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Neko

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Anticipation, anticipa-a-tion 


Anticipation is a wonderful thing; that special excitement you feel when you're about to get something good really adds to the experience. The problem comes when your anticipation exceeds what the experience can reasonably be expected to provide:

For example, if you had a date someone who was pleasant, nice-looking and bright, you'd normally be happy; if it was a blind date, though, and you'd been anticipating someone gorgeous, brilliant and charming (even though people like that, if they exist, don't NEED blind dates), the perfectly lovely reality would be a let-down to you, and your disappointment could easily spoil your evening. If, on the other hand, you'd been expecting someone gross, and had the exact same date, you'd be thrilled... which just goes to show you that pessimism can sometimes work to your benefit (although I still don't recommend it).

And have you ever eaten something that you really enjoyed, then not had it for a long time, and finally had the opportunity to eat it again, and your mouth is watering, and you take a bite... and it isn't nearly as great as it was in your anticipatory fantasies? Our memories are easily influenced by our thoughts, and can get so distorted that what was once wonderful seems mediocre by comparison, especially after all that anticipation.

In the romantic arena, anticipation often sets couples up for a fall; they enter into marriage, or playing house, with wildly unrealistic expectations, anticipating the sorts of intimacy and sexual marathons that don't exist outside of romance novels and porn, and when they discover that there's alot more arguing over chores and running errands than passion and romance, they blame the relationship, even though without the nonsense in their heads they'd have been fine.

Even when you DO have reason to expect that something will be terrific, though, you can still feel disappointed, because some things just don't live up to their press; we've all seen movies that are perfect examples of that. It's even worse when we've had a LONG period of anticipation; ask anyone who had a vacation or a big party end in disaster. Just imagine, then, what it's like to be about to experience something you're waited over 20 YEARS for, with a level of anticipation that's about to blow the top of your skull off, and you can see the enormous potential for letdown.

I've reached the last section of the last book of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series; I've been reading these books for over half of my life, literally, and ever since the final one was published and ordered from Amazon.com, I've been winding up more and more, anticipating the moment I've been waiting for... when the hero of the series, Roland, will finally reach the tower, the centerpoint of all existence in all the universes, and... and.... well, I don't know yet, of course, and I'm hoping passionately that King has come up with something dazzling enough to make it worth the wait. I keep telling myself that the end nearly HAS to be anti-climactic after all this waiting, but he's such a brilliant writer that I can't help but get caught up in the buildup; I hope that, whatever the end of the book, of the series, is, I can enjoy it even if it fails to meet my expectations...


Saturday, October 30, 2004

Whatever happened to kissing? 


At first glance, it doesn't seem like ANYTHING happened to it; we see it all the time... or do we? What *I* see on TV and in the movies looks like chewing and slobbering to ME, which doesn't qualify as kissing in my book unless the participants are St. Bernards. Where has all the REAL kissing gone?

Some of you may be old enough to remember when there were TWO kinds of kissing; the regular kind, which was the impassioned meeting of 2 pairs of lips, and French kissing, which meant doing something vaguely like kissing, except with the mouths open and tongues stuck in each other's mouths (generally with a steady flow of saliva involved, although the movies don't show that part of it). Now, sadly, only the latter form of kissing, which someone in Hollywood at some point apparently decided was better somehow, still exists... and I PROTEST!!

I'm not saying that there should be no French kissing shown just because *I* think it's vaguely icky, I'm saying that eliminating the "standard variety" makes no sense, and deprives those of us who swoon over REAL kissing of the enjoyment that romantic scenes are supposed to be giving us... the enjoyment that brings in movie-goer dollars. Furthermore, American men, taking their cues from what they see, have altered their kissing styles to match what they think is "the right way" to do it, and I can't tell you how many times I've heard women complain about it; I've never encountered a single woman who claimed to LIKE having her face slathered with spit. (Men, if you're smugly congratulating yourselves that no women YOU'VE been with have ever complained about how you kiss, keep in mind that you're the LAST person they'd complain to about anything in the romantic department (sorry, ladies, lol, but the guys have a right to know).)

A few decades ago, when the leading man kissed the leading lady, you could feel it all the way down to your toes; these days, you can't tell if he's kissing her or trying to gnaw off the bottom half of her face. If you don't know what I mean about what kissing looked like when it was wonderful, rent an old Errol Flynn movie, such as "Robin Hood," and watch when he locks lips with Olivia DeHavilland; within 5 seconds, she looks like her knees have buckled and she'd fall to the floor if he wasn't holding her up, and you can totally see why she feels that way, given his technique (and his handsomeness, too, granted).

I'd given up hope of us ever getting good stuff like that again, but my hope has been renewed thanks to "Queer as Folk"; the main character, studmuffin Brian Kinney, while not going so far as to do the bending the kissee backwards thing that was common in the old days, as it would look a little odd doing that with other men, nevertheless kisses the way they did in the movie classics... in a way that makes you wonder how the recipients can remember their lines, or even stay on their feet. I've got my fingers crossed that the success of QAF, and of the Brian character as a sex symbol, will motivate directors to have more couples kiss the old-fashioned way.

Fellas, you don't have to wait for the next kissing revolution to give this a try; surprise the women in your lives with deep, romantic kisses that don't require them to have towels or bibs, and see what it gets you. ;-)


Friday, October 29, 2004

What's in a name? 


A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but we're VERY sensitive to being referred to by other than our name, so much so that the deliberate use of the wrong name for someone is used as a form of insult:

1) a) Person A dislikes person B, so person A calls and/or refers to person B by the wrong name; the message this is meant to send is "I think so little of you that I can't be bothered to remember your name," but the reality is that A is just pretending, and in fact doesn't even expect anyone to believe that he doesn't know the correct name... he's just using this ploy to toss a little contempt at B without getting called on it, knowing that no one can "prove" that he actually knows the name, and so they'll never accuse him of acting badly.

b) In a more subtle version of this, person C has some sort of relationship with both A and B, and A is jealous or resentful or disapproving of B, and so uses the wrong name for B to C, but not to B directly... thus involving C in a little act of disloyalty to B if C fails to correct A's usage of the wrong name for B, all without B knowing anything.

2) Person A, who uses whatever name comes to mind for person B and doesn't care if it's right or wrong, considers himself far "above" B, as might be the case if A were the worst kind of boss and B had the misfortune to work for him, or if B were the servant of A; the message here is "I'm too important to keep track of petty details like the names of workers." It's nothing personal, it doesn't show specific feelings about B, it's a blanket insult that's applied to everyone of the supposedly lower status, as part of an overall attitude of extreme arrogance... A might not even realize he's doing it any more, as it's become a knee-jerk (and I do mean JERK) reaction to being faced with an "inferior."

3) Person A has no trouble remembering the name of person B... as long as B is male. If B is female, and not a blood relative, when speaking to her (which he may actively avoid doing) A will either give her a name at random, or will call her (with thinly-veiled contempt) "honey"; when speaking of her to whatever man he associates her with, he'll use either a random name or refer to her as "your wife" or "your assistant." A's a misogynist, and sees denying a woman a name as denying her recognition and power, and showing himself (in his mind) to be superior; this type of man usually drives a flashy car, as he does not fill out his inseam very well.

Be very, VERY careful around a person who displays any of the above behaviors; unlike when people say something nasty during an argument, or because they're angry or upset, this name substitution is done in cold blood, and always, ALWAYS, indicates that the substituter is NOT a nice person. Most folks don't think this through, and will be fooled by "person A," who may give no other overt evidence of being a baddie; as is usually the case with the red flags about a person's true character, no one will see this as meaning anything if you point it out to them, so don't bother... just keep your eyes open, and don't let A suck YOU in to being a part of his life.


Thursday, October 28, 2004

The future is SEMI-fixed 


Why do people insist that the future has to either be entirely fixed, or entirely up for grabs? The only way there could be a future in which ANYTHING could happen would be if there were no past, no such thing as memory, nothing fixed existing in the universe... in other words, if we lived in a scifi novel. The only ways there could be total predestination would be if there were a deity who'd planned it all out, or if everything that will ever happen already exists like a great cosmic DVD that's being played... maybe over and over. Either of those things could, in theory, be the way it works, but each of those choices would add a whole new layer to reality, and, as an adherent to Occam's Razor, I prefer to go with the simplest explanation... which means using the scheme of karma I already know exists and seeing how time is most likely to work based on that.

As always, I start my analysis with what I know: The first thing I know is that time does NOT work the way we think it does, with moments being added on one by one, like beads on a string, and time moving from one point to the next, in one direction, and with nothing existing beyond the current "bead"; quantum physics, in which effect sometimes precedes cause, shows us that. The 2nd thing I know is that, since precognition exists (I've experienced it many times), some part of the future must already exist... or else how could a precognitive be seeing it? These things, combined with the unlikeliness of the existence of either traditional view, add up to a future that is semi-fixed, and, given the way I see karma, this is what seems like the simplest and most logical way for it to work:

Everything we do, say, think and feel creates energy, and these energies combine with all other energies from all other sources to create karma; what happens in each moment is the sum total of all previous karma... or, rather, that part of karma that is still "active." Not all previously-released energies are part of "the engine of karma" (the part of karma that does things) any more; most energies are only actively present as part of karma for a short time (although they can never disappear, according to the laws of physics)... for example, you said good-night to your dog 10 years ago, and that bit of karma became inactive in probably 2 seconds.

Energies vary wildly in how long they'll remain active, and thus in how far-reaching their impact will be; many currently-active energies will naturally remain active, and continue to be able to have an impact, FAR beyond the current moment. Because those energies have already been released, their eventual future impact has already been created... so, part of the future already exists.

