Thursday, September 30, 2004

Shame, shame, SHAME 

A friend of mine told me today about taking a trip to the emergency room with a friend who was in great pain and distress, only to be told by the doctor, "She's not in pain, she's CRAZY." Yes, the friend IS a mental health patient, but that's NOT the same as being crazy, as a doctor damn well knows, and even if she WAS crazy, that would hardly disqualify her from other health problems and the right to medical care... and for a doctor to make a disgusting comment like that to a patient's friend is a DISGRACE. Luckily, there's a little bit of justice here; they reported the evil S.O.B. and got him FIRED.

It's bad enough for regular people to be ignorant, but for a doctor to have that sort of attitude, and that sort of CONTEMPT for someone who has a serious PHYSICAL ailment, one that they should be getting sympathy for rather than disdain, is absolutely beyond belief; they need to start testing more than a would-be doctor's knowledge of the body... they need to test them to see if they have any humanity and compassion, too.

If you're not sure what the issue is here, and want to know the facts, as opposed to the mean-spirited nonsense that people pass around, here it is:

The term "mental health" creates the illusion that people who suffer from mental health issues are somehow in a different category than other people with health problems, and it just ain't so. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and all the rest are PHYSICAL ailments, caused mostly by improper levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, and sometimes due to abnormalities in the brain itself; the fact that the problem is in the most important and mysterious organ in the body means that these illnesses are quite serious and difficult to treat, but it does NOT mean that they're caused by stupidity, weakness, cowardice, laziness, lack of willpower, the desire to get attention, or any of the other nasty claims that people save for ONLY for the victims of these disorders. Many years ago, doctors didn't know that "mental illnesses" were just regular illnesses that happened to affect the brain, but now they DO know, and have even begun to identify the genes involved for the majority of cases that are genetic, and WE need to know too, so that we can give support rather than abuse to the afflicted.

A big stumbling block to laypeople grasping that mental illnesses are true physical illnesses is the dreadful mis-naming of the 2 biggies, depression and anxiety, to make it sound like they're emotional, eg psychological, problems instead of illnesses. To clarify: Depression the disorder is NOT the same as feeling depressed, and anxiety the disorder is NOT the same thing as feeling anxious; it was stupid of the medical profession to give diseases the names of the emotions that their symptoms resemble, and we need to make a conscious effort to not be fooled by that unfortunate choice... people with mental illnesses can NOT just "cheer up" or "calm down" as if all they had were stubborn bad moods rather than chemical imbalances. People are still being sent to shrinks for these illnesses, although talking doesn't treat them any more than it treats any other illness (you might feel better to be able to vent to someone, but that does NOT make you any less sick), and this adds more weight to the idea that it's "all in their heads," in other words that they're IMAGINING that they're sick, or are not really sick at all.

The word "crazy" shouldn't be in the vocabulary of any medical professional, as it is NOT a medical term. For someone to be considered actually insane, they have to have a catastrophic break with reality, which you do NOT see in the huge majority of mental health patients; even those who hear voices, for example, usually still know what's real and what's not, although obviously those who are the worst off can't make that distinction. If someone is truly insane, their behavior, and usually their appearance, is frightening to us, but that does NOT mean that it's ok for us to view them as somehow contemptible, any more than a cancer patient whose face and body are ravaged by the disease should be seen that way. As for those who are insane and violent, or "evil," they need to be locked away where they can't do harm, but they should also get whatever treatments are available to bring them as close to normal as they can come... they didn't ask to be sick, nor are they sick as some sort of divine punishment, and they shouldn't just be left to suffer as they too often are.

If you're a regular reader here, you know that I take a hard and uncompromising position against wrongdoing and wrongdoers; I believe in kicking people's butts when they do deliberate evil, large or small, and NOT shrugging it off and letting them still reap the benefits of social acceptance... I do NOT make excuses for people, I am NOT a bleeding heart, and I am NOT a touchy-feely type, not by any stretch of the imagination. What I'm saying here is the medical and scientific truth, and I'm taking the time to say it because it absolutely infuriates me when seriously ill people, people who are in misery and agony every moment of every day, are made to feel like they're "bad" somehow because they didn't manage to have their physical abnormalities be somewhere OTHER than in their brains. It infuriates me when innocent people suffer because they're afraid of being labeled "crazy" if they seek help, and so don't get medical care; all too many of these people waste their entire lives being sick when there are meds that would help them... and some of them of course end up worse than sick. It infuriates me when doctors brush aside those that DO find the courage to ask for help, and refuse to treat them, or give them some med that is 30 years out of date with horrible side effects because they can't be bothered to do any research, and then write them off as lost causes. And most of all, it infuriates me when doctors add to the stigma against the "mentally ill" by showing ugly attitudes like my friend encountered.

If you yourself have inadvertently done wrong by treating a mental health patient as if they were anything other than an ill person deserving of compassion, you can make good by changing your tune now, and by educating others. If, however, you're unwilling to give up the easy target that a depressive (etc) presents, and would rather keep telling them to "snap out of it" or "cheer up" or "quit trying to get attention"... go back and read the title of this essay again.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Should we separate sex and love? 

Let's start out by ignoring the effects of unplanned pregnancy and disease; it's reasonable to assume that science will eliminate these problems at some point, and we won't have to have our natural desires shrouded with fear any more. Imagine that, with no negative physical consequences to sex, we could agree that our decision to have sex should be based on... well, what SHOULD we base it on?

Some people believe that sex should just be about 2 horny people getting together for mutual enjoyment and then going their separate ways; most of these people are of course men. Most women, and the more "evolved" men, cringe at that attitude, but really, what's wrong with it? No one is lied to, fooled, or hurt, everyone gets what they wanted... where's the problem? I know, I know, women get sucked in emotionally far too easily, and so form expectations of phone calls and dates that they're disappointed if they don't get; can't we "train" women to stop setting themselves up for grief by changing the social conditioning girls get, though? Yes, there's a biological urge for a woman to latch onto a man that she had sex with so that he'll provide for her if he has impregnated her, but there's also a biological urge for a girl to start having babies as soon as she's physically able, and we've squashed THAT one pretty thoroughly, so we CAN work around biology to some extent. On the other hand, if you're so hot for someone that you had to run home and jump into bed with them, why wouldn't you WANT to see them again, and try for a relationship with them? Then again, you don't try for a relationship with everyone that you have a good time with, which your friends are undoubtedly grateful for; if there were no potential for harm, why NOT treat sex like a sport rather than ONLY as part of an emotional attachment? Is there any real need to treat sex as something in a different category once we take out our current reasons for doing so?

On the other side of this issue, there are those who want to only combine sex with love, to deepen the experience and create a safer atmosphere for them to let loose; naturally, most of these people are women. The love/sex combo DOES lead to a more intense, safer experience in some ways, but being with someone we'll never see again can bring a different kind of freedom, as we don't have to care what they'll think about us later, plus we get the excitement of the new and illicit. The sex/love combo also means that we're moving forward towards getting a lasting relationship built, as opposed to just flings... but, is that always a desirable thing, especially if you're young(ish) and/or don't plan on having kids? If you want to start a family, of course you wouldn't want to waste time sleeping around, you'd want to save your energy for finding the right person, but that doesn't apply to everyone, so... hmmmmmmm, without the warnings about getting diseases and pregnant, it's hard to make a case for saving sex for when it's joined with love, other than that "crushed expectations" thing that COULD be changed.

Ideally, then, for those not trying to form relationships soon, and under no biological pressure to procreate soon, sex would be based on consenting adults wanting to have a good time; imagine how radically our culture would change if things worked that way!! Don't get excited yet, though; when you look at the realities of the current day once again, when you add the risk of pregnancy and disease back into the picture, when you think that you could be creating a life, or catching something that could lead to death, it's still better to see sex as part of a relationship, with love involved, or at least on the horizon-sorry, guys. However, one CAN hope for the day when all of our twisted ideas about sex, and about nudity, gender, what love is really like, and everything else that muddies the waters, will fade away... imagine what sex, what LIFE, will be like then. :-)

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Progress in figuring out nutrition 

In the October issue of "Discover," there's a wonderful article called "The Inuit Paradox" that covers a fascinating topic; how scientists are just now STARTING to figure out how the people who used to be called "Eskimos" (it's not PC to call them that anymore, for reasons that escape me), the Inupiat and the Yupiks of Alaska, the Canadian Inuit and Inuvialuit, Inuit Greenlanders, and the Siberian Yupiks, were able to not only survive, but be healthy, on a diet that our so-called "wisdom" says should be very UNhealthy... well, more specifically, the article outlined what they've learned, but every new fact meant that there was something else that they should have figured out LONG ago-it just ticks me off no end how willing they've been to ignore what people with brown faces have been doing for centuries, or millennia, as if they had nothing to teach us.

The subtitle to the article is, "How can people who gorge on fat and rarely see a vegetable be healthier than we are?"; the supposed experts didn't know where these folks were getting the vitamins that we've been taught come from plant foods... primarily because they hadn't bothered to study what they WERE eating. And, despite the popularity of low-carb diets, there was confusion as to how they don't end up obese, and with massive heart disease, with half of their calories coming from fat; we're so programmed to fear fat that it blinds us to reality, the primary element of which is that for healthy weight and heart you just need to not stuff your face and sit on the couch... do you think any of these "primitive" people count calories or fat grams? It's no coincidence that in societies where everyone eats traditional, "primitive" foods, obesity is rare, even among the older folks who don't do as much physical labor; like all other animals, humans will eat the right foods in the right amounts if we live close to nature, and that's why we need to learn from those who have these sorts of diets.

