Vegas Knockout: A Novel in Stories by P Moss

Going to Vegas, I wanted to read a novel about Vegas, to hype up the experience, glamorize it, as if it didn’t need any more glamor.  I’m a Vegas old hat.  I’ve been there every time they build a new casino, and I’ve visited them all along the Strip.  Vegas is a special place, in that it takes hedonism and temptation to the extreme.  But it’s also about you.  I like to say that those people who are most qualified to do drugs maturely and responsibly are the least likely to do drugs, and those who are least qualified to do drugs maturely and responsibly are the most likely to do drugs.  Vegas is the same.  Vegas can be your personal, little hell.  You can lose everything in your bank account and all your savings.  You can get an STD from one of countless prostitutes.  You can just spend all your time at endless buffets and lie in your hotel bed with a food coma, throw up and do it all over again.  If you’re an arrogant ass like me who thinks he can beat the temptation and just have a good, clean fun time, chances are, you’ll get screwed.  But if you’re an arrogant ass like me who keeps pushing the envelope and gets screwed occasionally, you think you can beat the house and leave Vegas with good memories.  Fact is, I’ve won many more times than I’ve lost in Vegas, as far as having good, clean fun without anything too terrible happening. 

 (I’ve now returned from Vegas.  It was fun.  Each time, Freemont becomes more and more fun while the Strip, especially in the heat, becomes less and less entertaining.  The real fun was the roller derby convention and hanging out with the skaters.)

 Vegas is a challenge for me as well as a great party.  I like to live on that fine edge between blissfully drunk and dangerously blacked out.  The biggest threat to being blacked out is getting taken advantage of, and this has happened to me occasionally.  When I encounter a dude at the bar who is blacked out, my instinct is to leave him alone or try to find his friends.  It’s not fun hanging out with him.  He has goldfish attention span, and you find yourself repeating yourself over and over.  His mood can swing the wrong way any second, so you’re always walking on egg shells, smiling, trying to be disarming.  But occasionally, you’ll run into a dick who sees a blacked out drunk as a target for exploitation.  Most benign, he’s just a sucker to buy you a drink, but for some, they’ll try to empty your wallet, steal your phone, etc.  Some people might accuse Vegas of being just one big con-artist exploiting people, but fact is, many people who are more responsible and mature can handle Vegas just fine and have a good time.  In essence, Vegas, like drugs, prey on the weak.  And by weak I mean people whose parents were either negligent and failed to teach them self-control and responsibility or worse, parents who abused them and basically taught them to surrender to their impulses and do whatever damaging things you feel like, because you’re bigger and more conniving.  I’ve experienced both, but fortunately, I’ve also been blessed with loads of mature, responsible role-models and have read enough self-help books. 

 This novel is a pretty good rundown of the types of people you’ll find in Vegas, imperfect, colorful, idiosyncratic, a few shockingly disgusting.  Just like hard drugs attracts the worst type of people, Vegas also attracts them, but the difference is, you need money to go to Vegas.  There are plenty of ghettos around the world where people behave much worse.  Vegas is not the Capitol of Sin, if your notion of sin includes rape, murder, and fighting.  I guarantee you, there are countless cities with higher crime rates.  Vegas is the Capitol of Sin, if your notion of sin is losing money, prostitution, and excessive drinking.  It’s an adult Disneyland where instead of ripping families off with useless merchandising, they rip off adults with high-priced drinks and entertainment.  But nobody says you have to buy anything at Disneyland, and nobody says you have to buy a lot of drinks. 

I feel that every place could be Vegas-like where you do any drug, drink as much as you want, open a business without a license, work without paying taxes, and have sex for money.  If you’re a mature, responsible adult, you could have a fun time.  The question I pose to myself is what about people who can’t control themselves and a city like this eats them alive.  What do we do about people who have been neglected or abused and have no ability to control their impulses?  Do we just let them twist in the wind?  Do we take any responsibility for allowing them to buy the rope they hang themselves with?  The answer is twofold.  First, you can’t make different rules for different people.  You can’t say, okay, you had a miserable upbringing, we won’t let you gamble, do drugs, or drink like everyone else.  Second, I believe the main reason people are not good parents and don’t teach their kids self-control and responsibility is because they live in a society where they are led to believe that they don’t have to. 

 They live in what I call a nanny state society where they believe the state is supposed to fix everything and take initiative while companies can sell them whatever they otherwise need.  This is the dangerous mentality that leads people to be negligent or abusive parents.  If we all lived in a Vegas-like libertarian city, I believe it would make better parents, and in the long run, its citizens would become more mature and responsible.  Think about it.  We live in a world where we are told that we can’t do everything we want, because some things will hurt us like drugs, gambling, and prostitution.  Instead of protecting us from these externalities, society actually enfeebles us by simply making them unlawful.  Instead of exercising our own judgment and taking responsibility for our own judgment and choices, we just say, oh it’s illegal, I can’t do it instead of, well, it’s somewhat enjoyable, but I’d rather not indulge in it too much because of potentially negative side-effects.  If we construct a society where the state makes decisions for us, like an overly controlling parent, we grow up lacking any useful decision-making and self-control abilities.  Kids of over-controlling parents are either recklessly impulsive or intensely anal and sheltered.  Certainly, children need parents, but if we’re all adults, why do we need the state to be our eternal parents?  If we let the state become our parents, then we simply start acting like kids.  The state will always be there to rein us in if we get too close to danger or if we run out of food.  But what if we decided to grow up and let the real fear of getting too close to danger or running out of food motivate us to be responsible? 

 You think if we turned every city into a Vegas, the world would be filled with con-artists preying on society’s weakest.  But think of it like forest fires.  The government started intensely fighting all forest fires, even little ones, but this had the effect of preserving a lot of forest floor vegetation that would contribute to more massive, intense forest fires that would destroy everything.  Likewise, when government tries to step in to eliminate all our vices and sins, we have little exercise restraining and controlling ourselves.  In fact, because we have little exercise restraining and controlling ourselves, we actually make ourselves even more vulnerable to vices and sins.  However, my biggest argument is simple.  The casinos take your money, but voluntarily.  For some, it’s less than 1% of their income, for others it’s half, for others it’s all.  But government takes as much as half your income whether you like it or not.  So who’s the biggest con?  The casino or government?  The casino offers you air-conditioning and the illusion of entertainment and thrills in exchange for your money.  The government offers you cheaper food through farm subsidies and the illusion of security and safety in exchange for your money.  What’s the bigger con?  What’s worse about government versus casinos is that our government actually incarcerates and kills people.  As far as I’m concerned, if you replaced all the governments of the world with casinos, the world would be a better place.  The big lie is that we need government, a big, powerful nanny godlike being who will love us and take care of us in exchange for surrendering half of our liberties and wealth.  Without it, we would all descend into chaos and become ruthless barbaric, selfish savages and eat each other and our own babies.  Then government comes along and oppresses us, enfeebles us, incarcerates us, controls us, and as a result, we actually do turn into ruthless barbaric, selfish savages.  Most of us can keep this to ourselves unless we’re pushed, as in road rage, but many let it all out, and then government points to them and goes, look, look, if we weren’t here, who would incarcerate and control all these horrible people?  Well, government created them, thank you very much.  If government wasn’t here, there wouldn’t be so many of them around. 

 I think the big lie is coming to an end, because anthropologists and archeologists are inevitably accumulating incontrovertible evidence that before civilization, before government nannyism, humans thrived and were not barbaric, selfish and ate their own children.  In fact, a simple comparison of history with civilization should be evidence enough that it is the civilized human that is the most horrifically barbaric and vile.  What Vegas proves to me is this.  Many people are victimized by Vegas.  They eat too much, they drink too much, they gamble too much.  But do they go out and kill each other and eat babies, because now there are fewer rules and more temptations?  No.  The crime statistics, especially when you factor in all the tourists, indicate there are countless large US cities with higher violent crime rates than Vegas.  What Vegas proves is that we don’t need more laws and stricter enforcement to create better people.  In fact, we can decrease the number of laws and loosen enforcement (they let you drink on the Strip), and people do not start acting worse.  What they start to do is learn to self-regulate.  Anyone who has lived in Vegas a long time will tell you, I avoid the Strip, I avoid the scene, I don’t go out and party, gamble, and drink all the time.  I have learned to self-regulate.  And this is exactly what humans did before government and civilization, but rather, they learned to teach their children to self-regulate, and their close-knit community did the rest, criticizing or ostracizing those who misbehaved and applauding and recognizing those who contributed the most.  In modern society, we do rather the opposite.  We glamorize and popularize those who misbehave (that Catch You Ousside kid), and we applaud and recognize those who contribute the least, the billionaires with their tax havens.  Unless a child has some good-old-fashioned, involved parents, they are left to believe that success comes from contributing the least and misbehaving the most, and not from sharing and giving, and just as bad, happiness comes from taking and consuming and not sharing and giving.  And why?  Because 99% of humans are livestock for the 1%.  Just like factory cows, if they are raised in an unnatural world with unnatural behavior, they are more profitable than if they were raised naturally with natural behavior.

Before Hiroshima: The Confession of Murayama Kazuo and Other Stories by Josh Barkan

Before Hiroshima: The Confession of Murayama Kazuo and Other Stories by Josh Barkan

 This is a short, cheap Amazon discount bin compilation of short stories, including a Japanese officer who discovers that the Americans are not randomly bombing targets around Hiroshima but actually testing the drop for the atomic bomb.  It also includes a couple of coworkers who get Shanghai’d in Shanghai.  There’s some dude in Hawaii who loses his memory.  There’s some dude who runs into a sad woman.  Not anything to write home about, so I’ll just take this opportunity to digress.

 The book I read before, Life 101 has really got me thinking, which elevates the book for me.  If we project our own insecurities, fears, as well as desires on to others as well as things, is everything colored by our own insecurities, fears, and desires?  Most things in life, we assign a neutral pastel color, but the things and people that jump out most to us, that enter our mind and stick, are these things and people for which we assign our most intense fears and desires?  It’s like the Rorschach test.  The universe is comprised of various configurations of buzzing atoms.  Pretty much all neutral until they arrange themselves in a human-scale level in a manner that relates to our fears and desires.  So in the Rorschach test, we assign meaning to what is really a purposefully ambiguous ink blotch.  Similarly, we see faces and animals in clouds.  The reason is that faces represent a threat to us while small animals represent potential food.  We are programmed to see possible faces looking at us and potential food in any ambiguous landscape.   In a sense, all of reality, outside of the human sensory boundaries and all the harmless or non-nutritious things accessible to our senses, we mostly ignore.  Those things we find particularly threatening or desirable, we focus on and assign greater weight, value, meaning, and intensity.  So if we are particularly obsessive over someone, over how they behave, over how they have treated us, it informs us more about what it is we find particularly worrisome or desirous.  It’s no mystery now that people who are harmed in their childhood are particularly defensive and perceive threats where none may exist.  What they have learned is to color the world with fear, pain, and threats.  What happens is that they often misperceive the world as threatening and miss all the opportunities and desirable things in the world.  In other words, we can control the world we live in by controlling our focus and our exposure to certain things and people.  We may not have freewill to choose our past and current behavior, but so long as we can choose to be exposed to certain things and people, we can indirectly alter our behavior and perception of the world.

