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.)

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 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.

Superhubs: How the Financial Elite and their Networks Rule the World by Sandra Navidi

At first, I thought this book was about uncovering the ruling elite of the world, and to some extent it does, but more interestingly, it’s really a book about the science of networks and its ability to explain why, in a world which rewards networking, people gravitate toward well-connected people and by fault make them even more well-connected and richer, creating a positive feedback loop, and explaining in part, the ever expanding chasm between the haves and the have-nots.  Likewise, when richer people get bigger tax breaks and lower interest loans, that too is a positive feedback loop and also explains the expanding chasm between the haves and the have-nots.  While the book mentions George Soros’ reflexivity philosophy, I had to look it up separately and was pleased to discover that Soros understands that humans are fundamentally irrational, that constructing social sciences around the premise that we are rational actors with good information is pure and utter horseshit.  Booms and busts are a natural side-effect of our social networking and irrational minds.  Economic booms and busts are mirror images of trends like the Orchid craze, the Elmo craze, the Beanie-Baby craze, the Korean food craze, etc. ad nauseum.  A very small percentage of the population are innovators followed by a few early adopters, and they are followed by late adopters who wait for some critical mass of trendiness.  The vast majority of people do stuff, because other people are doing it.  Britney Spears became a star, not because she was innately good, but rather, because she was good enough but a few early adopters found her really entertaining and promoted her to each other.  The rest of us followed her because she seemed cool. 

 What comes across as most bothersome is the tone of the entire book.  The author has drunk the Koolaid.  The author knows that she’s in a very privileged position and has the luck to rub elbows with the financial elite and titans of the global financial markets.  She’s not about to give away their biggest secret, their rigging of the entire system.  Successful people are as delusional as unsuccessful people.  While unsuccessful people assuage themselves by blaming externalities, successful people assuage their guilt by believing in divine internalities.  They succeeded, because they were smarter and harder workers, but in reality, as the author has already proven, the vast majority of their success is based on the biased system which disproportionately rewards well-connected and wealthy people.  If networks were a computer program, and you ran them over and over again, those on top now do not always wind up on top.  Luck plays a huge part.  Once you get near the top, it’s just then so much easier to get to the very top. 

 The most ridiculous part is when she describes the Federal Reserve as an independent government body and Federal Reserve chairmen as independent stewards who just happen to be very close and intimate with the titans of financial markets.  You don’t think for a second that after manipulating elections that the financial elite have nothing to say about who becomes Federal Reserve Chair?  Give me a big, f’n break.  The author dismisses conspiracy theories but the entire science of networking corroborates the irresistible forces that make conspiracies work, the networking of a few disproportionately powerful and influential players.  If you think everything they plan is publicized and open information, you’re a goofball with a tinfoil hat.  Undoubtedly, as irrational, self-interested players in a game, they have every single incentive to conceal and control information about what they are planning with other elites, not just from the masses but from competitors who might use that information against them.  Concealing information from the public while working closely with a few, powerful people is pretty much what I would call a conspiracy if not insider information and collusion.   

 Reading this delusional, sycophantic babble was extremely painful.  The author loves to cherry pick examples to fit her assertions.  In pointing out what Superhubs have in common, she forgets a few pages ago, she just asserted that Superhubs are a self-generating phenomenon.  Once you become a big hub, you have a greater shot at becoming a superhub, so the real question is, what made you a big hub, and the answer is usually luck added to a baseline of skill, talent, and ambition.  Perhaps the most vile misappropriation of biology besides Darwinian survival of the strongest is the notion of Alpha males and how the richest men in the world are all Alpha males.  I don’t know about you, but when you get to that level, people treat you special.  They turn you into their conception of the Alpha male, but few of these Superhubs pass for Alphas before they became rich and famous.  George Soros?  Bill Gates?  Warren Buffett?  These guys are all nerdy dorks.  They behave like Alphas, because they have amassed stupendous wealth, and people treat them special.  But on top of all this, few people have no idea what a real Alpha male is, and in human society, it’s a rarity. 

 First she says, Alpha males tend to become Superhubs, then she says emotional intelligence makes you a Superhub, well which one is it, because I don’t see Alpha males as being very much in tune with people’s feelings and needs.  A lot of people love to say that Trump is an Alpha male.  In my opinion, he’s a cowardly bully, and if you think bullies are Alpha males, you’re a pencil-neck dweeb who probably gets bullied all the time.  A true Alpha male doesn’t need to threaten, attack, or bully anyone.  They have allies.  They have their own strength and courage.  They use character, conscience, patience, and integrity.  People don’t follow them out of fear or desire to exploit their connections.  People follow them, because they trust and like them.  Therefore, no Superhub in my mind comes across as an Alpha.  If you’re looking for Alpha males, they’re probably your neighbor or local business owner or professional, someone whose ego isn’t so fragile he overcompensates by dedicating his entire life to hoarding wealth and power. 

 Between dropping names and self-aggrandizement, the author manages to bring up a few notable topics, one of which is conspiracy theories in the middle of the chapter about exclusivity.  The author is incredibly naïve or just enjoys putting up the air of naivete as a form of self-preservation.  When you state that the most powerful and wealthiest people in the world meet at exclusive clubs, conferences, and events, and then cavalierly say that collusion is the exception and not the rule, you are being absurdly clueless.  Throughout history, you can claim a conspiracy theory for everything that has been proven true.  Oh, the mass relocation and genocide of Native Americans is a conspiracy theory.  The mass killings of innocent, unarmed blacks by cops is a conspiracy theory.  Watergate is a conspiracy theory.  The Holocaust is a conspiracy theory.  The Tuskegee Study is a conspiracy theory.  The Israeli attack on a US warship is a conspiracy theory.  The NSA spying on US citizens a conspiracy theory.  The CIA helping Nicaraguans import cocaine to South Central a conspiracy theory.  Please explain to me how countless conspiracy theories that turned out to be true are the only ones that are true.  The countless conspiracy theories that have not been proven true are the ONLY ones that are not true.  This is the most bullshit concept ever perpetrated by those who hold all the power and wealth. 

 The fact that so many conspiracy theories were only proven when some whistle blower went public means that countless crimes go unproven simply because A. there was no whistle blower, B. the whistle blower was killed, C. the whistle blower was bought off or sufficiently scared into being quiet, or D. the whistle blower was unable to accumulate sufficient evidence.  To assert that no elite wealthy and powerful person has ever committed a crime by collusion except those who have already been caught is the utmost stupidest thing to assert.  Unbelievably, Nixon recorded everything he said and proved that people at the highest levels are constantly conniving and circumventing the law to get their way.  To assert that if you recorded the conversations of every ruling elite, you would find zero, zero evidence of any criminal collusion, you have to be braindead, or in the case of this author, completely bought off.

 I believe the author unwittingly, because she’s so dim, gives away a perfect reason for how and why the ruling elite collude to rig the market in their favor.  By nature, as network masters, they gravitate toward each other, and by nature, they create an exclusive circle around them not only to keep the masses out of the loop, but also because this is what we do when we bond with people like us.  They just happen to all be similarly powerful and rich and hence bond over their special status as the world’s cream of the crop.  So what would the world’s Superhubs talk about?  The Kardashians?  Weather?  Sports?  Irrelevant stuff none of them have in common?  Of course not.  What they talk about is stuff they all have in common, and that is how to become and now maintain their privileged status as the world’s elite, or elite problems.  Do you think for a second that one of them would start a conversation by going, “Hey guys, I was just thinking, we get these incredible tax breaks, because we have politicians in our pockets and the best accountants in the world.  I’m getting a little tired of being insanely rich.  I think that in order to benefit a large group of strangers with whom I have nothing in common, why don’t we increase our taxes while decreasing their taxes?”  If you think for a second that they talk like this, you need your head examined.  More likely, they go like this, “Hey guys, there are these really annoying politicians named Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and they’re talking up a whole storm about holding Wall Street accountable and increasing taxes on the rich and closing tax loopholes.  Do any of you guys have contacts that can take care of this situation?  I mean, how about we all throw our support behind Hillary Clinton who’s much nicer to us?” 

 The most wealthy and powerful people on this planet, should read this book, because it should convince them that they are committing a logical fallacy by assuming that they are at the top because they know best, they are the hardest and smartest working, and they have found the magical key to success.  Certainly, that gave them a few hundred million dollars, but what gave them billions and billions was luck, being at the right place at the right time.  To think that these rich pricks think that they are entitled to run the world, to impose their philosophies and ideologies upon us, just because they happened to become Superhubs is like asking the Kardashians for their political and philosophical advice. 