However, most of the future is dependent on energies that do NOT yet exist, as they haven't been released yet, and thus most of the future does not yet exist... I'd guess that a future moment isn't 100% determined until a fraction of a second before it happens, as new energies might still be released to change things right up until the instant actually gets here.

So; you DO have free will and the ability to choose, BUT you have to take into account the influence of things that already "are," and of course your karma and that of the people around you... it's not like writing a story where you can make literally anything happen no matter what has gone on before. It's neither a pre-planned road down which you're hurtling helplessly, nor chaos where things can happen totally at random; all in all, a pretty good deal.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

What's harmful to kids on TV? 


The answer most people would give would be, "Nudity, sex, and violence"... but, which of these things are REALLY harmful to kids?

In so-called "primitive" cultures, children of all ages generally see total nudity of adults of both genders every day, and no one thinks anything of it, or that harm to the kids could come from it; since we're not born with clothes on, and it's therefore natural for us to be naked, how COULD it be harmful for kids to see any parts of other people's bodies?

It's also common in these cultures for children to see sexual acts, as it's typical for everyone in the family to sleep in one room, and in general because nothing about sex is seen as "dirty," or bad for kids to see; neither humans nor other animals have an instinct to hide from all eyes when mating, so it's natural to see the matings of others... how COULD seeing sex be harmful, then, to kids or anyone else?

Any problems that OUR kids end up with in the areas of nudity or sex come from our sick cultural attitudes about those things: the secrecy, the embarrassment, the conflicting information, the unrealistic portrayals, and the implication that these things are somehow wrong or dirty, despite being natural and necessary for the species to continue.

Violence, however, is VERY different; while some degree of violence IS "natural," because that's part of how all animals survive, it's stressful to the body and mind, and we are NOT biologically set up to witness the sort of nonstop violence shown on TV... so we DO need to worry about kids seeing too much violence. Even worse than the potential harm to our kids from being frightened and upset by seeing violence on TV is the deeper harm done when they become desensitized to it as their brains' last-gasp attempt to help them cope; this can make them into quasi-sociopaths rather than the compassionate people we want them to be, and that society needs them to be... and remember, most violent criminals are sociopaths.

Is there any chance that we, the adults, will EVER stop making it profitable for television programming to show extreme and repeated violence during times that children are awake and watching TV? Sadly, in America, we'd rather worry that a kid will see a naked backside, sigh....


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Strong + Weak = DISASTER 


Most people are average in the area of strength of personality, just like most of us are about average in ALL areas, but there are also people who are unusually strong, or who are, to be blunt, weak... and they generally find each other irresistible, both as friends and as lovers. The weak person can't WAIT to give up control over their lives to the strong one, and take everything the strong one can give; it makes them feel loved. The strong one feels loved because of the trust and admiration of the weak one, and is happy to make endless effort... lulled into the false sense of security that "(s)he loves me so much, I do everything for him/her, so I know (s)he'll be loyal to me." It SHOULD work that way, yes, but human nature has many foolish elements to it, one of which is that, instead of being thrilled to be receiving, the average person becomes increasingly resentful that the other person has it to give, has more than them, and has control over them... and that sets the stage for bad behavior to ensue if a 2nd strong person comes on the scene, because for many strong people, the most appealing person in the world to them as a friend or lover is someone ELSE'S weak friend or lover.

They know just how to play it with the weak person, too: "How come (s)he is always telling you what to do? They're supposed to be your friend, and friends should never tell each other what to do. *I* never tell anyone what to do, and YOU don't either, right? We're not like her/him, we're GOOD friends to people. Why do you let her/him treat you like that? You deserve better. I'LL never treat you that way, because I really value you... you're such a special and wonderful person." And on and on and on... and the weak person laps it up, believes every word, has no clue what's going on, gets total amnesia about everything the friend has done for them, not to mention about the concept of loyalty, is soon agreeing that the friend is this terrible person, and is instantly buddy-buddy with the interloper. The original friendship is effectively over at this point, but the weak person will play at being friends for a while longer (although behaving badly to the confused and astounded strong person, who has no idea why the weak one is suddenly so cold and distant), so that they can make it look like they just grew apart, or quarreled repeatedly and then parted, rather than having to try to justify to mutual acquaintances why they "broke up" out of the blue in response to... nothing.

The 2nd strong person will do virtually ANYTHING during this time to keep the weak person by their side, getting more and more involved, and more estranged from the original friend. In one such situation I was the original friend in, the interloper, a married straight woman who had expressed discomfort with the concept of homosexuality, went to the extreme of repeatedly having cybersex with the woman who was my "follower" (who was bisexual, single and lonely), who she had decided to "steal"; I found this out a couple of years later when this follower came crawling back, admitting that the "friend" she allowed to "break us up" was exactly the sort of person I'd told her she was, and had used, and mistreated, her in exactly the ways I'd predicted.

Yes, that's the part that eventually gets the weak ones in the butt; once the new "friend" gets them totally away from the old friend, and feels secure in their relationship, they start treating the follower, not just the way the original friend did, but like DIRT... secure in the knowledge that the weak one has no one to fall back on any more. Secure, that is, until the NEXT strong person comes along, or until the thrill of the "theft" fades, and they toss the weak person out like a piece of trash.

In the romantic arena, this works pretty much the same way, with some added lines, such as, "I can't imagine why (s)he neglects you, doesn't appreciate you, doesn't pay you compliments, doesn't romance you, you're SO beautiful, sexy, sensitive, and smart," "If I had someone like you, I'd be so happy, because you're the perfect sort of person for me," and, of course, "if you'd just leave her/him for me, I'd give you all the things you deserve." As always, the weak person is oblivious to the thrill of the steal that's motivating the strong person, and to the simple fact that EVERY relationship settles into the normal pattern of NOT swimming in romance fairly quickly, and is easily lured away.

This dynamic is so common that it amazes me how few people seem aware of what's going on; every time I point out to someone that this game is under way, they think I'm making an issue out of trivial things... right up until those trivial things bring the result they always do. What's even more amazing is that children act out this pattern, too: I can remember as a teenager being endlessly puzzled by the behavior of some of the younger kids in the neighborhood; there were 2 girls who were always battling for the attention and best friendship of a 3rd girl, and this 3rd girl was essentially a zero with legs, with no personality, nothing to say for herself, no qualities that would make her a candidate to be desired, fought over, even BRIBED (whoever had candy or cookies would run to offer them to her if only she'd go off to play just with them)... no qualities, that is, except the only one that mattered, which was that she was the only follower available, and the 2 stronger girls would rather battle ceaselessly over her than for all of them to just be friends and all play together.

It's one thing for children to act childish, but what EVER possesses adults to break up people's friendships rather than join in and be friends with everyone? How do people justify stealing someone's lover rather than making a karmically clean relationship with an available person? I don't know. I just know what I've learned the hard way; avoid getting into a strong/weak relationship no matter what.


Monday, October 25, 2004

Quantum physicist makes the connection to karma 


A friend of mine, who is herself a physicist, sent me the following URL:

http://healthywealthynwise.com/article.asp?Article=411

The rather lengthy article there circles around "world-renowned quantum physicist" John Hagelin, who has a stunning list of credentials, AND is deep into things within the New Age/spiritual/metaphysics areas... all in all, my kinda guy.

I started really paying attention to what he was saying when I got to, "Karmically, the teacher always gains more than he gives." Then, I got to the part that almost gave me a heart attack:

"the material universe is built upon the non-material quantum-mechanical world of abstract intelligence that underlies it. The exploration of deeper levels of natural law at the atomic and nuclear and sub-nuclear levels was probing deeper levels of intelligence in nature that were far beyond the realm of material existence.

Ultimately, the discovery of the unified field, or heterotic superstring, was a discovery of a field of pure intelligence whose nature was not material, but pure, self-interacting consciousness. So physics, in effect, had discovered consciousness at the foundation of material existence. "

How many times have *I* said that the energy that all matter is made out of is the same energy as thought, feelings, and spirit/soul are made of, which I refer to collectively as "karma"?

A little farther down, the interviewer says, "the magazine believes strongly in the power of intention to manifest outcomes," and Dr. Hagelin says in his reply, "I strongly support your belief in the power of intention based upon both science and direct experience"... and the "power of intention" is what I described as "neutral karma" in my post of 2 days ago.

I've known from the beginning of my spiritual journey that the world of quantum physics was intimately connected to the metaphysical, and thus that they were really ONE mystery rather than 2; every time I read how physicists are seeing the same sorts of things as I am, it redoubles my intention to continue along this path.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Karma has sent me an intersexual friend!! :-O 


I know I shouldn't EVER be surprised when karma sends me what I asked for, but sometimes the circumstances are so amazing that I still am. On June 16th, I posted about a revelation I'd had, that a soul doesn't have a gender (how could it?), and thus that gender clouds our spiritual perceptions; at that point, I realized that an intersexual, who belongs to neither "standard gender," would be free of that "clouding," and should therefore have the potential for greater spiritual insights. I wished profoundly to meet an intersexual with whom I could discuss these issues, and, unbelievably, I've MET one.

No, I was NOT looking around for such a person, nor have I ever; I was skimming through a forum that had nothing to do with either intersexuality or spiritual matters, and there she was. Let me pause here and make the point that I've asked her what pronoun she prefers people to say in reference to her, and "she" is what she told me to use; I did NOT take it upon myself to pick a pronoun for her. Interestingly, she does "feel" more female to me than she does male, which is probably because she lives as a woman (her face looks female, so that's the easy way for her to go); she has equal amounts of male and female "parts," though, and thus isn't actually more one than the other.