What's the traditional Inuit diet? "... seal and walrus... moose, caribou, and reindeer.... ducks, geese... ptarmigan.... crab... salmon, whitefish, tomcod, pike, and char... cooked, dried, smoked, or frozen... whale meat... muktuk, which is whale skin with its underlying blubber" Sounds pretty gross, doesn't it? It's OUR diet that's gross, of course, and, our diet that's unhealthy; thanks to them adopting our foods, "type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other diseases of Western civilization are becoming causes for concern there." Isn't it bad enough that we have a dreadful diet without passing it along to every other culture?

Anyways: "These foods hardly make up the 'balanced' diet most of us grew up with, and they look nothing like the mix of grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy we're accustomed to seeing in conventional food pyramid diagrams... How did people get along on little else but fat and animal protein?... One might, for instance, imagine gross vitamin deficiencies arising from a diet with scarcely any fruits and vegetables." WE certainly get told that we'll have all sorts of deficiencies if we don't eat those things, right? It turns out, though, that: "vitamin A, which is oil soluble, is also plentiful in the oils of cold-water fishes and sea mammals, as well as in the animals' livers, where fat is processed."

What about vitamin C? "Raw caribou liver supplied almost 24 milligrams, seal brain close to 15 milligrams, and raw kelp more than 28 milligrams. Still higher levels were found in whale skin and muktuk... raw muktuk can serve up an impressive 36 milligrams in a 100-gram piece... Weight for weight, it's as good as orange juice." Kelp, which isn't meat, is cheating a little, but the point is that if you eat their diet you can get all your nutrients; our processed foods, and our plant-based foods (most of which, as I've pointed out before, couldn't possibly have been more than trivial parts of the diets of early tribes), are the exact opposite of what these people who lived off the land and sea ate and stayed healthy with.

As to the high % of fat in their diets, and the LACK of health problems caused by it; the fact that they only ate what they needed, and got plenty of exercise, if of course key, but the other part of it is that the fat of wild animals is healthier than that of domesticated animals: "Farm animals, cooped up and stuffed with agricultural grains (carbohydrates) typically have lots of solid, highly saturated fat.... Wild animals that range freely and eat what nature intended... have fat that is far more healthful. Less of their fat is saturated, and more of it is in the monounsaturated form (like olive oil). What's more, cold-water fishes and sea mammals are particularly rich in polyunsaturated fats called n-3 fatty acids or omega-3 fatty acids. These fats appear to benefit the heart and vascular system." Omega-3 fatty acids have been talked about for some time (although it bears repeating, especially for those who've convinced themselves that all meat is "unhealthy"), but the idea that a different diet gives an animal a different fat composition is a new one on me... and a REAL eye-opener. Can you believe they're just now finding this out, after all the years of frenzied study of fat?

We know far, FAR less about nutrition than we think we do... but we're learning, at LONG last. Sadly, there's not much from the traditional "Eskimo" diet that most of us can adopt, other than eating more fish if you can tolerate it and can find some without mercury and other poisons, but at least science is finally turning away from "food pyramids" and looking at diets that we have PROOF, as in centuries' worth, are healthy for us.

Monday, September 27, 2004

There really IS windchime karma!! :-O 

In my post of August 6, I detailed the ridiculous amount of trouble I had to go to to replace the windchime a friend had given me, and that some lowlife had stolen, before the friend could see that it was gone and be upset by it; I said at the time, half-facetiously, that making this sort of effort to protect someone's feelings over a $5 doodad would earn me some good "windchime karma"... and it turns out that there IS such a thing.

There was a windchime that my husband and I used to "visit" at a store that sold pricey artsy stuff; it was quite elaborate, about a yard long, and going for $250-way, WAY more than I was willing to pay for such a thing. It finally sold, or was sent back to the supplier, and I didn't see it for about 5 years... until it showed up on eBay (mind you, I was NOT doing any searches for windchimes-it showed up in a search I was doing for something else). After I got over the shock of seeing it, I almost didn't bother adding it to my watch list, because I don't waste space on things that are out of my price range, but the starting price wasn't bad, and I had the urge to see what happened, so I put it on my list.

And yes, I WON it, for about a TENTH of what it had been selling for all those years ago; I couldn't believe my eyes. I could still hardly believe it when the box came, and I took it out and held it up... for about 2 seconds, as it's literally too heavy for me to support the weight. The windchime that I'd drooled over, that I'd never expected to see again much less own, was MINE.

I invested alot of time and emotional energy over a windchime, and in return karma sent me the windchime of my dreams. Windchime karma; I asked for it, and I got it. :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Magical beings 

Most kids growing up in America are told by their parents that certain magical beings exist:

1) Santa, who knows everything you're doing, is passing judgment that will control how many toys you'll get for Christmas, has a flying sleigh that can somehow get to every child's home in the world in one night and can carry all of their gifts (or is the sack supposed to be magically bottomless?), and can get silently into and out of every home to deliver presents, even homes with no chimney.

2) The Easter bunny, who carries enough candy for all the children in his (bottomless?) basket, HOPS all around the world in one night (gee, that sounds familiar, lol), and sneaks unheard into kids' homes to leave them sweets.

3) The tooth fairy, who somehow knows when a child loses a tooth, and, if and only if that child puts the tooth under their pillow (isn't that sorta gross?), will sneak unheard into their home (!!!), take the tooth (and do WHAT with it?), and leave $ in its place.

Kids are effortlessly convinced that these beings are real, because they believe whatever they're told; kids under the age of 7 can't tell reality from fantasy, so, no matter how ridiculous the details of the myth of the magical person are (flying reindeer?), or how similar the basics are, it never occurs to kids that anything we tell them exists might NOT exist, even though they've never seen any proof that... whoops, I forgot one:

4) God.

For those of you who want to protest that last entry, be honest; did you or did you not believe in God from early childhood because your parents TOLD you He existed, just like all the other magical beings? I can remember all the way back in grammar school when I, having already rejected the idea of there being a God, was telling the other kids that they were only whichever religion they were because their parents were that religion; when they insisted that they'd still be Methodists, Baptists, whatever, even if their parents weren't, because it was "right," I'd laugh in their faces and ask them to point out one single kid that had defied their parents and picked a different religion... which of course they couldn't do, as there's no such thing. I'd follow up by adding that they wouldn't even believe in God if their parents hadn't told them to, and, when they denied that, I'd remind them that they'd believed in Santa, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy (which by then we knew didn't exist) just because their parents had told them they were real, and that they'd believe ANYTHING their parents told them to... which was absolutely true, but even at that age people do NOT want to hear that sort of truth, so you can imagine the outraged sputterings. The kicker of course came when I gave them the inevitable conclusion, that since all the other magical beings our parents had told us about didn't really exist, it was logical to assume that God didn't either... I don't think I've managed to cause greater shock in all of the years since, hehehehehe.

I've become more intellectually consistent in my old age, and thus have realized that since I can't DISprove the existence of God, I can't be sure He doesn't exist; still, it's useful to look at WHY people believe what they do, because to find the truth we need to be able to separate centuries-old hearsay from what we have actually experienced ourselves... and yes, some people DO claim to have had personal experiences with God, including people I respect, which is why I keep my mind open on the subject.

Do YOU believe in what you yourself have seen and experienced... or do you believe what people have TOLD you is true? I don't just mean your belief in God, or any other deity, I mean ghosts, ESP, angels, or any other beings or energies you believe in as well; how many unprovable things do you believe in based solely on the claims of others? If you didn't say "zero"... wouldn't it be a good idea to ask yourself "why"?

Saturday, September 25, 2004

OK, it's time to talk about boobs 

First, we'll have the daily synchronicity report; there were a couple of items an eBay seller had offered nearly a month ago that he'd faked a problem with the listing for because someone had (illegally) offered him big $ for them and he had agreed to take it (he admitted as much in an email to me, but I didn't report him because I wanted those items). I wanted to see if he'd re-offer them, which usually happens if the person making the illegal offer flakes, so I didn't remove the auctions from my watch list... until today, when I decided I didn't need to keep them any more, and deleted them. Guess what the seller re-listed on eBay just a few hours later? Coincidence? Nope.

OK, now to the boobs... or did you just skip right down here, lol? Did you know that in Brazil, what's considered most desirable is SMALL boobs (and a BIG butt)? They have massive #'s of breast REDUCTIONS there every year, gotten by women trying to fit into the mold of what the men around them find the most appealing... just like the women here, but in the opposite direction. I've read that the pernicious influence of American culture is starting to change that (we're like a VIRUS, have you ever noticed?), but for now the traditional ideal of beauty is lingering.

In some cultures, breasts aren't even seen as sexual; they're seen as a nursing tool, and nothing more. (In those cultures, it's common for the woman's legs to be highly eroticized and kept hidden in public in the same way that women in this culture have to cover their breasts; whatever men can't see is what they obsess over.) If aliens were to land, how would we explain to them that a woman who wants to feed her baby in America has to go hide out of sight, or drape a towel or blanket over herself and the baby even if it's 100 degrees, because we're so psycho that we'll freak out if we should happen to see a nipple being used for its intended function? Breastfeeding in public is legal as long as the woman is somewhere she has a right to be, and most states have passed laws to explicitly protect breastfeeding women from being, say, made to leave stores or restaurants, but most women still go to great lengths to hide this natural, wholesome act because laws don't keep them from being hassled by uptight idiots.