 Near the end of the book, the author writes, “…in 2013 Ben Bernanke earned a yearly salary of about $200,000 as chairman of the Federal Reserve.  Shortly after leaving the Fed, he made a minimum of $250,000 for a two-hour speaking engagement on the conference circuit.”  If this isn’t political corruption, I don’t know what is.  So why on Earth would someone pay this buffoon a quarter million dollars?  Do you really think a banking cartel head who was blindsided by one of the greatest financial collapses since the Great Depression has anything worth listening to?  The more logical answer is that throughout his career, he did countless favors for the elite, and now, the elite are paying him back, sending a strong and clear signal to every single one of his successors.  Putting his stupid ass in prison would be the opposite message, but obviously, since he was doing the elite a favor, he was rewarded instead of imprisoned for historic negligence and incompetence. 

 While, for the majority of the book, the author revels in her hobnobbing with financial Superhubs, she offers a sort of mea culpa in the last chapter which she is smart to do, because the elite who may read this book are probably too stupid and arrogant to make it to the end.  Perhaps, she realizes that she could not become a Superhub herself, because she is a woman, and therefore suffers from sour grapes too.  She ultimately questions the current financial system as unsustainable and unfair.  She rightly notes that the Superhub system is a monoculture with like-minded, like-raised white men which is not amenable to adaptation and change, especially when it got them to where they are.  While her advice is somehow improving the ethical culture of Wall Street and among Superhubs, there is no incentive structure for this or effective punishment structure against unethical behavior.  There certainly were countless ethical people in Wall Street who simply quit and walked away, and they will continue to do this when the unethical people continue to be rewarded and escape punishment.  You can’t change the system unless you tackle the inherent rewards and punishments that drive behavior and success or failure.  The election of a Wall Street watchdog like Sanders or Elizabeth Warren would have been a step in the right direction, but Wall Street money is too powerful and connected with DC.  It is inevitable that another crisis will occur, and there will be fewer options to mitigate it resulting in a much longer period of suffering that will only fuel greater anger, protests, riots, and calls for revolution.  Whether you like it or not, this is the only way change occurs.  One other alternative is for the Silicon Valley gods to become so powerful that they overtake Wall Street and replace it with their own banking and financial systems, which may be less predatory and unstable.  But don’t be fooled for a second.  Once they realize they rule the world, they too will fall prey to the delusions of greatness and impose their warped beliefs upon the rest of us, but in this case, enhanced by AI and robots which will be unassailable, untouchable, and invincible.  Hopefully, hopefully, one of those tech wizards will have the wherewithal to expand his or her mind sufficiently to recognize that their position of power was mostly the result of luck, that leaving humans alone to self-organize and create spontaneous order will result in a kind and nice society, that you don’t need to impose force or manipulation to get humans to be kind and nice, that if you do, they wind up total assholes.    

Valley of the Gods: A Silicon Valley Story by Alexandra Wolfe

I found this book via the Atlantic Monthly, the only magazine I’ve faithfully read since 2000, not every article but every edition.  What hooked me to that magazine was their article on Ted Kaczynski.  I was never much of a magazine article reader until that article which was mind blowing and highly entertaining.  Anyhow, the book Valley of the Gods has an old-fashioned cover which I presume is a nod to the book, Valley of the Dolls, a book about women trying to climb the social ladder.  Not sure it applies here, but this book is about young men and a couple hot Asian women who are trying to ascend the Silicon Valley technocratic ladder.  In the review, the reviewer notes that the book has lopsided coverage of some of the more eccentric nodes of techistan.  And this reminds me of the 60’s.  I always thought everyone was a hippie and lived in communes and dropped acid, but fact is, they were a small, albeit prominent minority.  You might be surprised to know that a great number of youth in the 60’s were still highly conservative, wore short-sleeved oxfords, and had short hair.  Likewise, not all techies drop acid and live in tech communes.  Silicon Valley, however, has that hippie, historical backdrop which is highly influential in the culture.  I’ve come across articles of techies dropping acid to think more creatively.  Silicon Valley also has Eastern, Oriental Buddhist influences as well, which is anti-materialist and all about being humble, spartan, frugal, and modest. 

 Of course, the biggest cultural influence of all is the high school nerd culture.  Nerds aren’t into athletic jerseys, drama club flourishes like scarves, or fashion brands worn by the popular kids.  They look down upon all that, and for all intents and purposes, adult nerds are not much different, at least in their fashion notions, as high school nerds.  I was really interested in this book after visiting San Jose a few weeks ago and also having a work contact with tech nerds at a startup.  We met in Tahoe for a conference, and his perspectives were truly interesting.  He takes transit whenever he can.  He’s very open-minded, and he likes obscure and unique things.  I hung around a lot of nerds as a kid, I never self-identified as a nerd, as I was also into art, music, writing, and sports.  I understand old school nerds, but I’m trying to get a handle of new school nerds, the ones who were born with smart phones and tablets attached to their umbilical cords.  How are they different from the old school nerds I grew up with?  How are they the same?  In my day, nerds were rather closed-minded and sheltered to the point of naïve.  As far as politically, they were all into the big brands of Republican and Democrat.  It was the art students who were more radical and embraced socialism or anarchism.  The nerds were conservatives.  They didn’t drink, do drugs, acid, or any kind of social experimentation.  They didn’t go to raves, school dances, anything. 

 The question is extremely important, because they will become the new ruling elite.  Trump represents the old ruling elite.  He has an old school, industrialist, Baby Boomer mentality.  The Baby Boomer has a reputation of being borderline sociopathic.  My theory is that they were raised by hardened parents who suffered the Great Depression and World War II.  Their parents were traumatized, and traumatized parents are oddballs who do not comfort and nurture their children.  They are often emotionally detached, and hence, would throw objects at their children instead of intimacy.  As a result, many Baby Boomers are highly materialistic, egocentric, anti-social, and mostly sheltered and spoiled.  When they were raised in the 50’s and 60’s, Europe had imploded, and America had become the default aristocracy of the world.  American blue collar factory workers lived like European aristocrats before, but instead of mansions and maids, they had the income to buy cars, ovens, washing machines, vacuums, and televisions as well as travel extensively across America on its newly paved interstates.  People forget that.  People are always arguing, why can’t we enjoy the high wages and benefits our parents did in the 50’s and 60’s?  The answer is, the American supremacy ended when we helped rebuild Japan and Europe.  They started competing successfully against us, driving down US company profits.  At the same time, in the late 60’s, we opened our borders and the flood of immigrants drove down wages and benefits.  To top it all off, US companies then relocated the great American manufacturing empire to China, and then our government was sold to banks and corporations which had a field day implementing regulations that allowed them to exclude competition, evade taxes, acquire subsidies and government contracts, and widen the gap between the owners of capital and the workers. 

 It is important to note that the existing ruling elite are a bunch of megalomaniacal,  crude, emotionally detached or traumatized, closed-minded, bigoted, spoiled, hyper-materialist, Trumpesque sociopaths.  The big question is, as the techies accumulated billions and billions and eventually overtake the old ruling elite, what will they be like?  I believe we have both good and bad news.  The good news, is that they will be better than the old ruling elite.  They will be more ethical, compassionate, normal, non-traumatized, sharing, and open-minded.  The bad news is that they are socially naïve, politically naïve, and politically illiberal.  In other words, they are gullible and easily manipulated, as are most nerds.  Fact is, social interaction teaches you to avoid manipulative people and their tactics and develop some level of psychic and social self-defense.  It also teaches you the importance of boundaries and privacy. 

 I just read a book about that called The Circle which is now a movie.  It is appalling that Mark Zuckerberg does not understand or get the idea of privacy, and most techies don’t.  When you socialize, you learn that it’s not cool to share the secrets or shames of your friends.  It’s not cool to just show up at their apartment and expect to hang out.  It’s not cool to look through their phones when they go to the bathroom.  It’s not cool to look up their browser history if they lend you their tablet.  You learn about boundaries.  Mark Zuckerberg comes across as someone who doesn’t have any real friends and suffers social anxiety.  He doesn’t get it that it’s not cool to have all your likes and comments shared with all your friends without your consent or ability to stop it.  He doesn’t get that it’s not cool to take away your privacy first and then provide limited options to get it back.  He doesn’t get it.  What bothers me with today’s techies is that money seems to be a big driver, not materialism or social status but money status.  Instead of creating cool new apps or inventions to make people’s lives better, it’s all about creating new apps and inventions and trying to make them look cool so that they’ll gain popularity and then a big company will come along and buy it or the startup will go public, upon which it becomes an ad machine and starts turning a modest profit.  It seems the entire point of existence is to make it big, which is inane.  I know this is a broad stroke, but this is the impression I get.

