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Bakari
biodieselhau...
Male
Oakland, CA



 
Posted By Bakari

My original comment was not meant to imply I don't believe that there are tangible effects on people (most notably unemployment, which is certainly up compared to a few years ago).
All I said was that media and politicians largely made it up.  I think it is a self-fulfilling prophesy to an extent, where in people hear constant messages that times are tight, therefor they cut back on consumption, therefor retail markets fall, therefor manufacturers cut back, and employers start laying people off.  Which fuels the beginning of the cycle even more.  This is why business analysts track "consumer confidence".  In fact, to a large extent it is what the stock market is all about.  Its less a question of how well a company is doing and more one of how popular are they.  If people think its doing well, they buy, which itself drives the stock price up.  It works both ways, so if everyone is convinced the market is doing bad, they sell so they don't lose too much by waiting, and then companies don't have the capital to invest.

-

I think it is totally unreasonable to adjust what it means to be "poor" based on those around you.
If we did that, billionaires could claim to be poor if those around them are multi billionaires.  In fact, everyone except for the single richest person in the world would be "poor".
Clearly there should be some objective standard of poverty.
I think the only reasonable one is the point at which you have a reasonable fear of not being able to provide the basic necessities for oneself and family.  Food, shelter, clean water.  If you can afford so little food that it affects your health, you can claim to be poor.

It doesn't have to be a "big" car.  If you own a car, you aren't poor.  Period.  Never mind that most people in the world couldn't even afford the up-front purchase price of a car.  Much higher than that in the long run is costs for fuel, insurance, parking and tolls, maintenance, tickets...
For hundreds of thousands of years of human existence even the wealthiest people in the world could not buy cars.
Only in the US do people honestly believe that they are a "necessity".
All over the country people claim to be struggling who are paying for cable TV.  They eat out and buy $2 cups of coffee.  They have cell phones and internet connections.  These are things most people and the world can't afford.  They are not basic necessities.

Supposedly a person in the bay area needs 3 times the federal poverty level in order to live "comfortably"
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/17/business/fi-wages17
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/10/17/MN0ISQEFP.DTL

They take it for granted that everyone needs a car.
And since when does every 6 year old need her own room?!
In the case of the 2nd article, I have no contempt for the person they profile.  She (rightly) considers herself middle class.
(Hopefully, after having been interviewed she doesn't change her own standards).
Now, going into collection, obviously a problem.  Thing is, that is another of those uniquely American things: living beyond your means.

 

[Due to charcter limit, this essay is continued here: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/spoiled-economic-downturn-luxury-as.html ]


 
Posted By Bakari

"Sometimes there's a third, even deeper level, and that one is the same as the top surface one.  Like with pie."

http://tiny.cc/DrHorrible

For the guy he was referring to, it was accurate.  The layer beneath the surface was all fake.  He was just as shallow and vacuous inside as he seemed to be.

But the same went for the one who said it.  As Billy, he came across as sensitive, his diabolically evil personal a secret identity.  But the guy in the laundromat was behind and underneath Dr. Horrible all along.  Whatever is to come after that door closes can be attributed to that sensitivity.

I think we are all like that.

We have our public personas, our secrets, our masks.  But our surface is actually a reflection of what is inside.  The in-between parts, the person that we tell ourselves we "really" are, the stuff of self-help books and therapy sessions, the things found in religion or meditation - like with pie, they are all just filling.

The very deepest level of all, it is made of the same stuff as the crust.


 
Posted By Bakari

Total # of deaths from "swine" flu: 8

Total annual deaths from regular old human flu: between a quarter and a half million.

http://tiny.cc/swine511
http://tiny.cc/flu611

Turns out this isn't the first panic over "swine flu"



Only 1 person died from swine flu in 1976.  Hundreds of Americans were killed or seriously injured by the inoculation the government gave them to stave off the virus.

http://www.capitalcentury.com/1976.html

Of course it isn't just about ratings and selling papers. Some of it is human nature.  I think we enjoy panicking.
I understand that people have a hard time taking history into account.  If it didn't happen in one's own lifetime it becomes an abstraction, and therefor not something to learn from.  But "bird" flu was only, what, 3 years ago?  The "global pandemic" of bird flu killed a little over 200 people world-wide over the course of about 5 years. 
Before that was y2k.  It was supposed to shut down every computer, crippling all of modern civilization.
The supposed financial "crises" hasn't even wore itself out, and already we are on to our next one.

I stopped watching/reading "news" a long time ago, and yet somehow I keep hearing about this stuff.
I keep imagining to myself that somehow humanity is going to collectively stop being so stupid.
I know how terribly deluded I am.
I think I should just give in.
Anyone know where I can buy one of those masks?


 
Posted By Bakari

The second arrow has been a recurring theme in conversations with many people for over a year at least.

You feel a certain way because of conditions or events in the external world, perhaps out of your control.
For whatever reason, you feel you shouldn't feel that way.
So then, in addition to feeling bad because of the real life problem, you also feel bad for feeling bad.

It is ok to show weakness. It is ok to be sad. Sometimes anger is appropriate.
It can never be wrong to feel a certain way. You feel how you feel.

It can never be immoral to feel a certain way. Your feeling alone can
not hurt anyone else. It is only your behavior, actual actions and
words, which can do harm, and feeling a certain way never forces you to
act out in a particular way.