Although a woman in America can have her nipples showing as part of breastfeeding, if she wants to keep them visible afterwards and sunbathe topless, she's out of luck. Topless beaches are the norm in Europe, though, and no one thinks twice about it, which is really how it SHOULD be; after all, MEN can go topless (which I think is pretty spiffy, especially if they have hairy chests). In most so-called primitive cultures, women don't have to cover their breasts EVER, and that means they don't have to strap them into uncomfortable contraptions meant to keep them in place, stop them from jiggling, and try to hold back the sagging that comes with time. Did you ever wonder whose idea bras and such were to begin with? A MAN, of course, but what was the purpose behind the decision that some parts of a woman's natural body had to be permanently encased in tight wrappings of some form? Did you ever stop to think that no other human body parts are subjected to this sort of thing (at least not since foot-binding went out of fashion in China)?

A girl's first rite of womanhood is usually the first time she puts on a training bra (what is the bra supposed to train them to do, did you ever wonder?); this uncomfortable undergarment, that will become even more uncomfortable when she gets to school and the boys start snapping her straps, is the beginning of the love/hate relationship she'll likely have with her breasts for the rest of her life. As soon as possible, she'll probably get a bra with padding and/or "push-up" to make them larger and more noticeable... unless they get big, in which case she's likely to be embarrassed about them. Every woman I know who has naturally full breasts has been unwilling to show them and/or in denial about how big they are; it's a source of great amusement to me how each one of them has had the exact same conversation with me claiming that their huge boobs were only 36C when they were each at least 38D... and the latter is very common among the voluptuous, according to a friend who's worked many years in the lingerie section of a department store. You'd think that, in a culture where big boobs are worshipped, women would be eager to put on the biggest size bra they could justify, but it just doesn't work that way.

The other thing with busty women is the difficulty in getting them to wear a bra that gives any support, as such bras are seen as "granny bras," with the result that before they hit 30 they sag as badly as women 20 years older; then, they discover that, although men like big boobs, they often do NOT like big SAGGY boobs, and they grow to hate their boobs as much as the tiny-breasted do. The sad thing is that in cultures where women don't wear bras, EVERY woman has saggy boobs, and no one cares; by fighting the sag, we've turned it into an issue. Isn't civilization great?

In my admittedly non-expert view, natural breasts are pretty much all beautiful, and ANY natural breasts look better than the fake ones, which are not only usually freakishly big but have shapes not found in nature, and the nipples too high or low... what do men SEE in boobs that look like they were glued onto the chest, anyways? If the hypothetical aliens were to ask why women were getting foreign objects inserted into their bodies to wildly alter the size and shape of said parts, and why by doing so they'd be considered far sexier than before, what could we tell them? Think about it, ladies, if a man you were attracted to turned out to have pec or butt implants, would you shrug and still be drooling, or would you recoil and be too grossed out to pursue sexual relations with him?

All this fuss about modified sweat glands surrounded by fat; we've gotta be the weirdest species in the universe, lol.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Control of children; the pendulum swings 

A hundred years ago, a child had no rights whatsoever in the United States to protection from whatever their parents felt like doing to them; the cultural belief in those days was that a child was a virtual slave of the parents, especially the father, and that outsiders shouldn't interfere no matter what was going on. It was also very common in those days for children to receive whippings and beatings the likes of which would get a parent thrown in jail these days as standard punishment, and it was hard to pin down when "acceptable discipline" shaded over into abuse... and no one bothered to try, as it wasn't seen as an issue, not then nor for the whole of human history prior to that time.

Things changed at the beginning of the last century, when a man in New York administered a beating to his little girl that was so savage that the neighbors actually became alarmed and came to the scene to find the child terribly injured. They summoned the police, but, as there were no laws against beating your child in those days, there was nothing they could do. The desperate neighbors actually went to the SPCA looking for help; yes, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to ANIMALS had long since existed, how's that for irony, but of course they had no help for the child either.

Finally, the neighbors carried the child to the courthouse, right into the courtroom, and laid her on the floor in front of the judge. The girl's injuries were so horrible that grown men burst into tears at the sight of her, and the members of the press who were present were so deeply moved that they wrote articles denouncing the lack of protection for children from this sort of treatment; the outrage that rose up in response to the articles led to the first-ever laws being passed restricting what parents could do to their kids, laws that eventually were adopted everywhere, leading to the astonishing progress that has been made in providing for the best interests of American children. This has inarguably been a good thing, overall; abuse of children is illegal now, as it should be, and parents have had to re-think what degree of punishment was reasonable and necessary to keep their kids in line, which was inarguably needed at that time.

As always, though, the pendulum of public opinion, law, and enforcement of law, has swung PAST the ideal level and off into the level of the excessive and fanciful; people have somehow gotten it into their heads that, contrary to what all available information would tend to show, kids can be controlled and trained in proper behavior without ANY sort of discipline, in other words without ever subjecting them to anything "unpleasant," and thus that a parent who tries to punish a child for misbehavior is being unnecessarily cruel and should be seen as an abuser. As a result, parents often hesitate to administer so much as a single slap to a child for fear that authorities might be notified, and if that slap takes place in public the chances of interference become VERY high; we have lost our ability to tell the difference between discipline and abuse, just as we've lost the ability to tell the difference between affection and molestation (remember when giving piggyback rides was called sexual abuse?).

For children too young to understand or remember parental lectures on what they're not supposed to do, and who tune the lecture out by the 3rd word in any case, verbal discipline is a waste of time, and modern methods such as time-outs have limited effect that rapidly evaporates once they've been used a few times; this is why children are wildly out of control these days, and why you see tearful parents on every talk show whining about how they "can't" get a 5 year old to do what they're told. When tiny children are running the households and doing as they please because the parents have no way to make them mind, it's time to wake up as a culture and realize that the modern idea of discipline does NOT work; furthermore, we do NOT do our children a favor by sending them out into the world with no clue as to how to listen or obey, or how to take the feelings of others into account, because that forces non-parental adults to try to make up for it on the fly (as any teacher or manager at a place that hires teens can attest to), and this gets our kids seen as troublemakers... because they ARE. Most importantly, kids WANT their parents to enforce rules, and they'll keep pushing until they have the security of a structure that rules provide, so if you fail to give them that you're also failing to give them a crucial element of emotional stability.

What does that mean? It means that we have to look back at the rest of human history, in which children WERE under control and being trained by parents to take their places in society, and re-learn how to be the ones in charge. This does NOT mean reverting to making it legal to beat children, as that is NOT necessary, but it DOES mean that we need to not make parents feel like criminals, or TREAT them literally as criminals, for administering a spanking or a slap; a SMALL amount of attention-getting pain WORKS in getting even the youngest child to rethink the wisdom of whatever bad behavior they've been punished for, which is the entire POINT of punishment.

But, what about some of the extreme "reparenting" solutions offered by people like Dr. Phil, who advocates doing things like taking everything out of a child's room except their bed, and that includes ALL of their toys, and making them "earn back" each and every one of their possessions through proper behavior? (Dr. Phil actually SAYS "No one will call Child Protection Services because you took toys away," so he IS aware of the need to give parents an alternative to physical punishment in the current extreme, fearful climate.) I have no doubt that these things will work, and I think they're a great idea for parents who're too afraid, or just unwilling, to give so much as a swat on the backside, but consider; which solution will cause a child more pain, a slap or being without their toys and such for WEEKS? We're enlightened enough as a people to grasp the concepts of mental and emotional cruelty and suffering, so we need to ask ourselves if it's ok to cause a child endless misery because we're unwilling to give a single slap; a slap causes pain for just a few minutes, which sure seems better than the days and weeks of internal pain a child would go through from having everything they care about taken away... doesn't it?

We also need to keep in mind what the child psychologists keep telling us about the importance of punishment happening right at the time of the misdeed, so that the child can connect the 2 in their mind; the "parenting methods" that require you to make a child suffer for days or weeks as a result of bad behavior (because you took away what they care about, be it toys, TV or whatever) just don't make sense when looked at from that angle, because all the kid sees is mommy and daddy are mean and won't let them have their toys-they can't remember what they did last month to cause this to happen. And what sort of joy is the household in general having when the kid has no toys or can't watch TV and is upset every minute of the day?

We can't keep letting kids run wild and essentially raise themselves because we're too fearful to discipline them; we're finally starting to see that, which is WHY experts like Dr. Phil are recommending "commando parenting" as a way to take back control of our children. Hopefully, this first little reversal of the swing of the pendulum back towards the center will lead us in the near future back to the idea that one smack on the rear end is the way to get a child squared away with the least suffering for them, and thus end up doing what is truly best for kids; teaching them how to behave, and doing it without having to plan a protracted, cruel campaign against them as if they were war prisoners being tortured rather than our loved ones.

All of the above does NOT mean that we should substitute slapping for using our BRAINS, however; if we can't out-think little kids, we're in BIG trouble. Even more important than realizing that talking 'til we're blue in the face is a waste of time, and that LIMITED physical punishment is effective and less cruel than anything else that actually works, is the revolutionary concept that we can use psychology, common sense, and a little bit of planning to steer our kids into doing what we want them to do withOUT relying on the implied threat of future punishment. The exhausted, stressed-out parents of the modern world may find it difficult to muster the energy to think things out in advance and set them up so that it's easy for a child following their natural instincts to do things the right way, but no one said that being a parent wasn't going to be challenging; if we're going to prevent the pendulum from swinging too far back in a desperate attempt to get control of our kids, we've GOT to switch our focus to setting our kids up for success rather than to letting events unfold randomly and then jumping in when it's too late with yelling and punishment.

