Category Archives: Psychology

I need a new alcohol

No, it’s not “I need a new drug”, I’m not Huey Lewis & The News. I don’t want a pill or a powder. I want a new alcohol-like substitute.

One that doesn’t cost too much, taste too bad, one that’s yeah, just right. But I DO want it to make me sick if I take too much, penalize me if I over indulge, or do stupid shit.

Alcohol costs too damn much these days. Beer is $10 a sixpack now! Whaaa? The good stuff, the drinkable IPAs, that is. Sure, I can suck down boxed wine, but hell, the stigma and haughtiness of drinking wine — nope. Drinking the tall, dark, clear, amber, glorious stuff — you know it. I’ll do it, but damn, a bottle might last a week.

No, I need a new, designer alcohol, created by bio engineers and chemists to be effective, debilitating, short lived, tasty and cheap.

Why?

Because I’m a sacrificial sot.

What does that mean? This is what that means. It means I hereby sacrifice my life working a job I hate, for an industry I despise, eight to ten hours a day all so that the people I love can continue to exist, get educated, and hopefully pursue better lives than me.

“Oh, you hate your job? Well, quit!” WTF! I can’t quit. I have to keep doing what I do in order to pay the thousands of dollars a month bills to keep this tiny family-engine running. If I were to quit, go off into the wild, live my dream life, the three or five or eight people who directly (and indirectly) rely upon my income, my sacrifice, would perish (or at least suffer considerably).

And everyone who says otherwise is utterly full of delusional visions of a nonexistent lifestyle.

So, to endure my servitude (more like slavitude) (which I accept fully) I need temporary nocturnal divestiture of my responsibilities. And I access such a release through the application of a simple chemical compound known as ethanol.

But, for some reason, the stuff has grown expensive and frankly, entangled with too many societal caveats of acceptable behavior. Fuck that. I just want a new alcohol. One that will cut through the sticky pop-culture, inane, seething world and erase, for a time, my worries of said world.

Is that too much to ask?

Apparently.

 

 


Arrogance vs humility

“I’ve got the biggest muscles, the smartest brain, an inexhaustible stamina and the longest penis; if you dragged me behind ten horses I could plow a thousand acres with my stiff rod. Follow me and I’ll lead you to greatness!”

“I’m no one in particular, but I’m pretty sure that that first fellow is lying his ass off. I’m fairly wise and I’ll lead you where I think it’s safe and prosperous, but I offer no guarantees nor promises of sanctuary or fulfillment.”

“I’m the most fertile, most skilled, most versatile female you’ll ever find. My vagina can field strip and clean an M-16 in under a minute. Follow me and your land will flow with grain and populate with beasts of burden, you will never want nor suffer drought nor famine.”