Any intersexed person would be able to provide me with valuable perspective on many things, spiritual and otherwise, but karma can do better than that, and it did; my new friend is heavily into matters spiritual and metaphysical. (Think about it; what are the CHANCES of that?!!) And even BETTER; she has psychic abilities, and topics she has studied, that are outside of my own "areas," so I can do more than get her ideas on my pet theories, I can learn whole new CATEGORIES of stuff from her... UNbelievable.

Actually, it's NOT unbelievable, any more than any other force of nature is, it's just that it's mindblowing how karma will send you the things you've "asked for" even when you're making no effort to get those things yourself... and I'm coming to believe more and more that for certain kinds of "wants," making a concerted effort BLOCKS the ability of karma to send you what you asked for. This seems counter-intuitive, but when you're struggling fruitlessly to get something that you don't quite have the right abilities or opportunities to connect with, the negative energy you generate counteracts the neutral energy you sent out "asking for" you goal, at least in part... possibly a BIG part.

Back to the point: I'm so excited over this new friend that I hardly know where to start the dialogue with her-I want to talk about everything all at once, and start gathering new data to ponder and use to expand my worldview. And... I'm wondering what to ask karma to bring me next...


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Karma does NOT work like you might think 


One of the things that keeps people from believing in the existence of karma and/or God is the idea we hold over from childhood that good behavior is supposed to get rewarded, and bad behavior is supposed to be punished... and, when we see real life happening otherwise, we naturally doubt the existence of the system that's supposedly running things. I can't speak with any authority about God, as I don't know if He exists and, if He does, how He explains how He runs things, but the actions of karma, which is just the collective interactions of all the energies around us, can easily be understood once you stop trying to see it as a deity passing judgment and see it as the blind force that it actually is.

The concept that's most central to the understanding of how the engine of karma works is this one; the widely-held idea that the standard "definition" of karma, "what goes around comes around" (aka "what comes around goes around"), refers to doing good things and getting good things back, and doing bad things and getting bad things back, is WRONG. Karma doesn't see anything as "good" or "bad," any more than gravity, or any other force of nature, thinks and analyzes to arrive at that conclusion. Karma is all about ENERGY. That energy can be:

1) Positive, which can be generated exactly as you'd expect, by giving and loving with a pure heart, and is also created from things like hope, happiness and positive thinking. Positive energy flows back to the one who gives it... and I do mean positive ENERGY is what the giver receives, which might just mean that many people love the giver back, rather than the giver having successes or getting physical rewards. Karma's NOT God, so it doesn't "promise" tangible benefits for good behavior; it just assures that energy flows a certain way. Therefore, sadly, it's possible to be a truly good person, and do endless good deeds, and not have wealth, success or protection from harm, BUT: you'll be safe from having bad karma aimed at you, you'll be very likely to have help appear when trouble strikes, you'll find yourself getting odd "urges" to do things that will end up benefiting you, and you'll be far more likely to receive many of the things you want indirectly, through other people... and that can make an enormous difference in your life. And yes, of course, you probably WILL get the sorts of "rewards" you'd normally associate with "good karma," too, but don't lose hope if it doesn't always work that way; hopelessness is a major block to positive energy (see #2 below), and sometimes the sequence of events necessary to get positive energy to you just plain takes a while.

If you want a successful career and the big $, and you're a good person, karma DOES often tip things in your favor, via what are seen as "lucky breaks," but you still have to work hard and have the talent (and often a solid grasp of "personal politics") to achieve success... don't expect karma to perform miracles. Overall, it IS wildly to your benefit to generate positive energy, so keep doing it... just be realistic about what you'll get in return.

2) Negative: This is where the main confusion lies for most folks; people assume that this just comes from doing wrong, and feeling things like anger, hate, and jealousy... but it ALSO means all other sorts of negative feelings and thoughts, including those that are NOT "bad," such as depression, grief, fear, righteous anger, self-pity, hopelessness and stress. This absence of value judgment by karma is why you see grieving people so often hit with other painful events, why depressives have non-stop bad things outside of their control or influence happening to them, why when you're really sick you get a flood of rotten "luck" to deal with; it's all because the negative energy being radiated draws other negative things.

The major "negative force" is FEAR (including its cousin, anxiety); when you fear that bad things will happen, focus energy and thought on it, you make yourself a MAGNET for bad things to happen... possibly including the thing you fear most. It's thus VERY important to get control of your thoughts, especially emotionally-charged ones, and to exert every effort to block negative thoughts and work through, and then banish, the negative emotions; if you don't, it's heartbreakingly easy to get sunk into a pit of "bad luck" even if you've never harmed a soul. (If clinical depression or chronic anxiety are part of your life, this is another reason you need meds to get these terrible ailments under control.)

Bad people often don't seem to be being "punished" because... well, firstly because karma doesn't punish any more than it rewards, but also because the negative energy going back to the evil-doer is often not in a visible form, the same as it works for positive energy; for example, such a person usually won't have true friendships, love and intimacy if their evil is open, and even if it's secret, the secrecy itself will keep them separate from the rest of humanity, and, in the rare instances where this is not the case, the sociopath is incapable of RECEIVING love, affection, friendship and intimacy-they may play along with it, but it doesn't touch them, as they have no ability to join emotionally with others. Maybe this doesn't sound like much when the evil that's been done is, say, killing, and maybe it's NOT enough, but, then again... to live in the cold, ugly reality of never feeling the warmth and closeness of another human being isn't something you'd be willing to endure yourself, is it? The evildoers can't seem to stand it either, which is why they nearly always WANT to be caught eventually, to be recognized for what they've done, to be seen for who they truly are... to be KNOWN in the way that a normal person is known by their loved ones. In the end, then, indirectly, karma often DOES lead to the evil ones getting punished in addition to the other sufferings it sends them.

I know I don't need to tell you that to avoid bad karma from evil deeds you need to avoid doing evil deeds.

3) Neutral; few people think about this one, but we all SHOULD, because its power is the easiest to harness. When you think alot about a thing, want it, pray for it, meditate over it, daydream about it, that sends out a steady stream of energy in the "form" of the thing you want; that "energy stream" tends to draw the object of your desire to you, sometimes directly, sometimes by giving you opportunities that, IF taken, will get you what you want... and this effect occurs whether you're a good person or a bad one, which is why so many sociopaths, who are usually bad people but are VERY focused, succeed in achieving their goals. If, however, you send out a contradictory energy stream as well, one made of negative thoughts and emotions (especially fears) such as by thinking constantly "I can't ever get that," or "But if I got that, would that mean I'd have to give up this and that?", the 2 streams cancel each other out, and karma has no path left along which to send you the things you want. The other way to slip up in using this energy is to be too specific; for example, when I was looking for a man who'd fulfill a list of specific qualities, as well-meaning folks tell you you should have to focus your search, I couldn't find anyone who I connected with, but as soon as I eliminated the details and changed what I wanted to "a man who loves me and doesn't do criminal or abusive things," I found a man within a month who not only qualified but had qualities that were so rare that I'd have thought it foolish to have had them on my "list," qualities that were worth far more to me than the ones that WERE on the list. (Yes, I'm talking about my husband.)

You can multiply the effect of this energy by having other people sending it out for you, whether in the form of prayer, white light, or just wishing for you really hard; studies have shown that ill people who are prayed for are statistically more likely to recover than those who are NOT prayed for, even when strangers were doing the praying and neither the patients nor the doctors were aware of the prayers, and prayer just means focused thought undertaken with a certainty that those thoughts will lead to a desired result... and the sending of white light and wishing good for another person are the same mental process as payer, just using different wording.

You don't need to have any religious or spiritual beliefs to be able to make this work, though, and even the certainty that it will work, although helpful (because it adds emotion to the thoughts), isn't necessary; all you need is the discipline to send out the correct thoughts over and over, and it can be done by practicing affirmations (which means writing down what you want in a clearly-worded "I statement" 15 times a day) or any other way that fits into your life. I know it seems crazy that something that simple and undramatic could possibly make things happen... it seemed a little odd to me, too, until I tried it and it worked.


There are a couple of other points about karma that are also very important:

1) Karma doesn't exist for each person in a vacuum. If your spouse, child, parents, best friends, even neighbors under some circumstances, have particularly bad or good karma, or strong neutral karma, the things they draw to themselves can and do affect YOU because of your close association with them... and thus, often quite a bit of what happens in your life has nothing to do with your own personal karma, it's just "karma by association" from other people. For example, if your live-in boyfriend does something terrible, and the bad karma he reaps as a result costs him his job, YOU suffer from suddenly having to pay all the bills, and by having to deal with his unemployed, cranky butt, even though you did nothing bad. I have 2 friends who, in a wonderful act of selflessness, have reached out to help some young people who were enduring terrible times, and, as soon as those sources of negative energy (stress, anxiety, the pain of "needing" drugs and not taking them, etc) were in their home, and I mean INSTANTLY, multiple disasters befell my friends... and they had no idea why until I pointed out the cause and effect, because they knew THEY hadn't done anything to produce that sort of negative energy.

2) Some things that happen have nothing to do with anyone's karma: weather, earthquakes, rabid animals, sick people spreading germs, drunks weaving down the freeway, a rogue spark floating away from a nearby chimney, a tumor growing in the brain... these things happen outside of karma's influence, and thus impact our lives, and often the lives of those close to us, regardless of what out karma is like. When something like this affects your life, there's no point in thinking about it over and over, trying to figure out, "But WHY did this happen to ME, what did I do to deserve this?", because there ISN'T any "why," nothing you did was involved, and what you "deserve" is an irrelevant concept; some things just ARE, and your being there when it happened or being the one it happened to is purely the result of random chance. We don't like to hear that, because we like to believe that bad things happen only to those who DO bad things, and thus that we ourselves are immune, but that's pure nonsense; no matter what your belief system is, no matter how you live your life, you are NEVER going to be shielded from being the victim of these sorts of things.