If we do all that, and get good at it, maybe 20-30 years from now we'll be wondering why it was ever necessary to punish a child to make them behave or teach them to be good people; can you think of a better goal for us as a nation to strive for?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Synchronicity with Stephen King 

I've been passionate about King's writing since I was a teen, and I don't just mean the novels, I mean the short stories too (which don't sell nearly as well, for reasons that escape me, especially with the short attention spans people have these days). In my not remotely humble opinion, King is the greatest writer who ever lived, and a new book from him has always been cause for great jubilation for me.

The most extreme example of this has been my intense eagerness over the excruciatingly slow appearance of the novels of the Dark Tower series


the first book of which came out in 1982, and that's no typo..... 22 YEARS of being in suspense, wanting to see how it ended up (this was one of the many reasons King fans were having heart attacks when he got hit by the car-we'd never have known how it ended if he had died). I'd gotten the 5th book of the series for Christmas last year, and didn't know that anything else had been released... until today.

I was going through some blogs, and I saw something, SOMETHING, that clued me in to the 6th book having been released; weirdly, I can't remember what I saw, and after I brought up Amazon.com and looked it up, and went back and tried to find whatever the reference was that I'd seen so that I could post a thanks to whoever's page it was on, I couldn't find it , and mind you I hadn't closed any windows. This really freaked me out, especially after I checked my history and didn't find anything there either; no site that I'd seen today had any mention of the book that I could find, but I'm SURE that I SAW something that made me go check Amazon-I had to have. I'm resisting the feeling that I had a psychic flash, because it just doesn't seem possible to get one from something trivial like books... although, I DID used to get them all the time about songs and videos coming on... no, let's leave it as "I saw something and somehow couldn't find it again 2 minutes later," or it'll make me nuts.

If you noticed that I said "bookS," that was on purpose; when I did a search on Amazon for book #6, I discovered that, in wild departure from the way the books have been spaced for the past 2 DECADES, although book #6 was just released in June, book #7, the final book in the series, has ALSO been released. And WHEN, you ask, was it released? YESTERDAY!! :-O

There HAD to have been references to book #6 all over the place when it was released, but I was so caught up in my grief at a loved one living out her last few weeks during that time that they could have put a billboard on my front lawn and I wouldn't have seen it; it's worthwhile to notice from that how opportunities can pass by you when you're distracted mentally to the point of being unaware of what's going on around you-karma does NOT make allowances for this sort of thing, which is why we have the saying about how opportunity doesn't knock twice. This time around, however, I WAS paying attention, and karma provided me with beautiful synchronicity, allowing me to get not just book #6 but also, mindbogglingly, book #7, that I've been waiting over half my LIFE for, as soon as it became available; they've been ordered and are on their way to me. I don't know where I'm going to find the time to read them (I suppose I'll just have to get alot less sleep for a few days), but it'll be worth it. :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

How did humor evolve? 

When and why did the first caveman respond to another caveman falling flat on his face with the erratic bursts of sound known as laughter? What evolutionary value did this have, and why was someone being hurt a cause for others to feel mirth, rather than something less mean-spirited? How did enjoying the pains of others give us the benefit necessary for a new trait to propagate through the species?

There's no real reason for assuming that the first amusement was from an unintentional bit of physical comedy, of course; I just chose that because it could have happened when our species was still pre-verbal, but there's no proof that humor goes back that far. There's nothing to say that the first incident of humor wasn't in response to the first time someone meant to say a word meaning "food" and said a word meaning "excrement" instead... but I can't see any evolutionary value to THAT, either.

How did it help a person, or a tribe, to be more successful if they enjoyed seeing, or hearing about, other people suffering of being made fools of? And yes, that IS the basis for virtually every joke and sort of humor other than puns; try to think of some jokes that don't hinge on someone being hurt, fooled or humiliated, or on the idea that a certain subgroup of people, such as women or minorities, are inferior in some way, and you'll see what I mean. Is CARING about others such a terrible thing somehow that callous disregard for the feelings of others, as evidenced by laughing at their discomfiture, is beneficial?

People are usually amused by puns and other plays on words, too, even those that don't embarrass anyone; but WHY are we amused by them? How did this amusement lead to those people who felt it to being more likely to have more children to pass their tee-hee-hee genes to?

Even beyond why we find things funny, why do we LAUGH? How is making those unattractive sounds a good thing? We laugh for all sorts of reasons besides humor, such as when we're socially anxious, and those other kinds of laughter carry valuable information to others, but why laugh because someone slipped on a banana peel? (Do you suppose that's ever REALLY happened, other than in cartoons?) Why pass along to others that we're insensitive-what's the benefit in THAT?

This one's got me totally stumped; I can't find ANY reason for our ability to be amused, or to be amused at such cruel things, or to make noise to indicate our amusement, to have evolved, much less to have stayed as part of human nature for millennia. There MUST be one, though, because everything in our bodies and brains takes energy to create and pass on, so nothing in our nature is worthless; I see a great deal of research ahead of me...

(PS It's possible that humor is somehow connected to the soul, in which case we wouldn't expect to be able to see a scientifically valid benefit for it, but I'm not going to take the easy way out and decide that that's the reason; I figured I should add it in here for the sale of completeness, though.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Thai tattoos 

I've been watching the National Geographic Channel's Taboo series again, and, as usual, learned something fascinating: in Thailand, tattoos aren't for adornment, they're a deeply spiritual thing; not like in the cultures where it creates a deep bond with their society and history, but in the sense that the recipients believe that the tattoos have actual POWER, can protect them from harm and death, and that gods and spirits (including animal types) can possess them via the tattoos.

I watched in awe as man after man described the horrible accidents that happened to him, or rather all around him, from which he walked away without a scratch, and as a steady stream of men were "possessed" (there was nothing subtle about it, so you could see when it happened) both during the tattoo process and after having the tattoos "recharged" (which they do once a year). No, I don't see there being anything magical in the tattoo ink, or in the process of placing these huge and elaborate designs into the flesh, but it's obvious that the pain, the circumstances, and their belief system combined to make the recipients' minds open up and channel... who knows what (I consider the jury to be out on possession and the idea of spirits that are essentially minor deities).

For so many men to be so sure that having these tattoos would make them virtually invincible, and mind you it was all men who had horribly dangerous jobs who were getting them for protection, there has to be SOMETHING going on; my guess would be that they learn to gather and focus energy via the process and that this is what protects them, but I know too little about it to do more than speculate. They showed a man who had just been tattooed being required to test the tattoo; he was whacked repeatedly on the back with a machete, and all it left were some faint scratches. Now, I know well that it's a common "trick" in Eastern cultures to use the "blade didn't cut" bit to "prove" spiritual something or other, and I know how it works; a blade doesn't actually cut unless there's a sawing motion involved (this is why the guillotine blades were at an angle), so if you can meet the blade squarely it won't cut... but, could the machete-swinger have enough control to just make light scratches? It would seem like he'd have to, but a different man described being attacked by an ENEMY with a machete, grabbing for where he thought the wound was and discovering there was no blood, no wound, and the enemy sure wasn't playing a game, so...

No, I haven't suddenly become naive and credulous, but there's ample evidence of people who can exert inexplicable levels of control over their bodies, preventing them from suffering pain or injury under circumstances that Western eyes can barely stand to look at, and this feels like an extension of that, of men learning to tap into spiritual energy and channel it to protect themselves. I don't see the mechanism, though, and I wish I did, as always when I see intense spiritual experiences that I can't share; these men are enduring hours and hours of extreme pain every year because what they get in return makes it worth it to them... and I'd dearly love to experience, even for a few minutes, what that is.

Monday, September 20, 2004

A non-karma-related point from Joel Osteen 

I wish I had a transcript I could copy into this post, because Osteen gave a wonderful sermon today about the importance of not taking offense, and how harboring bad feelings poisons you (and has no effect whatsoever on the object of your ire).

The idea that having any kind of bad feelings has a negative impact on all areas of your life is one of his biggest themes, and it's a good one; negativity draws other negativity to itself with amazing power. And what's the point of wasting time and energy feeling angry at someone who cut you off on the freeway anyways? It's not just that they'll never know or care; they may not even be aware that they did it, and even if they were it's likely that they were just in a mad rush to get to work, and aren't bad people messing around on the freeway for funsies.

The issue of not taking offense ties into another theme of his, that of not judging when you don't know a person's story or anything about them; he points out, correctly, that most times when people take offense, it's at something unintentional, something the other person did or said because they're having a bad day, or are distracted, or are absent-minded, or are naturally outspoken, rather than from arrogance or meanness. We're often quick to label someone a bad person because they snapped at us or were rude, but think about it; YOU sometimes snap at people and are rude, and do you think that makes YOU a bad person? (It amazes me how quick we can be to condemn others for trivial things, while falling all over ourselves to forgive atrocious behavior.)

Sometimes, of course, people DO mean to give offense... but how do you tell? First, develop a habit of shrugging off behavior that doesn't matter, especially from people who don't matter; if a total stranger tells you that your jacket is ugly, so what? If a belligerent twit argues with your opinion, why care? If the person shooting their mouth off isn't someone who's a part of your life (this goes double for people online), isn't someone who has earned your respect, why should their opinion count for anything with you? If they try to be nasty, why play along with them and be hurt? While you probably can't shrug off attempts by your loved ones to be hurtful (it CAN be done, but it's hard for most people), it's quite easy to look at the ugly spoutings of some no-life jerk with nothing better to do than try to upset a total stranger as laughable, and thus to be amused... the added benefit to this is that you'll really aggravate them when you respond to their attempts at kicking you in the teeth with condescending laughter at their childishness.