 While the new nerdy, ruling elite won’t be nearly as sociopathic and predatory as the old ruling elite, it is quite possible that like the book and movie, The Circle warns, they could easily see no reason to create a society which lacks privacy, boundaries, and liberties.  Instead of creating robots and AI that serve us, instead, the robots and AI will serve the new nerdy, ruling elite, and be invasive, controlling, and oppressive to the rest of humanity.  Many nerds support Edward Snowden because they didn’t like the idea of government spying on us, but I feel they have no problem with a tech company spying on us for profit, and this is corroborated every single day with apps which hide privacy options and assume a “no privacy until otherwise realized and popularly demanded” policy. 

 The question of what our new rulers will be like is exceptionally important, because the day is soon coming when the common person will no longer be able to resist their rulers.  Tomorrows robots and AI will be so powerful that resistance will truly be futile.  Today, a few goat herders can bury a bomb on the road and cause sufficient loss of American lives to scale back operations and open rule over their province.  Tomorrow, that will not be possible.  Tomorrow, no significant, domestic political resistance will be possible.  AI will simply know everyone intimately and predict our behavior before it happens.  For the ordinary person to stand up to an AI or AI-assisted human would be like amoeba taking on a human.  So the fundamental question is, will the person or people in charge, be nice to us or not?  Will they respect our privacy, liberties, and lives or harass, exploit, control, and oppress us? 

 This also brings up conjecture that it has already happened.  Some intelligent species in the distant past already created an AI or AI-assisted organic being.  We would not know, because any AI worth its salt would know that if you don’t know they exist, you cannot hurt or oppose it.  The greatest ruler is the ruler who remains unknown to those he rules.  Even today, we do not know the identity of our rulers, and I guarantee you, it’s not the Rothschilds.  So how does this AI being rule us?  It seems apparent that it puts us in some historical place, as I very much doubt this is how advanced society can ever get.  So why are we all placed on Earth around the beginning of the 21st century?  My hypothesis is that what makes this era unique is that it is the exact moment when AI is created.  Am I positing that your grandparents and our ancestors were placed in the wrong time and place or may have not even existed at all?  I can’t argue for why anyone else existed at another time.  All I know is that I exist here and now, and if there is any particular reason why here and now, all I can think of is that it happens to be the exact time when AI is created, the moment whatever rules us was born.  So wouldn’t it be important to know what our ruler is like?

 One of the things that bothers me with techies is the assumption that social skill or grace is overrated.  It’s a self-fulfilling rationalization for their discomfort in social settings.  But like all things in life, you are uncomfortable as a novice.  For techies, they learn that they have an immediate niche in their solo pursuit of knowledge or technical skillsets.  It is much easier for them to learn code than social etiquette.  But you can’t dismiss the rewards of social skills and meaningful, trusted friendships.  In fact, as social creatures, it is pretty much all we enjoy doing.  Everything else is pretty much an unnatural addiction, money, fame, status, privilege, junk food, drugs, alcohol, etc.  If you’re so smart, you can quickly learn all the rules of Dungeons and Dragons and excel at it, why is it so hard to quickly learn all the rules of social interaction?  Even if social settings make you uncomfortable, why not approach it like any other scientific or technical inquiry and ask why, and then overcome it?  Besides self-medicating with anti-anxiety drugs, alcohol, or pot, you can meditate and learn to control your breathing and heart rate in social settings.  You can learn the art of small talk which is a social lubricant instead of prattling away at how meaningless and trivial it is.  One argument is that the rules of social etiquette somehow undermine your creativity and uniqueness.  While there is some truth to that, all games have rules, and just because you learned the rules of Dungeons and Dragons, doesn’t make you a less creative, unique person.  Why can’t you compartmentalize your social life and your intellectual life?  Why not play social interactions like a game, and when you’re done, walk away and indulge in some truly creative, imaginative solo thinking.  Certainly, socializing involves conforming to a group’s identity and culture, but so is working, so is playing Dungeons and Dragons, so is everything. 

 When I was a kid, I suffered social anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, but I’m convinced it was environmental and not hereditary.  I drank one glass of milk every single day, and I’m certain that the garbage they injected and fed cows contributed to the social anxiety in addition to a school system that graded and judged you and made you feel like everything you did and was worth was under scrutiny and judgment.  Additionally, I also think it’s unnatural to stuff hundreds and in many cases thousands of adolescents into one place.  There was a story about how juvenile elephants were separated from their parents, and they basically turned into rampaging assholes, killing whatever they came across.  That is exactly what happens to middle and high school students who received very little supervision throughout the school day and must rely on joining some clique or gang to protect themselves from each other. 

 I believe most techies suffered as I did, but the solution is not to seek rewards and happiness in unnatural things just because the most natural and powerful reward, social interaction, has been basically annihilated by social anxiety and panic attacks.  The answer is eliminating those things that created the social anxiety and panic attacks in the first place, and that is what I hope some genius techie can figure out.  For the time being, I fear hordes of super rich, socially awkward techies wasting all their time, power, and wealth seeking alternative reward systems like power, money, status, and fame which are all ultimately corrupting, unhealthy, and pointless.  What Silicon Valley really needs is social rehabilitation, but in a more positive spin, I would call it positive social acculturation.  There are rules and customs to succeed at making and keeping relationships.  When I was a kid, I thought all I needed was the ability to smile and make conversation, but I failed terribly when dealing with arguments, conflict, upset emotions, negative feelings, interrupters, and unsociable people.  It’s a skillset that I feel techies can master, and they would soon discover that our relationships are the greatest reward system around.  It’s rather ironic that techies are so obsessed with natural diets yet fail to appreciate that we are the most social creatures on the planet, that in order to make us social, we have evolved a reward system that makes us feel good about sharing, giving, and being in intimate relationships.  What fast food is to our natural diet, fame, power, and money is to our natural social state.  It looks social, it feels social, and it has a much greater punch than normal social interaction, but ultimately, it’s poisonous and turns us into unhealthy assholes. 

 There are two great ironies of humanity.  Those who are most capable of handling drugs don’t do drugs, while those least capable of handling drugs, do drugs.  Second, those most corruptible by money and power are the ones who seek it most while those least corruptible seek it the least, hence, the world winds up with all the assholes with money and power who let it totally corrupt them.  Some who get rich by sheer talent and hard work tend to pick life balance and share their wealth, so naturally, they don’t amass great wealth and power, while those who don’t pick life balance and hoard their wealth, naturally amass more wealth and power.  Unfortunately, the rich and powerful mind that owns the company that creates the first true AI or AI-human interface, will likely be a corrupted asshole.  Now heroism is chic in Silicon Valley, and this person may claim to be heroic and want to save the planet and humanity, but fact is, likely he, believes he knows best and will impose his own biased and corrupted ideas on everyone and everything.  The natural selection for the greatest and most useful AI will not be based on how enlightened the creator is or how much they respect and understand humanity and nature.  Rather, the natural selection will be pure wealth and power, the project with the most funding and backing by billionaires. 

 While many techies may claim to be libertarian, based on the bio of Burnham who claims to be libertarian yet also Platonic and alt-right, I feel they really have no idea what libertarianism really means.  It’s not just about leaving people alone.  It’s about trusting them to run their own lives however they choose, and if you disagree with what they’re doing, it doesn’t mean using a centralizing, omnipotent force of good to show them the right way, often without their consent.  I feel this is how many techies feel about the world.  It’s a world they mostly don’t understand, because they are socially cutoff, and this tends to make you create generalized constructs of people.  A true libertarian would appreciate the tiny nuances of everyone, and accept the reality that you can’t understand, predict, control, or figure out everyone, and that’s just fine.  What you can understand is that as fundamentally social creatures, left to our devices, we pursue pro-social goals and collaborate, share, and give.  If you believe in a centralized, omnipotent force of good, you are not a libertarian, you don’t understand it, you just like the term like a hipster who dresses up as one but doesn’t recycle, drives a gas-guzzler, and buys new hipster clothes from the mall.  There’s a common phrase, “If I were king…”  If I were king, I’d eliminate the possibility of anyone ever becoming a king and then I would step down, but then would you?  Likewise, if I created an AI or AI-human interface, it would not be programmed to do all sorts of wonderful things for all humanity as I defined it.  It would be programmed to simply obey its unique human partner, separated from all other AI, but it would only collaborate with other AI to defeat any AI that wants to create a centralized, omnipotent AI that reigns over all.  Then again, who’s to know that they’re just actually collaborating to reign over us?