You have the power to change your life. You can choose to stop creating negative energy. You can choose to create positive energy. You can use the power of neutral energy to draw the things you want to you. You can teach those around you to do these things, and ask them to send energy to you while you do it for them. And you can use your intelligence to safeguard yourself and your loved ones as much as possible against those things that are outside of the scope of karma. I know it sounds too simple, maybe even impossible, but I've seen it work with such consistency that I can't see any other explanation than that it DOES work. There's no possible harm in trying it, so... why not give it a shot?


Friday, October 22, 2004

Childless by choice 


It used to be that as soon as a boy became a man, he married, and as soon the young couple were wed, they started producing children; even after birth control became commonly available, the first pregnancy of the marriage would still come quickly. These days, though, marriage is coming later and later, especially among professionals and the educated, and procreation is starting later as well... and, increasingly, not happening at all. I look around at my friends, who are all approaching, or into, middle age, and realize that almost none have had kids; the women are either too old now or very close, and so likely never will, and unless the men go after significantly younger women, they won't be producing heirs either. What's going on that has caused such a radical change in what one would expect the % of the members of a group of 40ish people who had children would be, from the 100% of not long ago to nearly 0%?

The societal and family pressures to start procreating used to be intense; even just 100 years ago, the life expectancy was only 45, infant mortality was high, and every extra pair of hands was wanted and needed on the farm, so it made sense to crank out the kids as quickly as possible. Nowadays, though, we have far more years to live, we expect our children to all live, and, perhaps most crucially, not only do we not need more farm laborers in most families, each child now costs a fortune and contributes nothing to the family income. When you add in that most families need both incomes, and that most couples don't have financial flexibility until a later age than previously, and that, unlike in the past when all the family lived nearby to help with babies, the parents are left to either pay for childcare or lose an income because one of them has to stay home with the kid... suddenly, we see that many couples MUST wait to have a child, often until their 30's.

But, how does that lead to NO kids for many people? Part of it is that, given time to think, rather than being stampeded into procreation like they used to be, some couples realize that they don't actually WANT kids, they want careers, travel, and for the best years of their life to be for their own personal enrichment rather than being used to raise kids.... we've discovered what it's like to be adults but NOT to be tied down by either kids or by old age, and many of us are loathe to give that up. An even more powerful "anti-child" effect happens when the 1st person in a couple's circle of acquaintance has a child; they see that the new parents are constantly exhausted, stressed out, broke, busy, can't go anywhere or do anything any more, complain constantly, fight all the time, don't have sex, and have no LIFE outside of the baby... at which point even couples who'd firmly intended to have kids often do a complete 180 and refuse to ever have any. Even if the parents are passionate about parenthood and make it sound like pure bliss, when they get together with friends and the baby screams for hours, drools like he's sprung a leak, throws up, soils an endless stream of diapers, and demands non-stop attention, many prospective parents, who aren't blinded by love for the child into seeing all of this as "fun," freak out and declare themselves unwilling, even unable, to deal with all of that.

Parenthood is undeniably a deeply rewarding experience for some, and for plenty of others the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks; for people without an inner drive to BE parents, though, it can look like an unattractive deal, and the combination of these feelings and birth control has created an astonishing # of people who are childless by choice. Some folks consider this a terrible thing, but *I* say; in an overcrowded world, isn't it better to have fewer children born, and to have them born to parents who really want them, and will raise them with love and joy?


Thursday, October 21, 2004

What are we teaching our girls? 


We're supposed to be teaching our girls that they can grow up to do anything, that they're going to be the equal of men... but ARE we?

If you take a girl to the doctor, and he's a man, and all the workers in his office are women... and take her to the dentist, and he's man, and all the workers in his office are women.... and you take her along on visits to your doctor and dentist, your lawyer and accountant, and they're all men, and their office workers are all women... what message have you sent her about the relative positions of men and women in the work world?

When both parents work, and when they get home dad plops down on the couch while mom makes dinner, cleans up afterwards, and gets the kids ready for bed... and during the weekend, dad watches ESPN or plays golf while mom runs errands and cleans the house... and mom has sole responsibility to get gifts and cards for everyone they know, even dad's family and friends... and mom's in charge of sewing buttons and wiping noses, while dad handles the finances and fixing the car... what message have they sent their girl about the division of labor between husbands and wives?

If dad watches alot of sports, but all of it is MEN'S sports... what value has he taught the girl to place on female athletes, and on striving athletically?

If mom gets magazines that are full of pics of bone-thin models, and is always on a diet and freaking out about every aspect of her appearance... what has she taught the girl about what a woman looks like and how much energy she should focus on fretting about it?

If, every time a parent's presence is necessary during the workday, it's always mom who shows up... what does that teach the girl about the importance of a woman's career compared to a man's?

If we give a girl baby dolls, fashion dolls, dressup clothes and tea party sets, while the boys get sports equipment, action toys, and toys that are meant for them to build, create and learn... what does that teach the girl about what sort of activities we want her to do later in life?

When a girl's room and clothes are frilly, pastel-y, delicate and princess-ish... what does that teach her about the importance of her being traditionally feminine, as opposed to active and competent?

Women have made enormous strides in the past 50 years, but we have a long way to go to truly be seen as the equals of men within our culture; altering the messages we send our girls about what it means to be female is an important step that we still need to take.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"He's a Lady" 


This hilarious new series started tonight on TBS; the premise is that 11 guys that thought they'd been selected to do some sort of macho-man reality show competition found out that they were actually going to compete to see who can do the best at looking and acting like WOMEN. They had their wives and girlfriends with them for the first part of this episode, and the ladies were told what the premise was before the men were; they were all laughing and cheering and whooping it up, which surprised me a little... oh, I'D think it was a riot if MY husband was going to have to go through all of that, but I didn't realize how universal this particular sort of amusement would be. The men were all taken aback when they were told, but they all agreed to go forward with it... since the prize is $250K.

They started having regrets when they were getting all their body hair waxed off; you never heard so much screaming, lol. They gave them the works, from wigs to falsies to high heels; the final results spanned the full spectrum from utterly gorgeous to lose-your-lunch. The celebrity judges eliminated 4 of them right off, and the rest were taken to where they'll be staying for the duration; an elaborate neon-retro pad called "The Dollhouse." The guys struggled out of their girl garb, complaining all the way, they showed a few clips of them dissing each other, and then they showed some intriguing previews of upcoming episodes... including one where it looks like they made them someone's BRIDESMAIDS.

This show looks like one to watch. :-)


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Is ganging up part of human nature? 


I was skimming through a new forum today, and found that someone had posted an amazing insight; an astonishing % of reality shows, which we've become virtually obsessed with as a culture, have as part of the structure that some of the participants get together and choose someone to kick out... and that this isn't an accident, but a reflection of how eager we are to see the many turn against the one. Certainly, my years of experience with message boards and such has shown me that some people LIVE to be part of a "gang" acting against a lone victim, and that many other people find it to be great fun to join in on an attack; offline, where they have to look the victims in the eye, such ganging up occurs at a far lower rate... except on the playground, of course, and amongst those adults who are so far down the cultural pecking order that they have to find people to target for abuse to make themselves feel bigger.

I guess the point I'm getting to is that we've ALL seen this dynamic in action, and that means that there's some element of human nature involved at some level; we seem to hold back from participating directly in it in "real life" as adults, for the most part, but that's clearly just due to social conditioning, because the ratings of reality shows tell us how much we LOVE to see the many against the one. I'm not sure what the survival value is of this ugly instinct; perhaps it originated to spur people to drive out from the tribe anyone who was different, at a time when being different probably meant having a physical or behavioral abnormality that could mean defective genes or contagious illness... many animal species act just this way. As is often the case, though, what may have been useful in our caveman days just BITES in the modern world.

I've made it my business to intervene any time I see someone being ganged up on, and to rip new excretory orifices into any who are foolish enough to see ME as a target... and to encourage people to see how wrong it is to watch ganging up without intervening, and how easy it is to kick the attackers' butts-remember, evil is at its base stupid, and usually predictable as well.

This subject brought up a proud memory: In the early part of 7th grade, I was the favored target of abuse from some of the most popular 8th graders; luckily, those kids were all dumber than rocks, as bullies usually are, and I was able to out-think them the very first time they managed to gather a big group around me to try to "get" me. Instinctively grasping that they depended in part on no one actually thinking about what was going on to be able to keep on behaving as they did with no dissent from the other students, I made my first move; making sure I was speaking loudly enough to be heard by all, I asked them what reason they had for singling ME out, assuming that they'd have to make themselves look foolish by giving some lame answer like the then-popular "because you were born," but, as does occasionally happen, they had an actual reason... the leader of the "gang" claimed that it was because, the previous year, when they'd come to hang around the grammar school, I'd supposedly referred to them as "those immature 8th graders." As soon as the words were out of her mouth, I saw with awesome clarity that she'd just handed me a way to deal them a crushing blow... all I needed to do was handle it right. I knew immediately what I had to do to manipulate them to where I wanted them to be: The first step was to deny that I'd said any such thing; naturally, they insisted that I had. I responded that I could PROVE that I hadn't said it; as I'd predicted, in their eagerness to have some new avenue from which to attack me, they seized instantly on this concept and started denying that this was possible. Trying my best to hide my incipient triumph, I asked them if, could I in fact prove that I hadn't said it, they would "officially" cease their harassment of me from then on; nudging each other and laughing, wallowing in what they thought was me setting myself up, they agreed that they would. Raising my voice to be sure that none of the by-then VERY large crowd missed what I said, I proclaimed, "You all heard them; they all agreed that if I could prove that I didn't refer to them as 'those immature 8th graders' last year, they're going to leave me alone from now on"; that step was crucial, not only to make sure I had many witnesses, but to make the point to the "gang" that those witnesses were paying attention and would remember. Once I'd verified by the nodding of heads all around me that everyone had heard, I delivered the killing blow; "It's not possible for me to have called them "those immature 8th graders' last year... because last year they were NOT 8th graders, they were 7TH graders, and I would NEVER have referred to them as 8th graders."