Once you've developed the ability to not be offended by worthless types, make sure that when you respond to them (as you'll oftentimes have to) that your words, tone, expression and body language all convey unruffled calm; online, make sure that anything you post/send looks like your "regular stuff," ie no all-caps, cursing, or anything else that an objective reader would say was indicative of upset on your part. Then, wait for the magic words from the suspect; "There's no need to get upset/offended/mad," or "What are you getting upset/offended/mad about?" or a similar phrase that indicates their belief that you HAVE had that sort of response, despite the total lack of evidence... because these lines tell you that the person was TRYING to be offensive, and is just blindly assuming that you GOT offended because that was their plan, and that's the response they normally get from that behavior-in other words, they make a HABIT of doing this sort of thing, which tells you that they're not the sort of person you should EVER be concerned about.

This has gone far afield from what Joel Osteen talked about, and is probably something he'd recommend NOT trying to analyze, but I'm a practical sort, and like to have ways to decisively deal with all sorts of people, so I say; don't raise your blood pressure and ruin your day by taking offense at the rude behaviors of others, whether intended or not. It's better for your health, it keeps you from possibly lashing out at people who never intended offense, and it'll thwart the plans of the troublemakers when you can blandly reply to their "voicings of concern" aka proddings to try to make you madder; "But, I'm NOT upset/offended/mad-if I were, I'd ACT upset/etc," leaving them to sputter helplessly trying to deflect attention from the fact that they were clearly EXPECTING to have upset you, that that was their intention from the beginning.

As I always say, evil is at its base stupid; once you're on to 'em, it's very hard for them to ever "get" you. :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Dreaming about my dream house 

We all do it, right? With the exception, one assumes, of the very wealthy, who already HAVE their dream homes, we all have radiant visions of what we'd want if we won the lottery and could have any sort of home we wanted.

I'd like my home to be one of those insanely modern concrete and glass ones that looks like a spaceship taking off... or, the traditional Spanish manse with pale pink stucco, deep red tile roof, and a central courtyard (I'm such a mass of contradictions, lol).

I'd like the interior to have slightly pearlescent pinkish white walls; it'd be like living inside a seashell. The carpet would be a dense pile shag, the kind your toes sink into, in a light, chic shade of taupe; it's my favorite light neutral. The furniture would be a blend of mid-century and mod (just think "retro" if you're not a design buff and can't visualize what I mean), with dashes of modern; curvy and organic, therefore, but with an edge. Deep shades like cobalt, amethyst and raspberry sorbet would make the rooms warm, the exact opposite of the gray on gray that is often part of any remotely modern decor.

I'd also want it to have:

Arched doorways, curved stairways; right angles are just not aesthetically appealing.

An intercom that reaches every room; we had that in one of the homes I lived in as a kid, and it saved endless hollering.

Stained glass; I'd like a custom WALL of glass, probably in the entryway, so that people coming in the front door would gasp in amazement as they stepped into a magical world of color.

An elevator; if you've every had an attack of bursitis in your hip, you'll understand.

A huge saltwater tank, with fancy fish, little shrimps and crabs, and most importantly, sea horses.

A hummingbird garden, and yes there is such a thing, filled with the plants they like best, feeders, and nesting boxes, so that I could have a whole flock of them living there during the warm months when they're here; they're exquisite little creatures that always give me a thrill to see.

Tall, welcoming trees, one of which would have a nice padded swing attached to it in such a way as not to damage it. (Before you snicker, swinging is excellent exercise for the thighs, and more relaxing than yoga.)

An indoor swing for when the weather is bad... maybe in the room with the stained glass, just imagine...

Fountains and other water features, inside and out; the sound of moving/falling/splashing water is so soothing.

Windchimes around the house and throughout the gardens, of all different sorts and sizes so that every area would have a unique "song."

An interior lap-swimming pool that generates a current for you to swim against so that you never have to do turns, and can basically swim in place.

Bidets in every bathroom; if you don't know, I'm not gonna tell you, lol.

Large windows at the correct angle to catch the prevailing breeze, and to fill the rooms with natural light.

Art in every room (not just the traditional framed kind, but also sculpture, art glass, and some extreme modern stuff); complex pieces that you could see something new in every time you looked at them.

A gameroom with air hockey, classic arcade games, and a whole wall of pinball machines.

My husband wants a basement, and it's a nice idea to have all his mess in one part of the house, one that no visitor would want to go to; he could have a mass of computer equipment, soundproofing so he can blast the awful music he likes, a mini-kitchen where he could grow fungus to his heart's content, a bathroom that could be sealed off and self-cleaned/sterilized like an oven... and electrodes in all the chairs so I could zap him via remote control when I needed him for something.

I DID say it was a dream, hehehehehe.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

What is art? 

That didn't used to be such a big question; everyone used to know what was art and what was not, and there was no gray area. Art wasn't something just anyone could make, but it was something everyone could enjoy. Then, the modernization of the world started to affect how art was created...

For the record, I do NOT think that something has to be pretty, happy, easily understood or photorealistic to be art; art can be ugly, it can make you sad, angry or revolted, it can take time to figure out, and it can be abstract (up to a point). In a world where learning art isn't something that just a privileged few get to do, though, in a world where artists don't have to focus on doing portraits and religious art because that's where the $ is, and especially in a world where millions of people have Photoshop, in my mind there has to be more to art that just the creation of some sort of recognizable image:

Art should show you something new.

Art should indicate that its creator has a unique and powerful vision.

Art should make you react.

Art should make you think and/or feel intensely.

A couple of the traditional beliefs about art no longer apply:

Art does NOT require any training; outsider art is a brilliant example of what people with no background of any sort in art can produce with just whatever materials they can scrounge and their innate talent. Yes, making certain types of art DOES need to be learned, but far from all, and learning those techniques does NOT guarantee that what you create is art.

Art does NOT require pricey materials; outsider art is once again proof. Yes, some sorts of art DO need expensive stuff to make them, but the most innovative art uses unexpected materials, including things we normally look at as "garbage."

There's nothing too radical about what I've said so far; plenty of art experts say similar things. My ideas of what do NOT constitute art, though, consistently get me into debates:

Anything that looks like a wallpaper pattern is NOT art.

Anything that a 2 year old could duplicate, or that looks like it WAS made by a 2 year old, is NOT art.

Anything that shows technical skill but has no message or meaning is NOT art.

Anything that was generated using a computer, no matter how flashy and elaborate, with no message or meaning is NOT art.

Anything that goes beyond abstract to become meaningless blobs of color is NOT art.

Anything that is created by randomness, such as by throwing paint-filled balloons at a canvas, is NOT art.

And finally:

If you create something that's fabulous and innovative, but someone else did it first, their stuff is art; yours isn't.

Doing something new does NOT guarantee that you've produced art, though; this will come as a surprise to those "artists" who have claimed things like basketballs floating in an aquarium



(I hasten to add that many of Jeff Koons's works ARE art), a piece of string pinned to a wall (I couldn't find a photo, but you know what a piece of string looks like), and, most famously, a crucifix in a container of urine



are art, not to mention the people who have collected these things, usually to the tune of big bucks (the string one was a gift to the collector). I DO see many of even the most extreme pieces of modern art as true art; the sculpture of a head created from the artist's (Marc Quinn) own frozen blood



is a prime example (it was reported as having been accidentally "melted" a couple of years back, but luckily that was just a publicity stunt), but way too much of it is just utter nonsense with no vision behind it that the creators laugh all the way to the bank about having gotten some witless sap to purchase.

I'm sure that many readers will disagree with some or all of this; these days, art is about as subjective as anything ever gets. I think that the most important thing is that we look at art, or alleged art, think about it, and draw our own conclusions.

Friday, September 17, 2004

When did American homes get so stinky? 

My recent revelation about how the sorts of phone service related ads being shown have changed got me paying closer attention to what else is being advertised on TV these days, and a strange and scary pattern emerged; we've apparently become obsessed with making our homes smell like fruit and flowers and such. When did our living areas start smelling so bad that this became necessary?

I wish I'd bought stock in an air freshener company, because there's some big $ there these days. The choices are nearly infinite: The old-style unpowered ones come in glass and plastic, in every color, in shapes that range from utilitarian to cutesy to artsy, with liquid or solid scented stuff in fragrances that cover the spectrum from simple one-note scents to elaborate aromatherapy blends. The newer, powered ones, which can be battery or electrical, offer us fans, lights and visible puffs of... whatever that smoky stuff is... and, most surreal of all, a thing like a CD player that spews a whole series of scents from discs that look like CD's.

Then, there are the candles, the sprays (some of which are air sanitizers, whatever that is), Febreze, which you're supposed to spray on all your cloth surfaces, fabric softener that they make a big deal of the scent of in ads with no mention of the softening ability... since when does everything in our homes have to be artificially scented?

