Thursday, December 1, 2016

PICK YOUR PARENTS WELL.


I know too many people who refer to their middle class lifestyles as "blessed". Really? Blessed? Want to know why I dislike organized religion? There's one good reason. 

Walking in my neighborhood entails sharing sidewalks with poor Black and Latino kids who are mostly passing through along a bus line from the subway to their neighborhoods. While they have ample bus service, one of the most frequent I have ever seen in Boston, my fellow pedestrians are most likely walking home or to the subway to avoid paying bus fare. Many of them look too tired to be doing it for recreation. They most likely don't feel blessed. They feel poor and tired.

Is it their fault they are not blessed? The arched eyebrows of a well-off Liberal are easily visualized in response to that question. That same Liberal cheats on his taxes through an accountant and votes for those who have consistently gutted public health and public education funds. He/she may own stock in for-profit hospitals or for-profit private schools. That same Liberal may be religious, possibly Roman Catholic, and does not support sex education, free birth control and abortion for impoverished women. Perhaps he/she would preach against single parent homes or the importance of the nuclear family. And other bullshit. I don't even have to review what a Conservative Republican would say. 

Many of my fellow pedestrians are the products of failed education and poor public health. They are more likely to suffer from addiction, obesity, diabetes, asthma, hypertension, malnutrition. Their poorly educated mothers have used their food stamps to buy carbohydrate-rich foods and liquids in a well meaning attempt to give their kids a sense of being nourished, or at least full. Their mothers have little time to cook nutritious meals.

Those same mothers have been forced to take low-paying jobs after having multiple children with the encouragement of government infancy-support programs. In other words, some of those mothers had one child after another to keep their ongoing welfare payments for children under two. Subsequently, as their children age, they are more burdened and less likely to be able to fund their children's education and general well being.

The leaders of the world should be ashamed. They know all this. They have known it for generations. But honest shame is not a component of megalomania. Just follow Trump on Twitter. Just look into Clinton hypocrisy. 

I am neither blessed nor ashamed, but I did luck out with parents. My mother was not lucky. Her father was an alcoholic immigrant laborer whose pay transformed magically into beer and then evaporated. Her mother was an illiterate sweat-shop worker, also an immigrant, whose anger over her bad luck in her parents, peasant farmers in Eastern Europe with fifteen children, sat around her like a black Jovian cloud, bristling with lightening.

My father was luckier. His father was a humorous Irish-American who was sober, self-educated and wise. His mother was born to immigrant bourgeoisie. She had a nanny as a babe and was educated in fine convent schools. Then she eloped with my traveling salesman grandfather. And that was that. Due to my grandfather's crippling accident at a young age, my father's family lived a very modest life on fixed disability payments, supplemented by my grandfather's post as church sexton. They lived joyfully and with generous hearts. 

I know that I have profited from the coincidences of my birth. I had nothing to do with it. My parents worked hard and made me work hard from an early age. That was a gift. They taught me the balance between money and happiness, in part by negative example. And, now that I am in my older years, their scrupulous management of their finances has provided me with some additional resources. The bulk of my resources, however, is the cumulative product of my own hard work, investment and saving. I was able to develop those resources because I had a good early education which taught me self-education methods and lifelong-learning habits.

There is nothing to be done for the too-numerous children of the too-numerous poor other than educating them not to duplicate the poverty of their own births. But society all over the world is doing the opposite. Capitalism is lecturing us on "growth" rather than conservation. Capitalism is the new religion of destruction of the greater quality of human life in support of the luxury of the blessed few. As long as the mythology of "more is more" exists in media, from pulpits and in universities, the quality of overall human life will diminish. Parents shape the world, indeed. They just aren't doing a great job. And the more "blessed" they are, the less interested they seem in stopping the madness. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

OH, FIDEL.