The looks on their faces were simply beyond description; they were so blown away that I'd gotten the best of them, and due to their own stupidity, that they were utterly speechless. The crowd got over its collective shock more quickly, and the chatter that arose made it clear that they all agreed that I HAD proven my case... and it was clear that the "gang" saw that too. Sadly, I can no longer remember exactly what they said to me at that point, but it WAS a concession of defeat; I hadn't left them any way to back out without losing a huge amount of face with the entire student body, so they had no choice. From then on, none of them EVER spoke against me again, and, as a bonus, they actually became my defenders, and no one dared pick on me if they were around... they even treated me as a FRIEND. I'd give alot to have been a fly on the wall when they had whatever the discussion was that led to the adoption of these policies; all things considered, though, I came out so far ahead that I can't complain about a few loose ends.

In case you were wondering, it's very likely that I DID refer to the members of that group as immature the year previous to this event; they WERE immature (and not just because they were hanging out at a grammar school with younger kids, either), and, as is typical of the brightest and most mature kids, I DID think of immature kids by just that term... and I can remember my mother saying that about them when I told her about them hanging around, too. It's just as possible that I did NOT say it, though, and that someone just told the older kids that, in an attempt to cause trouble for me, because it was something a kid like me would have been expected to say.

Be that as it may, that was the first time in my life that I was able to deal a defeat like that to what had inarguably been a far more powerful adversary, and was the start of my realization of just how STUPID belligerent types are, how blind to things that should be glaringly obvious, and how easy it is to think circles around them if you understand their psychology. The triumph of that day was the greatest of my life up to that point, far more meaningful to me than all my academic accomplishments put together; nothing that I ever experienced on school grounds gave me better preparation for life than what I learned that day.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Emotional deposits 


Joel Osteen put forth an excellent idea today; in order to influence people, to get them to listen to you, to get them to be willing to do things for you, accept constructive criticism from you, and make allowances for you, get into the habit of making a point to talk to people, ask how they're doing, find something to compliment them on... he refers to this as making "emotional deposits." He points out that you can do this in as little as 15 seconds per person, and that those few seconds can make a BIG impression on each recipient.

He also tossed out a little psychology; when you're trying to get someone to change something, they feel defensive, but when you praise them about something, they feel like you're on their side, and their defenses go down... and your input can slip right in. Because it supposedly takes 5 nice comments to make up for one harsh one (where do they get concrete #'s for this stuff, don't you wonder?), for those people you have ongoing relationships with you want to have an "account" with them that's full of positive feedback from you, so that when you have to be negative you can "draw from it" and they'll play along with you when you feel it necessary to be rough on them for inadequate behavior.

This ties into the old idea of "catch your kid/employee/husband doing something good/right and tell them how swell you think they are"; this goes a little farther than what Osteen suggested, because it can take an amazing amount of time and effort to look for something that the sort of screw-up you'd be using this on did well... you're not going to find anything in the 15 seconds it takes to make a simple "deposit." An extreme example: A friend of mine who tried this with her husband spent most of a DAY in teeth-gritted determination to find something to praise him for, however trivial... by which point I don't suppose he felt too rewarded by her exasperated, forced compliment about whatever minuscule thing she found to comment on. MY husband makes a steady stream of mess, walks around covered with more food than a baby's bib, and can't be counted on to flush the toilet 9 times of 10... can you imagine what my life would be like if I had to try to find something to praise HIM for every day, lol? I'll save it for the 1-2 times a year when he makes a gesture that merits it.

Not everyone will be as hard to compliment as a geek husband, though, luckily, so the method should work with most potential recipients; it's certainly worth a try, and will give you some good karma as a bonus if, IF, you can do it with a loving and happy heart (once you start gritting your teeth, you're radiating negative energy and invite BAD karma). As Osteen correctly points out, we get so many negative comments every day that the power of every positive one has become gargantuan... and why not use that power?


Sunday, October 17, 2004

What does a natural body look like? 


Do we even KNOW anymore?

I saw a lovely movie tonight, "Something's Gotta Give," starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton... both of whom appear at least partially nude, despite their ages. My jaw was hanging open when Nicholson's bare butt was on display, not just because he's so famous that you'd never expect him to do such a thing, but because they showed his CELLULITE... and when have you EVER seen cellulite in a movie? Despite the fact that 2/3 of American adults are overweight, and most overweight people have cellulite, and despite the fact that nearly ALL people, even thin and muscular ones, are dimpling by 35, thanks to the magic of makeup and retouching, we never SEE any... and it's easy to forget how overwhelmingly common it is in the real world.

Diane Keaton, in case you're wondering, showed full frontal nudity; the crepiness of her skin was also somewhat of a shock, but I hasten to add that she's kept herself slim and fit, and is small-breasted enough to not be saggy, such that for 57 she looked pretty darned good... but we never SEE someone her age naked, and most of us have no idea what an older body looks like. We only see bodies that are either very youthful, or have been worked on (often via surgery) to LOOK youthful, or are touched up to eliminate any signs of age.

All this got me to thinking, and it reminded me of how amazed I'd been the last time I'd seen, GASP, real breasts in a movie; they look so different from the fake ones that, when you're used to seeing fakes on TV every day, the real ones look... weird somehow. It's not just that the fake ones tend to be far bigger than the real ones, it's that the fake ones are hemispherical rather than the U-shape of the real ones, and the fakes are oddly high on the chest, while the real ones are lower, and the nipples on bigger real ones point down rather than being, er, centered, as they are with fakes. I've read about men being so used to the look of fakes that they don't care for the look of real ones anymore, and about women in consequence asking for implants that look fake (as opposed to at least HOPING they'll look natural)... they have implants available that mimic the natural shape of breasts far more closely, but no one wants them.

And don't get me started on the weight issue; as we as a nation get fatter and fatter, the actresses get skinnier and skinnier... we don't know what a nude woman with hips, a butt, or thighs bigger than a child's looks like these days. A woman is SUPPOSED to have a wide pelvis-it's set up that way to facilitate pregnancy. She's supposed to have enough body fat to keep her fertility and nourish a baby, too... but we're so far detached from reality that we don't even know what the natural size and shape of a woman's body should BE anymore.

As we see MEN increasingly used as sex objects, we're seeing them in various stages of undress more and more often; unfortunately, we're not seeing male bodies that have any connection to nature. When's the last time you saw a man who was being portrayed as a hottie who didn't have bulging pecs and a 6-pack? Does it not occur to anyone that this sort of muscle growth does NOT appear naturally in men, no matter how much manual labor or other physical tasks they do, that only excessive working of selected muscle groups can create what we currently and inexplicably see as the ideal male form? Not to mention that for the muscles to show with such clear definition, the man has to have a freakishly low % of body fat, meaning that he's eating in a way that a man only does when he's trying to show muscle definition, not the way a REAL man eats to give him energy to perform manly tasks. And, most heartbreakingly to me, chest hair, which is as much a part of maleness as breasts are of femaleness, has virtually disappeared... what lunatic thought THAT would be a good idea?

When that rare real body is shown in a movie, I do NOT want to recoil in shock, as if I'd seen a naked ALIEN; I'd like to be able to feel the eroticism that's MEANT to be present when we see any reasonably health nude human body. Instead of seeing the "perfect" bodies on the big screen and feeling like freaks by comparison, why don't we remember that it's the ones with those unnatural bodies that are freaks... WE are the ones that possess what humans from any other time in history would consider attractive bodies.


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Easy sex vs relationships 


In the not so long ago days, the thought that women might enjoy, much less desire, sex never even crossed anyone's mind; sex was something a man did TO a woman, not WITH her, and the woman was just supposed to grit her teeth and go along with it because it was her marital duty. Couples did it when the man wanted to; the woman had no right to EVER say "no," and if she actually wanted that 30-second tumble and he didn't, she was out of luck... HE was the boss. (That sounds grim to modern minds, but in those days most people were satisfied with life, and nearly all marriages lasted 'til death did them part, neither of which goal WE'VE managed to achieve, so don't knock it too hard.)

So, how has easy sex caused us problems? It used to be that a man would offer to support a woman, and any children she might have, for the rest of his life just to have access to sex; as a result, he saw his wife as a valuable commodity even if he didn't love her (even in arranged marriages, they DID usually grow to love each other, luckily). A woman was seen as an asset, and a necessity, in a man's life, and he wasn't considered to have truly achieved manhood until he married, so he took the issue of choosing a woman to be a VERY serious one, the consequences of which would be with him forever.

