shout out to ee cards for putting this image on the web for us to enjoy.  Get more at ee cards!  Send one today.

Hollywood Child Abuse

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When it comes to kids I’m all for them.  Adults screw them up.

If I’m remembered for nothing else, I want to be remembered as the guy who fought for the kids.  Today’s kids.  Tomorrows kids.  Remember the children.

Wife was watching a well-acted show that stars Lily Tomlin.  She’s wonderful and I’ve always enjoyed her work.  She’s also one of the producers.

I was reading this book while wife watched season 2 episode 12 dealing with suicide, among other things.  Well done.

But there’s a scene with a young girl, and she drops the F-bomb at two points.

There’s a certain kind of adult who takes pleasure out of seeing a child swear like an adult.  Why?

Is it that as adults we lost our innocence at some point, and we enjoy seeing a child lose theirs?

The fact is the show had a child actor appears to swear (it could have been dubbed) in order to complete the scene.  Turning that child into an adult is something that should be treated with great respect and tenderness, not for profit.

That child most likely didn’t want to become an actor as much as her parents wanted her to act.  Certainly her agent and the other actors see her more as a money-making team mate rather than what she truly is, a child.

What is the impact upon her?  Does anyone care?  (Yes, I do.)

Look at the track record Hollywood has upon other childhood actors.  It’s not good.

Why do we allow this to happen?  What can be more important than a child’s life?

Rhetorical questions, because we know the answers.

Greed.  Power.  More greed.  And because money made today is worth more than a grandchild’s happiness.

So, please, the next time you see a sweet, innocent child, love them and help them to keep that innocence as long as they possibly can.  Face it.  They’ll lose it soon enough without our help, without our greed, and without our short-sightedness.

C’mon on.  Swear you’ll do it.

Thanks.

PS – Today is 22 January, 2018, and I just learned young gymnasts were happy their team doctor was being put away for many years as he’d been molesting them for some time.  The tragedy is compounded by the fact that their parents and coaches didn’t believe them – or didn’t want to.  Perhaps they, too, were blinded by greed.

Pride and Prejudice: Distractions

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Did I mention I’m writing something similar to P&P?  Did I mention that it’s one of the most wonderfully constructed novels of all time?

As I write these words, and as I work on Chapter 26 of my own version of P&P, I hear news of the latest gun-related tragedy in Florida.

It pierces my heart in so many ways.  Violence like this has become so common that our cries are no longer meaningful.

There was a time when I envied Jane’s quiet life.  I thought about the idyllic English countryside, the slow pace of life, the absence of phone and reliance on pony.

Then I realized that she was no stranger to strife.  Her own life and the world must have seemed out of control.  The militias and armies moving about her were going to war against Napoleon.  Kitty’s cough could certainly represent the harbinger of death for many she’d known.  A world without antibiotics and few options for women would be bad enough.  Combine that with a will and an intellect striving for something better, and you have something more than a prison.  You have a tortured soul.

I’m convinced that Jane Austen was tough, tougher than we give her credit.  The fact that she could produce a story such as P&P despite the fact that she was in pain, the fact that she saw so much more of the world and of humanity’s promise than her peers, and chose to NOT write them directly into her story makes her all that much greater. [1]

Which is why I don’t write about massacres, violence, hypocrisy, and all the other trials we suffer in my story’s modern world. [2]  If Jane could do it, I can try.  I all else fails, at least this post publicly testifies to how great she is, in yet another way.

 

 

[1] There are tiny little P&P details hinting that she saw, but didn’t say anything.  And if she can poke fun at something, she does.  What a gal.

[2]  Truth disclaimer: I write about the terrible things the main character finds in his past.  That past links him and the other main characters in more than romantic ways.  Think about Darcy, and Wickham actually being related.

 

PETH

There’s a group of extremists who practice guerrilla warfare against those they feel treat animals unethically.

They throw blood on those who wear fur.  They terrorize researchers who run experiments on mice.  I’m sure there’s many other things that they do, but that’s not my point.