Besides, from a purely practical stand-point, it is ineffective, in fact usually counter-productive.
Say, for example, you make a resolution to work-out more. And then you don't end up sticking with it. The real problem is the consequences to your physical body. But in addition you feel bad about yourself for your lack of discipline. Feeling bad about it doesn't make you more likely to actually do it. It just makes you feel bad.

No body is perfect, yourself included, and it is best to recognize and accept that fact. Never add insult to injury by measuring your self against imaginary ideals, telling yourself you aren't good "enough".

However...

Some people skew this concept, using self-acceptance as license to accept everything they feel, as if we had no control at all.

You should never feel bad for feeling a certain way - but that is
not the same as suggesting that every feeling needs to be validated.

It may be ok to be sad, angry, annoyed, disappointed, whatever, but
they are still things to be avoided. They aren't bad in the sense of being wrong, they are bad in the sense of being unpleasant. They feel bad. And that's reason enough to avoid them whenever possible.

And the thing is, it is possible.

Not all the time. If a loved one dies, there is no getting around the grief that will cause. But when someone cuts you off on the freeway, it isn't them that causes you to feel upset. Its you. No one can cut you off if you choose to slow down and let them in.

Its not always as simple as deciding what to feel, but we do have a lot more control than many of us choose to acknowledge.

Feelings don't just happen.
They are directly related to our perceptions and interpretations of the world around us. Being intelligent animals with an understanding of cause and effect, we have a lot of choice over our circumstances.

There are times when the things affecting us are outside of our control, but aside from the obvious steps of dealing with the specific problem, there are ways we can affect the feeling itself, independent of the circumstances causing it.

There is often a very fine line between repressing something and letting it go, but there is in fact a difference. Repressing is unhealthy, and it will only build up and come back later with a vengeance. But dwelling and wallowing as a way to avoid repression makes the bad feeling build up even faster.

 

[blog cont. here]


 
Posted By Bakari

I read something recently about psychologists and neurologists who decided to put people in the early passionate stages of new love into an MRI machine.  They showed the volunteer subjects various pictures, some of the object of their affections, some not, and watched how their brains responded differently.

As it turns out, the analogies with drug addiction aren't just a matter of poetic license.

The craving, the irrational behavior, the withdrawal when forced to go without, they seem similar because the same parts of the brain respond to each, and in the same way.

The author of the article I read said that love was like a drug.

But of course, evolution didn't develop our brains to respond positively to cocaine, heroin, or nicotine.  There would be no incentive.
There is, however, very strong biological incentive to have people fall passionately in love.

Which means its far more likely that drugs are like love, not the other way around.

Perhaps the whole reason drugs have appeal in the first place is that they artificially take the place that passion and romance are supposed to.

Makes me think about narcotics in a whole new way.  Sure seems simpler than dating.  I guess there could be a downside I'm not considering....


 
Posted By Bakari

Happiness is due to outlook, not circumstance.

Psychologists have found that after major life changing events, both positive and negative (examples included winning the lottery and becoming permanently paraplegic), within a few years people tend to return to the same baseline of life-satisfaction they had before.

Stop chasing dreams.

Start appreciating the life around you right now.


 
Posted By Bakari

First of all, I wish to formally express my displeasure that the scientists and therapists were thoughtless enough to name a condition without giving thought to its potential for school yard ridicule.
They already have trouble with socializing, and are likely to be identified as different, (even though the in class helpers generally do a good job of hiding the fact that they are there for anyone in particular). Eventually the term is gonna leak to the general public, and it won't be long after that until it trickles down to the school yard.
There was a time when "retard" was not an insult, but simply a descriptor of a person whose intellectual development was significantly slower than average. It meant "mental disability". "Cripple" just means "physical disability". No matter how many times we change the names, kids will start using the new term as an insult, because its the content that carries the offensive meaning, not the eventual term.
But did we really have to give them "Ass-Burger"?

But I digress (and that's pretty bad, since I haven't even started yet)

I noticed quite a while back that I seem to attract a disproportionate number of teachers into my life - there can not possibly be as high a percentage in the general population as the percentage of my friends, dates, and clients are. Who would do all the other jobs that need doing in society? I don't know why this is. I don't go looking for them. They find me. I am not, and have no interest in ever being, a teacher. I haven't even gotten a bachelors degree. And the chances are pretty high that I never will.
But as it turns out, it gets even more specific than that.
Of all of my favorite people, 4 of them are currently or have in the past worked as in-class therapists/tutors for autistic/aspergers grade-schoolers, or in some similar way worked closely with them on a regular basis.
I realize it is being diagnosed more and more these days, but that's just weird.

Or is it?

"...difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others...
This social awkwardness has been called "active but odd". This failure to react appropriately to social interaction may appear as disregard for other people's feelings, and may come across as insensitive. The cognitive ability of children with AS often lets them articulate social norms in a laboratory context, where they may be able to show a theoretical understanding of other people's emotions; they typically have difficulty acting on this knowledge in fluid, real-life situations, however. People with AS may analyze and distill their observation of social interaction into rigid behavioral guidelines and apply these rules in awkward ways—such as forced eye contact—resulting in demeanor that appears rigid or socially naive.
Abnormalities [in language use] include verbosity, abrupt transitions, literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuance, use of metaphor meaningful only to the speaker... unusually pedantic, formal or idiosyncratic speech...
Children with AS may have an unusually sophisticated vocabulary at a young age and have been colloquially called "little professors", but have difficulty understanding figurative language and tend to use language literally."

hmmm....

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