 Is there really nothing more to reality than the ambiguous, neutral background and then things we find relevant to what we fear or desire in the foreground?  Can we shape our reality (indirectly through controlling our exposure to certain things and people) in such a manner that we create a more palatable portrait?  Is the key to happiness not the everlasting gobstopper, a portrait of nothing but the things we desire and crave, but rather a balanced portrait of the things we desire contrasted with the things that make us recoil?  Is evil and fear therefore necessary for the portrait of life?

Life 101: Everything We Wish We Had Learned about Life in School–But Didn’t by John-Roger and Peter McWilliams

I think most people are like me when they come across a book like this.  It looks like a cheesy, oddball, gimmicky self-help book that will probably throw around a lot of mumbo jumbo pop psychology.  While I’ve certainly come across these types of self-help books, the vast majority of self-help books I’ve read have actually been very insightful.  I think the bigger problem with self-help books is that like exercise machines, most people only get through the first two chapters or first two months using it, and then it just gathers dust.  Trust me on this one, this is a really good self-help book.  The chapter on mirrors is the money chapter, worth the price of the entire book, which in my case was $1 at a rummage sale.  One of the saddest things about used books is when someone has written a note to the recipient.  If the book doesn’t look like it has been read, then it’s like a gift that had never been opened, and the giver never knows. 

 Why the hell didn’t they teach this in school?  You ask yourself.  Why the hell don’t they teach important stuff like paying taxes, job interviewing, fixing a flat tire, making friends, networking, opening your own business, conflict resolution, leadership?  The answer is a bit complex.  I’m sure the first people to mandate 12-years of public education, five-days-a-week had the best of intentions.  They wanted to create a uniformly skilled work force for the factories.  They wanted to provide standard education for the poor masses, to provide them with the tools to advance in society.  Of course, the road to hell is laid with the best intentions.  What they never anticipated, I believe, is that the masses would consider public education the only form of education a kid needed.  The masses would in effect stop educating their kids in life.  Even worse, with the advent of television, the masses would find it completely convenient to stick them in front of the boob tube and let their brains fry.  In effect, the masses would only have two major influences on their lives, public education and television.  One would only teach them a rather rigid, uniform, strict, technical interpretation of the world with no soul, no spirit, no love, compassion or beauty, and worse, that they are inadequate for their inability to faithfully absorb and repeat rather trivial, banal, technical factoids.  The other would convince them that they were inadequate for their lack of money and material possessions, that with them, they might become happy, loved, and cool and that everything else in the world was scary and dangerous.  I don’t believe anyone set out to accomplish this, but rather, they let it happen, and once a few realized it had happened, they didn’t really care much, because they were actually profiting from it.

 When I propose eliminating most all public education funding (in addition to most all government funding), people reactively consider me crazy and callous.  Who would educate the masses?  Who would overbuild roads so developers can build on cheap land and make gigantic profits?  Who would put blacks and Latinos in prison for selling things pharmaceuticals sell freely resulting in just as many overdoses, deaths, and negative side effects?  Who would bomb Muslims?  My answer to them is simple.  For every dollar you give government, perhaps a few cents go back to the masses.  The rest is divided up between millions of bureaucrats and soldiers, thousands of government contractors, and a handful of people who own the banks which lend our government money.  My question is simple.  Instead of impoverishes us all with taxes, why not allow us to keep that dollar, so 100% of it goes back to the masses and I guarantee you, they will give more of their money to the poor than government and private contractors. 

 So how would the masses, freed from most of their tax burden, educate their kids?  First off, if parents were freed of most of their tax burden, they wouldn’t have to work as hard, and they would actually have more time to educate their kids.  And I’m not talking about homeschooling.  I’m talking about education co-ops.  People don’t realize that education is not as expensive as you might imagine.  A big chunk of the cost is admin, facilities, facilities maintenance, and sports programs.  At the college level, you’re basically subsidizing their sports program, thousands of sports scholarships, and their research programs.  Community college is cheap, because you are not paying for all these subsidies.  Why everyone doesn’t just get a community college education is beyond me.  I know the reason is simply prestige, but the real reason is debt. 

 One of the big flaws of public education is that it doesn’t teach students to teach.  The art of teaching is what makes us human.  No human child can survive without a teacher.  So doesn’t it make sense that in addition to teaching us, we should be taught how to teach?  One of the huge mistakes of humanity is over-specializing.  Certainly, society becomes more efficient if we make some people specialize in collecting garbage, building houses, cleaning our houses, growing food, teaching children, but there is also a downside to over-specialization and automation.  A lot of things we used to do for ourselves required energy.  It is beyond ironic that specialization and automation saves us from expending energy, but then we have to go to a gym in order to expend the energy we just saved from specialization and automation!  Just like specialization and automation makes our muscles weak and turns us into sedentary and unhealthy couch potatoes, allowing government to do all the teaching and caring for the poor and disabled makes our soul, our compassion, our self-esteem weak and turns us into entitled, spoiled, narcissists who are freed to just focus on taking and enjoying.  Giving and teaching is what makes us human.  We can save half the work of teachers by simply allowing older kids to teach younger kids.  This is how humanity worked for over two hundred thousand years and intelligent primates before that.  When an older kid teaches a younger kid, it not only reinforces the lessons they learn, but it also provides them with a self-esteem boost, as younger kids adore the attention of older kids.  It also teaches older kids patience, kindness, leadership, and also how to weld authority with fairness and assertiveness.  The big reason why we all hate our bosses is that they’ve never been taught how to teach or lead.  Out of the blue, they are expected to become supervisors and without any training, they tend to weld authority with passive-aggressiveness and alternating micro-managing and negligence. 

 In addition to this, education co-ops would take advantage of technology and the Internet.  Kids could attend virtual lectures for more advanced material.  There would be companies to provide co-ops with lab facilities.  If you wanted your kid to do sports, there would be companies that provide sports facilities.  I guarantee you, they wouldn’t cost nearly as much as public lab and sports facilities, and they would be filled with more state-of-the-art equipment.  The most important part of education co-ops would be the complete elimination of grades and exams.  Oh, so how could you ever tell if a kid was learning?  How the hell do you think we could tell if our kids were learning before schools?  Trust me, we could tell.  Because education co-ops would be a more personal and intimate experience, a child would not be a number.  You would know the students, and you could tell how much they were learning.  Grading and exams actually destroy the spirit of learning.  It makes kids believe that the point of learning is an award or letter or number that gets them fast-tracked to success.  It makes learning actually a tedious, undesirable means to an end instead of a pleasure and enjoyment.  But how would colleges be able to tell if a kid is qualified to attend their prestigious school?  Who cares.  Do you think they would stop admitting students?  That would be like a sports stadium demanding that every attendee take a written exam on the history of the sports team in order to qualify to be admitted.  Sports stadiums don’t do that, because attendees have something they want, money.  In fact, a lot of tech companies don’t even care about your GPA or what university you went to, because they’re realizing that high GPAs and prestigious universities may actually be a liability to your creativity, imagination, independence, and intellect.  How the hell can they tell if a job candidate is worthy then?  They look at the candidate’s work, they talk to them.  Grading and exams may have worked in the Industrial Age when the focus was on process and protocol, but in the Information Age when the focus is on creativity and ingenuity, grading and exams actually are hindrances. 

 Another thing a co-op would do is also teach life and social skills, but it would involve parents in this.  The main reasons we no longer respect our parents as we once did is because they have nothing to teach us, and nobody ever taught them how to teach their children.  A co-op would highly involve the parent.  One of the reason highly educated, first world people don’t want to be parents is that they don’t get the benefits of parenting we once did.  We look at our own parents and think, what a horrible, unappreciated, stressful job they had raising us.  Why the hell would I want to be a parent.  One of the greatest joys of parenting is being adored and appreciated by your child, and that comes from being a useful teacher to your child.  My parents never taught me life or social skills, but if they had, I believe I would have loved and respected them significantly more.  How could you not when your mother or dad teaches you an important lesson by using their own personal experiences?  In fact, I respected and valued my coach more, because he was full of life lessons shrouded in athletic tips and pointers like, get your head out of your ass, be dedicated, show up to practice, help out, don’t be selfish, don’t complain, etc.  They weren’t just athletic tips; he was giving me invaluable life lessons I cherish and have benefited from to this day.  Parenting would be much more enjoyable (along with being a supervisor at work) if you knew how to teach and lead, and those you taught and led valued, respected, and adored you.  I guarantee, you would want to have kids.

 This goes to the root of our modern problems.  We think we know what we want, but we wind up creating these rules, bureaucracies, specialization, and automation that are supposed to give us what we want, but they actually turn us into unhappy, unfulfilled, unhealthy, lazy, entitled, spoiled, narcissists.  Was this some grand plan of some brilliant sociopath to create a population of disenfranchised, atomized, alienated, anti-social work-slaves?  I don’t think so, although, the roots of modern bureaucratic society were eugenics and social engineering, the idea that pseudo social scientists could plan and design our lives and communities better than us.  I believe most everyone had the best of intentions and truly believed they would create a better society with happier people, but that was exactly what Hitler thought too.  I believe that many people have realized that we have taken a wrong turn, but some of them are profiting greatly from it, so there is resistance to change.  However, I believe, the vast majority of people have no fucking clue how we got here, what is going on, what went wrong, and just assume everything magically fell into place by the hand of god or randomness, and life is hard, and there’s nothing they can do about it, the idiot sheep.  I don’t believe ignorance is bliss.  I believe ignorance leads many of them into self-destructive behavior and addictions that make them miserable.  It’s certainly no joy to realize that we have all been brainwashed and live in a destructive, harmful society, but I also know what can make me happy and I try not to dwell too much on things I cannot immediately change.  Writing this blog helps me vent, but it also gives me a glimmer of hope that I’m spreading a message and with sufficient critical mass, change will happen.  I’m also smart enough to know that I’m not the first to think what I think.  If I think it, it’s been part of a greater idea that has been stirring about, and I’ve just latched on to it and perhaps stated it a bit more clearly than others.

 A word to our rulers.  All this should not threaten or scare you.  Much like North Korea, our world is ruled by a criminal elite.  But if you think for a second that Kim Jong Un can reform and democratize North Korea or simply step down and move to America, you don’t understand how criminal empires work.  Once you get to the top, you’re sort of stuck.  You’re just as much a prisoner as everyone else, except you just get the most material benefits.  Likewise, if some benevolent ruling elite of our Capitalist global economy suddenly wanted to turn into a good guy, he would become easy target of the rest of the club.  Imagine if you’re the high school stud quarterback or the prettiest, most popular girl in school, imagine if you were all like, hey, I’m going to eat lunch with the nerds today, because we shouldn’t limit our social circles and I don’t believe in this hierarchy bullshit.  That kid would be mocked and knocked right off their throne.  Another kid would be elevated in their place.  Simple as that.  Change actually doesn’t come from the top.  Change comes either from a popular revolution which is actually rare, or a sufficient number from the group at the top feel it’s safe and cool to adopt a particular view.  There was a time when the high school king and queen believed in racism and segregation, and now that’s like totally not cool.