My point is that we have to get these guys to expand their horizons.  People are animals, too.  Hasn’t anyone taught them that?  People, according to most people, are even more than animals.  We have souls.  And bank accounts.

If the people who are against the unethical treatment of animals are truly on the side of animals, then why don’t they include people in the mix?

Here’s their dilemma.  If they DON’T include people under their protective umbrella, they are then admitting that PEOPLE are special.  People are different than animals, perhaps even better.  That explains why animals need a special militant arm of defenders.

If they DO include people under their ethical treatment umbrella, then they have a whole ‘nother dilemma.  THAT dilemma would mean they have to start DEFENDING people against unethical treatment.  This would include harassing people based on their own research.  It would include children who are being slowly tortured by people who should never be allowed near them.  It would mean that they could even target politicians who put personal gain ahead of their constituents.

Will this happen?  Will there ever be an organization that is dedicated to the ethical treatment of people as well as animals?  It’s a nice thought, but I doubt it will happen.

There’s a good chance that the members of such groups are in them only because it gives them a mission that seems righteous.  Talking to one of them and challenging their belief system amounts to challenging someone about their religion.

And I’ve already learned, no one likes to be challenged.

Maybe that would be unethical.

 

9/11 Nudity

Today is a day of respect and reflection.

As we reflect, let us ask ourselves WHY?

Why do perfectly healthy young men, all Saudi, dedicate their lives to destroying so many other innocents?

Why do their religious leaders condone such actions?

Why does the Saudi government condone, even support such actions; as recently alleged in recent court filings? and possibly in still-redacted government reports?

Why do our leaders and academics not discuss the underlying reasons all these people would want such violence?

Here are some possible reasons for the violence.

1) These Saudis and other religious extremists are crazy and like to do such things.

2) Perhaps these extremists are intent on starting a 100 year religious war, like the Crusades of old?

3) Or perhaps these extremists are registering their inability to fight Western evils in all its forms?

My bet is on number 3, because the other two don’t make sense.  It’s also the one that extremists use for recruiting.

What are these evils?  One is unconditional support for Israel and other religious countries, no matter how their Islamic populations are treated.  Another is our export of vice in the form of gambling, entertainment, movies, TV, songs, etc.  And finally, the icing on the cake, is that there are no regrets on the part of Western leaders.  Vice is big business!

On this day, this day on which we should all pause and respect those who died because of extremists, and those who have gone and fought the extremist enemy, we instead have fresh evidence as to how we are exporting our own morals onto those who don’t want them.

A beautiful young woman decided she would gain fame be desecrating ancient monuments in Egypt.  They warned her, they tried to stop her.  She and her photographer managed to survive, and escape with the pictures they wanted.

Was the experience enough to stop them from publishing those pictures?  Oh no oh no.

But what’s worse is the several news organizations decided they would help her by publishing her story to the internet.  And so it grows.  It’s news, of a sort.

But what is worse is that we are insulting today’s Egyptians.  We are insulting their very identity.  And we are tempting them to strike back in any way they can.

Here are a few links to her story, and a few others highlighting the US effort to “fight evil” as well as how “evil” also exists within our borders.

We will never fully appreciate the sacrifice made by those in the twin towers until we are ourselves brave enough to ask WHY.  Until we have enough backbone to fight against hate and disrespect WHERE EVER it appears.

The young woman should be publicly chastised, and the pictures deleted.  She should be returned to Egypt to suffer their laws.  The gentleman trying to murder people in his car should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Those organizing “far-right” rallies should be suppressed by every leader who has sworn to uphold the costitution, sung the National Anthem (of the US), or recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Until these things happen, nothing will happen.  Until the next set of extremists make their stand.

Honor those who perished, honor those who truly serve, and honor those yet to come by answering WHY.  Then do something about it.

Thank you.