Want to know what's REALLY odd? I can't remember the last time I saw an ad for perfume (or body spray, does that even exist any more?); is everything supposed to be scented EXCEPT us? I DID see some ads for men's cologne, though... maybe men have gotten stinkier too? ;-)

Imagine what foreigners think when they come to this country and see American TV, and American ads, for the 1st time; do they go back home and tell their friends that all we care about are cell phone plans and making our homes smell sickeningly sweet? We are a disturbingly weird country, lol.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Sexual desire in long-term relationships 

How many times have you heard a man who: hasn't told the woman he's settled into couplehood with that he loves her, paid her a compliment, or done anything romantic or thoughtful for her in months, gave her a gym membership and a blender for her birthday, forgot their anniversary entirely, walks around the house in ragged old underwear with his gut hanging over the waistband, scratching his balls and picking his nose, leaves a mess for her to pick up in every room he enters, and can't be bothered to do his share of the tasks vital to the running of HIS home and the care of HIS kids... complaining that his woman isn't interested in sex with him any more?

In the olden days, a man could treat his home like a hotel and his wife like a maid, and do nothing for the household except bring home a paycheck, and still get laid, because that was the trade-off that he had made with his wife; her services as mother of his kids, housekeeper and sexual receptacle in return for him financing their lives... but that's NOT the deal most couples have today. Even more importantly, in the old days the woman didn't expect to want or enjoy sex, and the man didn't expect her to either; she was just expected to grit her teeth and go along with it... and this is the crucial point, fellas-no woman who ever lived has become sexually eager from any of those "traditional" male behaviors described above, so unless you expect YOUR woman to just grit her teeth and have joyless sex with you, you have to clean up your act if you want more sex. If you want your woman to feel desire, you have to do enough of the work on the home front to free up time and lower her stress, treat her like a valuable part of your life rather than as a sort of privileged domestic, and walk around the house looking (and SMELLING) like someone a woman would WANT to have sex with.

A final point that should be obvious but too often gets ignored: your woman would feel more desire if the sex was more to her liking, which means more kissing and foreplay (with emphasis on oral sex), more romance and tenderness, and less rough pawing of delicate female body parts.

Ladies, if your man has dampened desire, he may have taken on too much at work, and is swallowing all the stress, because, well, that's what men do; try to get him to do an intense workout, and/or give him a full-body massage, and that alone may be enough to kick-start his libido. If that's not it, take advantage of the male passion for novelty and start shaking things up: try and initiate sex at different times of day (men have the highest level of testosterone in the early AM, just FYI), in different places (including outside if you're up for it), and in different ways, which can mean anything from a different position to getting a French maid costume and offering to... well, use your imagination. Just keep in mind that men are highly visual creatures, so anything you do that gives him something hot to look at, from watching porn together to having sex with the lights on in front of a mirror to coming to bed in a lace teddy instead of sweats, will get you bonus points.

Once you get past the hot-and-heavy early rush of lust for your partner, you have to put some conscious thought into keeping the sex lively and your desire high; if you don't do that, and if you get lazy about your grooming, your consideration for each other, and the catering to each person's specific sexual turn-ons, of course things will fizzle-life is NOT a romance movie. Don't begrudge your partner a little effort; think of how much benefit YOU will get once the sheets are smoking again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The long-distance revolution 

My long-distance company has added a monthly fee to my bill, where previously there had never been one; with that, what was apparently the LAST calling plan offered by ANY major long-distance company with no monthly fee bit the dust. I discovered the latter when I started searching for a new company to give my business to; ATT, MCI and Sprint seem to have decided that the best way to combat the explosion of 10-10 dial-arounds, calling cards and cellular plans is to make what they have to offer look even LESS appealing to consumers.

Dismayed, I tried to think of what the most recent ads for bargain long-distance plans were that I'd seen, and realized that I haven't seen a single ad from a long-distance company in a long, long, LONG time... I honestly think it's been at least a couple of YEARS. When did we go from having an ad about a long-distance plan every 5 minutes to having them totally disappear? :-O

A 2nd realization occurred; for quite a while, there had been an endless stream of ads for the 10-10 dial-arounds, but I haven't seen one of THEM in ages, either... it sort of freaks me out that I never noticed any of this.

What have we got in replacement of the prior ads? A million and one ads for cellphones and the plans for them. *I* refuse to waste $ on a cellphone, but I can see more clearly now how everyone else has gotten so sucked in by them-it's all we see anymore, and what we want is what we see.

Because some months I don't make ANY long-distance calls, I'm going to hook up with some no-name company with no monthly fees; with luck, I'll end up with one that beats the 3¢ a minute that I've been paying for long distance with 10-10-297 (my official carrier was charging me quite a bit more even with an ultra-savings plan) so I can just make calls like a normal human being without having to dial extra #'s, but one way or the other I'm giving up on the former "Big 3" of long distance and tossing my $ at whoever wants to profit off the 5-hour calls I make when I DO use long distance (and that's not a typo-if you think my blog posts are long, you should hear my conversations, lol).

My husband told me that he thought we could plug a BlackBerry (with a cellular connection) into my computer and I'd be able to use my speakers and mic to carry on phone conversations; if I end up getting one to allow me to place my eBay bids while out to dinner (or wherever), that's probably what I'll end up doing. As you can imagine, my husband is salivating at the idea of getting such an advanced gadget, but I'm not convinced quite yet that it's justifiable to be that self-indulgent; in the meantime, we'll have to grit our teeth and pick from the list of companies we've never heard of and trust one of them with our long distance dollars... and be grateful that we CAN search online, rather than being at the mercy of the familiar companies.

Maybe we should go back to sending smoke signals....

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Friends vs followers 

People often tell me things like "It must be SO wonderful to be so smart/funny/fearless/etc," unaware that their tone has more than a little envy in it... as if being the focus of attention were something to ENVY, instead of a pain in the butt and a thankless duty.

Does that not make sense? Do you wish that YOU were the sort of person who effortlessly attracted an appreciative audience, or that people would want to hang around with and look up to, or did you wish that as a kid? If so, prepare to be disillusioned, because there's NOTHING that any sane person would want about being the "center" of a group.

Yes, yes, it's nice to see that people think you're cool at a social gathering (for about 5 minutes, unless you're supremely shallow or naive)... but if you pause, or, heaven forbid, stumble, in your standup routine, impassioned monologue, or whatever, people will turn on a dime and ***poof***, they're gone, leaving you wondering how you could have thought they were so friendly, and why you bothered to exert the effort for them. This is a watered-down version of the dynamic every famous person experiences; people that are being entertained by you might act really friendly, but they do NOT want to be your friends... they want a one-way transfer of energy and enjoyment from you to them. Does that sound like something YOU would want? Me neither; years ago, I wised up and stopped being the floor show for people other than trusted friends.

It's not just attentive strangers you have watch out for if you're the gregarious and amusing sort; the REAL "danger" is sycophants, those fake, 2-faced, born-to-be-follower types who'll come out of the woodwork to gather around a "leader," basking in reflected glory, accepting the steady stream of love, support and assistance that comes from a leader (and it takes ALOT of time and effort to provide all of that, trust me), enjoying the ready-made social group and party atmosphere that the leader provides, and claiming eternal friendship... but, unlike with actual friendship, the follower doesn't give anything back, or even act as if they see the leader as a human being with needs and feelings (to which they should show sensitivity), one to whom they owe much and should be able to be counted on to reciprocate to at least once in a while. In other words, the one who's the center of attention, the center of the group, has the "honor" of making all the effort for everyone and getting nothing in return... how good does THAT sound to you?

Wait, it gets better: Any time the leader has a setback in their life, the sycophants will be sniggering and crowing about it behind their back... and sometimes to their face.... AND, if, or should I say WHEN, the leader does something to displease a sycophant, such as not being a doormat for them where bad behavior is concerned, the sycophant will turn on the leader like a rabid dog; the first clue the leader gets about this is usually snippy commentary about how "controlling" they are (you know, for being the one who makes all the effort for the others, which they've always been happy to lay back and accept, and even DEMAND), how they "expect people to kiss their feet," and other distortions of the dynamic of exactly whose idea the foot-kissy behavior WAS, and how the leader is overbearing, bossy, blah blah blah (never realizing how bad THEY would look if the person they followed like lapdogs really WAS all those terrible things)... and suddenly, the person who has exerted all of the effort, not to mention all of the caring, in the "relationship" suddenly finds themselves with, at best, someone who stalks off leaving bad feelings behind, or, at worst, an actual enemy.

What on Earth is behind this twisted behavior? I've heard that the Chinese character for gratitude is the same as the one for resentment... and that the character for admiration is the same as the one for resentment... probably NEITHER is true, but the point behind the belief that they ARE is one of the ugliest aspects of human nature; people, particularly weak and/or follower types, DO resent those that they see as "having superior qualities," because they feel lessened by comparison, and those who are able to give, because they HAVE something to give, while they see themselves as only being able to take.

The last time, both in the sense of most recent and, hopefully, in the sense of the final time in my life, that I got sucked in by this sort of thing is with the "psycho bitch" whose online destruction by the members of the forum she spent her life on I've chronicled several times on this blog; much as it pains me, I've learned that I have to bring somewhat of an accountant mentality to new relationships, and consciously measure whether what I'm getting back from each person is approximating what I'm giving them... followers are too lazy to give anything (which is of course part of why they're followers to begin with-being a leader, or even an independent, takes alot of work), but a FRIEND will automatically give back as fast as they receive.

If you're the "leader" of YOUR social group, take an honest look at the give-to-get ratio between you and each of your friends, and see if they really ARE all friends (which they may well be-NOT all followers are sycophants, thank goodness), or if any of them are just followers who are waiting to turn against you and flounce off to a new leader. If you're NOT the leader, look at your relationship with the one who is, and ask yourself if you're treating them as a friend... or if that admiration/gratitude/resentment thing is going on. And finally, if you've envied those that others flock to follow... I hope you've seen how lucky you are NOT to be one of them.