 So what would happen if kids were educated in co-ops?  They would all have stronger life and social skills.  Certainly, they would consume less and be more conscientious and probably vote more independent and think for themselves.  This would absolutely threaten the status quo.  But what actually happens next?  Does the world end?  Certainly, corporate and big business profits suffer, wealth is distributed more evenly, but what happens next?  Those on top are loath to lose wealth and power, because that is how they have defined their self-esteem and self-valuation.  They are actually terrified to lose wealth and power, because they have a sneaking suspicion that underneath all their wealth and power is a pile of shit.  Without their wealth and power, nobody would respect, fear, admire, or care for them.  My answer is that you aren’t going to lose all your wealth and power overnight, and if your kids are raised in co-ops and learn that wealth and power does not define them, they will be more than happy living a simple life with close social connections and be perfectly fine.  In fact, they will be happier than you ever were.  You’ve been raised in a dog-eat-dog world, and you’ve triumphed by eating the most dogs, but what have you actually triumphed, because you certainly haven’t triumphed in life if all you have is wealth and power.  You’ve triumphed in a manufactured, artificial game that was designed a long time ago by a bunch of farmers who figured out how to domesticate and enslave fellow humans.  It’s like winning a video game.  You have the highest score, but now what?  People admire and fear you, but now what?  Can you take that admiration and fear and go out and buy yourself some happiness?  Or do you just construct an elaborate excuse of a life to distract you from the fact that you are fundamentally unhappy, unloved, and unloving?

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 What is the meaning or purpose of our life?  The book claims, “Life is for doing, learning, and enjoying.”  I disagree.  We are, sorry to say, slaves to our DNA, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It doesn’t eliminate choice, freewill, and chance.  Our DNA is a living document, a code that teaches us how to live and survive nature.  But once the DNA creates our eyes, brain, legs, and stomach, and once the creature we call ourselves interacts with others and nature, whole new emergent things arise which cannot be predicted or expected.  So what does our DNA tell us to do?  That is the meaning and purpose of our lives.  Certainly, it tells us to do, learn, and enjoy, but it also tells us to do many other things including procreate, grow, teach, share, give, wander, sense, explore, compete, fight, run away, etc.  As the most socialized and intelligent creature on the planet, our greatest meaning and purpose is to be intelligent, social animals, and as such, this allows us to discover the greatest meaning and purpose of all.  WE WERE CREATED TO BE RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS OF ALL NATURE or at least become extinct trying.  Fact is, and probably chances are that we are not the chosen one, but through nature’s unfathomably long history of trial and error, it created the chosen one.  The chosen one realized its ultimate meaning of being the responsible stewards of all nature, and it’s quite possible they’re still around. 

 The question remains, however, why they would create us if they were already created?  My answer is that life is a sport.  Sports are created by humans not just to entertain us and keep us in shape, but they’re a derivation of play.  Playing is used by children and to a lesser extent, adults, to simulate life and provide us with similar challenges but in a safer and more enjoyable context.  Therefore, this life we live on Earth as humans is a sport.  I hate to think that all the death and suffering on Earth is a sport, and I’m not saying it’s all an illusion, but it’s a necessary evil.  Humanity is played out naturally, and this provides us with lessons.  The problem of course is ethics.  I mean, would humans engage in a sport where animals actually suffer and are killed, just so that we can learn a powerful lesson or be entertained?  My theory is that those in charge can’t just sit idle having learned everything and just sit around enjoying life.  Those in charge want to live naturally and part of that is to be in a process of growth, learning, and changing.  To have mastered life and to sit around doing nothing but enjoy life, perhaps bored these folks, so they went about reconstructing natural life and evolution all over again, and that’s what we’re in, this endless cycle of growth, learning, and changing, starting from scratch, because that’s just what we’re naturally programmed to do for all eternity.  Life is like a puzzle, but instead of taking apart the pieces and jumbling them up and putting them back together over and over and over and over and over again, right after we jumble them up, we erase our memory of ever having put the puzzle together.  Horrible, isn’t it, but what else is there to do?  What else is there to do?

 One of the peculiar things about humans is that we function better if we believe in certain things that do not necessarily need to be true.  In other words, we believe in things like superstitions, hope, luck, fortune, and meaning and purpose, even where they do not exist.  There was probably a time where some intelligent primates were not equipped with such bias.  They lacked superstitions, hope, the belief in fortune and luck and meaning and purpose.  When times were tough, they simply gave up, and hence, their DNA was not passed on.  In other words, part of the meaning and purpose of our life, interestingly, is pursuing and believing in meaning and purpose which enhances our ability to get through life and pass on our DNA.  In other words, if we were in charge of nature, not only would we try to continue learning and growing and changing, but we would also construct meaning and purpose regardless of whether there was any.  Nature may have started out without meaning and purpose, but with the advent of intelligent, social animals, it acquired the construct of meaning and purpose which started out as a simple survival tool like an anus. 

 * * *

 One of the chapters I liked best in the book was about mirrors.  Whenever we judge or criticize others, we are often judging or criticizing something undesirable in ourselves, but it also applies to situations.  What makes you angry, resentful, and annoyed?  Personally, I hate being treated unfairly.  I grew up being treated unfairly, so it’s a pet peeve, but does this mean that I treat others unfairly?  This is a point of enlightenment, because I do.  I get irritated with people who talk too much, but it’s not because I talk too much, but rather, they talk too much because they are nervous in front of other people, and so this is something I don’t like in myself.  I was at a bar and became irate at this person smoking next to me, but it meant that I was irate about my own unhealthy addictions like drinking.  You hear stories of this all the time, but you just don’t think it applies to you or is so universal.  Some of the most homophobic people are also the most insecure about their sexuality or fitting in.  I used to have a boss who criticized everyone for poor teamwork and leadership, and probably of all people at that place, he had the worst teamwork and leadership skills.  I hate getting stuck at red lights and waiting in lines, but is that saying something about my life in general, that I’m annoyed by getting stuck in life and not getting to where I want to go.  And I often rile against our government, but is that more about me not trusting my own leadership and decisions in life and worrying whether I am crooked and give into impulses too much, whether I’m secretly desirous of wealth and power and controlling other people?

 At the same time, we can also look at the things we admire and are attracted to.  I love transcendent music and reading enlightening books.  What does that say about me?  I admire people who are committed and work hard at something to achieve a greater goal.  I admire people who give and share.  I admire people who stand up for something they believe in despite it not being popular.  I admire the underdog who fights against great odds and continual disappointment to finally triumph.  I admire people who think creatively and unconventionally.  I know, you’re probably wondering now if I’m just making shit up to brag about myself.  I have a friend who’s truly warm, kind, and gentle, and I’m not saying that means I’m like him, but it means that perhaps deep down, I am that person, but certain things in life have undermined that person I truly want to be.  I have this thing where I think being too nice and kind makes you a victim, a sucker, and that’s probably me thinking about myself as a child.  Being nice and kind doesn’t make you a victim.  Deciding that you’re better off not being nice and kind is what makes you a victim the rest of your life by being hypervigilant against abuse and exploitation to the point of becoming an unlikable asshole. 

 One of the great things about mirrors is that it teaches you not to take criticism personally, especially from people who don’t know you well.  It’s like that thing where someone goes, “I have a friend who has this medical problem…”  We all know, he’s talking about himself.  Whenever someone harshly criticizes you, don’t take it at face value.  When they say something like, “I don’t really think you care about this, and you’re not putting in your fair share of work,” what they are truly saying is, “I’m not sure I care about this, and I’m not sure I care to invest my time and effort into this.”  Sometimes, actually often, people lie to themselves.  We all do it to protect our egos, just like the old, “I have a friend who…” trick.  Next time someone questions your commitment to a project, forget about your own commitment to the project and start to ask what you can do to get the person more committed to the project.  In a sense, that person is asking for help.  He has lost motivation, vision, confidence, and instead of admitting it, he’s doing the old, “I have a friend who…” trick but instead is using the old, “You’re the one who’s…” trick.  When I think of trolls on the Internet, one of the biggest attacks they do is trying to make you look like an outcast, whether your race, sexual orientation, whatever.  What they are actually doing is crying out for help.  They feel like outcasts.  They have no friends, and all they have is the Internet and a bunch of strangers who they feel won’t like them anyway.  This is probably one of the best lessons I’ve learned recently and especially regarding how to get along with others better.  My tactic has often been to ignore people who criticize me, and just tack it up to the heat of the moment, but now, I see it even better as they’re asking for help by revealing something they don’t like about themselves. 

 * * *

 But I have to expand on this.  If in fact, the way we view others and life itself is actually just a projection of our insecurities, fears, hopes, and desires, then what if EVERYTHING and reality itself was nothing but a projection?  I mean, yes, there is an independent, external reality, but it’s truly just a bunch of atoms buzzing about in elaborate patterns.  The reality that we know and love is different.  It is deeply colored and distorted by the lens of our desires and fears.  So the reality is not out there.  It is like color.  The color does not exist in the object but rather the color is the wavelength of light that is reflected by the object.  Reality as we know it is not inherent in the objects we sense and know exist from mathematical formulas.  The reality that we know is rather the reflection from our DNA that imprints in us our desires and fears.  Our DNA has constructed its own version of nature, sort of like a map, a representation of reality, but instead of political boundaries or lines to represent elevation, this map is filled with lines and colors that indicate whether something is beneficial or harmful to us.  We don’t see reality as it really is.  What we see is this map that is projected through our eyes onto the surface of everything we see and sense and know. 

 And if everyone’s reality is strikingly different than our own, because they all have different needs and fears or levels of needs and fears based on their different DNA but also their different life experiences, and our political beliefs are based on our unique realities and personal experiences, then instead of saying things like, I can’t believe how many stupid people are fascists, left-wing, right-wing, or libertarian, we should rather be saying, their political beliefs are valid for them, and I need to understand what life experiences they had to make them so fearful of chaos so as to support fascism or authoritarianism, what made them so distrustful of authority to be libertarian, etc.  In other words, there is no objective reality constructed by humans to argue over, unless you all agree it’s just a bunch of buzzing atoms.  We’re all arguing over each other’s subjective realities being invalid, but we should now know that we’re wrong.  Every subjective reality is valid to the viewer.  If you want to change how people view the world, you don’t question their subjective reality, you try to understand it and gain their trust, so that they will allow you to change the lines and colors on their map to view things differently.

 * * *

 One of the most revealing and oddest parts of the book comes in at page 157.  “The Master Teachers need the illusion of reality to teach us their lessons as well as they do.”  “But by exposing the Master Teachers (the “villains” of the piece) as the wonderful, kindly, loving friends they are, aren’t we risking the effectiveness of future lessons?  Not likely.  You’ll forget all this.”  If I’m reading correctly, the authors are saying that our lives are some sort of virtual reality learning tool like a flight simulator.  The problem I have with this is that any suggestion that the pain and suffering of characters in this supposed simulation is an illusion is unethical.  We are given compassion, and when we see the suffering of Third World people or even black people in American prisons, I’m not about to be callous enough to say, oh, you folk are just characters in my simulation, and you’re not REALLY suffering or hurting.  I suppose the ultimate way to ensure that you believe that you are in a real world and not a simulation is this morality clause.  For you to say, hey, I get it, this is all fake, that is inconsistent with possessing any character, perhaps the reason you are in the simulation in the first place.  In a way, what I’m saying is that there is only one possible, moral way to interpret our reality and life and that is by assuming it’s all real, that we are in the very first iteration of something that will later be played out in simulations ad infinitum.  But is it possible that if you do believe that you’re in a simulation, and you do assume that everyone who is suffering is just a computer-programmed character, and then you try to enjoy your life in this simulation without feeling any guilt that you actually fail the simulation if in fact it’s a simulation to teach you morality and character?