 

 

http://www.francesoir.fr/culture-medias/voyage-sexy-et-nudite-les-deux-passions-de-marisa-papen-photos-instagram-blog-nue-tour-du-monde-seins-topless-blog

http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/egypt/belgian-model-s-nude-photos-at-pyramid-draws-egypt-s-ire-1.2086855

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4872328/Nude-model-reveals-forced-spend-night-jail.html

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/model-marisa-papen-and-australian-photographer-jesse-walker-arrested-in-egypt-over-naked-photos/news-story/5797489cd1517920cc4f67f3a8c65fd6

https://thinkprogress.org/man-arrested-at-far-right-rally-for-allegedly-attempting-to-run-over-counter-protesters-3fc95906c458/

 

END

Putin and Murdoch

Hello Friend,

A few days ago I threw out the idea that maybe there was a conspiracy about the Zika virus.  It was all in fun, because the chances of nefarious governments trying to decrease world population seems far-fetched.

Like you, I pay too much attention to the news.  The happenings around Trump’s white house are getting more ridiculous.  I even read where a House committee wants to reopen investigations into Hillary Clinton instead of digging into Trump’s Russian connections.  Of course, this sort of slant is loved by everyone’s favorite hateful news network – Fox.

And that got me thinking.

The Russians have always dealt with the cold war difgerently than Americans.  We spent money on technology and armies.  They spent money on spy networks and prostitutes.  Putin was one of their best.

We now have ample evidence that Russian hacking rings have been responsible for massive influences around the globe.  Facebook has admitted that there were 70,000 fake profiles set up in France in order to both destabilize the Macron campaign and bolster his radical opponent, La Pen (she’s a Trump clone).

Here’s the conspiracy.  The single greatest force that has been effectively destabilizing our democratic process since 1996 is Fox “News.” (Sorry, I can’t say this with a straight face, or without putting it into quotes.  Forgive me, Gentle Reader.)  That date is important, because that’s when Clinton (Bill) won his second term, and the Republicans were already preparing to put another Bush in power.

What if Rupert Murdoch got help from Putin?  What if they helped him in terms of supporting the network, making sure he got ad money, maybe even helping fake how well it was doing in the ratings?  All of these things are done on computers now, and we know how good the Russian hacking rings are.

Just think of the possibilities.  Putin hardly has to raise a finger.  Murdoch is doing the dirty work for him!  Creating whole new categories of “fact” and “alternative reality.”  Putting pretty women in front of lots of old white men, and then groping them behind the scenes.  That is pure Russian mentality.

Need some evidence?, besides this pretty darn good crazy thread of a theory?  Here it is.

If Fox “News” is so dang conservative and old-fashioned, where is the pure outrage against all the Russian influence we’ve uncovered since before the election?  Hacking into voting systems, spreading viruses, and leaking sensitive emails of Hillary and others.  What about the outrage we should be hearing even now?  Don Junior’s meeting with Russian agents?  Don Senior’s business dealing with Russians?  Perhaps that’s the real reason why he refuses to reveal his tax returns.

You can take it from here.  As far as I am now concerned, the conspiracy theory has hit its peak.  Fox “News” is a front for Putin and Russian influence in our society.  I know we’ll prevail, because we are far tougher than they are.  But now knowing there’s a Russian handler sitting behind every pretty Fox face gives the channel a whole new look.

Dasvedanya Tvarisch.

Yes, that’s Russian for goodbye comrade.  If you like Fox “News,” you should start learning the language.

 

 

 

Brilliant Suffering

I finished Larry Brilliant’s autobiography today, and enjoyed it immensely.  If you read his book, you know what I mean and can skip the remainder of this paragraph.  If you haven’t read this, I recommend it highly.  His life truly begins as he joins the love of his life in pursuit of the meaning of life.  Germinating at the feet of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, nourished by the Summer of Love and hardened by the abuses of that era, Larry becomes a radical doctor helping those no matter who they are.  His soul-mate decides their shared paths go through India, and to India they go in pursuit of enlightenment.  Guru Maharaji determines that Larry’s dharma lies in helping others, and that his karma yoga is through work.  The ultimate prize is eliminating killer smallpox, a disease that killed over half a billion people in the 20th century alone.  That’s more than all the wars and famines and tragedies all put together.  The adventures, the successes, and the failures are enjoyable told and hold many lessons.