Che and Fidel

I shouldn't have liked anything about you, Fidel Castro, but I have to confess I did. I liked your abandonment of your childhood's security to fight what you perceived as injustice. I liked your refusal to be cowed by failure and great losses in your fight to liberate Cuba from the corruption of American-based mafia with the might of the U.S. behind it. 

I liked your socialist ideals. You produced more doctors for the developing world than any of your contemporary leaders. You educated Africans in Cuba in great numbers and thereby contributed to the development of several countries on that formerly colonized continent. Your domestic economic policies created as much progress for the working Cubans as suffering. You equalized Cuban society within decades with direct intervention, not the violent, secretive and self-interested manipulations of the current New World Order's bankers and stock brokers. 

But, Fidel, you failed to recognize that your morality remained entrenched in Roman Catholicism. This allowed you to remorselessly torture homosexuals and AIDS patients. This allowed you to abandon all your egalitarian principles in order to justify concentration camps. Your hatred and lust for revenge against those who disagreed with you, as if they were damned by some religious dogma, prevented you from reconciling with the Cuban diaspora, which could have brought back so much good to your island. Your suppression of religions other than Roman Catholicism was tactical while your conflicted Latin Catholicism failed to root out its pernicious influence from Cuban society.

I learned a lot from your successes and failures, Fidel. Whether you did or not becomes irrelevant  to you with your death. Perhaps knowing that more actively would have made your leadership more effective for all of your Cuban people. We will never know.


Monday, November 21, 2016

HYSTERIA


Hysteria is a defense mechanism whereby a person or group exhibits exaggerated emotional and/or physical responses out of proportion to a stress factor. The swoon of Victorian women of a certain class is a good example. Another current example is the exaggerated reaction of some to the Presidential election in the U.S.. 

Hysteria is a rather primitive defense. It is a defense of a person whose personality has not matured in response to routine stress of daily life. In other words, it is symptomatic of stunted emotional development. It is common in adolescents. It is uncommon in adults who have separated from their parents emotionally and financially. The formation of a healthy adult identity entails developing other defenses, like reacting to stress with hard work or forms of artistic expression. Whining, ranting and throwing things are regressive (infantile) behaviors. 

I am embarrassed for many of the young adults I see participating in demonstrations today. They have adopted a belief that acting like a regressed child will get them what they want. Dressing up clownishly, mutilating themselves with tattoos and piercings, screaming as though assaulted when nothing traumatic has actually happened to them. This is symptomatic of childhoods which were never properly transitioned to adulthood by the normal demands of maturing, such as having to work for food and shelter. These are adults who are still being babied by family or by some social system, like a university or indulgent workplace.

Hysteria is an inefficient defense over time. The attractive young adult who may be babied in hope of reciprocal emotional or sexual response by peer or elder will not benefit from those responses with aging. Like puppies who develop into badly behaved adult dogs, hysterical middle aged adults are cast off into isolation by divorce or simple avoidance. Without adequate emotional defenses, these isolated hysterics often become depressed and self-destructive, They are prone to addiction and other forms of socially unrewarded behaviors. 

Rather than guiding hysterics on college campuses to forms of therapy, today's academics are indulging them. This is anti-scientific and against all traditions of sensible child-rearing. It is not compassionate. It is damaging. I can only assume these academics have some agenda in enabling these immature young adults. I suspect decades from now there will be endless stories of sexual manipulation and exploitation of these students by academics. Perhaps some of this is already surfacing indirectly in the obsession with rape many of these hysterics display. Time will tell.

Being hysterical is not political action. Manipulating your superficial physical characteristics to any degree is not political action. The current exaltation of sexually altered individuals by these hysterical young adults appears to be a sad symptom of the misunderstanding of what it means to effect social change through being the change. "Being the change" does not mean taking hormones or dying your hair blue. A child may think this way, because children are very simplistic and superficial in their understanding of abstract concepts. An adult works with ideas and translation of ideas into articulate words, objects (media) and, especially, exemplary mature behavior. 