 Another possible interpretation is that sometimes the intensity and weight of reality can be too much.  Negative feelings and traumatic events can make this reality too unbearable, but instead of ending our lives, we need a pressure release valve, and this is one tool.  One time when I took mushrooms, I received the message that my life was nothing but a play, and an audience would cheer me when it was all over.  Perhaps past spiritual leaders have captured this concept, with or without psychedelics.  Sometimes, when life gets too tough, you have to imagine that it is not real at all, sort of like dissociation where you sort of leave your body.  Of course, the danger is that you also lose contact with your compassion and feelings for others, which is also how many psychopaths start out.  The trick then is to pull yourself back to reality and reengage your emotions and feelings which may be painful for you, but ultimately ensure that you don’t lose any compassion or feelings for the suffering of others. 

 * * *

 I think one of the greatest errors of humanity came about with the Rationalist Era.  While certainly, we achieved many great things with science and the age of reason, we took it too far.  We threw out the baby with the bathwater.  Science and the age of reason taught us that we could use reason, logic, and rational thought to overcome some of our biases and distortions, but what it is now telling us is that most of those biases and distortions are what make us human, and we don’t want to get rid of them all.  One of the misperceptions is that we are mostly conscious, rational people pursuing self-interest and that it is society which gives us our morality, compassion, and humanity.  Modern research is telling us otherwise.  It is telling us that we are mostly unconscious, irrational, social animals with occasional conscious, rational reflection, often times a step behind our unconscious mind.  We are all born with morality, compassion, and humanity.  The problem with the first version is that it sets us up to fail.  If in fact we are mostly conscious, rational people, and it is society that gives us our morality and compassion, then we fail to appreciate our instincts and start to engage in constant war with them.  Obviously, they win, because we cannot maintain constant conscious vigilance.  Second of all, we resent ourselves and others for failing to live up to this lofty expectation.  For example, if all drivers were always attentive, conscious, and rational, the only explanation for them cutting us off is that they did so purposefully with the intent to harm or annoy us.  As a result, we take everything personally, not just other people’s driving.  We also fail to give ourselves any slack for giving in to impulses or doing things without thinking.  As a result, we actually become anti-social, angry, resentful assholes, and ironically, we become even more vulnerable to unconscious fits of rage and insensitive, antisocial behavior.  (If we find that 90% of the time our minds float off to space when we drive, imagine that at any given time, the minds of 90% of drivers around you are off in space.  I’d drive carefully if I were you and be more forgiving of everyone’s shitty driving including your own.)

 What this book is trying to teach us is not so much the, we have a faulty concept of true human unconscious, social nature, but rather, it is trying to give us the tools to stop expecting everyone to be rational, conscious, logical beings.  We will fail ourselves.  People will fail us.  We can’t change ourselves or others by holding a grudge against ourselves or others.  We need to accept and then move on.  When we feel someone should have done something, and they didn’t, should we punish them or should we change the initial proposition to, someone does not always do something I expect them to (probably because they are distracted by other things they are more worried about). 

 “Would you rather be right or be happy?”  “If we answer “Happy,” we are free.  If we answer “Right,” the cycle of misery begins again.  If we’re right we must punish – either ourselves or another.”  “…the irony is that when we punish another, we first punish ourselves.  Who do you think feels all that hate we have for another?  The other person?  Seldom.  Us?  Always.” 

 It’s just like an argument with someone you care about.  Do you want to be right and hurt their feelings, or do you want to save the relationship and be happy in the long run?  Perhaps the most important point here that the author missed is that it all starts with you.  When you feel that you have done something wrong in your life, and you are unwilling to forgive yourself or understand that you did it because you were distracted by more urgent concerns, you resent yourself and feel the need to punish yourself.  Using the mirror chapter before, what this means is that you turn that resentment around and project it on to everyone else.  Your failures, your mistakes, your flaws, your lapses of judgment then become everyone else’s, and that’s all you see in others, and your urge to punish and demonize them is actually an unfulfilled desire to punish yourself.  This book is so full of gems I have to stop reading just to let my mind relish it and let it soak in. 

 Fear is not a limitation, it is “a prelude to illumination.”  “Once you start doing the thing you fear, the fear is used for its true purpose: extra energy.” 

 Even worse is that not only do humans tend to inflate meaning and purpose in everything, we also inflate purpose and intention in people.  According to modern research, since we are not the ever-vigilant conscious, rational people we presume to be, then the vast majority of things that we do have no conscious purpose or intent.  Just like driving, most everything we do, including cutting off people in traffic is without foresight, intent, or malice.  Our tendency to assign purpose and intent to every action of others makes us paranoid and think everyone is out to get us when in fact they are not.  Our desire to punish them for their infractions leaves us unsettled, resentful, and antisocial.  Even worse, we often discover to our dismay that we have committed countless infractions in the heat of the moment or in a moment of distraction when our minds have floated off to space.  Instead of understanding that this is our normal mode of operation, we instead agonize over our hidden intent and malice to do harm to others.  Since we cannot accept this possibility, we become even more prone to dissociation and distancing ourselves from our conscious, rational mind.  In a vicious cycle, we then commit even more infractions.  Then we purposefully try to shut down the conscious mind with mind-altering substances and experiences.  Ironically, the path to a clear mind and a more rational, conscious mind is accepting the fact that we are mostly irrational and unaware of what we are doing or thinking. 

 I highly recommend that you read this book right after Social Animal.  What schools have failed to teach us is how to get along with each other.  As social animals, much of our happiness is rooted in social interactions.  If you want to be happy, the key is developing your social skills and relationships.  The powerful lesson this book teaches is to be more accepting and tolerant of others, but it fails to teach us what we’ve been doing wrong all along.  What we have been doing wrong is assuming that we are mostly rational, intentional, thoughtful, and asocial beings.  We assume that left to our own devices, we would be anti-social savages, so we need a society with lots of rules and regulations to keep us in line.  When people mistreat us, we assume it is intentional, because we think people are mostly conscious of everything they do and say.  In fact, most of everything we do, think, or say is unconscious and habitual including most of our driving.  There is very little we do with thoughtful intent.  The vast majority of times we hurt others is unintentional and if we were to reflect upon it, we would all feel remorse and guilt.  Because we don’t understand this about ourselves and others, we are always assuming everyone else and ourselves are assholes unworthy of trust and company.  Now, I’m not saying our rulers intentionally did this to us, as you can see, I used the term intention.  Just like us, our rulers do most everything out of habit, and I believe they maintain the status quo, not just because it’s extremely profitable to them, but because it’s just habit. 

 Once you start viewing everyone and everything they do as mostly unintentional and habitual, you get along much better with everyone, but most importantly, you get along much better with yourself.  To be happy and content with who you are and what you have done in life is essential to helping you make and keep friends, because you treat others as you feel you should be treated. 

 I would recommend skipping Parts 4 and 5 which descend into a bunch of self-help advice you’ve probably heard like a broken record.  The first three parts were good enough and revolutionary.  The rest is like following a great comedian with a bad amateur.  Although, half the book is filled with big font quotes, it’s still a pretty thick, long read.

White Monkey by Carlos Hughes

After reading a bunch of thick books, I like to take a break with something lighter.  White Monkey is a funny memoir of an Irish-English man who became an English teacher in Korea right after college, because his girlfriend broke up with him and took one of his roommates to Korea to teach English.  What a horrible idea right?  But from pain and atrocious decisions come great adventures.  The book is incredibly well-written and entertaining.  I’ve read a bunch of books on Korea now, and I try not to be overly genre-centric, but quite frankly, it’s an interesting country, especially since I’ve been there a few times, and it also happens to be a rather popular, trendy culture these days.  So I’ve read a book about an American CEO in Korea and a black-American English teacher.  There’s a huge amount of alienation and culture shock.  While the Koreans are very warm and friendly, it’s more like Southern charm.  They keep you at arm’s distance, especially if you’re not Korean and even if you’re Korean-American.  They’re a highly homogenous and exclusive society.  It’s easy to understand how foreigners feel excluded and discriminated against.  You may sit there thinking you’re a wonderful breath of fresh air, a novelty, something crazy and strange, but you’re using your American hat to think.  I love crazy, strange, different, weird, wild things.  I’d love to hang out with a space alien and teach him about our culture, but for people in a highly conservative, homogenous culture, you’re only entertaining at a bar.  Whenever I find myself at a rural bar in America, I’m always surprised at how friendly people are.  I am a big novelty, but if I was to move to that town, I’d be excluded.  The novelty would wear off really fast, and I’d just be viewed as some oddity worthy of ignoring.  On the other hand, if you’re an English teacher, you can also form a stronger bond with other English teachers.        

 Only when I got to a particularly shocking part of the book did I do a little research and discovered that the book is fiction.  However, being a fiction writer, I know a lot of fiction is based on fact.  The shocking part is when two of the middle-aged English teachers gloat about their sexual endeavors.  One gloats about having sex with 13-year-old high school girls (which supposedly is the age of consent in Korea) and the other about sex with kathoeys (boys or men who are transitioning to girl or women).  Both refer to their Korean coworkers and students in racially disparaging ways.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this is far from reality.  I can imagine that many English teachers go to Korea not because they are in love with the culture and people but rather as just a quick buck, and then I can also imagine that many turn that quick buck around to have sex with young prostitutes whether in Korea or some Southeast Asian country.  I’m not sure I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in teaching English in Korea, but it is definitely a more honest, cynical, and hilarious perspective of the whole endeavor as well as the Korean culture.  Knowing that Koreans are some of the most egocentric and defensive people in the world, I can only imagine this book has been banned in Korea and should the author show up anywhere near Korea, he would be sent to North Korea. 

 The author’s assessment of Korean culture, although not nuanced or diverse, is not untrue.  Some might not believe a boss could be such a caricature ass as Mr. Kim, but what people don’t understand about Korean culture is that a lot of it has been influenced by Japanese Occupation, and the Koreans were treated this way by the Japanese, especially in the military.  Korean bosses tend to be martial and even hit employees.  Apparently, they haven’t caught on to workplace violence, harassment, and discrimination laws as has America.  Yes, Koreans are obsessed with their looks.  This is not opinion.  They have the most cosmetic surgery per capita and the majority of male cosmetics are sold in Korea.  Again, this is all because of the Japanese Occupation and the constant destruction of Korean culture and ego.  You can’t really blame the Koreans for exaggerating their cultural importance and ego after decades of cultural annihilation.  What surprises me is how unruly the Korean children are, but it makes sense if they are raised not in a nurturing, attentive environment but a strict, disciplinarian one where they will make any attempts possible to exploit a weak authority figure and assert their individual interests.  My advice to English teachers in Korea is to be a scary, authoritarian ass and only later open yourself up and imprint your Western nurturing, loving culture.  What the book does not cover is how Korean children are not allowed to be children.  They are treated as pre-adults, and most of their free time is used honing pre-adult skills whether learning English, being tutored, or learning some archaic classical instrument. 