Larry asks the ultimate question that every compassionate soul has asked through the ages: Why does suffering exist?  He typically pondered this while holding the body of a dead child.  I am going to answer this question in terms that rely on what we know of biology and ecosystems and philosophy.  I’m going to keep it as short as possible, so that much detail may be lacking.  And I’m going to answer it in such a way so that it addresses a related question: What is the best way to relieve suffering in the world in the long term?  Most recently, Jeff Bezos has asked this question, inviting his twitter followers to submit their suggestions as to how he focuses his charity.

However, neither Larry Brilliant or Jeff Bezos, or even most people are going to like the answer here.  For the truth is raw and uncompromising, much as Mother Nature shows Herself to be when in her full glory.  We tend to forget that to Mother Nature, all forms of life and death and joy and suffering, are all aspects of a single existence.

Moreover, when you look closely at the holiest of all holy texts in every religion, you see that they agree on that fundamental truth.  Life and death, joy and suffering, are all part of the same thing.  You can’t have one without the other.  A Tibetan monk explains to Larry, when he asks the question yet again, that suffering will always be part of the human condition as long as ignorance and obsession exist.  In the same scene, Larry is blessed for the simple fact that he is fighting a great scourge of humanity, and to alleviate any suffering is an act to strive for.

This is not an argument against charity, but an answer to the question “How can I be most charitable?”  At the same time, I hope to explain why suffering exists in any form, and why our best charitable efforts may in fact not appear to be charity.

Suffering may come from many sources, from outside ourselves, but also within.  We generally agree that some suffering is good for the soul, for it makes us tougher, makes us more willing to take risks.  But when is suffering too much?  Who is to decide?

Nature decides, using the most fundamental rules possible: life and death.  When she unleashed smallpox upon humanity, a third of its victims would die a gruesome and painful death.  Another third would be permanently handicapped.  The remaining third?  Survivors.

Now that we have eliminated smallpox, we will not know what made those survivors different from the rest.  What kind of world would this be if smallpox still existed?  Would it be a better world?  We simply don’t know.

And that’s the point.  For those of you who are spiritual and wish to second guess God, you can feel angry about the death of an innocent baby to such a gruesome disease.  But if God is playing the game for all of humanity, and not only that one baby or her family, then who are we to be critical?

Suffering exists, and we must learn from it.  As long as ignorance exists there will be suffering.  Such is the wheel of life.  No matter what your religion or how you talk to your God, fundamentally they all say the same thing.  Sub ek, all one.

Which brings us to the final point, how then do we best spend our precious charitable resources?  If you are moved to help someone read a book, buy groceries, or weed their garden, then you should.  However, if you have access to billions more resources, then consider this.  You should be pushing mankind further, higher, faster.  For Jeff Bezos, every last bit of his energy should be directed to making his dream of colonizing space a reality.  Spending even a few moments on any other endeavor may make him more popular, but only increases the risk of getting humanity off the ground.

Improving humanity means greater knowledge, and that automatically means less suffering.  It’s not the same thing as putting silver into a beggar’s hand, but it is far more lasting.

Namaskar

 

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May they never be disassociated from the supreme happiness which is without suffering.
May they remain in the boundless equanimity, free from both attachment to close ones and rejection of others.

 

Political Wars

What’s a “political” war?  Is it different from a “military” war?

Very different.  Let’s start with today’s war.

It’s against the new evil in town; the Daesh.  Formerly known as ISIS, ISIL, IS, and a few other names.

The new name is Daesh.  It’s an attempt to get all these names straight.  It our way of refusing to let the bad guys set our agenda.  It also respects innocent and good-hearted muslims.  It’s also a great way to “stick it” to those evil-doing Daeshers.