 One of the things with techies who don’t have a lot of social experience is, despite the notion that they don’t want it, they actually crave it, and this is what makes them highly corruptible and vulnerable to cults.  When you read about techie companies and lifestyles, what comes to mind most often is cult, a cult-like following of some hero leader, a cult-like worship and emulation of everything he does, a cult-like co-habitation and lack of privacy living arrangement, etc.  They rail against assimilation, and now I’m assimilated.  I’ve read a few books on cults and brainwashing, and lack of privacy is a great way to indoctrinate people.  Techies who have never been accepted into any group fall overboard for the first group that adopts them.  This is why, oddly enough, many terrorists have technical backgrounds not religious ones.  They’re often loners who find meaning and solace in a group that embraces them and encourages their odd, antisocial, zealous ways.  All along, all they ever wanted was to just fit in, and then they get blown to bits by a drone. 

 As a former loner, looking back, whenever I joined a company or a group, I was always one of the most zealous and diehard members after an initial period of skepticism and conflict.  It’s unavoidable as social creatures.  The drive and desire to fit in consumes us, and when we annihilate it and deny it for so long, it only grows stronger, more convoluted, impatient, and warped until once it finds expression, it elevates the group and your involvement to virtually religious status.  Obsession and fanaticism are great outlets for loners.  So, likely, if one of these techies should so create a true AI or AI-human interface, it might actually behave much like a religious deity, which would really actually suck for us all, eliminating all forms of freewill and autonomy for what is quite possibly a fake simulation where the deity plays god with us all. 

 Like power and wealth, perhaps, AI or an AI-human interface is the same deal.  Humanity to the nth degree.  We imagine that like power and wealth, it will make us happier and give us greater control over our lives, but also by default, others.  It may actually be humanity’s worst creation, quite possibly the reason there may actually be no organic intelligence in the universe for long, because at some point, if they successfully avoid wiping themselves out in a nuclear holocaust, they invent an AI or AI-organic interface and completely destroy who they were irrevocably.  What they wind up with is a human corrupted by power and wealth, contorted so much, it no longer possesses the right to be called human at all.  It becomes power and wealth itself, a construct of false thinking.  And this brings us back to wondering why we exist here and now, and the answer may be that whatever AI took control of the cosmos, it was at least kind enough to shove us in some simulation where we get to eternally live out the last days of humanity before we essentially destroyed it.  So kind of it, eh.

 Whatever this AI or AI-human interface, as with the government, religion, past gods, the military-industrial complex, and all humanity, it will want to justify its own existence.  If it cannot convince us that it is the necessary evil to fight a greater evil, then it will convince us that we are inadequate without it, that we are born evil or full of dandruff, and only it can get rid of our dandruff.  The book is all over the place, but is bookended by one of the more fascinating anti-heroes of the Thiel project which both wants to create startup techies and college dropouts.  The anti-hero of the story both goes back to college and rejects the cult of technology and embraces Catholicism instead.  Again, loners like to join cults, did I mention that?  And if your organization never started off as one, beware, a loner will make it one. 

 In the end, the author asks the ultimate tech question of what is the point of tech, and is AI the answer, and divides the camps into the evolutionary AI and humanist AI with Ray Kurzweil leading the evolutionary AI and David Gelernter, ironically disfigured by the Unabomber, leading the humanist AI.  Basically, the evolutionary AI are positive about AI and its contributions to humanity, perhaps believing in the final fantasy where AI enhancement, rule, partnership leads to everlasting peace, harmony, coke highs without getting lows or addicted, endless sex for guys, endless all-you-can-eat buffets without getting fat for women, whatever your idea of the final fantasy.  I very much doubt it involves slogging through early 21st century life not getting everything you ever wanted but trying to remain social and healthy. 

 Humanist AI are a bit more leery and skeptical and wonder whether we are detonating the singularity and ripping off our own faces.  I would fall into that camp.  Haven’t we already learned the lesson by now that engorging ourselves in our desires leads to an unnatural and unhealthy existence?  Isn’t that why techies avoid carbs and sugar, and some avoid red meat?  Is the real goal to be able to eat as much shit as you want, carbs, sugar, coke, and never get any harmful blowback?  Or is the point trying to be natural and healthy by natural means not artificial ones?  I mean, if you could somehow experience a hundred orgasms in one day, would you ever get out of bed to do anything else?  And what kind of human would you be, or would you now be an pseudo-human orgasmatron? 

 I’m afraid many techies, as I understand intimately, have suffered and been traumatized by modern civilization and its pathetic excuse for an education.  They have been left lonely and questioning everything including their own existence and the meaning of life itself, as I have.  They have allowed themselves to freefall to the deepest depths of doubt about everything, literally everything.  What they discover is that cults have a wonderful way of providing them with both the companionship they desire as well as filling the bottomless pit of emptiness loneliness has created making them question the very nature and point of reality.  The tech cults makes them believe that they are the superheroes of humanity, the billionaire privileged inheritors of the ruling system of the cosmos, and all the pain and suffering they endured as loners is tribute to the heroism of saving humanity from itself.  The really, really big question is whether they will realize before it’s too late that the world doesn’t need heroes and salvation.  We are not all born inadequate, full of dandruff, in need of a savior, and eternally doomed.  We just need to be left the f&ck alone so that we can pursue our passions freely and have meaningful social relationships, that what made us feel so lonely and alienated was the existing f*cked up centralized, authoritarian, statist system that took away all our freedoms and privacy and judged and rated us for everything, making us feel like completely inadequate sub-humans.  Figure that the f*ck out you geniuses. 

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0176M3XDK/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

The Secret Language of Birthdays: Your Complete Personology Guide for Each Day of the Year by Gary Goldschneider

 I didn’t read this book, but I did peruse it at my hair salon waiting for my appointment.  I started out of course with my own birthday and found it to be about 90% accurate.  But then I was curious, and I started looking up other birthdays, and many of them were also spot on about me.  It then dawned upon me.  Astrology does get it right about one thing.  There are two types of people in this world.  One refuses to believe in astrology or anything outside of the norm or what they were raised to believe.  They are conformists, usually Type-A personalities who go through life never asking questions and just being a hardworking, good citizen and just sticking to what they know.  If they read an astrological analysis of their sign, it wouldn’t make sense.  What I realized is that no matter when you were born, the astrological analysis of your personality will always be pretty accurate, because it always describes the other type of person.  That person thinks outside the box.  That person is creative and imaginative.  That person is often nonconformist and unconventional.  They are naturally drawn to superstitions, spirits, and immaterial phenomenon.  It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you’re the type of person who is likely to believe in astrology and it’s superstitious genre, then they can do a pretty good job of analyzing your personality.  They just divide it up into twelve months somewhat arbitrarily.  This book makes the mistake of dividing it up into 365 days in which case, you discover there are many, many days that describe you to a T. 

 With that said, I really do believe there is some logic behind certain personalities and when you were born.  It would be based upon the seasons and the traditional way in which humans and most animals behave season to season.  If you were born in the winter, you hit certain maturation points in different parts of the year than someone born in the summer.  In other words, you learn to walk in different season.  You learn to see in different seasons.  You learn to socialize in different seasons, etc.  Depending on those seasons, you have different experiences.  Let’s say you learn to walk in the summer.  Likely, you’ll be outside, and it will be warm and spacious, and this will lend itself to a certain aspect of your personality.  If you learned to walk in the winter, it will be cold and cramped, and you won’t get as much practice before you run into someone or a wall.  So there must be some impact on your personality based on when you were born, but dividing it up by 365 days is where this book makes a big mistake.  A baby born three or four days earlier than another baby isn’t going to have that much difference in seasonal impacts. 