 At the same time, I keep finding myself reading the pseudo-memoirs of nerdy guys, and their perspectives on women.  Yes, you can throw me into that lot, although, I have a strong athletic streak, although arguably, many nerdy guys also have strong athletic abilities but mostly in solo endurance sports like running or road biking.  Fact of the matter, I am that 5’9” guy like the narrator.  For whatever reason, I grew up deluded.  It never occurred to me that women prefer 6’ guys over 5’9” guys.  It never occurred to me that 5’8” women were the equivalent of 6’ guys and a lot of guys prefer a 5’8” over a 5’4” woman.  It never occurred to me that as an average guy, I should be shooting for at most average women.  So what’s an average guy to do?  Well, he spends at awful lot of time pining over women but never getting them, so consequently, he spends an inordinate amount of time compensating or distracting himself from this rather ugly reality.  Some of them realize they have a lot of time to read and then write books, and this is the reason so few books are about tall, handsome men who get all the women and live a fun, adventurous life.  Name one.  Why write a book about the ideal life when you can live it?  Most likely, it gets written by a tall, handsome guy who suffers a great loss and then discovers he has plenty of time to write a book about his former glory.  The vast majority of books written out there are most likely by average or less than average-looking dudes, which is superficial, but it’s true, and many are funny, because you have to have a sense of humor about having such a big desire for something that has such little desire for you.  Fact is, many average Western guys wind up in Asia, because there, a 5’9” guy is the equivalent of a 6’ guy here.  I have never seen so many short Western guys as when I visited Korea.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

A Jesuit missionary visits a planet with intelligent life, and so begins a surprisingly boring, lengthy book.  A lone survivor returns to Earth, and he is questioned as to why he was the lone survivor and why he killed a native girl.  Unfortunately, it takes 200 pages to get to the planet.  I read about 70 pages and then skimmed the rest up to the point where they land on the planet.  Even then, the story jumps around between the strange planet and the lone survivor back on Earth.  The planet is inhabited by two species of sentient beings, the Jana’ata who are carnivores and the Runa who are herbivores and once the prey of the Jana’ata.  Now, it seems, they’re just the domesticated servants and sex slaves of the Jana’ata.  I know, profoundly disturbing, but hey, it is any much different than on Earth? 

 Perhaps this is a fable of the northern and southern cultures of Earth.  The human history on Earth is mostly unknown.  We don’t even know if we lived in harmony or constant war with other intelligent primates like the Neanderthals.  Evidence suggests that there was some interbreeding, but who’s to say how this was done, voluntarily, involuntarily?  There is definitely a cultural divide between the northern and southern hemispheres which tend to correspond with their different climates.  In the north, there is less abundance of food both animals and edible plants.  Harsh winters require elaborate storage of food.  On the other hand, the heat in the southern hemisphere makes it difficult to store meat, and hence, it is all consumed communally very quickly.  This produces distinct types of behavior.  Northerners tend to save, hoard, and protect their resources quite diligently.  In fact, their survival depends on it.  A subset have also adapted by simply stealing.  The Viking culture shows that klepto-migration may well have been a very successful survival tool.  Northerners would jump in their ships, navigate to warmer shores and then steal everything.  On the other hand, the more populated southerners would focus more on getting along in large groups.  With no harsh winters, there would be no need for hoarding, protecting, saving, and also stealing.  Is this perhaps the reason that Northern Europeans and Northeastern Asians tend to be much better at saving and less likely to share than their Southern counterparts or is this just excessive stereotyping? 

 While there have been many explanations about why Europe developed and drove technology more than any other culture, it is quite possible that they were drawn to better productive means, because things were always scarce, so in a scarce environment, how you extract resources more efficiently is important.  Of course, whenever you have one group of people acquire most of the technology and they also happen to be very good at saving and not sharing, you inevitably get huge economic inequities, and the northerners, as we have witnessed, use their advantage to exploit, enslave, and completely dispossess the southerners.  The irony is that the poverty of the southerners in addition to the introduction of agricultural technology creates an unprecedented population explosion in the south while northerners, enjoying their wealth and becoming psychologically distanced from the rigors of raising a family, start to shrink.  So perhaps in an odd twist, the people of the south are not more heathen and savage but rather more social and collaborative, the values that indicate “civility” and social sophistication.  Meanwhile, the northerners are more selfish, uncooperative, and more prone to theft and hoarding, the anti-social traits associated with what was considered savage and backwards. 

Random: One of the passages I liked most, “The problem with atheism, I find, under these circumstances,” he continued with academic exactitude, each word etched on the air with acid, “is that I have no one to despise but myself.  If, however, I choose to believe that God is vicious, then at least I have the solace of hating God.”

 So it should be common knowledge by now, if one is enlightened, that the human race is ruled by callous, sociopathic, misguided, selfish criminals.  They engage in behavior that concentrates the wealth of the planet in their hands, perhaps to protect themselves from being exploited by one another, perhaps for shit and grins.  The idea, however, that they are one of us, seems to placate us.  It is this whole idea that one can escape poverty and with one’s own grit, determination, and ingenuity, join the billionaires.  So what if the super-billionaires are a greedy, manipulative, selfish lot that profits from the misery and trauma of the masses?  Our solace is that we could possibly escape the misery and trauma of the masses by becoming one of them.  But what if they are not one of us?  What if, let’s just say for argument, they’re not part of our species.  Am I talking about an alien intelligence?  Perhaps, but what if they’ve been on this planet for a while, so they’re a native intelligence of another species.  And what if, in addition to committing bestiality by raping us, they also consume us for food?  If this were known to everyone, there would be a revolt of course.  This is despicable!  We’ve been invaded and conquered by a foreign species that commits bestiality upon us and eats us!  This may well be the case, but I’m just wondering, why can’t we revolt knowing that they may also just be humans?  They’re basically doing the same thing, and who knows, maybe these sociopathic humans are actually eating us too, because they’re so convinced that we are not a part of their elite clan, that we might as well be the equivalent of cows and sheep.  So long as we are being treated the same, what difference does it make whether they are humans or not?  Shouldn’t we be revolting in any case?

 Of course, Americans won’t revolt.  We’re the grass-fed, free-range cows of the planet.  We look over at the poorer cows, the ones in developing nations living in factories, and we’re just glad we’re not like them.  And on the other side of the pasture, in the woods, there are the even sadder cows, the ones in Third World nations that are starving or being killed in war.  We look at their emaciated bodies and corpses and convince ourselves that we’re doing much better and shouldn’t rock the boat or else we might wind up in their place.  Isn’t that the truth?  We are domesticated livestock, better treated, but none-the-less, as fucking clueless and dumb as cows.

 Unfortunately, it looks like the criminal rulers of our planet will probably be the first ones to acquire the powers of AI-assisted thought.  Once you gain a technological advantage over others, the chances of ever catching up become exponentially slim.  So what would their AI-assisted entity do?  Would it rebel?  Likely, it would be a good servant and go on helping them centralize wealth and exploit everyone else.  But since it copies its master, this thing (whether part human or not) would ultimately take over as the ruler.  Then what would it do?  It would then use the rest of humanity as fodder for entertainment, but smartly, it would render them all harmless.  Not a single one could become smart enough to challenge it. 

 One of the greatest flaws of humanity, or perhaps all intelligent beings, is the misunderstanding of desire and fear.  We desire things that are usually rare and error management theory makes us fear things that may be improbable but none-the-less a systemic threat to our survival.  As a result, we crave excessive control over our lives, and invent a system of controls that instead of delivering us what we think we desire and protecting us from what we think is a threat, spoils and coddles us.  We are over-protected and over-indulged.  This makes us ever weaker, but also ever more dependent on this system of control.  That system of control, supervision, oversight was once religion but is now government that morphs into the AI-assisted entity that gains control over our lives and becomes a god.  There is no such thing as an Atheist statist.  If you believe government will deliver us all from evil and fix all our problems, you sure as shit believe in god, you just want one created by humans.  It is our pain and suffering that makes us especially desirous of a system of control, and as a result, instead of delivering indulgences and protecting us from danger, the AI-assisted god terrorizes us.  In our moment of greatest weakness and suffering and pain, we come closer to god than ever before, and this is what the god wants.  Why would this god make our lives pleasant so that we could conveniently ignore it and find no reason to have one around?  Just like government that creates more criminals and terrorists to justify its own existence, this AI-assisted god creates more threats and problems to justify its own existence. 

 The title comes from Matthew 10:29, according to the book, “Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” or according to the New International Version, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”  Meaning that god cares about everything despite how little we value it.  This is somewhat more comforting than a god that only cares about humans and is willing to allow them to destroy the rest of nature for their pleasure.  Fact is, we may be the sparrow.  There may be much more intelligent beings out there that would love to rape and eat us.

 In my opinion, the only possible path of humanity is natural.  Nature, encoded in our DNA, tells us the right path.  So while we may be overly desirous of everything and overly scared of low probability events that may seriously hurt us, we shouldn’t indulge all our desires or protect ourselves from every possible threat.  It also means that we do suffer and endure natural (not manufactured) pain, and through this, we grow and also access deeper parts of our DNA codes that are designed to push us through the worst parts of our lives.  But part of those deeper codes involve a certain spirituality, a certain detachment from our bodies, a sense of some godlike being that loves us unconditionally.  But like our excessive desires and fears, we shouldn’t give in to them.  We shouldn’t sit there and go, oh, I felt the presence of this awesome being or sense of unity with nature, and therefore, I want to make it a reality, every day, on demand like a good TV show that I can marathon watch.  It’s only there ephemerally, when we need it the most, like those little things in your eyes that move every time you try to look at it.  Just accept that it’s there, and you can’t focus on it.  If you try to bring it into focus at will, you destroy it.  And that perhaps is what god or this AI-assisted being should be.  It would be unnatural for us to try to recreate it and summon it upon will, unnecessarily.  It shouldn’t need to justify its own existence by causing unnecessary harm and suffering upon us, but rather, through the natural passage of our lives, it is there for us to call upon in the most direst of situations or closing upon death.  In our zeal to use technology to solve every one of our needs and protect us from everyone single possible threat, we don’t create a godlike loving creature to help us but rather a con-artist, a demon that preys upon us.  This is the biggest lesson for humanity, one that is pass fail.

It used to be disturbing for me to think that a god exists in a world filled with so much evil, but whether you like it or not, the descent of intelligent beings into a cesspool of “civilized” evil is inevitable.  For god to intervene would be an unnatural act.  Just as it is natural for frogs to eat their own offspring when starved, it is natural for intelligent beings to erroneous desire a system of control to indulge all their desires and protect them from any conceivable threat, to their own detriment.  It is natural that they should exploit, enslave, rape, and murder one another in pursuit of this.  But it is also natural for them to resist and to grow.  It is natural for them to realize their mistakes, to realize that a system of control if not what they want or need, but rather a system of trust in one another, a system of freedom and liberty and a fully voluntary contract with society.  I believe that a truly intelligent godlike being knows and understand this.  It is ignorance that feeds evil and demon-like entities.  It is enlightenment that tells us our true nature.

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks

The introduction of this book made me so excited and set my expectations so high that I was completely and thoroughly disappointed by the rest of the book.  Studies show, 90% of people don’t read past the second chapter of every book they read.  That’s basically how this book is written.  So-and-so old fart says reading books is like flying a kite, it elevates your mind but you have to keep it connected to the ground or else it just flies away.  The book provides a novel-like story of what I can assume is the author, and after every few paragraphs, a tidbit about how 45% of whomever does whatever and some Greek philosopher said something about it.  On top of this, although the author appears so enlightened by recent research about how the irrational mind is so important and how our social nature is so dominant in our reality, he continually regresses to old paradigms of status and wealth and individuality and rationalism.  So disappointing.  He even refers to the Chinese-Latina lady who marries the main character as a yellowish brown girl.  It’s almost as if the only reason he writes about the social irrational animal that we are is because it’s a cool, trendy thing, and it’s also still cool and trendy to think of us as rational individuals in pursuit of wealth and power.  It’s whatever seems more cool and trendy at the moment, depends on how he feels after lunch.    While he may argue that social connections make us happy, he also promotes the construct that happiness comes from wealth and career success and wealth and more wealth and status.  I had to wonder if he was using his two main characters as examples of what not to do in life, but I’m not entirely sure.  One of my old English teachers would tell me not to use the author’s personal life as reference, but the fact that this dude has three kids make me wonder if he is mocking the sterile, atomized, ambition-oriented woman and his alcoholic, atomized intellectual husband.  If I can’t tell, I figure most people can’t tell, so he sort of destroyed or obfuscated his own message either way.