So, after the Paris attacks of 13 November, 2015, I started looking more closely at the doing of these devils.  Not only what they were doing, but what we were doing to them.

Turns out that they have a sophisticated organization going on.  Very complex, highly disciplined.  The only way to have that kind of organization so early in the game is if there was a lot of money available in the beginning.

A lot of money.

They get much of their income from robbing banks, stealing from innocents, and working the oil wells and refineries that they have taken over.  But they didn’t always have these sources, especially in the very beginning.

So where did the money come from initially?  Someone had to bankroll this outfit.  Who?  This is suspicion number one.

Suspicion number two starts with a report from the US Government.  They held a press conference stating that they were having a problem disabling Daesh oil wells and oil refineries.

Their solution?  Start bombing the trucks transporting oil products.

Really?  Can this be something the government expects us to believe?

We have bombs that can level cities.

We have missiles that can find a closet in a specific room for any address in the world.

And the US Government can’t disable a refinery?  What’s really going on?

That’s suspicion number two.

There’s something going on, something having to do with lots and lots of money, and probably connected to those oil fields and refineries.

Without getting all conspiracy crazy, there is one conclusion that appears inescapable: This is a politically run war.

Yes, politicians are calling the shots.  That’s what makes a political war, well, political.  A military war is run by professional military men.

In a political war, political interests, such as oil companies, are helping guide military policy.

I can hear their argument now.  “Take out the oil refinery?  Can’t do that, because someday my company will use it again.  Think of all the money that will cost to rebuild!”

Instead, our political leaders tell our soldiers to fight Daesh with kid gloves instead of teaching them the meaning of real war.

Real war?  The US hasn’t fought a real war since WWII.

To their credit, President George Herbert Walker Bush and General Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. executed one of the best “wars” in modern US memory.  In the “First Gulf War” of 1992, they quickly and successfully repelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

 

However, compared to WWII, it’s a drop in the bucket.

WWII was our last true military war.  Korea, Vietnam, and the ongoing “Gulf War Two” are all being commanded by politicians.  These are the last people on Earth who should be in charge of making quick life and death battle decisions.

Politicians are trained to listen to all interested parties, drag their feet, and only then make decisions by consensus that please as many important people as possible.

Our fight, our war, against Daesh and terrorism in general is not a military war, but a political war.  Given the fact that there is “dark money” in the background, and that dubious excuses are being given by the US Government as to their battle success, the conclusion seems inescapable.

This is a political war.

And with history as our teacher, there can only be one outcome.

Tusok

 

Why Hate?

Hello there Gentle Readers!  Did you miss me?

Probably not.  I haven’t heard a peep here in the past  few months.

I’ve been busy finishing up my book on hate.  Yes, you heard right: hate.

I decided I needed to understand hate in our world more completely.

I also decided, and this was silly on my part, I also decided to try and explain what I learned in a way so that it could be understood by as many people as possible.

Well, that was crazy!  I didn’t realize it was going to take me about FIVE YEARS to complete this project!  FIVE YEARS!

But finish I have.  A friend is helping edit the final draft of the MS, and he’ll be done very soon.  Which means we’ll be ready to look for an agent, or crowd-funding, or something similar to get this baby out the door and into the city streets where she belongs.

Let me know if you’d be interested.  Maybe I should post a chapter or two?

If there’s anything you always wanted to know about hate, just ask.  I’m prepared for anything.  It’s also everything you didn’t want to know as well.  Very comprehensive I was.

For me, the best parts are where hate comes from and why it exists.  Quite the surprise.

In the meantime, I’m back to writing short essays as the mood comes.  Feel free to ask questions or make suggestions.  I’ll probably start a few essays discussing hate in our world as well.

Now that the book is done, I’ve gleaned insights I wouldn’t have before.

Best wishes to everyone.  Thanks,

Tusok.