Monday, September 13, 2004

My feminine intuition applies to physics 

I've said since I first heard about dark energy that it was nothing but an invention by the eggheads to try to make up for the errors in the math that went with their theories-heck, I just posted about it a couple of days ago. Today, I read in an article in the September issue of "Discover" called "Plucking the Strings of Relativity" written by the man who COINED the term "dark energy," professor of theoretical astrophysics and cosmology Michael Turner:

"Perhaps the most radical idea, and the one I am pursuing now, is that there's no dark energy at all. (Remember, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.) Instead, our incomplete understanding of gravity is at fault, and when we understand it better, we'll no longer need to invoke dark energy."


YES!!!!!!!! I can't tell you how satisfying it is to me to see the guy who invented the theory admitting that it's "fake," and to see that my intuitive grasp of the situation was RIGHT.

Since he made the point about "foolish consistency," I decided to try to think about this issue from the opposite side; what if there IS energy in the universe that's creating the effects that are making the equations come out wrong, but has thus far evaded detection? What could that energy be? What energy is there that I know of that science hasn't found yet? It finally, very belatedly, occurred to me that KARMA could be the "dark energy" that exerts a repulsive (as opposed to attractive) gravitational force that causes cosmic acceleration.

!!!!!!!!!!!! How could I have missed that possible connection all this time?

No, I still don't think that anything "hidden" is responsible for what the astrophysicists are observing, but it's mindblowing to me to see that I hadn't even considered the possibility of the role karma might be playing if it turned out that they were RIGHT about dark energy; I'm grateful to Professor Turner, both for admitting that he was wrong and for prodding me about the need to look at EVERY possibility in my search for the truth, even those that seem IMpossible to me.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Some thoughts about 9-11 

So much has been said about 9-11, at so much length, in so much detail, and with such extreme adjectives, that it's hard to grieve, in a way, because every grief-filled thought seems repetitive and derivative, whether in my head or written down.... still, I tried:

Part of what makes America great is our ability to care deeply about others, even total strangers. Did you know that the charitable giving that's standard for Americans is unheard of in some countries? And that the flood of well-wishes, gifts and $ that anyone whose hard-luck story makes the news gets is likewise unimaginable in many places? In America, even an ANIMAL that gets into the news will get $ and offers of adoption-that's how eager Americans are to get emotionally involved and give of themselves.

Our collective agony at the deaths of so many innocents at the hands of agents of evil is thus perfectly understandable, but it's not just that they died, but that they didn't die fighting, for their lives, for their loved ones, or for a cause... that their deaths were so utterly senseless. The loved ones of military personnel who die in action can have the comfort of knowing that their dearly departed died for something they believed in, but the innocents who died as the result of skulking, cowardly evil didn't get the chance to fight, or the choice to try to combat the enemy, so what comfort can THEIR loved ones find?

How many of those who died forgot to kiss a loved one good-bye that day, or had loved ones who forgot to kiss THEM? How many of them had people they loved that they never expressed that love to, or vice versa? How many of them had had fights with loved ones that they hadn't resolved, and now never CAN resolve? How many of them had loved ones that they hadn't contacted in far too long?

On the positive side, out of our grief at the tragedy of 9-11 came many good things, such as the surges in blood donations, charitable giving, volunteering, and patriotism... and, the biggest of all, and the best tribute to the fallen-the explosion of people contacting loved ones that had slipped out of their lives, telling them how they felt, and welcoming them back into their lives. I hope that the many who lost pieces of their hearts on 9-11 can take at least a little bit of comfort in that.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Superstring theory and karma 

I've had a great affection for superstring theory (aka string theory aka M-theory) from the moment I first read about it; it's a stunning model of how our universe came to be and how the omniverse could be laid out (I posted about that facet of it on 2-4), it does NOT require the existence of mysterious "dark energy" and "dark matter" (aka phlogiston and ether if you ask ME, see my post of 1-3), it would explain pretty much everything, it would allow for multiple universes... it nearly brings tears to my eyes because it's so beautiful and would change everything if it were proven to be accurate. I'd KILL to be one of the handful of people on the planet with sufficient understanding of theoretical physics and mega-math to actually analyze this theory... or at least to be able to get together with some of these guys and get them to try to explain as much as I CAN understand, AND to suggest to them that they study a little metaphysics to get more ideas as to what should be included in the analysis (ie all aspects of karma).

I see the energy of karma as making up the structure of reality, meaning both the physical AND the things we can't see, like thoughts, feelings, psychic phenomena, souls, spirits; using Occam's Razor, it's always seemed like all of these unknowns (the nature of the energy that all matter is made of has yet to be described, making IT also an unknown) should be made of ONE thing, such that we only have ONE unknown, "what is the energy of karma," rather than a bunch of unknowns.

Superstring theory has gone me one better; according to some eye-opening info about it that shows up twice in the September Discover, they're hoping to prove that EVERYTHING, including every kind of energy/force, is made up of the same thing. This is PHYSICISTS saying this, folks, not a METAphysicist. To quote:

"According to string theory, the fundamental constituents of the physical world are not pointlike particles but infinitesimal one-dimensional loops, or strings. All the particles and forces in the universe arise from these strings vibrating at different frequencies."


"Superstring theory, now often called M-theory, looks like the most promising approach to marrying quantum mechanics and gravity while unifying all the forces of nature at the same time. Like general relativity, M-theory is bold: It knits together the strands of physics by describing all particles and forces as fantastically small strings of energy vibrating in 10 spatial dimensions and one dimension of time."

If they show superstring theory to be correct, that would be scientific proof that I've been RIGHT all along, that everything I've always said is made of the same "stuff" IS; the fact that everything ELSE in the universe(s) would ALSO be made of the same "stuff" thrills me no end, as it's the logical extension of my theories, but one that I'd never have dared to contemplate myself.

Even if you deny the existence of any of "the unknowns," you're being left with no way to deny that, as I've said over and over, reality is NOTHING like we think it is. Space, time, matter, energy... none of it works the way we were taught in school, the way our senses tell us, the way science of even a few years ago claimed. Is it such a big leap to go from that to embracing things like synchronicity and karma?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Intermittent reinforcement 

If they give a rat a lever it can push to get a food pellet, it'll push whenever it wants a food pellet. If they give a rat a lever it can push that will SOMETIMES give it a food pellet, it will push the lever CONSTANTLY, will become virtually obsessed with pushing it.


It's counter-intuitive, isn't it? You'd think that the rat stuck with the "sometimes lever" would ignore it in disgust, or only push it if he were REALLY hungry, because the reward to effort ratio is so poor, wouldn't you? That's not the way rat psychology works, though... or human psychology, either, sadly. Something that we only get some of the time in response to our efforts becomes vastly more desirable to us than it should based on its actual value; it's similar to the equally odd psychological reality that when access to something is restricted, whether by limited quantity, high price, or a velvet rope across the door, its desirability to most people skyrockets, even though the actual objective value of the thing hasn't changed.

Intermittent reinforcement is every bit as powerful in humans as it is in rats, and is the reason that the rotten people of the world will be pursued so intensively as romantic partners, and valued so highly as friends, as long as they SOMETIMES do something nice... when people SHOULD be turning from them in contempt as not worth the effort. It's also the reason that people who are nice all the time are NOT pursued intensively as romantic partners, or valued as highly as friends, or as people, as they should be given their records.

If you've ever wondered why people will hang out with "friends" who rarely seem to even be nice to them, or become virtually obsessed with romantic partners who don't treat them well aside from the occasional impressive gestures, this is what's behind it... sucks, doesn't it? If I had a dime for every time I've had to say something along the lines of, "I don't care if he got you a rose for no reason, he's been treating you like dirt every moment for 6 months," or "But WHY is she your friend when she takes from you constantly and can't be bothered to give anything back more than twice a year?", I could pay off my mortgage.

If there's any way to get other people to wise up about this when they're in the middle of it, I have yet to find it; I'm hoping that by warning people, I can help at least a few fend it off. On the less virtuous side... if, like me, you were raised to be "nice" and do everything for everyone, do the right and best thing all the time, you'll find that people will treat you BETTER if you "slack off" and treat them less "perfectly." Contrary species, aren't we?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

General relativity 

Yes, I'm still wading through the articles on Einstein in the September 2004 issue of "Discover"; the one by theoretical physicist Lee Smolin gives the best explanation of general relativity that I've ever seen... and shows me that my own view of the universe as the engine of karma, in which everything is part of a radiating web of connections, with everything that happens becoming part of everything that follows, and time not working the way we've been taught, fits perfectly with what Einstein envisioned (the asterisks are mine):

"All previous theories said that space and time have a fixed structure and that it is this structure that gives rise to the properties of things in the world, by giving every object a place and every event a time. In the transition from Aristotle to Newton to Einstein and special relativity, that structure changed, but in each case the structure is absolute. We and everything we observe live in a set space-time, with fixed and unchanging properties. That is the stage on which we play, but nothing we do or could do affects the structure of space and time themselves.

General relativity is not about adding to those structures. It is not even about substituting those structures for a list of possible new structures. It rejects the whole idea that space and time are fixed at all. Instead, in general relativity ***the properties of space and time evolve dynamically, in interaction with everything they contain.*** Furthermore, the essence of space and time now is just a set of relationships between events that take place in the history of the world. It is sufficient, it turns out, to speak only of two kinds of relationships: how events are related to each other causally (the order in which they unfold) and how many events are contained within a given interval of time, measured by a standard clock (how quickly they unfold relative to each other).