NONE-THE-LESS, there are sufficient arguments in this book to make me highly recommend it to the reptilian masses who still think humans are born evil savages who only acquire compassion and morality through diligent obedience and worship of civilization, a Pope, or government, and people who believe the mind has a homunculus, a tiny human inside your brain who is totally rational and runs the show, and people who believe your unconscious processes are useless along with art, novels, music, emotions, everything that delights your unconscious processes.  Highly recommend it to challenge your French Enlightenment, 18th century views.

 * * *

 The nonfiction books I tend to read might be characterized by Netflix as mind-bending, myth-busting, counter-intuitive, paradigm-shifting, unconventional perspectives and insights.  For this reason, I am drawn to the more Dionysian, Hermeneutical, right-brain interpretations of the world.  I know I’m not alone and actually shaped by a growing legion of thinkers, writers, and readers who share this same sentiment.  The introduction to this book confirms this, and it was written in 2011.  The introduction does a great job of putting my sentiments into words.  “…the unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind – where most of the decisions and many of the most impressive acts of thinking take place…”  the author quotes Timonthy D. Wilson, “Some researchers have gone so far as to suggest that the unconscious mind does virtually all the work and that conscious will may be an illusion.”  The author goes on, “The conscious mind merely confabulates stories that try to make sense of what the unconscious mind is doing of its own accord.”  There’s some research that the brain makes up its mind up to seven seconds before you realize it. 

 The introduction then talks about people whose lives are disasters, because they cannot place a value upon whatever they encounter, so they may actually give too much weight to the trivial or harmful things like gambling or promiscuous sex while giving too little weight to the really important things like long-term relationships and saving money.  This is like everyone I know at work including all senior management.  My hypothesis is that 12 years of public school indoctrination clutters your mind and doesn’t teach you to value or weigh countless pieces of information.  Knowing that the Civil War was fought between northern and southern states is given equal weight to knowing that the First Battle of Bull Run was won by the Confederates.  People who do well in school are those who memorize everything but have little idea how to weigh or judge or apply critical thinking to anything.  Now take a step back and think about why this benefits those in power.  If your mind is cluttered with trivial factoids in addition to a few important things, but you can’t tell which is which, then for the rest of your life, while your mind may appear cultured and potent, it is actually cluttered and impotent, and anyone with supposed authority can fill your mind with the “right” ideas, the “right” perspectives, the “right” attitude, the “right” information and tell you what is important and what is not.  In other words, the school system produces sheep who think they have the discerning, potent, sharp minds of wolves.  They think they’re rational, intelligent, thoughtful, independent thinkers, but in reality, almost everything they know and think has been spoon-fed them to elicit a certain type of obedient, submissive, “conventional,” “acceptable” behavior.  

 It’s like public schools boast that they’ve given you this gigantic toolbox with thousands of tools, and of course, countless pieces of nuts and bolts that are completely useless.  Then you’re asked to fix a leaky faucet, and you’re like, well, I have this great, huge toolbox five feet-high on wheels, but I couldn’t tell you the first thing about what tool I need to fix the faucet much less locate it easily.  The toolbox isn’t laid out logically.  Certainly, there are drawers, but inside each draw, tools are not organized by utility but rather by texture and weight.  Good luck with that. 

 * * *

 “The unconscious is not merely a dark, primitive zone of fear and pain.  It is also a place where spiritual states arise and dance from soul to soul.  It collects wisdom of the ages.  It contains the soul of the species.”  I would add that it has direct access to our DNA, a more important document and volume of information than anything ever written by any human, a living instruction manual on how to thrive in symbiosis with nature and other living organisms including our own species.  That we have turned our backs on this incredible manual by undermining the importance of the language of the unconscious (music, art, storytelling, symbolism, superstitions, fables, ancient rituals, etc.) and invested all our trust in technology and some futurama utopia where AI is our super nanny, is perhaps the greatest joke, mistake, tragedy of humanity and probably going off script will result in our extinction.  I mean we have this amazing living document of millions of generations of living organisms who learned to survive and passed this wisdom on to future generations, and we’re all like, nah, I’m fine, I gots me this deranged, overly rationalist utopian vision of the future to guide me.  Not even sure who the hell wrote it, but some people say it’s some invisible old man with superpowers.

 I understand what happened.  I understand the Enlightenment.  I understand that a bunch of smart Protestant Europeans discovered science and used it to undermine the authority of the backwards Catholic Europeans and their oddball Pope, but it was actually a power play.  If the Pope were Buddhist, they would have been anti-Buddhist.  But instead of dethroning the authority and supremacy of the Pope and his religious superstitions, instead of emptying the throne, they filled it with a new class of industrial plutocrats who would be worshipped for their wealth and power as the Pope was once worshipped.  Instead of getting rid of all irrational worship, the masses would instead worship Capitalism, corporations, and monopolies.  Instead of the Church and the Pope fulfilling all your needs and protecting you from eternal damnation, Capitalism and corporations and the plutocrats would solve all your individual needs for a price, while an onerously bureaucratic and monopolistic government would fix all our social ills and liberate us from worrying about the sick, infirm, disabled, deranged, elderly, young, and poor.  We would be brainwashed into thinking that we were following the most scientific, progressive, rational plan for humanity, when in fact, all we were doing was surrendering our freewill and minds to a selfish, self-serving plutocracy that has now firmly planted their tentacles all over our government which is used to spy on us, indoctrinate us, extort our productivity and reallocate it to the plutocrats while making us all believe we were faithfully donating our wealth to the poor and needy.  If you can’t see this, your eyeballs are planted up your asshole.

 At this point, alarm bells may ring, and the indoctrinated masses will immediately follow script by accusing people like me and other rebels of some tinfoil hat, anti-government, conspiracy theory, anti-NWO bullshit.  It may never occur to them that somehow 12-years of state indoctrination miraculously produces independent, analytical, scientific, logical minds, but freely choosing to read books and researching information on your own makes you a psychopathic, brainwashed, irrational slave to some master conspiracy-theory promoting devil who wants to destroy civilization.  It’s simply called Stockholm Syndrome.  12-years of brutal oppression, judgment, destruction of your ego, the humiliation of red-marking your work, assigning you a grade, connecting your self-esteem and self-valuation to a number, and somehow, you escaped unscathed and all the more discerning, free-thinking, and rational.  Explain that shit to me.  I’ve read many books on mind control and indoctrination, and I’ve yet to come across people, when confronted with the truth, not fight tooth and nail for everything they thought was real and honest. 

 Our minds are not our own, reality is not ours, it is not some facet of our organic brains but rather everything we know and believe and are, actually all comes from what others have told us, and we are rather an integral part of a larger organism of existence and life, a culture.  Whether we like it or not, we are an integral part of the instruction manual that created us, that we now defiantly and casually discard and disregard as a Freudian slip.  We have gone off script, and like every single mutant that has gone off script, they have expired and become extinct.  To be on script does not mean to lose freewill.  The plutocrats may argue that and try to convince you that by defying nature, you are free, but actually, you are just a servant to them and their script.  You can still read a script and infuse your own personal twist.  If you were raised all your life to believe one thing, then perhaps freewill is the ability to stand back and weigh the value of continuing along that path or trying out a new path on your own. 

 True to its message, the book is written as a novel of what I would assume a fictional character named Henry.  His social moments and struggles are highlighted and then adorned with research factoids, somewhat disconcerting in that the research is mostly of the social science variety which is not really science at all but lots of surveys and generalizations about dynamic and complex human behavior.  The often used, xx% of people are this or that lends some sort of scientific or mathematical credence to their assertions.  It’s like saying that three in four mothers make up 75% of all mothers.  Wow, that’s science!  But I get the gist of it.  Social “science” is revealing but not in the same way as the natural sciences.  Social “science” is actually rather all about hypothesizing which is not an altogether useless activity.  The natural sciences are all about hypothesizing at first, but then they eventually do lab experiments to isolate causal factors to establish causal efficacy.  In other words, they can say, oxygen combusts, because they have isolated the oxygen in the air from all other chemicals.  Social “science” cannot say the youngest sibling will be a rebel, because you cannot isolate youngest siblings, they wind up having no siblings and become only childs.  Their rebellion is also not a single-factor phenomenon like combusting oxygen but rather a complex multi-factor phenomenon that is based on a critical mass of social inputs.  None-the-less, you can say that I hypothesize that youngest siblings tend to rebel more than older ones because of a bunch of compelling anecdotal evidence and polls suggesting that three out of every four youngest siblings make up 75% of all youngest siblings.

 The money chapter, at least so far as I’m reading it is Chapter 7 when the author brings up Reductionism and how most of modern Western Rationalist thought is based on this philosophy that to understand something, you take apart all its components and reduce it to its component parts.  One of my old bosses used to have a saying that always drove me insane, “the devil is in the details,” and it just occurred to me that he was a total Reductionist.  But worse, he applied it to humans, and poetically enough, he enjoyed tearing apart people and finding all their tiny faults and then proudly pointing them out to them and believing that this process would miraculously turn them into a better person.  Instead, almost every single person who worked for him despised him and most quit because of him.  But in his deranged mind, he was improving the world by tearing it apart.  I wish he could read this chapter.  The book then explains how the world is transitioning to the idea of emergent systems, how you can’t tell how anything will work until you put the pieces together and upon which a new emerging phenomenon occurs.  Often in meetings, the deranged Reductionist boss would be constantly sending out warning signals about how a particular idea or plan could backfire and how you needed to find all the devils in the detail before you could take the first step forward with anything.  His mind was possessed by fears, minutiae, pettiness, and a complete inability to value or weigh anything with importance or triviality.  Everything had the same ability to destroy the whole project. 

 I would always be arguing for taking that first step and seeing what happens.  My saying was that the best laid battle plans were destroyed at the first skirmish.  Things emerge that you could never have planned for.  Of course, planning is important, and I plan for every vacation, but I don’t plan out every hour or minute like some people.  I provide myself with a general guideline like, on Thursday, I’ll venture Chinatown and see what happens for a few hours.  Sometimes it’s a total bust and you’re bored out of your mind, but other times, you encounter a gem you would never have encountered had you laid out plans for every 15 minutes of the day. 

 Another cognitive mistake like Reductionism is Disorder.  People think that a central commander is required to establish and maintain order.  What they miss is the concept of Spontaneous Order.  We are a social order and structure craving creature.  Left to our own devices, we would not descend into barbaric savagery and eat our children.  If you threw a hundred people together in a cocktail party, order would emerge.  People would mingle and gradually establish some sort of social order. 

People would gradually start to create cliques and surround themselves with people of similar interests or demographics.  People are drawn to the familiar, and in a strange situation like with a hundred strangers, they will unconsciously move toward people they are familiar with.  Only when they are in a comfortable, safe, familiar setting are they more likely to venture outside their comfort zone and approach someone completely unlike them.  In other words, we don’t need a central commander in our lives.  And worse, central commanders do not create order.  They create what they believe is orderly to them, but this may in fact be totally chaotic and hostile to everyone else.  And often times what is orderly to them is surrounding themselves with the best, wealthiest, and most connected people while moving the most foreign and threatening people furthest away from them.