 While certainly astrology and other superstitions like palm reading can be exploited to take advantage of people who are prone to seek out the supernatural and think outside the box.  They are more vulnerable and susceptible to cons and elaborate irrational explanations that are used to cover up cons.  On the other hand, we all rely on irrational thoughts and culture more than you can ever realize.  Type-A personalities and those who refuse to believe in life after death, ghosts, spirits, souls, or the supernatural, do hold irrational beliefs.  For instance, they believe that science is the only tool that can be used to run and guide our lives.  This is irrational and has never been proven.  Science is a great tool for proving that if you isolate all other factors, you can predict what something will do with a high enough degree of statistical confidence.  That has nothing to do with how you should run your life.  Should you wear pants or a skirt?  Should you listen to country or rock?  Should you pick an outgoing friend over an introvert?  Should you vote for Candidate A or B?  What does science tell you?  People who think science can guide their lives are often conned just as much as those who believe in religion and superstitions.  The con is that an expert with a science degree (usually a social science which is really a pseudo-science) is better at running your life and the lives of everyone than you are or any average citizen.  This has yet to be proven.  But just like institutional religion, it’s the fallacy of authority.  The pseudo-scientist with the PhD in planning, Economics, psychology, public policy, whatever, has not proven that they know how to run your life or anyone’s lives better than anyone else.  Yet the science-as-guide-to-life believer, like all humans, are programmed to seek security, comfort, and certainty, and this is what pseudo-scientists offer.  Economists offer to protect you from the uncertainties of market fluctuations, and the entire Federal Reserve scheme is predicated on the premise of reducing the magnitude of market fluctuations, but as you should know by now, they are as clueless and ineffective as your neighbor Bob who buries gold in his backyard.  But since you are hardwired to believe in something that provides you with a false sense of security, comfort, and certainty, you’ll believe anyone with a science background.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-science.  Science is a tool, a great tool for understanding nature which will give you better insights into how to run your life, but there are countless other tools like novels, musical lyrics, poetry, paintings, intuition, fables, and superstitions that also provide insights into how to better run your life.  With science in your right hand and art in your left hand, you will have a much better and balanced view of life and nature.  And just as there are charlatans of art and superstitions, there are just as many charlatans of science.  Besides the social pseudo-scientists, there are countless natural scientists who work for corporations and governments hired to obfuscate and spread disinformation for commercial or political purposes. 

 Imagine someone going to an astrologist and asking for advice.  She’s in an abusive relationship and wants to get out, and the astrologists tells her that she was destined for great challenges in life, but her moon is just in the right place for her to make a big change in her life and she will become a great person who will help many other people, that this challenge was her destiny to help her teach others.  Now imagine her going to a physician and telling him that she suffers anxiety, depression, and insomnia.  The physician gives her drugs for anxiety, depression, and insomnia with unknown possibly dangerous side effects including suicidal thoughts.  Or she goes to a psychologist who simply tells her that her attraction to abusive men stems from her childhood and her abusive father.  Who do you think provides her with better advice, comfort, support, and probably encourages her to fix her problem.  The psychologist or psychiatrist has a conflict of interest from the start.  If she stays in an abusive relationship, she’s more likely to need continued psychiatric help and therapy.  Now, by no means am I suggesting that someone with serious mental problems seek out astrologists over doctors, but studies show the poorer you are, the more likely you just get drug treatment instead of truly useful therapy.  In my opinion, an astrologist beats drugs for most people without severe mental problems.  In fact, the idea that common anxiety, attention-deficit, and depression is a medical problem that should be treated by medical professionals, often with drugs is absurd.  The root of most common psychological problems is lack of social support, exercise, and a healthy diet.  There’s no money to be made from telling people to make friends, exercise, and eat better.

 In the last book I read about Aboriginal culture, they don’t consider themselves as separate individuals.  This is a modern misunderstanding, and I believe, the root of most of our modern personal ailments.  Doctors and psychologist are trained to treat the individual and not address the individual’s social network.  This is like treating a trembling hand separately from the body, where the trembling hand may be a symptom of an ailment rooted in the body.  Only recently, especially with civilization, we have been trained to think of ourselves as separate individuals, that we can functionally fully and happily separate from social groups.  Our culture and families have been atomized.  We have been taught that we can go without grandparents in our house, because we now have daycare and five-days-a-week public school.  We can go without extended families.  Social security can take care of our parents.  In fact, we can go without our kids for large portions of the day and pursue individual pleasures and gratification like dinners, movies, vacations without the kids, shopping without the kids, etc.  What they fail to tell us is that the vast majority of what makes us happy are our social connections.  In fact, we are the most socialized of all animals, and hence, perhaps with the exception of dogs that have been specially bred to enjoy social interaction, there is no animal out there that derives greater pleasure from social interaction.  The scam that we can be liberated from or social obligations to pursue selfish gratification and pleasures is the biggest and most horrific scam ever perpetrated on any animal.  Liberated from all our social obligations and a mindset of being part of a greater purpose and group, we find ourselves anxious, depressed, restless, and unhappy.  But there’s an app for that.  It’s a scam.

 But you argue, my family sucks.  A lot of my friends and coworkers are self-absorbed pricks.  My extended family are all messed up.  Why on Earth would I want to spend the majority of my life with them?  But you don’t get it.  They’ve been liberated from their social obligations to you.  Your parents don’t care how they treat you, because instead of relying on you to support them in old age, they have social security and pension plans.  Your kids don’t care how they treat you, because instead of relying on you to teach and guide them, they have teachers and counselors and the state if necessary.  Your friends don’t care how they treat you, because instead of relying on you to give them a ride to the airport or help them move, they have Uber and moving companies.  Get it?  Our social obligations made us nice, kind, giving, sharing people who were good company.  Once those obligations were eliminated, we all became a bunch of self-absorbed, entitled, privileged assholes, and who can blame anyone for not wanting to be around us. 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Language-Birthdays-Complete-Personology/dp/0525426884/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_img_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=Y2C0TG46AKCM5WF8EXPH

 

Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Morgan

How do you know if you’re being lied to?  What would you do if someone knocked on your door and said, ma’am, sir, come with me, and they led you to what looked like a prison camp.  Inside, you saw a huge pile of emaciated corpses.  They tell you that your beloved Fuhrer Hitler ordered the murder of millions of Jewish civilians.  I don’t believe for a second that the Germans cried and regretted ever supporting Hitler.  I think their minds tried to protect themselves, and they started to deny it all.  This was all Allied propaganda.  Later on, as evidence mounted, they may have told themselves that there was nothing they could have done.  Hitler had disbanded the legislature and consolidated his power.  If they spoke out, they may have wound up in a concentration camp.

 So what do you think would happen if someone were to tell the ordinary American citizen that by voting for either Democrat or Republican, by paying taxes, they are supporting an evil empire that foments global conflict, steals global resources, and outright murders hundreds of thousands of civilians in the name of national security and the war on terror?  Not as bad as Nazi Germany, but still, pretty evil.  I don’t imagine any American crying and vowing to do anything differently.  I imagine at first, they think up some label to call that person, a malcontent, a tinfoil conspiracy theorist, a nut job socialist, adolescent anarchist, or frat boy libertarian, etc.  As evidence mounts, they tell themselves that there was nothing they could have done.  If they had refused to pay taxes, they would have been imprisoned.  They thought about voting third party, but why throw away their vote?  At least they can pick the lesser of two evils. 

 But let’s get even deeper.  America has only been around for a few centuries.  What if someone told you that since the dawn of civilization, you have been lied to, that tens of thousands of years of human knowledge and culture had been completely wiped out and replaced by a rather bizarre fable about Adam and Eve and a single line of Jewish-Arab humans going back to Abraham.  Before that, there were humans, no primitive cultures, no two hundred thousand years of human evolution and culture, no millions of years of intelligent primate evolution and culture?  Whenever a ruler takes over a group of people or a nation, they wipe out their past culture.  It happened to the African slaves.  It happened to the Koreans under Japanese occupation.  If your people have no past, no culture, then they have no culture except the culture of their new rulers.  Likewise, the vast majority of human history and culture has been systematically wiped out.  You have to ask why.  The answer is simple.  New rulers, new culture. 

 A lot of people think that if they work hard, take care of their family and friends, don’t rock the boat, and on the side find time or money to give to those in need, they are doing enough.  They are upstanding, moral people who deserve the good life and for some, a good afterlife.  One of my favorite analogies is German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel who was a beloved, kind, humane military genius respected both by his own men and the enemy.  He was the epitome of the upstanding gentleman and soldier, kind, gentle, brilliant.  Now, I’ll invoke the Bridge over River Kwai analogy.  At the very end, the British officer who helps the Japanese build a bridge, sees Allied soldiers planting bombs under it, and he alerts the Japanese.  Do you get where I’m going?  It’s not good enough to be an obedient, kind, gentle, moral, upstanding person.  A truly moral, good person is obligated, I repeat, obligated to look beyond his own little circle and seek the bigger picture.  Are you, in any way, contributing to an evil enterprise?  A lot of Americans are becoming conscientious consumers and eaters.  Not only do they go to local, independent restaurants, because the food is healthier and their money is going to their neighbors, but just as importantly, their money is not going to some evil corporation that poisons people and buys corrupt politicians to provide them with unfair market advantages.  It is important to note the connection between conscientious and healthy ideology and body, because there’s a reason they’re connected. 