“I can advise you to how to plant and grow your crops, raise your children and strive for a fulfilling life. And unlike that first woman, I may err at times, but my heart is true and I’ll never deceive you.”

~~~

Alright, I had to go there. Those visions, when I had them, just struck me as hilarious. But their personifications provides me with the fodder for my argument, which is, why do we scoff at arrogance but gravitate toward humility?

If that first couple showed up on the world’s stage, wouldn’t you think that, holy shit! These folks have got it goin’ on. They must be near-enough to gods!

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. We despise arrogance and bravado. Yet, one would think, that such attributes would have somehow tracked through our genetic history much more often than meekness and humility. The strong and forthright prevail right?

No, they don’t seem to. Somehow we detect the falseness, the insincerity of their claims. Even toned down ten-fold we’d still be put off by that couple. Why? Good looking, virile, fertile, single minded and determined — why would we disdain them?

Somehow we are attracted to those who demure their prowess, who are self-effacing. Those who would rather shift the accolades away from themselves and onto others, others who might be worthy, but not as worthy. An unassuming hero or heroine is so much more appealing than one who is vain or pretentious. Even though the deed might deserve declaration at the highest order.

What is it in us that favors the mild mannered legend rather than the haughty demigod?

 

 


Transitory associations

If you’ve have had a number of jobs in your life, you’ll understand that, although some of those friendships you developed at prior workplaces may linger, if you don’t share some fundamental feature of human understanding — they’ll probably fade.

The same goes for neighbors you’ve had as you’ve moved your body around the world. As well as friendships you’ve had in high school or college. People come and go in your life, some last a day, some a year and some much longer.

Perhaps the hardest part of friendship is letting go.

I had a dear friend in high school. My only friend in high school, really. We played hookie together, were on the same sports team (rifle team) and worked the same strange summer job our 17th and 18th years (running a blueberry farm in Frankford, Delaware). We went our separate ways our last September and lost touch but for a faint spiderweb tendril that joined us and wavered in the wind every so often. Strangely, we got married the same calendar day, and married a woman of the same name, all unbeknownst to each other.

He committed suicide a few years ago. I have never learned why he didn’t bother to say goodbye. I would have understood.

We ride this train and people step on and off our personal Pullman car. Yet in the end we pull into the station alone. Waving goodbye, along the way, to those who have ridden with us through the rough spots, the early track, the long lonely stretches — is hard.

But you get used to it and learn that people come and go. And that is just the way of it.

Friendships melt like winter snow and are followed by blossom-like faces of new acquaintances, who, if you’re lucky, may sing to you songs of the fresh season.

 

 


Mirror, mirror

Here’s a curious concept you might ponder today:

cavemanmirrorHumanity has only, within the last 3-5000 years (and really only in the last few hundred) been able to few their own visage in a mirror.

Prehistoric humans never knew what they, themselves, looked like. Sure they could look into a clear pond (or often a wide darken bowl) and hope it was still and thereby get some idea of their appearance. But mirrors came to be — for the wealthy — only a few millennia ago (copper and bronze polished things that barely worked “through a mirror, darkly”) and with silvered glass, only about 200 years ago.
[Wikipedia has a brief history of the mirror.]

My thoughts are with those folks before the Greeks, Egyptians, and Sumerians (Narcissus did looked into a pool and fall in love, and Socrates talked about being able to see one’s image). Imagine going through life never knowing what you looked like. Do I look like pa? Or ma? Oof! The mystic man there is one ugly dude, do I look like him?

We take so many things for granted today. Being able to see one’s self in a mirror is one we seldom consider. Is is possible that superficial vanity, the vanity of appearance, came to be only in the recent past? How would your thoughts of yourself change were you to have never seen yourself in a mirror?


Which one are you?

In ninth grade (freshman high school) I sat, dull-eyed, at a desk while the English teacher, a fellow who, I’ll admit, was pretty animated, proceeded to, oddly enough, perform a statistical test on the class.

“Who wants to bet that at least two of you (a class of 30) have the same birthday?”

We all, as group, took the bet.

He then went around the room, alphabetically, asking each of us our birthday.

When he got to Billy Baker, Billy announced his date.

I was dumbstruck. It was the same damn day as mine. Now, Billy was somewhat of a student to be admired: played the trumpet, was good looking, clear skin, got straight A’s. I instantly thought to myself, “Whoa, that’s too cool. Me and Billy have the same birthday (and birth year), we’re exactly the same age! Neat-o!”

And so I blared out this fact to the class. Well, Billy sat just to the right of me and he immediately turned and shushed me down. “Shut up you fool. We can’t let this teacher win.”

Billy possessed the presence of mind to be able to react in a way that would no doubt favor him later in life. I, on the other hand, reacted with total, gleeful abandon, without any regard to the bet or the fallout of the experiment. I was oblivious.

So, class, which one are you?

A: Are you a Billy and on constant street-smarts awareness as to how any situation (and your reaction to it) might benefit you?

B: A foolish dunderhead who is just damn happy to have had some relation, albeit remote, to one of the cool kids in school? And generally incognizant of how to play the world to your advantage?


Whence madness

If you are aware of the onset of madness, are you truly mad? Does self-awareness of degrading mental health accelerate or stymie recovery?

A quick writing practice, 1st person reflective.

https://goo.gl/qQ5Ld9

 


Civilization: how thy collapse?

Depending on the mechanism of the apocalypse, the end of civilization would occur in vastly different ways.

Here’s a recent video sponsored by the Royal Institution and conducted by Dr. Lewis Dartnell (of The Knowledge fame).

 

 

It’s of pretty standard apocalyptic fare, but there are a few standout notions posed by the panel and audience.

The first is asked by the astrophysicist: How would society change, today, if we discovered that in thirty years an unavoidable asteroid (of ELE size) was destined for Earth? That delay, thirty years, really made me think. Obviously, everybody 70 and older wouldn’t really care, personally. They would, though, work to save their descendants. But aside from who would care, and for what reason, what, if any change would occur in society — tomorrow? What would you change in your life, right now, knowing in thirty years the end of the world was guaranteed?

Another notion, proposed by the generalist, was that in a catastrophic event, like my favorite topic, a CME (coronal mass ejection – and the end of the electrical grid), that there are billions of food animals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and turkeys) that would be available for months after the “end of food.” His theory, which sounded silly, but he confessed it was considered by those who plan for such things, was that humans would be eating burgers for months, but that the lack of ketchup would be part of the critical path of survival. He quipped that there was a National Strategic Condiment Reserve created to store enough ketchup and mustard to ensure that people could continue to enjoy their quarter-pounders.

The third notion that I thought curious was the topic of what goes first? Do people die out quickly (a pandemic, or nuclear, volcanic or asteroid induced winter) or do people survive and their infrastructure fails them (a CME or a nano bot revolt or AI take over).

Generally speaking, civilizations don’t collapse quickly. Jared Diamond’s Collapse, explored the various failures over the last few millennia and, for the most part, things come apart slowly but determinedly. Politics, food, resources, strife, elitists vs plebes, all contribute, over tens if not hundreds of years, to destroy a civilization.

The apocalypse, however, would tend to speed things up.

Mentioned in the second half of the video, is the book Paradise built in Hell, which explores the altruistic fallout during specific calamitous occurrences. That — we are our brother’s keeper — that people, over all, tend to jump in to save each other in times of catastrophe.

This may be true for localized events; single areas, nations or even regions (Hurricane Katrina, the 2011 Sendai earthquake, or the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004). But where I think this fails us, and this is the base theory for this post, is the following:

When we feel secure in our own lives we feel empowered to help others. Even if we ourselves are inundated by chaos, if we know that the province, country or world remains stable — outside of our ongoing criticality — then extending ourselves to our neighbors can be substantiated; we know others will be there to pickup the slack. That, knowing we do not risk everything, we feel empowered to help those in need.

But what happens when, deep in our souls, we know no one else will be there to help us out of our own disastrous situation? When we know that the entire world is under siege? That we know that help IS-NOT-COMING. How will we react then?

Does civilization fail when the realization that THIS-IS-IT penetrates our thinking? Do we resort then to protecting our own, abandoning our neighbors, our jobs of assistance? What would you do if you knew your family, your loved ones were also under attack — but your job, your duty, was to stay here and fight for and protect these folks? Would you stay? Or would you admit that, “hey, I have to get back to my OWN family who needs me.”?