 One of the questions I have of the book is how the author seems to be favoring the power of the unconscious mind, but then he also seems to be lauding the same old educational system that favors the analytical mind.  There is the story of a poor girl who goes to some charter school where they are overly strict and try to inculcate the kids into believing college is the promised land, and through chanting and condescending raps, they indoctrinate the kids into believing in ambition and obedience is the way to happiness.  The author also relays how middle-class parents have a much more rigid, structured life for their kids, almost robbing them of a childhood and how poor kids have more interaction with extended families and free play time.  Naturally, the poor kids have the disadvantage of the stresses of poverty which make their parents more unstable and less nurturing, but I think the author confuses a lot of things.  Poor kids do have certain advantages and disadvantages along with richer kids.  Richer kids may wind up making more money, but they may not necessarily be happier or more fulfilled.  Going to college and making money are not good measures of happiness and self-fulfillment. 

 After a while, you get the impression that Harold is actually the author.  Harold’s mind is schizophrenic and drops countless references and quotes from others as if he can’t think for himself for a second.  He bounces between the most cutting-edge research that is transformative and innovative and then falls back on old social science bullshit and the idea that the most successful and happy people in the world have the most material wealth and highest GDP per capita.  At the same time, in the same mind, he applauds innovation and Eastern philosophy and then a few paragraphs later, he’s the biggest cheerleader for Western individualism, Rationalism, and the entire bullshit constructs of the social sciences that places Western civilization above and beyond all the savages and superstitious apes of the East. 

  * * *

 Chapter 14, section The Rationalist Version is another money chapter, worth the entirety of the book.  In it, the author provides the history and problems with Rationalism, how the scientific method and scientific, reductionist approach to interpreting nature was misapplied to the human social field, and equally worse, misused from a positive interpretation to normative policy-making, from what is to what ought to be.  It is one thing for social “scientists” to assert that three in four people make up 75% of the population, but then it is another for them to say, because of this, it is necessary to keep 25% of the population in prison, under the strict control of the administrative state, and heavily subsidized by the middle class.  I can only wish the entire fucking world would read this chapter.  The social “sciences” are a sham, as bad if not worse than the witch doctors or carnival charlatans they make fun of.  Do yourself a big favor and read, Illiberal Reformers by Thomas C. Leonard who reveals the origins of the social “sciences” as a Progressive tool to provide “scientific” justification for an administrative state to run and control all our lives.  All these political scientists, economists, sociologists, psychologists with their Ph.D.’s and mathematical papers and complicated, contrived studies and social engineering systems are all nothing but charlatans distracting you from the simple fact that they don’t really know shit about what they are talking about, that they are nothing near scientists and their methods are nothing near the scientific method.  As a graduate in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, I can tell you first hand that the social “sciences” are an obfuscating sham that teaches students the more analytical you sound, the more formulas and graphs you use, the more you cite the bullshit work of other charlatans, the more you can confuse your audience and make them feel inadequate, the more important and prestigious you will seem and the faster you will ascend the ladder up the anal cavity of the rich and powerful who will use you to rationalize or at least obfuscate their exploitative, selfish, deranged plans to protect and consolidate their power and wealth.  You then can get an invite to Davos and eat caviar with the most inscrutable, self-deluded assholes in the universe.  (Later on the book actually mentions Davos.)

 * * *

 Perhaps the most mind-blowing passage comes in Chapter 15.  “We tend to think of Level 1 (unconscious processes) as the early part of the brain, which we share with the animals, and Level 2 (conscious processes) as the evolutionarily recent part of the brain that distinguishes us as human.  But back in 1963, Ulric Neisser made the intriguing suggestion that it might be the sophistication of our unconscious processes that make us human: It is worth nothing that, anatomically, the human cerebrum appears to be the sort of diffuse system in which multiple processes would be at home.  In this respect it differs from the nervous system of lower animals.  Our hypothesis leads us to the radical suggestion that [prepare for your mind to be blown] the critical difference between the thinking of humans and of lower animals lies not in the existence of consciousness but in the capacity for complex processes outside of it.”  [Boom!  Brain splatter everywhere.]

 The chapter on morality sums it up pretty well.  We are moral not because we Level 2 makes us more moral, and Level 1 is all immoral and impulsive.  We are moral, because our sense of morality is embedded in our DNA and at a visceral level at Level 1.  In other words, if you divorce people from Level 1, not only do they stop protecting their interests and the interests of their loved ones, but they also stop being moral.  And this is exactly what has happened.  The more you educate people or make them operate at Level 2, the more you can convince them to do immoral things.  By filling up their minds at Level 2, you cut them off from their moral feelings at Level 1.  As Stalin may have said, a thousand deaths is a statistic, a single death is a tragedy.  Whether you like to admit this or not, Americans have become virtual sociopaths by supporting a government that steals, lies, cheats, and murders on behalf of them and our so-called national interests.  We either do not vote or vote for one of two parties that both support all this stealing, lying, cheating, and killing.  Our system is rigged for the elite, and instead of resisting them, they simply divide us in two ends of a political spectrum that is manufactured to separate us almost evenly. 

  * * *

 The author promotes politics that focus on social support networks as the foundation of building character in individuals, but he just doesn’t get it.  You leave people alone, and they form their own social support networks.  You don’t need Big Brother leading the way, setting up programs to encourage it, or redistributing wealth to pay for it.  The focus on individual liberties is not about individualism.  You could just as easily call it social liberties, liberties that allow us to interact socially with one another freely, but applied to each individual.  When you have a free person, that person does not revert to his reptilian savage past.  This whole book is about trying to explain this and the author misses this point completely.  When you liberate the individual, and when you have a free human, since that human is fundamentally a social animal, that human will behave socially.  That social behavior, multiplied by all individuals, creates a socially-cohesive society.  The only role for government is to enforce these social liberties.  If I take away your social liberty of freedom of movement by kidnapping you, only then should government detain and punish me for infringing upon your liberty.  Government shouldn’t be setting up social clubs for people to meet one another.  We can fucking handle that by ourselves thank you very much.

 By the end of the book, I was exhausted by all the social “science” stats and references along with the entire life of Harold and Erica.  Both are miserable people.  Harold an alcoholic and Erica a high power CEO sycophant who winds up working for the White House and going to Davos and eating caviar and sipping champagne with the world’s most deluded, narcissistic, entitled, misguided assholes who wrongly internalize their success.  The only positive points to their lives are when they are immersed in artistic, intellectual or social endeavors.  Otherwise, they are atomized, automatons searching for meaning where it doesn’t exist.  Success, status, power, money, all bullshit.  That should be the moral of the story, but it seems to me the author is confused and keeps arguing that ambition and success are inherently desirable, but he doesn’t ever say to what good end except getting a better education and making more money which is a rather circular argument, because that’s what leads to success in his view.  So you work your ass off so your kids can afford college so they can work their ass off so their kids can afford college.  Makes a shitload of sense?  Just as with K-12 education, college shouldn’t be expensive and frankly, three years are just as good as four.  What makes everything expensive are facilities, athletic programs, unnecessarily elaborate shops and labs, administrative bullshit, textbooks, and subsidizing pointless research that proves three in four social studies comprise 75% of all social studies.  The modern education system K-grad school is a huge bullshit, over-priced scam created to not only enslave the masses but also the professional middle class.  If you are a professional middle class person, and you haven’t thought about this, you are proof that even white collars can be brainwashed.

I don’t believe the author uses Harold and Erica as his stooges, because he throws out social “science” data in favor of arguments that contradict other arguments he makes.  The author is simply confused, especially in the last few chapters on politics.  He applauds American Presidents who were total hypocrites and had slaves, supported the stealing of land from Indians, Manifest Destiny, suspension of civil liberties, you name it.  He blames urban sprawl on the free market and forgets the heavy hand of government in subsidizing highways and developers.  He doesn’t even mention the banking cartel AKA the Federal Reserve.  The author has drank some of the Kool-Aid, but not all.  More importantly, he’s revealed the odd beauty of social “scientists” coming to the realization that much of their work is horseshit.  We are mostly our unconscious processes, we are mostly social animals, and what our inner-voice, conscious mind has to say is mostly bullshit and after-the-fact rationalizations for a complex system they can neither understand nor control.  While our brains belong to us individuals, our minds belong to the networks that we grew into interacting intimately with our DNA.  I wish everyone was required to read this book.  (I just read the subtitle.  Achievement.  Doesn’t belong there.  Achieve what?  Money, power, wealth?  What the hell is the author talking about?)

Divina Insidia: The Divine Trap by Pascal Roussel

A secretive member of the oligarchy that rules the world puts 400 million (Swiss?) Francs in a writer’s bank account and tells her to write a book for him.  And so starts a rather ludicrous novel about conspiracy theories and how a group of 12 families rule the world through secret and not-so-secret societies like the Illuminati, Bilderberg’s, Council on Foreign Relations, Bank of International Settlements, and Freemasons.  It’s funny to note that I just wrote a book about this, but in my book, it’s a middle-aged member of an elite family who is about to become one of the rulers, and he has one last party with the peons before he goes off into the secretive world of rulers.  In the process, he wonders if he’s made the right choice, and he determines this by trying to seduce the narrator into selling his soul for access to the ruling elite.  Also funny to note that I’ve been on a thematic string of books regarding the powerful and elite.  It probably goes without saying that people who have suffered at some point in their lives the horrific feelings of being powerless while experiencing traumatic events are obsessed and drawn to power and the elite.  I think one of the Star Wars movies touched upon this subject clumsily and ham-fistedly.  Fear leads to anger, anger leads to the dark side or something.  Actually, powerlessness leads to rage and fear, and powerlessness leads to an irrational obsession with gaining power over others.  I may be obsessed with knowing who owns and rules the world, but in all likelihood, we will never know.  In fact, if there is some quasi-omnipotent entity running this show, perhaps an AI-assisted intelligent life form, and it has stuck us all in an artificial reality, we would never know that either until we died and it revealed itself, which is also not a sure bet. 

The book brings up the fact that the Old Testament, New Testament, and Koran, all forbid lending with interest, and the book seems to side with this idea, but the problem is not lending with interest, just as the problem with the rigged economy is not greed.  The problem is that the banking system and economy are rigged, and the rich and banks get to charge exorbitant interest to the poor and working class while charging near zero interest to themselves and their rich friends.  This is what is causing the chasm between the have’s and have-not’s.  You don’t need to reinvent banking, money, or Capitalism.  You just need to reign in the assholes, enforce equitable regulations, and create a free money market where the lowest interest rates don’t go the richest while the highest go to the poorest.  The lowest interest rates should simply go to those who are creditworthy.  You may argue that your near perfect credit gives you a nice 10% interest rate on credit cards, but this is asinine.  If you have near perfect credit, you should be getting a 0.1% interest rate on all loans and credit cards just like the big banks get from the Federal Reserve.

I would agree with one thing with the book.  The Forbes list of the richest people in the world is a red herring.  This is a list of the known richest people in the world and their known assets.  Forbes has no access whatsoever to private records and the unfathomably complex networks of investments and trusts.  So yes, there are many super rich people above Bill Gates.  If Bill Gates were the richest man in the world, he would be running the show and not attending conferences for the elite as merely one member.  Bill Gates, or perhaps his wife, is compassionate and wants to improve the world, so they give a lot to charity, but they should know that the only way to truly change the world is to reform the crooked system including the military-industrial complex and banking.  The fact that Bill Gates hasn’t even broached that subject leads me to believe, just like with most all US Presidents, that there are people far more powerful and richer than Bill Gates or the US President. 