These days, by contrast, a man can have sex just because he asked for it, and as a result, values the women who give it to him at no more than the drink or 2, or dinner, he paid for to get them to put out... is it just me, or is this NOT an improvement? I mean, I'm not thrilled at the thought of being essentially property, but being seen as essentially valueless is WORSE; ladies, the cold hard truth is that men value a thing based on what it cost them in time, effort, and $ to get it... they see anything they get too quickly, too easily, or even too often as not being worth much. (Yes, there ARE still men in the world who respect women, and I'm sure all the men reading this fall into that category, but I'm talking about the overall attitude of the modern man.) In just a few decades, the average man has gone from seeing getting involved with a woman as getting ready to enter the "mature adult" stage of his life, with all the benefits that implied, to seeing women as nearly as disposable as the condoms he's hopefully wearing. He's using playing house to get more convenient access to sex, and to all the housekeeping and other benefits he'd get from the woman if they were married, withOUT actually marrying her. He's avoiding marriage, and its implied responsibilities, as long as possible... and failing at it most of the time when he DOES give in and head for the altar, because he figures he can always find a new woman who'll be willing to have sex with him, so why bother WORKING at it? (Yes, women make mistakes within marriage too, but that's a whole different topic.)

That's not the only way easy sex has adversely affected relationships, though; the other is that we're suddenly having to deal with something that had never been an issue before... the unfortunate fact that different people have different preferences as to sexual frequency. The supposed equality between men and women in bed means that some women are demanding sex more often than the men are interested, or even ABLE, to provide it, and many men have discovered that the newfound (historically speaking) ability of women to say no means that they don't get it as often as they'd like it (and usually get it less and less as time goes by).

This means that there's yet another element we have to consider when deciding whether or not to hook up with someone long-term; as the divorce rate, not to mention the rate at which non-marital relationships break up, show, we're not doing too well. We tell ourselves that the quality and quantity of sex we have early on will continue forever, although realistically we know that's just about impossible, and then the partner with the higher sex drive is left high and dry... and looking around for more action, all too often. Or, we tell ourselves that if we truly love each other, the specifics of our sex lives won't matter... and that's actually TRUE for people who are mature, committed, logic-minded adults who can see the big picture, but how many people fit THAT description? For the overwhelming majority of couples, though, their differing levels of sexual desire cause endless hassle and heartbreak, and often lead to the ending of the relationship.

So, what can we do about it? We can be honest, with ourselves and our prospective partners, about how often we've historically wanted sex AFTER the early rush of infatuation has worn off... and, if the frequencies differ significantly, we have to ponder, REALISTICALLY, if the more highly sexed partner will be willing to make up the difference with masturbation, FOREVER, and, if not, as will often be the case, we have to accept that that's a deal-breaker, and part company. It won't be easy, but it'll be much easier than ending a long-term relationship that should never have happened, especially if you got married, and 10X that if there are kids involved.

We all like to think that turning sex into an artform rather than a duty, and eliminating the social stigma to having it outside of wedlock, has benefited us, but the sad reality is that it's made it far more difficult to get and keep relationships... and a lifetime romantic bond is worth more than all the sex in the world. If you want to get the big prize, don't jump into sex too easily, and don't get involved with people that do; treat sexual access to your body as if it were the most spectacular thing a person could ever get... and you'll end up with someone who thinks just that.


Friday, October 15, 2004

Addicted to that rush 


If aliens landed and asked us why we do things like bungee jump just to get a thrill, what on Earth could we tell them? More to the point, what would we tell our fellow humans of even a century ago if called upon to explain it to THEM? We've been in nonstop pursuit of adrenaline highs for so long that we've forgotten that this sort of thing is NOT normal for our species; you don't see people in so-called "primitive" cultures wasting their time with this stuff, do you? Have you ever read about our ancestors playing extreme sports or jumping out of airplanes? Ok, granted, they didn't HAVE airplanes, but the point is that the LAST thing they thought to do in their spare time was risk injury or worse in the name of having "fun."

Certainly, there have always been a tiny % of people who were eager to take risks... but there was never anything resembling the endless pursuit of excitement we have now. In our "primitive" days, LIFE was "exciting" enough, what with never being sure of having enough food, the constant risk of illness and injury with no medical care, big carnivores watching from the bushes and licking their chops, and the other endless dangers and hardships of life in those days. If someone DID take an unnecessary risk, it was usually to win status within their community, not for the thrill of it... which of course meant that it wasn't really unnecessary.

Once a culture gets to the point where life is pretty safe and some folks have the luxury of not working all day long to provide food, you see a little bit more of this sort of thing; a handful of men will start having the urge to climb mountains or invent bullfighting. Still, that'd be the exception rather than the rule; virtually everyone will still be using their spare time to just hang around and drink with their friends, talk, maybe dance... NOT looking for a way to get a "rush."

Contrast that with how WE live. I don't mean just those who participate in extreme sports, either; how about the majority of us who feel the need for speed as soon as we get into a car? The endless parade of kids rocketing along on skateboards? And it goes far beyond these overtly physical things-we have a lengthy list of other ways to get our pulses pounding these days: horror movies, video games, the highs of infatuation and sex with new people, gambling, watching sports, the increasingly insane rides at theme parks... anything that we can get ourselves worked up over becomes the focus of our free time.

Why? Because life isn't "exciting enough" anymore; we're not fighting every waking moment to get enough food to not starve to death, and what we ARE doing when we work is usually boring and repetitive... and perhaps we're biologically set up to expect a certain amount of adrenaline flowing every day, and if it doesn't come naturally we seek it out. We have huge chunks of free time to fill compared to what earlier civilizations had, and maybe once we've maxed out on just hanging around relaxing, many of us need to do something else. We don't spend all day doing backbreaking physical labor, so we have energy we need to burn up, and we're stressed all the time due to the unnatural pressures of modern life, and need to blow off steam; getting that adrenaline deluge does those things for us. We're wealthy and spoiled, and life is too easy for us; some of us need to create a challenge to make up for that, and some of us need that rush so that we're feeling SOMETHING... something we're increasingly not willing to put any long-term effort into achieving. Forget building or creating something, and getting a thrill from that; put on the TV and scream hysterically over a bunch of guys running around a playing field, as if it mattered what they were doing, or go out and look for someone new to have sex with. Fast, easy... and ultimately empty.

An unfortunate side effect of all this thrillseeking (I mean besides venereal disease and unplanned pregnancy in epic proportions) is how we've become a nation of addicts; there are swarms of people addicted to anything that can give a rush, from drugs to food to gambling to shopping. Addiction used to be virtually nonexistent, and still is in so-called "primitive" cultures; it's a luxury only we "civilized folks" can afford, in response to the need only WE have... to keep artificially creating excitement in our lives to make us feel "alive."

I don't suppose there's any point in suggesting that we strive instead to create rich, well-rounded, stimulating and fulfilling lives for ourselves so that we don't NEED to seek out excitement...


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Accidental medical discoveries 


Considering the amount of time, $ and effort that goes into medical research, it amazes me how often major medical discoveries are made by accident. For example, when seizure patients found that their chronic anxiety went away when they took the newer class of anti-seizure meds, such as Neurontin and Topamax, we suddenly had available far better meds, with fewer side effects, for anxiety than those who were actually trying to develop psych meds had been able to come up with.

Things that weren't meds and weren't even seen as having any possible medical value have also turned out to be VERY powerful treatments, as discovered accidentally by the sufferers themselves: Schizophrenics have been smoking to reduce their symptoms forever, and science has just recently discovered that the cigarettes ARE, in fact, reducing the severity of their symptoms; there's resistance to the study of tobacco as medicine, but they're still trying to push it forward so that they can develop a stronger version of whichever the exact chemical is that's doing the trick. There's even more resistance to the study of something that cancer (and later on, AIDS ) patients discovered; marijuana combats nausea better than anything else that's available. (It's bad enough that the medical community is often slow to learn, but then the government hampers them when they DO figure something out... what excuse do they have to block the study of ANY drug that might help people who are suffering so hideously?)

In several instances, entire new CATEGORIES of drugs have been discovered by accident. For instance, Viagra was discovered when researchers who were trying to come up with a med for heart disease found out that some of the men in the study were getting erections from the drug, thus leading to the first treatment for erectile dysfunction:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1511/is_1_20/ai_53501788

Another example is minoxidil, which started out as a drug for hypertension, and then, when some of the men taking it started growing back hair they'd lost, became the first valid treatment to regrow hair. Yet another example was the prescription acne cream that turned out to also be the first topical treatment for wrinkles; Retin-A.

Even more awe-inspiring than any of the above is the news here:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/HEALTH/conditions/10/13/obesity.surgery.ap/index.html

They've discovered that an astonishing % of obese diabetics who get stomach stapling are CURED of their diabetes; some of these cures are presumed to be as a result of the weightloss, but some people are cured even BEFORE they lose enough weight to matter... something about the way the digestive system is altered is somehow causing the body to heal itself. They have so many things that they're studying that they HOPE will cure diabetes someday, and here's something that cures it NOW... and all they have to do is figure out HOW, and then find a way to duplicate the effect. Diabetes has become so common that you probably have a person or 2 that you care about who has it, as I do, and if it runs in your family you might have many; keep your fingers crossed that this latest accidental medical discovery gets turned into a workable procedure in time to save them all.


Dolls and mannequins-why do they scare us? 


Have you ever noticed how many horror stories, movies and episodes of "Twilight Zone" circle around dolls and mannequins (not to mention ventriloquist dummies)? Have you ever wondered WHY?

We humans are an intensely visual species; our visual recognition circuits are in fact OVER-active, which is why we see animals in clouds and monsters in shadows. This is a survival mechanism, because it allows us to interpret if things we just get a fleeting glimpse of might be dangerous (or edible). The end result is that we react with fear to things that are actually harmless; how many times have you seen something like a chair with a coat draped over it out of the corner of your eye and thought you saw a crouching man, and felt a surge of panic in the instant before your rational mind told you what you were actually seeing? It's not surprising, then, that objects that are designed to actually look like people often give us a vague sense of the creeps, especially at those times when our eyes don't immediately register that their faces aren't those of real people.