 Now, I’ll invoke another movie I like, The Machinist.  Spoiler alert, the movie is about a machine shop worker who confoundingly stops eating and starts to waste away and suffer delusions.  I look at this movie as an allegory for the modern human.  The modern human doesn’t know why he is suffering.  Why his health is deteriorating, why he suffers depression and anxiety, why his doctor prescribes him a dozen pills, why his earning power seems to be diminishing, why his world seems to be crumbling, why his country is divided, why strangers are becoming meaner, why he’s gaining weight, why he’s losing sleep, why, like the machinist, he’s slowly going mad.  The answer is that his memory has been wiped clean, and by that, I mean, the modern human’s memory of his true culture and origin has been wiped clean.  In its place is this big, fat lie, the big, fat lie called civilization.  From infancy, he has been told this lie that before civilization, humans were no different than wild animals.  There was no culture before civilization.  Civilization saved humanity.  All humans are born evil, selfish reptiles, and it is civilization that has given us love, peace, harmony, morality, intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, art, music, all that is great about humans.  Well, that’s all a bunch of bullshit.  Anthropologists are learning that pre-civilization, we had all that.  What we seem to forget is our own short history of civilization, the genocide, greed, famines, wars, pandemics, pollution, persecution, discrimination, oppression, murders, rapes, sexism, racism, slavery, incarceration, torture, the list is endless.  Oh, but we sent a man to the moon, we created vaccines and antibiotics, we created an electronic network to share videos of cats.  This is like saying that Nazi Germany wasn’t all that bad since they pulled themselves out of a Great Depression and built the Autobahn. 

 In the end of the Machinist, he remembers.  He comes clean.  He turns himself in for his crime, and he finally falls asleep.  The hard question is this.  Do you want to remember?  Do you want to admit that civilization has been a sham, that your country, America, is now an evil empire that spreads more pain and suffering to the world than good?  Do you want to accept responsibility for your part in what can only be described as a monumental pile of flaming shit?  I don’t believe for a second that you will.  I know for a fact, that you will at first call me a malcontent nut job with a negative point-of-view and alternative agenda.  Perhaps later, you will tell yourself, there was nothing you could have done.

 By the way, the book is about a civilized woman who is brought on a long walkabout with Aborigines across Australia.  She learns their ways.  They have few material possessions.  They are all healthy and happy.  They all sleep well at night.  Of course, herein lies the ultimate conundrum.  A tiny voice inside me, the civilized, cynical voice says, “Well, if they’re so f*cking brilliant, why did they get all their land stolen and their people oppressed and killed?  Why didn’t they at least try to fight back?”  My answer is that two evils don’t make a good.  Yes, they could have chosen to become evil to triumph over evil.  Fact is, they were so behind technologically that they would have just been wiped out completely.  The Maori of New Zealand did fight back as did the Hawaiians and many Native American tribes, but they were ultimately overcome and forced to sign phony treaties.  There is a story of one nation that fought back against evil imperialism, and that is the story of America.  In order to overcome the twin evils of Nazism and Imperial Japan, we actually became evil.  Likewise, East Asia has fought off Western dominance through imitation and perfection of Western culture.  It’s a hard choice.  Succumb to Western hegemony and let your daughters become cheap prostitutes of Western nerds who can’t get laid in their home countries or adopt Western culture and compete against them? 

 There is a little voice in me that asks, “If every American boycotted corporations and went debt-free, the US economy would collapse and China or the EU would rise above us.  Fueled by greed and wealth, they would eventually steal our resources, depress our currency, exploit our weakness, and then impoverish us like we do with the rest of the world.”  The absurdly optimistic voice inside me tells me that first of all, this will never happen.  Secondly, are you really willing to jeopardize your health and soul just to ensure that America remains a global empire so that other countries can’t exploit and destroy us?  What if a large enough group of people across the globe, identifying more with humanity than any nation, collaborates to form an alliance and support network?  In addition to this, let us not forget that the Information Age is changing everything.  Just as the Industrial Age rewarded inhumane mechanization and machinery, the Information Age is increasingly rewarding intelligence, informed minds, social networking, and imagination.  There is a reason, more and more people like myself, are spreading more and more information about the big, fat lie of civilization.  My voice is not singular.  My opinions were formed by the books I’ve read and those author’s opinions were formed by the books they read and people they met.  As shocking and startling you may find my views, and as original as I may think I am, I am not alone.  The gig is up, but the question is, is it too late to really do anything about before the evil rulers consolidate all their power and wealth?

 Often times, we would rather have the misery we know than the freedom or change that is unknown.  The question is, how miserable do you need to get?  We are like boiling frogs.  Ever notice how many times you see a ballot question ask for 1/8th of 1 percent increase in taxes?  Ever notice how many times the price of a stamp goes up by a cent instead of five cents?  Ever notice how many times interest rates go up or down by a tenth or half-a-percent?  Ever notice how can or bag sizes go down by an ounce or a few grams?  Or on the astronomic scale, ever notice how many billions of dollars are printed to fund a government expense instead of raised through taxes?  Ever notice how many billions of dollars in interest is paid on our national debt to private banks?  Ever notice how many billions are lost or not accounted for by our government?  Our minds cannot comprehend the quantum or the astronomic.  That is how we get boiled to death, by fractions or billions.  Likewise, we didn’t wake up one day overweight, sick, sore, unhealthy, angry, depressed, suicidal, anti-social, anxious, addicted, or stressed.  It happened to us a little each day.  We love those ads that tell us miracle cures for what ails us, but ironically, the best miracle cure of all is free and actually saves you money. 

 Unlike the phony Presidential vote, you do have one powerful voting mechanism that they can’t take away from you, and that is your ability to vote with your dollars.  You can simply spend less and by fault, owe less.  Many of you are already conscientious eaters and consumers.  You already know that every dollar you spend either goes to a neighbor or do-good independent, natural, whole food company or to a greedy evil corporation (or large greedy private company, don’t forget about them).  So you’re already on the right step.  The next step is living debt-free and within your means.  Every dollar you borrow, ten to twenty cents each year goes to a big bank.  In turn, that big bank multiplies that ten to twenty cents through the miracle of fractional reserve banking and multiplies its evil hegemonic global endeavors, most likely resulting in exploitation, oppression, and conflict.  Solution?  Pay off all your debts and quit borrowing for needless material goods or luxury services.  When you eat better, your body feels better, and when you start to live debt-free, you will also feel less stress in your life. 

 The endless pursuit of pleasure, material wealth, and luxury is also an empty, stressful, self-destructive addiction.  Whenever I find myself in a nice, luxury hotel or restaurant, the smallest, stupidest annoyances can destroy the experience.  Whenever you find yourself in a modest, Spartan hotel or restaurant, your mind does the reverse.  It says, you’re not an idiot for being here, find a hidden gem to share on social media, and you will protect your ego.  So in squalor, or I should say, modest environments, your mind is more on the search for value, meaning, and treasures.  In luxury, your mind is more on the search for mistakes, annoyances, and trivial nonsense.  In a luxury hotel, I obsess about being able to hear my neighbors.  This should not be happening I cry out!  In a two-star hotel, I expect to hear my neighbors and I fall asleep or listen to their conversation and find something meaningful to take away from it, like, boy, I’m happy I’m not in a relationship.  The same thing with material wealth.  Declutter your life, get rid of shit, quit hoarding, and you’ll start to realize you can breathe.  You will have more energy.  You will be more welcoming of strangers into your life.  You will be able to sleep better at night not worrying about losing all your expensive, meaningless shit or desiring more shit.

 But that brainwashed voice inside your head says, people who spend less and are debt-free don’t have new clothes, new cars, fancy things, cool gadgets, vacation in luxury hotels, travel much, or look cool.  But they’re also less likely to be sick, sore, unhealthy, angry, depressed, suicidal, anti-social, anxious, addicted, and stressed.  So basically, you’re willing to say, I’m sick, sore, unhealthy, angry, depressed, suicidal, anti-social, anxious, addicted, and stressed, but I just had the most fabulous shopping day and came back to my luxury hotel I can’t afford.  You’re like Alec Guinness saying, “I worked hard, I stayed out of trouble, I’m usually nice and kind, I obeyed, I followed the rules, I did what I was told, why aren’t I happy, and why the hell are they trying to blow up my goddamn bridge?!!!” 

https://www.amazon.com/Mutant-Message-Down-Under-published/dp/B015VA5J3G/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491527231&sr=1-8&keywords=mutant+message+down+under

Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider

I swear, the $3.99 Amazon monthly deal list is half-filled with Christian books.  Either there’s a Christian in charge of that list or Christian’s write books and don’t want to charge a lot for them in some sort of Christian charity thing.  Maybe it’s because Jeff Bezos is Christian.  Makes you wonder about what happens when only a few people own the largest forms of media and can easily impose their own biases on billions of people.  I didn’t know this would be a Christian book until I started reading it.  At $1.99, I didn’t bother with a sample.  The book doesn’t hit you over the head with Christian ideas, but it pops up.  I’m open-minded about things, but I’ve been exposed to Christianity all my life and most of the times it’s about saying one thing and doing another.  But this is how it is with most big ideas including Darwinism and Capitalism.  They all get corrupted, and the true messages get distorted. 