Saturday, November 19, 2016

"HAMILTON" HYPOCRISY



The cast and playwright of "Hamilton", a hit Broadway musical for those elites who can afford such trifles, had the audacity to shame Vice-President-elect Pence at last evening's performance in Manhattan. Pence was there as a private citizen in the audience. 

I did not vote Trump-Pence or Clinton-Kaine. However, I recognize that the outmoded electoral system of this country brought us a Trump-Pence administration. I have had to do this once before. The Clintons helped elect George W. Bush by withholding support from Al Gore in 2000. They were getting back at Gore for his remaining appropriately neutral as President of the Senate in the matter of Bill Clinton's possible impeachment. After Bush was elected under much more contentious and suspicious circumstances, I had to accept that he would be President. A war-mongering and economically corrupt airhead became our President. And the public, including many of today's corrupt Liberal elite, reelected that airhead in 2004 by a sizable majority. I had to accept that he was President lawfully. 

Later on, I watched as the Clintons snuggled up to the Bushes. Photo ops of George Bush, Sr., and Bill Clinton abounded. Hillary started hanging around with war-criminal Henry Kissinger and the like. She even partied with the Trumps in her reincarnation as a Manhattan politico. Hillary is a queen of political hypocrisy. She is a war hawk, a fan of Saudi Arabia, a pawn of Wall Street bankers. Her election would not have brought a smile of optimism to my face. No glass ceiling would be broken with those politics, in my opinion. She represents patriarchal status quo in female drag. Nothing more. To say that her election would have somehow benefited womanhood just because she is one is sexist. 

Barack Obama, a populist President of the Liberal elite, did not change the political, social or economic paradigms of America. To say he did simply because he is multiracial is racialist on the face of it. He sold out to the health insurance monsters. He received a Nobel Peace Prize without effecting any real peace. He emboldened jihadist Islam by not calling it out for what it is for nearly seven years. He did nothing to prevent the fomenting of racialism in this country. He deported more illegal immigrants than the Bush administration.  In fact, racialism in the U.S. became worse during his second term. And, his wife has been a First Lady in the exorbitant and self-satisfied manner of Nancy Reagan.

So, where have we come? An actor in a Manhattan musical which costs over $500 a seat is encouraged by an audience of elitists to use his stage to pre-judge an elected Vice-President's performance of his Constitutional duty. Is this the measure of today's social justice warriors, who are stifling the culture of learning in our universities and in our media by bullying those who wish to speak freely? I suppose it is. Those who always cry "bully" have become the bullies. 

I never considered myself a warrior. I detest violence in a way in which only a person who has been subjected to it from an early age can detest it. I think that worldwide disarmament is the only path to survival of the human species. I felt I was walking in the steps of a martyred non-violent hero, Martin Luther King, when I participated in the earliest Gay Pride marches 45 years ago. That is how I sought justice. I did not seek it by demeaning elected public officials from an elitist stage. I never thought my rights must come at the expense of the rights of others to free thought and free speech. I never thought humiliating those in power would gain their respect of my position. 

Like it or not, Donald Trump and Mike Pence were elected to administer our government. They are simply human beings with a job to do. They are not preternatural demons. They do not represent some vicious cult of sexism, racism and homophobia. Yes, they are conservative in many areas, but they were elected by nearly half the electorate as well as by the electoral college. Yes, they are not always eloquent or conciliatory in their speech. But they are American citizens. That makes them accountable to the Constitution and also protected by it. Judging their job performance before they have even started the job is not acting in the spirit of that Constitution. It is not even acting as a just and rational person. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

TRUST


Ever wonder why Halloween is America's second most popular holiday by some measurements? After all, what is Halloween about? It is about disguise and begging treats under the threat of mischief from strangers. It is also about drunkenness and unruly behavior for some. The increase in Halloween's popularity over the past two decades has been fueled by advertisers surely, but its popularity also parallels the decline of the American urban culture. Gun violence, drug abuse, alcoholism and homelessness have become just as visible as the rise of gleaming glass towers for the rich. Cities have taken on the costume of prosperity which masks the decline of the quality of life for a majority of their citizens. Our national government has been captured by Bible-thumping conservatives who are unbelievably corrupt and ineffectual. But trust on a purely social level is even more threatened by irrational social memes. 