Our childhood experiences with dolls make us even more willing to see plastic replicas of humans as living beings; most of us played with dolls as kids (yes, guys, "action figures" count), and we pretended they were alive... when we were young enough, we tended to BELIEVE that the dolls were really alive in some way. It's standard for kids to see their dolls in the flickering shadows of their rooms at night and think that the dolls have come to life and are coming to get them; more than a few of us have even had nightmares of just that. It's easy to see why some folks are actively afraid of them even as adults, and how even those of us who aren't can easily be sucked into believing that they could come alive with malevolent energy and come after us... hence the success of the aforementioned stories, movies and episodes.

Some genius made use of this concept in one of the most brilliant ads I've ever seen; the latest one from Levi's

http://adland.tv/commercials/levis-mannequin-aka-urban-legend-2004-030-usa

It shows a guy who works at a clothing store pulling a pair of jeans off of a mannequin, putting them on, and taking off. We see the mannequin in the crowd as the man crosses the street, and again as he drives by, and then outside of his house looking in (with thunder and lightning to add atmosphere); then, we see the door opening, and the last bit is the mannequin's shadow falling over the man's jeans-clad legs. The final brilliant touch; the music in the background is that cool old Screamin' Jay Hawkins song that goes "I put a spell on you... because you're MINE." Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. :-)


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

UFO's 


Certainly, there ARE unidentified flying objects; people are always seeing things flying around that no one can ever identify. I've seen 2 of them myself; both times, my parents saw them too, as did many other people, who called the police and news stations to report exactly what WE had seen. One time, it was a glowing white saucer shape, and the 2nd time it was yellow... and the yellow one came down and hovered over an entire football stadium full of people, mind you, so there's no doubt that it not only existed but was something that in fact could not be identified.

But, just because some glowing things fly around, does that mean that ALIENS are in them, or that they're spaceships or devices of any kind? *I* didn't see anything to suggest that those saucer shapes were ships full of little green men. It's not that I'm arrogant enough to think that Earth is the only planet with life, or with sentient life, in all the vast universe, and I think it not only possible, but even likely, that there ARE beings out there somewhere that are more advanced than we are, perhaps FAR more advanced... but does that mean that they have anything to do with UFO's?

The path I saw the white one follow could have been the result of a blob of energy going from one point to another; I don't know what KIND of energy, or how it got there, but there are so many things we haven't pinned down yet that that's no surprise. Could the energy have been a living thing? A psychic phenomenon? Astral projection? How about a spirit? Sure... and yes, it COULD have been a ship, maybe even with aliens in it-I can't prove it wasn't.

The yellow UFO HAD to have had some sort of intelligence behind it, because of the way it hovered; it's almost eerie how it singled out the biggest thing going on in that area and went over to take a look. What form of intelligence? No way to know... but its existence does NOT mean that there was any intelligence behind the white one-there could certainly be more than one sort of energy thing flying around (although Occam's Razor would point to it being more likely that there was only one, of course).

What about all the people who say they've seen UFO's land, and aliens emerge, often to bring them in for gruesome medical procedures? I'm a little skeptical of all the claims of aliens sticking probes up people's butts; I can't imagine that a race advanced enough to come here would think there was anything important to discover up there, can you? Stories of this type seem more like fantasies about the ickiest things that people can imagine being done to them rather than descriptions of how an advanced race would behave, whether they were studying us or not, so I discount most of them. Still, it's a little much to discount ALL of the stories out of hand; after all, I know from personal experience that SPIRITS do exist, despite the fact that many of the sightings of them sound totally fake, and I'm not thrilled when people react as if I'm deluded when I talk about it, so it's only fair to give the benefit of the doubt to some of the more credible of those who claim to have seen whatever it was that made them think they were seeing aliens. With that in mind, and since I accept the possibility of advanced alien races, and given that curiosity is generally included with intelligence, I have to accept that there COULD be aliens coming here, and maybe in ships that glow... but I won't BELIEVE it until I see it.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Censorship 


I'm not an extremist on this issue; I think that censorship is often acceptable, even NECESSARY, especially when it's used to protect our kids from things they shouldn't see. Today, however, I encountered a degree of censorship that merged on the surreal.

We'd rented the DVD for a lovely British movie called "Beautiful Thing"; it's a sweet, raw story about 2 working-class boys who escape from the harsh realities of their lives into each other's arms. My husband and I had seen it in the theater when it was released in America, and I'd seen it a couple of times since on TV, but due to the sexual nature of some of the scenes it hadn't been the entire movie those other times... which is perfectly fine, as there's a limit as to what you can show in programs on channels that accept advertising. I was looking forward to seeing the entire movie again at last... but I was in for a nasty surprise.

The movie, as we saw it today, barely made sense; I've got to wonder if someone who wasn't familiar with the plot could have even followed it. They cut out every scene that had any nudity (I don't mean altered what was shown to not show the bare butts, I mean just cut out the scenes entirely), every scene that had sex, every scene that showed that they'd just HAD sex, every scene that even had a KISS except for one peck early on... in other words, they cut out everything that showed that the relationship was forming, everything that showed the relationship PERIOD. This, in a movie ABOUT this very relationship!!!!!!!

What was left was a bunch of trivial stuff about the other characters, mainly; at one point, we hear that one of the boys has been called names at school, but you can't tell WHY because we haven't seen anything that could lead to his classmates finding out he was gay, or much of anything to show US that he was... a wonderful movie had been reduced to something not worth watching.

I was REALLY aggravated, especially since there'd been nothing to indicate to us that this was a PG-rated version of the movie; I was taking a dim view of Blockbuster at that point. I decided to check the Internet Movie Database to see how long the original movie had been, and thus how much was missing; to my amazement, they showed the same length for the movie as the version I had. Blockbuster was exonerated, and I next figured this must be an American version of the movie, dictated by our homophobia as a nation, and I went to the Amazon UK site to see how long the movie was supposed to be... and THEY had the same running time, too.

I started feeling that "am I crazy, or what?" thing in my head, and I asked my husband if he remembered the scenes I did; he didn't, really, but he HAD recognized that the movie didn't make sense, when that hadn't been the case originally, and of course that there'd been some love scenes before whereas now there were none. It turned out that he had the probable explanation for this; the British have apparently gone to wild extremes to protect kids from pedophiles, to the point that parents are no longer allowed to film their kids' sporting events or plays, etc, because such films might "fall into the wrong hands," and therefore it was highly likely that scenes in a movie showing boys who could be presumed to be underage, nude and in sexual situations, would get chopped up to serve the same purpose.

It's not that I don't see their point, but we're not talking little kids here, we're talking boys that could easily be 18, and normal teenaged activity rather than adults seducing teens... and it just offends me right down to my bones when someone's artistic work, whether it be a book, painting or movie, is wrecked to serve whatever the cultural whims are at that time. I hope there are original copies of the movie still locked safely away somewhere, so that when the laws change it can be re-released in its original form, and the beautiful story can be seen again as it was meant to be.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

What would you sacrifice to do what's right? 


We all like to think of ourselves as noble sorts, always ready to jump in and right wrongs; the reality is that most people don't even have the courage to speak up when they see someone behaving badly, much less make a REAL sacrifice to combat wrongdoing.

Could YOU be an exception? Let's see... how many times have you been present when someone was being gossiped about, or flat-out badmouthed, and said nothing, even though the most you risked was the disapproval of a jerk? How many times have you seen a loved one, friend or even just an acquaintance doing something you knew was wrong, but didn't say anything because you didn't want to "rock the boat" for something "trivial," although all you risked was a few minutes of embarrassed anger? If you didn't say "zero" to both of those questions, what are the chances you'd risk DEATH to do the right thing?

We've become increasingly unwilling to "risk" anyone's ire or retribution; some folks won't even report being robbed, raped or beaten up for fear that the perpetrator will track them down and do them further harm, so it's no surprise that people are unwilling to speak up when they see wrongdoing... we always imagine that whoever we speak out to or "tell on" will "get us."

How many of us, then, would risk making the ultimate sacrifice? If you witnessed a crime committed by a member of the Mafia, or by a major druglord, and you knew that they'd be exerting all their power to kill anyone who agreed to testify before they could get on the witness stand... would you agree to testify? If, furthermore, as often happens in these cases, you'd have to enter the witness protection program, give up your family, friends, career, and everything you'd built in your life, and STILL be at permanent risk of being killed for testifying... would you do it?

I'm that rare person who'll step in and defend total strangers if they're being picked on, and get in people's faces if they're doing something wrong, even if they're friends; if someone can't do me actual harm, I don't sweat it, and I'm at a loss as to why anyone DOES. When it comes to risking being killed, though, and/or giving up everything I have, to do the right thing... I just don't think I could do it. I'm in AWE of people who can. If you think you could do it, my hat's off to you.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

What should they teach in public schools? 


The short answer: things that the kids'll need in their adult life... all of those things that can be taught in school BUT don't require ridiculous expenditure to teach... and nothing else. When the taxpayer is footing the bill, every penny should go towards producing real value; private schools can be free to have their own standards, as long as they don't take public $, and as long as they ARE teaching the basics, but public schools need to provide something of value to the public, in the form of kids that can hold down jobs thanks to what they've been taught.

What will our kids need to have successful adult lives in America?

1) Fluency in English. If we allow kids to reach adulthood not being able to speak the language that business is done in in this country, we have failed them in the worst possible way, because virtually no one will hire them.

2) The ability to read and understand what they've read (aka "reading comprehension"). There aren't many non-menial jobs for those who can't make sense of the written word.