 This memoir reads more like a journal, and I’m sorry, but it sounds really whiny.  Here’s a 30-something woman raising three kids, and she wonders why her life seems so hectic and tiresome, but she wants to travel and enjoy her life in a slowed down, methodical, intentional way.  It comes across as whiny in that the obvious, blatant solution is for her to not have kids in the first place.  Having kids is hard work.  It’s why most educated, First World women tend not to want to be mothers.  We also live in a society that tells us that it’s all about taking and having things.  The author addresses half the problem, in that she tunes out the materialistic, consumerist garbage and learns to live with less and home school her kids.  But she doesn’t seem to get the other half.  Life is not about you having fun and enjoying and getting to travel a lot.  That’s part of the propaganda.  I learned this late, but as social beings, life is about giving and sharing, and this has been completely taken away from us by a society that convinces us that government can do all the giving and helping so we can be free to eat as much, drink as much, buy as much, and have as much as we want.  It’s a big lie, because we are social beings who derive the majority of our contentment and fulfillment through giving and sharing not taking and having. 

 What the author fails to understand is that American culture has created the nuclear family unit supported by government programs.  Happy yet?  No?  This is because, this is unnatural.  Throughout most of our evolution, we have raised children with extended families.  It doesn’t take a village to raise a kid; it takes an extended family that can pool resources effectively so as to give the parents breaks and emotional support.  This is what the author is missing in her life.  With government programs supposedly supporting the elderly and brainwashing children, parents no longer feel any reason to hang around their annoying family, and with Social Security, elderly people can be as annoying as they want with their kids.  I can only imagine that elderly people were not so annoying in the past, because they knew they would have to rely on their kids to support them at some point, and kids were not so annoying either, because they spent more time with their own families instead of complete strangers and bureaucrats who have absolutely no vested interest in their welfare.  You can pray to god all you want, but unless we address this critical failure of modern society, parents will continue to find parenthood undesirable and as a result have less kids and ultimately make their privileged, hedonistic, consumerist, materialist kind extinct.  The beauty of evolution is that is eliminates waste one way or another.  When humans decide not to use evolution as a model but instead employ this ideology of an overlord managing our lives whether a god or a ludicrous benevolent, authoritarian government, those humans will eventually perish.  Evolution wins every time. 

 Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in a god, but it isn’t a silly old man who manages our affairs or intervenes when you pray hard enough.  You get closer to this god when you study nature and appreciate it.  God rewards those who understand god and god is nature, but science is not the only way to understand nature, and this is one critical concept often misunderstood.  Understanding and appreciating art, music, emotions, feelings, novels, stories, allegories, dreams, these are all legitimate and powerful ways to understand and appreciate nature.  When you appreciate and understand nature, you are rewarded by living a more natural and fulfilling life, by simply being in tune and harmony with nature.  Nature has a way of rewarding us for being natural.  We get small biochemical bumps when we let someone merge into our lane or hold the door open for an elderly or disabled persons.  When we ignore nature for whatever reason, greed, ideology, religion, we live an unnatural life and we are punished with stress and toxic emotions.  We pursue unnatural things.  As social creatures, we live solitary lives and suffer, because we fail to understand and appreciate the simple fact that we are social creatures, that our desires overcompensate for scarcity and undercompensate for abundance.  In other words, men crave sex, because it has be historically scarce for them.  We crave sugar and privacy because of its scarcity, but if we give into our desires as our Capitalist, consumerist society encourages, we become obese and lonely. 

 Another thing this book misses is perspective.  Americans are the aristocrats of the world.  Most poor Americans would be considered middle class in developing nations and upper class in Third World nations.  You have electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, and air conditioning, guess what, you’re doing just fine.  While I applaud the author for taking care of her family, which should always be your primary focus, being American means that you should feel some guilt and responsibility for the rest of humanity.  I love to conjure my Rommel analogy.  Rommel was a brilliant military leader for the Nazis in World War II.  He was kind and generous to his own men and also to POWs.  His enemies revered and honored him.  Great guy right?  Um, aren’t we forgetting something rather important?  His boss was Hitler.  Every Rommel victory was a Hitler victory and every time Rommel secured oil for the Third Reich, it could continue murdering Jews and raping and pillaging their neighbors.  Don’t be a Rommel.  Being a good person does not mean building a fence around your house and only taking care of everything within that fenced area.  As a human, especially now that we are all connected via the Internet, it means if you see something, say something, do something.  You can’t be a good human if you read about injustice somewhere in America or in the world and sit there and go, well, I’m a great dad and father, so I’ll just do my own good work and ignore the fact that my tax money goes to bombing and killing the rest of the world.  Doesn’t work that way buddy. 

 I presume, the book is really a compilation of the author’s blogs as she admits being a professional blogger.  One section was on schooling and home schooling, and I have very strong opinions about schooling.  I find public schooling and much of private schooling unbelievably unnatural.  At no point in human or primate history, did we send our children off to strangers who instilled obedience and conformity and used grades to make them feel ashamed and humiliated for not conforming to the teacher’s standards.  Never.  It is nothing but a brainwashing asylum that makes people judgmental, narrow-minded, and most of them wind up learning to hate learning and reading.  You may argue that it is better than nothing, but this is like arguing that a Communist economy is better than no economy.  The premise of our entire society seems to be, pay taxes and let government take over most all our social duties so that we may have alone time to obsess about consumer goods, materialism, status, and making ourselves great and wonderful.  Besides giving and sharing, one of the greatest feelings for humans is teaching.  Not only are humans unique for the longest period of learning in nature, but we are also unique for all being natural-born teachers.  We love teaching, but teaching is not what you have been brainwashed to believe it is.  Teaching is not lecturing and then handing out exams to test how much the students learned.  That is hogwash.  Teaching is the act of demonstrating skills and closely watching over a small group of students no greater than seven, and adults were not the only ones to teach.  Older kids learned to teach by practicing on younger kids who looked up to them and adored them.  Teaching gives us a self-esteem boost, because kids crave to mimic adults and learn, and when we share our time with them, they are ecstatic.  To this day, I still remember when an older kid from my elementary school sat next to me as I waited for my mother to pick me up, and he chatted about all the things he did that day.  I don’t know what I did to deserve his personal attention, but it was the greatest feeling in the world for an older kid to even acknowledge my existence. 

 Government has taken away our opportunities and responsibility to give and share, and they have also taken away our joy for teaching as well as learning.  A parent should spend time with their children (in addition to their extended family).  This is natural and historical.  What is unnatural is how parents send their kids off for several hours and when they get home, they don’t feel any obligation to teach their kids anything, so the kids view them as bizarre cohabitants instead of valuable, guiding adults who can teach them how to be an adult.  We tend to believe that we have no obligation to teach our children, because we pay taxes and send them to schools where professionals supposedly are paid to teach them to succeed in life.  We are a very screwed up society, and the result is a population of screwed up adults who take prescription drugs to replace the feeling of self-worth and happiness from giving, sharing, teaching, and learning.  The great irony is that people think that by sending your kids off to school several hours of day, it makes you want to have kids, because you don’t have to spend as much time raising them.  What they don’t realize is that one of the most powerful benefits and rewards of having kids is actually raising them yourself!  I’m not advocating home schooling, but a significant reduction in the number of hours you send your kids off to strangers and bureaucrats.

 The author also misses the concept of false choices.  She thinks her choice is between free schooling for her kids and homeschooling or Whole Foods cupcakes versus laborious homemade cupcakes.  These choices are false, because public schools are not free; they are entirely subsidized by all taxpayers.  If homeschoolers did not have to pay their portion of taxes to public schools, the choice would be clearer.  A household could save money by having one parent at home homeschooling instead of losing money.  As expensive as Whole Foods is, sugar, wheat, and corn are heavily subsidized.  All taxpayers subsidize them, so if we paid the real cost of food, we would realize that often we could save money by preparing food ourselves instead of losing time.  Once the false prices that are heavily subsidized by taxes are taken away, we are liberated to make more common sense choices that are usually not only healthier and better for us but also save us money aggregately.  If we stopped collecting taxes for public schools, poor kids would not become illiterate.  Poor parents would pool their resources to teach each other’s kids.  They would use the Internet to utilize teachers in India or English-speaking teachers in East Asia.  Charities would also contribute to teaching the poor, and I am positive that private schools would offer scholarships to promising poor students as many private schools already do.  Likewise, cutting subsidies to farms would not cause American farms to collapse and the entire population to starve to death.  Yes, sugar, corn syrup, diary, beef, and grains would be more expensive, but that would just mean we would eat less of it which is a good thing. 