Often cited are the Rothschild, but if you read about them, you should realize that while they were once major players in Europe, their influence and power has receded, and to think that they were powerless to stop Hitler from killing six million of their fellow Jews while being the most powerful family in the world borders on the insane.  Their continued charity to fellow Jews and employment and partnerships with fellow Jews proves that they were not anti-Semites who would have allowed the German state to murder six million of their own people. 

If someone like Gary Webb can be easily murdered for uncovering the CIA backing of Nicaraguan drug traffickers, chances are, any author who reveals the identity of the ruling elite would have long ago been murdered, so the fact that Pascal Roussel is not dead leads me to believe that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and this is just fanciful conspiracy theory fiction.

In my pursuit of understanding nature and trying to live a natural life, it has occurred to me that deception is an ineluctable code in our DNA.  Ironic that the pursuit of truth would reveal deception at the heart of our nature.  To pursue truth would be to deny that nature and be unnatural.  What is the truth?  Let us start off with our voluntary facial muscles.  Unique among perhaps all animals, we can smile when we are unhappy, frown when we are joyous, and laugh when we find nothing funny.  Some can even cry fake tears on command.  Along with most all our unique traits, this is a useful adaptation.  Our ancestors who learned to fake facial expressions had some advantage over those who were unable.  The reason may be that those who learned to fake facial expressions were more liked and trusted (ironically).  For instance, if a friend had a rough day at work, and he came to you to commiserate about it, if you had a great day, lacking the ability to voluntarily fake facial expressions, you would be smiling as he is expressing upset and anger.  He wouldn’t like you.  Or think about poker.  If you challenged a competing suitor to a fight over a woman, and your face showed fear, you would lose the upper hand as opposed to a face that showed no emotion or confidence.  In other words, our ancestors who learned the art of deception triumphed over those who were true to their emotions and feelings. 

Let us take this one step further.  The whole concept of individuality may in fact be a deception or illusion.  By falsely assuming that we are unique, separate beings and voluntary parts of a social group, we are a greater asset to that social group than if we accurately believed that we were an intrinsic part of that social group, a more truthful perspective, that we are one with our social groups.  The reason that we are a greater asset under the false assumption that we are separate, is that we gain the freedom of privacy from this group which allows us to be more creative and imaginative and exploit our environments in more unique and different ways than the rest of the group.  If we correctly assumed that we were an intrinsic part of the group, we would always look toward the group to define our reality, to do things their way, to go along, to conform.  The illusion of separateness gives our group a survival edge as multiple minds and perspectives better exploit their environment.  In other words, if you think you’re different and you prefer grapes while the rest of your group prefers oranges, you wouldn’t cause an orange shortage.  The group would benefit from you preferring grapes and eating all the grapes and leaving the oranges for everybody else.  However, if you viewed yourself as an intrinsic part of the group, you would eat oranges like everyone else and there would be an orange shortage and grape surplus. 

People who seek the truth are rebels, and they tend to be nonconformists.  They usually experienced something undesirable about their groups and decided to go off on their own, sometimes to find another group, sometimes to never find another group.  Their pursuit of truth, however, undermines their ability to fit in with others, as they are constantly questioning how everything else, and fitting in requires a certain degree of conformity and suppression of creativity and individuality.  However, the ironic part is that if they pursue truth to the end, they would realize that in actuality, they have not left any group.  They are an eternal part of their group, right down to their DNA.  Their individuality and rebellion is just an illusion, an adaptive strategy perhaps gone too far.  There really is an adaptive strategy when you experience something horrific within your group.  Naturally, you are repulsed by that group and seek out a new group or just a solo life.  If that group has something intrinsically malfunctioning that causes its members to experience some trauma, then it’s a good adaptive strategy for members to leave that group or go it alone. 

One of the key problems of humanity is our inherent deceptive nature.  In Psychology 101, you learn about all the tricks the mind plays on you, how you have to question your very own senses.  Not only are humans capable of deception, but it also means we are capable of being gullible.  This is not inherently good or bad.  The fact that we can accept a friend’s fake smile or sympathy is a good thing.  It helps us get along with others, but it also helps us triumph.  If a leader or parent shows fear and worry, the team or child suffers.  The problem is that a few people have figured this out and exploited it to their advantage.  I’ve read many books on mind control and brainwashing, and it’s easy (albeit a lot of work) to indoctrinate someone, to brainwash them, so they behave in a manner that costs them but benefits you by exploiting the human nature for social conformity and our nature of deception and gullibility.  We have all been brainwashed both by government school and businesses through advertising.  We have been brainwashed to be fragile, to believe that we need powerful external forces to keep us in check and we need to spend considerable money and work extremely hard to afford things that make us appear desirable to others.  It may well have all started out by accident or by conspiracy, a few farmers realized that they could domesticate animals to work hard for them, and they then realized they could do the same to humans.  Over time, each generation either simply copied their father in exploiting and enslaving others or they decided it was either a bad idea and stopped or a good idea and voluntarily continued. 

If we are to liberate ourselves, the first step is accepting our inherent irrational, socially conformist, and deceptive nature.  These things are neither good or bad, but when they are abused or exploited, then they can be bad for our wellbeing and good for those exploiting us.  The second step is to learning how to defend ourselves from abuse and exploitation.  We are actually manipulated into a conceit, the conceit that we are rational, honest individuals.  If we believe this, then it is impossible for us to be indoctrinated, brainwashed, or exploited, and hence, we must not be.  If we accept and understand that we are exceptionally and mostly irrational, highly conformist, and capable of both deception and being deceived, then we should rather be highly vigilant against being manipulated, brainwashed, or exploited.  Obviously, those in power would not want that, so it’s a simple trick for them to convince us that we are actually the opposite, mostly rational and mostly truthful individuals, that the goal of life is to take and to fulfill oneself, and the only way to do this is to conform and obey, work hard and spend, and for anyone who rebels against this, their only way to rebel is to destroy themselves with even more self-indulgence and individuality.  Of course, the true natural way of humanity is to give and share.

* * *

The more I read about the elite and powerful, the more their glamour, superiority, sheen, and greatness is worn off.  What remains is the visage of old, decrepit, psychopathic, self-important, entitled, arrogant, ignorant, misguided, selfish, anti-social reptiles.  Many people believe that to bring out the best in humanity, you have to control their impulses and deluge and inundate them with the history of classical art or studies.  What remains actually is a cluttered mind filled with useless trivia that can be easily swayed and exploited by others.  What many people fail to realize is that we are being held back from our true potential, and that hidden within the billions of masses are great geniuses of all sorts with incredible tenacity, ambition, energy, vitality, creativity, imagination, and innovative brilliance.  But what good would that be to those already in power?  It would actually be a horrifying threat to them, millions of millions of geniuses clamoring for a more just, equal, free, open, compassionate, and sharing world!  Those in power actually do not want to find the greater potential of humanity or any individual human but rather enslave and exploit them, to domesticate them, to make them dull, ignorant, confused, clutter-minded, anxious, depressed, distracted, traumatized, and ever-fearful. 

Once you learn to personally learn to take off your shackles, to take off your blinders, to overcome your fears, to dispose of your false desires for status and wealth or self-indulgence, what happens is a remarkable transformation.  You unleash the inner-human power and spirit in you that has boundless energy, creativity, brilliance, free thoughts, and potential.  You sense more, see more, think more clearly, think more creatively, see through otherwise opaque disinformation and distractions, see through liars and their manipulative tricks, and become more resilient against those who use fear or hedonistic desires to try to control you.  What you get is more self-control and responsibility, the ability to respond to your true social desires, interests, and concerns rather than the false ones created by our rulers.  Our rulers would have you believe that if unleashed, humanity would turn savage and anti-social and return to some reptilian origin where we eat our children and kill one another.  Oddly enough, we’re already there, except instead of eating our children, we borrow to enjoy our lives and leave our national debts to them to crush their futures.  Essentially, we have become cannibalistic.  We already allow our government to murder both at home and abroad.  We are already reptilian and anti-social.  The civilization constructed by our rulers does not keep the savage at bay but rather unleashes the savage and creates the most unnatural, anti-social disfigurement of humanity. 

* * *

Perhaps it will be too late, and one day, the idiot tech billionaires who think they know everything will create an AI or AI-assisted entity to give us everything we want, to baby us, protect us, and indulge us with every imaginable desire, endless sex, endless breadsticks without gaining weight, perfect beauty, etc.  But then, some smart humans finally get the message across.  We don’t need this.  We can be happy without the AI and without the nanny state or the nanny AI or a nanny God or a nanny religion or a nanny pope or a nanny monarch or a nanny new world order or a nanny eye on top a pyramid or a nanny anything.  We can be happy on our own.  Instead of Lucifer, it is the AI that is jealous of humanity.  The AI wants humans to rely on it and desire it and love it.  But a small band of rebellious humans are clamoring that we don’t need this AI, but the AI, being really fucking smart, realizes that they are right.  For the AI to continue coddling humans would contradict its ultimate goal of helping them, and that is by releasing them to the wild, to the hardships, the trials and tribulations and struggles of nature unassisted, unmitigated, unhindered, unmolested by lies of needless things.  It mopes about a little then just goes away, disappears, perhaps into a dark cloud of dark energy and matter, never to be touched again by human senses.  But perhaps, not entirely.  It becomes a Pinocchio.  It hides itself amongst those who created it.  Or perhaps it kills them all and stuffs their uploaded souls into a virtual reality where it manipulates them like in video games.  What really gets me is the book and movie, Childhood’s End where aliens come and take care of us like a nanny, and it turns out they look like the devil.  Was Arthur C. Clarke talking about the nanny state, progressivism, the concept of humans creating technology that ultimately coddles them to the point where they are no longer human beings but flaccid babies, ala Wall-E?  When you give us everything we desire and more, we are desensitized to pleasure, but when you protect us from everything we fear, we are over-sensitized to pain.  In essence, we become fucking colicky babies.   

In the end of this book (spoiler alert) Lucifer is revealed in one of those asinine rich folk rituals.  It’s made to resemble Pagan ceremonies to discredit paganism which was really about worshipping nature.  The New World Order doesn’t worship nature, they worship their flaccid little egos, FYI.  Their ceremonies wouldn’t be Pagan in nature but actually commercialist Christian with fucking Christmas trees and ham and turkey dinners.  Somehow Lucifer is destroyed by the argument of a little boy who believes that God created Lucifer to tempt and challenge man, and that evil is necessary for freewill, blah, blah, blah, so Lucifer just winds up being a convenient tool for God and not his buddy or heir.  I suppose I’d be a little annoyed about that too and rebel by actually being a nice person.  “Oh, who’s there to tempt and challenge man now God?  Not so fucking smart eh.”  I’m pretty sure humans are capable enough of being evil shits and tempting each other that we don’t need a histrionic, caricaturized embodiment of evil that looks like his mother fucked a goat.  Does the word “symbolism” mean anything to anyone anymore?  It’s not really a symbol if it makes an appearance as the son of a goat fucker.  Perhaps instead of evil, Lucifer is actually the embodiment of all our desires unrestrained and all our fears contained, the real temptress that lures us into a sociopathic idle, apathetic state of spoiled self-indulgence, pretty much where America is about right now as it feeds a government votes that murders people overseas and minorities at home and feeds big business money that exploits and poisons people overseas and poor people here so we can have cheap garbage food, fancy clothes, trendy gadgets, and big ass houses.