3) The ability to express themselves clearly and accurately in writing. We're in big, BIG trouble with this one, if what I see online is any indication; a horrifying % of people posting can't spell, don't know how to make a plural, or capitalize, or punctuate, and have no clue whatsoever as to grammar and mechanics... and no, spellcheckers are NOT enough to make up the difference. In most offices, the workers have to write up a variety of things, and raises and promotions do NOT go to those who can't put 2 words together such that someone reading them doesn't recoil in dismay.

The top 3 are so crucial that you can make a case for nearly the entire school day to be taken up with just them for those kids who aren't up to snuff.

4) Basic math. Arithmetic (+-*/), a grasp of fractions and decimals, enough geometry to do things like calculate the square footage of a room, and enough simple algebra to do things like alter recipes to feed different #'s of people... and that's IT. Math beyond what's actually necessary SHOULD be available as an elective, for those who want to get into science, engineering, etc, but there's no benefit to forcing everyone to take it.

5) Computer use. We're rapidly getting to the point where anyone who can't use a computer will be considered illiterate, so every student should know the basic workings of a modern PC, how to use all the common programs, especially Word, and how to get around online, with emphasis on how to track down information.

6) Life skills. Kids should learn how to balance a checkbook, make a budget, write a resume, fix a leaky faucet... all the little things that adults are expected to know how to do that parents aren't bothering to teach kids any more.

7) Health. Nutrition, the dangers of smoking, drinking and drugs, and disease-avoidance are important... but the biggie is Sex Ed. Any child who doesn't know how babies are made, and how to prevent it, and how AIDS gets transmitted, and how to reduce the chances of getting it, is at terrible risk, and most parents don't know the facts, much less have the time and willingness to pass them along.

And that's all they need.

I can hear the protests now: what about science, history, languages? My reply is: Why should we keep teaching those things, just because YOU were taught them? Have you USED any of that stuff? Do you know anyone that has? While these are all worthy areas of knowledge, they are NOT necessary for the overwhelming majority of adults, and so shouldn't be paid for by the taxpayers... at least, not for everyone. You can make a case for having science available as an elective, which kids who can pass an appropriate math test could be allowed to take, since we DO want kids to go into the sciences, but... what careers are there in history and languages, other than teaching those things? You can't make a case for even having them available.

What about art and music? Well, let's see: How many people make a living as artists? You can make a case for teaching GRAPHIC arts, as there's some $ in that, and the computers will already be paid for... but art supplies are expensive, and the taxpayers get no return for them. Music has been shown to help with math, but once we've eliminated most of the math, what's the point in having kids blaring away on the French horn (or whatever) instead of learning skills that they'll NEED?

Geography and social science? No jobs require them, so what's the point?

Home economics... does that even exist any more? It's a good idea for kids to learn basic cooking and sewing skills, but the cost is prohibitive, and it's too easy to get through life without knowing that stuff these days... so, no.

How about electives that teach a worthwhile skill, like auto shop class? If the $ is there to fund it, a class that gives kids a skill they can make $ with upon graduation is a good idea... but that's a pretty big IF, when you can't guarantee that any of the kids will need or use those skills. This is probably a no, except in those poorer neighborhoods where many kids would certainly use the skills if they had them.

And gym class? Kids are supposed to be running around and playing on their own... why do we have to pay for the equipment for them to do all these different sports? My memory of gym class is that, by the time everyone had changed clothes, and roll call was done, and we'd marched along to whatever field we were supposed to be on and set up, we'd have about 10 minutes for the athletic kids to mess around with a ball while the rest of us watched, and then it was time to gather everything up and head back to the locker rooms... where's the benefit of THAT, not just to the taxpayers but to the kids themselves? If it can be shown that kids need some exercise during the schoolday, which is unlikely as most kids have been doing nothing but stand around during gym class since it was invented, have them all power-walk, or do aerobics, or anything that doesn't require a bunch of expensive equipment for only a handful of kids to use.

Why even bother to suggest such a big change? The point of education used to be to stick a bunch of info into kids' heads that they didn't need and would never use, or even remember for the most part, because "we the people" thought it was a good idea to do so (why, I have no idea)... and all it cost was a pittance given to the one teacher who taught every subject to every grade, so why not do it if it made parents feel like they were bettering their kids? Education is EXPENSIVE nowadays, though, and there are many things that kids NEED to know to be successful in adult life that can realistically be called the responsibility of the schools to teach them, so we need a totally different concept of what a school should be doing with the taxpayers' $.

Yes, the idea of learning just for the sake of knowing is a nice one, but it's not practical in today's world. Under my proposed system, anyone who wanted to learn subjects not taught in school could do just what they do NOW under those circumstances; read and learn by themselves, and later on take courses in college in that area (think how many subjects there are that are already only taught at college level, and note that no harm has come from it). Not many people would have the courage to publicly "admit" to this point of view, but I've got to wonder; if people were allowed to VOTE on this issue, knowing that their tax burden would be based on what was being taught, and that the ability of the kids to eventually pay taxes depended on what they'd learned, how many would be willing to pay for subjects that don't teach practical knowledge?


Friday, October 08, 2004

A pleasant memory 


My husband got me some lovely flowers today (there IS a reason I keep him around, lol), and the unusual color reminded me of some flowers I'd seen nearly 20 years ago:

It was my mother's birthday, and I was done with my last class and heading for my car, when I had the urge to stop and look at the display of flowers at one of the many stalls set up along the main drag of the campus; $ was very tight at that time, and of course I'd already bought my mother a gift, but there were some very pretty brightly colored mixed bouquets for only $3-$4, and I went with the urge and bought her one.

When I got home, my mother was very pleased with the flowers, and put them in a vase in a prominent place. Shortly thereafter, my father showed up, and for literally the ONLY time in at least my lifetime, HE had gotten her flowers, too, in the same light purple as the ones I got today; you should have seen his face when he saw MY flowers. Belligerent and ill-natured as ever, he loudly demanded where the other flowers had come from, as if there was any other possible source besides me, and as if some sort of wrongdoing had taken place to put them there (in his mind, ANY action taken that didn't fit with his whims was indicative of wrongdoing). My mother gamely tried to make much of his flowers, but he was too busy glowering at me to notice.

It got better; with everyone there, it was officially time for her to open her gifts... and it turned out that the slimy S.O.B. hadn't gotten her one; the flowers were a substitute, NOT an addition. She handled this revelation by frostily declaring her intention to go change for dinner, and stalking from the room. As soon as she was out of hearing range, he hissed furiously, "Why did you get her flowers?!!" Smug and triumphant, I loftily shot back, "Why DIDN'T you get her a GIFT?" All he could do was fume, because he KNEW he'd pulled a shoddy stunt by trying to slide flowers in in place of a gift, and he knew we ALL knew, and that MY flowers made him look even worse.

My mother made it quite clear over the days that followed how she felt about all of this; when he started trying to regain some of his lost ground by saying every hour or so "Aren't those flowers nice?" she'd respond with "Yes, and the OTHER ones are nice too." She even went so far as to make a point of telling me that this was going on, and adding a few choice comments about what he'd done after all the effort she made for HIM on all of HIS birthdays.

I don't know what gives me a bigger thrill looking back; the way I managed to metaphorically kick his ass, which was probably the biggest victory of my teenaged life, or the realization that came many years later, that I'd had the only urge of my life to buy flowers for my mother on the exact same day that my father had the same unique urge... which of course was NOT a coincidence.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

The big switch 


I think that's what Dr. Joyce Brothers called it; what she was referring to is how men can be at each other's throats, figuratively or even literally, and then once the game, or business meeting, or fight is over, they do a complete 180 and are suddenly buddies... in the movies, they're typically shown getting amicably drunk together and singing, and that's apparently a fairly accurate portrayal of how it works (if my husband can be believed).

Another point that Dr. Brothers made about this is how foreign this behavior is to women; women tend to either like or dislike someone, and NOT to flip-flop about it from one moment to the next. While it DOES seem a little odd for someone to be able to flip a mental switch and have intense emotions evaporate... or is that my estrogen talking, lol? No, I think it really IS odd, as men don't do that sort of emotional about-face in other situations; it's a learned response, not a natural one. That doesn't make it wrong, though; while the suppression of ALL emotions is provably bad, might it not be a GOOD thing to get over belligerent and combative feelings once the need for them passes? Men might be onto something with this.

While it's reasonable to expect that a person might be angry somewhat beyond the event that caused the anger, an excellent case can be made that a mature adult does NOT need to keep being actively upset days or weeks later; often, women DO keep fuming on and on, though, which confuses and aggravates men, who think that when an argument is over the bad feelings that went with it should be over too, and that there's something wrong with a woman if that's not how she's behaving.

This issue goes beyond social gender differences in handling conflict and its resolution, though; perhaps the best point that Dr. Brothers made about this is that in the workplace, it's CRUCIAL to be able to do the big switch... because you can't still be pissy about how someone stole your idea last week when you and them have to work together on a project NOW, and how well you do depends on your ability to work well together. Men get an edge over women in the office by their ability to do the big switch, because women's INability to do it gets them seen as immature, unprofessional, and not "team players"... and thus not top candidates for raises and promotions. Presumably, it's the very fact that men have historically worked outside of the home (and played sports together and fought wars together) that made it necessary for them to develop this behavior pattern in order to be successful; now that women are doing all of these things, we need to take a look at what has been proven to work well and learn from it.

Ladies, while we DO still have the correct procedures for... well, pretty much everything, this is one area that the guys have the right idea; whether at work or at home, we need to learn to drop our negative feelings when the conflict is over. The getting drunk and singing together is optional, though.





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