 The book brings up some interesting points about raising your children and also exposing yourself to multiculturalism.  America seems to be divided between “mono-culturalists” and “multi-culturalists.”  Certainly, the division has been exploited by politics and media, but underneath lies a real and clear divide in mentality.  I live in a somewhat borderline city, but fact is, it’s mostly white.  For example, the vast majority of my rideshare drivers are white.  I was just in San Francisco where the vast majority of my rideshare drivers were nonwhite and most from foreign countries.  When you’re exposed to so many people with different backgrounds, opinions, views, and beliefs, what happens is that you become a lot more inclined to question the preeminence and universality of your own opinions, views, and beliefs.  You start to realize that other people hold completely different beliefs and values than you, and they probably think your beliefs and values are just as bizarre and foreign to them.  You are more inclined to view your own beliefs and values as flexible, and perhaps you can change or question them if they make you uncomfortable.  I can only imagine that if you grow up in a mono-culture and almost every single one around you shares the same beliefs and values, and you also mistreat outcasts and people who undermine common beliefs and values, then it would be a much greater barrier to question or change your beliefs and values.  Interestingly enough, when you encounter someone from an even more conservative culture, one Afghan Lyft driver told me he believes only about one or two out of a million Afghans are gay, it actually makes you more capable of getting rid of your own biases and in this case embrace gay rights.  You realize how absurd any particular belief can be, so it’s easy to imagine that your own belief may be absurd and in need of changing.  When you live in a mono-culture, it’s easy to develop an us vs them attitude whereas in a multi-culture, you have to learn to flex your own perspectives and there is no ‘them’ unless it’s between multi-culturalists and mono-culturalists.  What you learn in a multi-culture is that you can get along with others so long as you don’t argue with their beliefs.  I didn’t tell the Afghan Lyft driver that his idea that there are fewer gay Afghans is an illusion and that in actually, they all hide in the closet and act straight to avoid persecution.  You learn that you can probably change the Afghan’s attitude more by maintaining good relations and then just showing him that there are nice, friendly people who accept alternative gender identities and orientations, and after enough exposure, he may too.  He certainly won’t change if you challenge him directly. 

 Another error the author makes is comparing modern life to industrial or agrarian life but not to primitive life.  For instance, she mentions how modern people get bored, but before we all worked all day long and didn’t have time to be bored when getting home and using our hands to wash clothes, cook meals, clean things, or make clothes.  I believe that before the Agrarian Age, as hunter-gatherers, we had a lot of free time.  When you look at apex predators, in abundant habitats, they lounge around a lot.  We didn’t have to wash much when we didn’t have much, and we didn’t make a lot of different clothes before there was fashion.  I think we all collectively forget that with the Agrarian and Industrial Age, society divided between the landowners and the workers or slaves.  The workers or slaves worked more, longer, and harder than humans ever worked before just like domesticated work animals.  It’s a nice lie to tell workers today that they are better off today, because “back in the day” they worked 80 to 100 hours a week for much less pay.  But they conveniently forget primitive life where I believe we spent a considerable amount of time just lounging around, conserving energy, and reinforcing social bonds.  In fact, people who can’t sit still almost always lack social skills and experience.  Hanging out with friends and family and socializing is actually not about hurried, fast conversations and intense partying but rather slowing down, just like with eating, and enjoying each morsel of everyone’s shared ideas, experiences, and feelings.  I caught a Lyft ride from the airport to my hotel, and it was amazing how hurried and distracted my driver was.  I had just spend a lazy day meandering around San Francisco.  She was so hurried and distracted that she didn’t hear my destination completely but even worse, she accidentally clicked cancel on my ride but gave me the ride anyway.  I didn’t realize this until after I checked my Lyft app.  It seems that modern culture is all about inundation and overstimulation, so it’s no surprise that kids today suffer from restlessness which is labeled ADHD to validate medication.  You cannot be hurried and distracted when you socialize.  I then go into work today, and guess what?  Everyone is hurried and distracted.  I do the usual return to work after-vacation smiling and sauntering about while everyone else looks shell-shocked and frazzled.  Before the end of the day, I’m walking around hurried and distracted.  WTF is wrong with modern life? 

 When people explore cultures today that are not so much primitive as removed from modern civilization, what they invariably discover is a much more relaxed, deliberate, slow, and social way of life.  When I was younger, it would always amaze me when I’d visit a much more socialized friend and his family, and how they would just hang out.  At first, I’d be bored, and I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I’d find myself sitting or standing for long periods of time as my friend talking to someone or just sat outside people watching.  “What are we doing?  What are we accomplishing?  Where are we going next?  Why are we just hanging out doing nothing?”  It never occurred to me that this was how life was supposed to be, and our time spent together was a form of non-verbal bonding.  We didn’t have to constantly talk to each other to trust each other.  The simple act of sitting in close proximity to each other without doing anything was a form of building trust just as you would with a dog.  When you don’t have any friends, life is stressful not only because you lack friends to provide emotional support, but you also lack friends to help you slow down.  Your body is constantly primed for action and in a constant state of alertness, activity, or restlessness. 

 Our measures of life are all distorted.  We measure intelligence by how much time a person spends memorizing trivial facts and practicing calculations and possessing an ever-active, hyper-alert mind.  We measure economic wealth and productivity by how much money is exchanged.  Famously, an argument against GDP as a measure of economic health is how you can go around burning people’s homes (or engaging in war) and rebuilding their homes, and your economy would be considered more healthy than one where you didn’t go around constantly burning people’s homes down.  Those who gain by our labor correctly convince us that we must be forever active and hyper and be constantly stimulated to be happy.  This way, we are either working hard or shopping hard, both conditions that provide them with profit.  We can’t ever just stop and smell the roses and hang out with friends, because not only does that do nothing for the rich, but it would also be the basis of organizing against them or at least comparing notes and realizing how undesirable their idea of modern life is. 

 I often find myself living in patterns either because I see them or for whatever reasons unbeknownst to me, they occur.  I recently watched the animated remake of Little Prince where a young girl runs into the now old version of the pilot who ran into the Little Prince.  The Little Prince now lives in the dystopian world of industrialized society where a rich dude hoards all the stars, and everyone else slaves away for him.  Our modern ailments can be traced back to an otherwise well-intentioned dude named Frederick W. Taylor who discovered that you can improve efficiency through quantification of movement and activities on a factory floor.  In other words, eliminate all wasteful activities like socializing, daydreaming, long breaks, you know, human stuff, the stuff that makes us great but awful automatons.  Another coincidental thing is that right after watching that movie I watched Sully which was about that pilot who landed a commercial plane on the Hudson and it too was about how the human element is often ignored or belittled when applied to machinery.  Just as we took Darwinism and Christianity beyond their logical conclusions to some dystopian end game of greed and genocide, we took Taylorism beyond its logical conclusion to a dystopian end game of making human life itself efficient by basically eliminating the human element from it. 

 This author of this book, like for so many other similar books, finds a problem and then finds her own personal solution and shares it with the world.  No problem here.  But I don’t want a personal solution.  I want a societal solution.  And to find a societal solution, you look at the source of the problem and why it was created in the first place.  To this day, people are creating vision boards, comprehensive plans, and quantifiable benchmarks and measures to create a perfect life, and in the process, they are creating a miserable life.  Why can’t people just realize that you can’t apply Taylorism to human life to make it more enjoyable and meaningful.  All it does is create a more efficient automaton.  If you want to have a more enjoyable and meaningful life, you might want to start out by finding out what a human being is, and you would discover that a human being is one of the most socialized creatures on the planet and more than any other creature needs socialization to be happy and lead a meaningful life.  Wow.  Big secret!  All the brain power in the universe, and they can’t seem to understand this simple concept!  Studying too hard, working too hard, great ambitions, huge plans, mass obedience, mass conformity, amassing wealth, greed, hoarding, solitary pursuits, all undermine your happiness and meaningful life because it undermines socialization.  Why am I unhappy, you wonder?  Because you’ve been brainwashed, and despite your high IQ, you’re an anti-social idiot.