Thus, in general relativity there is no fixed framework, no stage on which the world plays itself out. ***There is only an evolving network of relationships, making up the history of space, time, and matter.*** All the previous theories described space and time as fixed backgrounds on which things happen. The implication of general relativity is that there is no background."


Wednesday, September 08, 2004


This idea first occurred to me in high school, when it dawned on me that every "great man" we studied had either gone overtly crazy, committed suicide, died from alcohol or drugs, or married a teenaged cousin and later died alone in poverty in a garret... not a single one of them had the ability to deal with life, or function in the world. Coincidence?

When you inject nitrous oxide into a car's engine, it greatly improves its performance... but you can't keep pumping it in forever, because it messes the engine up. Is whatever it is that causes genius doing something similar to the brain? What IS genius after all but a hopped-up mode of mental functioning, one that allows the mind to make intellectual leaps, think around corners, and imagine things that have never before existed... and that never gives it a moment's peace, a moment to just cruise in neutral? How many times have you heard a writer say that they "have to" write, or an artist say they "have to" paint, etc; a compulsion like that is by itself proof of skating at the edge of sanity, of a mind that doesn't work in the "normal" way... and that's about as mentally healthy as geniuses get.

I wrote about genius in detail in my post of 2-28, and normally wouldn't revisit the topic, but today, in the September issue of "Discover," I read that Einstein's 2nd son, Eduard, was not only brilliant, as one would expect, but also schizophrenic, and spent a great deal of time institutionalized after his first breakdown at the age of 20. Schizophrenia is genetic; the genes for it are recessive, naturally, which is how it gets perpetuated despite it generally manifesting itself early enough in life to prevent procreation... and that means that the man who was arguably the greatest genius who ever lived carried a recessive gene for a form of insanity. (The multiple articles on him in the magazine show that he was QUITE eccentric, especially by the standards of that period in history-no surprise there.)

Is there a continuum from normal to genius to insanity, one in which the far end has a slippery slope down which all too many "greats" end up sliding? Do the genes for mental instability/illness act like a sort of nitrous oxide to the brain, making it super-charged, able to perform spectacular feats of creativity and insight... but also taking a toll, making it compulsive, or "eccentric"... or worse?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Voodoo and DNA 

My most deeply religious friend called me and announced that, thanks to her discussions with ME, she's been thinking about various aspects of the unknown and how they might be explained... and had come to the conclusion that there might be something to voodoo, because the common requirement for things like hair or fingernail clippings, which contain DNA, for the spells could mean that voodoo IS actually allowing the practitioners to focus energy of some sort at, or against, people. I don't know which made me prouder, that this Christian woman was contemplating things that were previously unimaginable to her, or that she came up with something new that a case can actually be made for.

Yes, I know, voodoo seems outrageous to Western eyes, but that's not a reason to discount it out of hand; after all, OUR religions have some pretty wild trappings too, when you think about it. Let's pick on Catholicism, since that's what MY family's religion is; you can't beat Catholic religious leaders in the goofy-hat department, the incense that gets waved around seems a tad pagan, and it doesn't get more extreme than their ritual cannibalism (Catholics believe themselves to actually be eating the body of Christ when they receive communion)... and don't get me started on the abuse of children by the priests. What has voodoo got to shock us with compared to all that, really... dead chickens and such? No comparison.

Voodoo, like any other belief system, is a way for people to feel like they have some sort of say with the powers that control the world, and thus some sort of control over their own lives; they also believe they can affect other people via this system, and they certainly have an impressive record of being able to do so... and NOT all of it can be attributed to coincidence or being able to psyche out their enemies, although obviously much of it CAN. Much of what they do, the prayers and rituals, are common to most cultures; they're just ways of organizing and focusing thoughts, which are energy, and therefore capable of doing "work"... if you have sufficient mental discipline. (It's like learning to juggle an egg, a running chainsaw and a bowling ball all at the same time; nearly anyone COULD learn to do it, but few are willing to do what it takes TO learn it.)

Most items used in rituals are just props to allow us to tune out the mundane world and tune in to our inner eye, so to speak, and you could easily argue that having discarded bits of a person's body to use in the casting of spells is nothing more than that... OR, the DNA they contain COULD be physically assisting or directing the flow of energy onto the intended victim. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.....

Monday, September 06, 2004

Your thoughts shape the world 

Did you ever think that the opposite of faith is... FEAR? This was part of the message in Joel Osteen's sermon today; that when you have faith, God comes and gives you all the wonderful things he has lined up for you, and that when you have fear, "the enemy" (Satan) comes and brings you the very things you've been worrying about. He said that by the very act of fearing, you create an opening through which "the enemy" can enter your life and do you ill... there's that karmic idea of your thoughts creating openings for "stuff" to fall into your life through again, as well as the idea that the "beings of power" can't take action for or against you unless your mind is focused a certain way (which *I* would of course see as the positive or negative nature of your mind causing corresponding things to happen directly, but the end result is the same).

Osteen made the repeated point throughout his sermon about not fearing, about not letting any fearful thoughts or ideas be in your head, about being careful about what you meditate on (aka think about alot), about disciplining your mind so that you never have any visions in it of bad things happening... because if you DON'T exercise this sort of control, you'll cause those things you fear the most to actually happen.

He described a man he knew who'd obsessed that his young and perfectly healthy wife might die and leave him alone; within a few years, she contracted a rare form of cancer and died. On the positive side, he told of a woman he knew who had spent her entire life sure that she'd have great trouble conceiving, as all the woman in her family had, and she in fact didn't conceive... UNTIL he convinced her that she had to replace the fearful thoughts with positive ones, after which she got pregnant within a few months. What was really fascinating about these stories wasn't the cause and effect he showed between repeated thoughts and strong feelings and what happens to us, which isn't new to ME, but that he outlined all of this with virtually no mention of God... I say that not to question his faith, which I have no reason to do, but to make the point once again that he seems to be talking as much about what he perceives about how the universe works (karma) as about what it says in the Bible.

He also says that, in addition to disciplining your mind to seal out all fearful thoughts, you need to visualize the positive events that you want in your life, such as a successful business or a new baby, actually SEE them in your mind over and over; anyone who's read anything about visualization techniques will find this quite familiar. Visualization, affirmations, meditation, prayer... all ways to repeatedly focus your mind on your goals, all ways that you CAN in fact influence how your life turns out.

The idea that you have to discipline your mind to keep ALL fearful thoughts out, because any "bad" thought in your mind can bring bad things into your life, may sound extreme... but I think Osteen's dead-on. More and more in recent months, when thoughts of things that could go wrong have crept into my mind, I've been reacting with "no, don't even think that," which hadn't been my pattern before, but has seemed more and more necessary the deeper I've gotten into the workings of karma and seen how what I think feeds into what happens in my life.

The universe truly doesn't work the way we were taught, with powerful forces outside of our control moving us around like chess pieces; yes, there ARE forces at work all around us, but we're far from powerLESS ourselves... our minds have so much power to affect what happens in our lives that even the most exaggerated-sounding comments I make are understatements. Try it and see.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Does your opinion count more than 10,000 opinions? 

Unless your ego is the largest in the history of humankind, you thought "of course not" when you read the title, but if I asked you the question in a different way, there's a good chance you'd answer differently; if I told you that a survey was done and 10,000 people had a certain opinion/feeling/habit that was contrary to YOUR opinion/etc, you'd most likely fire right back with something along the lines of "no, that's not right/true, *I* don't think/feel/do that"... and with that statement, you'd dismiss what 10,000 people said because your own experience is different, which boils down to counting your own opinion (or that of anyone you know well enough to be sure of what THEY would say) as "more than" the opinions of 10,000, or 100,000, or a MILLION people.

If you're absolutely positive that you've never done any such thing, the overwhelming likelihood is that you're male; one of the glaring differences between the genders is that women tend to see the experiences of themselves and those they know as being somehow more significant than the experiences of literally ANY # of other people. I can't tell you how many times I've had intelligent, educated, sophisticated women not only respond to statistics I've given them this way, but, after I've pointed out to them the utter ridiculousness of putting the experiences of one person over those of thousands, reply with a perfect imitation of a 5-year-old's tone "well, I don't care, I just care about what my brother says" (or whoever).

Ladies, if hearing about this makes you feel defensive, be aware that men HATE when you do this, and that this is one of the things men point to as "proof" that women are illogical, irrational, etc; if you want the men in your life to respect you, you need to behave in a respect-worthy manner, which means, in this instance, accepting that one person's opinion only counts as ONE, even if that person is YOU.

If you're a woman and, like me, are in the minority of women who do NOT do this, you've probably been told many times that you "think like a man"; if you ever wondered what men mean when they say that, this should shed a little light.

If you're male and think this way... unless your male friends think the same way, it'll be self-correcting, so I won't comment. ;-)

If you're male and have always been disgusted when women do this, and plain don't understand it... I empathize, as it drives ME crazy, too, and don't have any insight to offer, because I've never done it. All I can suggest is that, next time you want to take your woman to task for her "illogical thinking," keep in mind that YOU probably consider baseball scores to be more worthy of being committed to memory than your anniversary, or watching a football game to be more important than playing with your kids, or keeping up with the WWF to be more important than calling your mother... and your woman, silly creature that she is, thinks that THOSE things are illogical-so you're even.

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