How can you readily trust someone whose gender is indeterminate? How can you gauge his/her relationship to you on an instinctual emotional and sexual level? You cannot. There is more to the fear of sexless bathrooms than intellectual prejudice against transgender people. A person's appearance is his/her most salient clue to his/her trustworthiness. Dislike of the burqa and the hoodie also relates to the issue of trustworthiness. It is not simply an anti-religious or cultural bias. In a world which is increasingly crowded, sharing less and less space with people who cannot be clearly perceived as trustworthy or not by their visible demeanor naturally feels unsafe.

It is ironic that neo-feminists, or social justice warriors, are most plaintive about safe spaces. Yet these same people defend burqas and unisex bathrooms with vehemence. They support violent Black Lives Matter protests with enthusiasm. This alone is an indication of the lack of measured logic in their positions. People who display this kind of double-messaging are not perceived as trustworthy by any rational person.

Donald Trump has been vilified as untrustworthy and dangerous by some people in the political center and center-Left. Why? Most often they quote his positions on immigration and lawfulness. The reality is that Donald Trump is by far less dangerous than Liberals whose agenda is hawkish and tied to predatory capitalism, like Hillary Clinton and George Soros. 

Donald Trump's conservative mania is right out there, audibly. The center-Left is not trustworthy because it has been exposed as covert. When Hillary Clinton allowed 20% of her presidential campaign to be financed by Saudi Arabia through her so-called charity, she became untrustworthy to any rational person who truly believes in the quality of female, gay and transgender rights. It makes more sense to trust a man whose positions, however wild, pour out of him on Twitter than to trust a woman who illegally used various email servers to manipulate foreign policy and plot taking over the American government with her pro-Saudi/pro-elitist minions. 

Trusting people who illegally migrate across a legal border for whatever reason is not rational. Desperation is not an excuse for lawlessness. If I am desperate for money to buy heroin, I am not excused for breaking into someone's house to steal money to finance that heroin purchase. If I have chosen to have too many children in an impoverished country where I doubted from their inception my ability to raise them, I am not justified in making myself and those children dependent on another country without at least having the courtesy of applying for admission to that country legally. Courtesy is not expensive. Lawfulness in a democratic society takes effort but pays off for everyone involved. Voluntary participation in lawfulness is the measure of a truly peaceful and civilized society. 

Blind trust is the province of religion. Science is the province of skeptical and rational trust. As society becomes more scientific and less religious, trust becomes a commodity earned, not demanded. Falling back on religious notions of blind faith and trust is often the tactic of politicians and other scoundrels. Hopefully, it is the beginning of a time of reevaluation of the measures of trust in American society.  




Wednesday, November 16, 2016

HOW ABOUT SOME SANE FEMINISM?

A Scene from "Slutcracker"

I recall the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I became very ill with what later became recognized as the early symptoms of HIV infection in the Spring of 1984. I missed a week of work. I developed profound weakness and jaundice, yet tested negative for hepatitis. My initial call to my medical provider was answered by a female nurse practitioner. Since I was then a practicing nurse as well, I readily told her I was in a homosexual relationship with a former male prostitute. I thought this would help her reach tentative diagnosis related to what was already known as a deadly viral STD affecting gay men.

"No. That's highly unlikely," she snapped over the phone. "We don't have any information to support the idea of an initial reaction to exposure." I remember becoming angry at her attitude. I also remember asking her how the hell she would get such information if she blew off intelligent patients who are voluntarily presenting her with clinical data. She ended the phone call by saying, "Well, I suggest you practice sexual abstinence until we get this thing figured out." The call offered neither comfort nor cure. She also did not ask me to come into the clinic for any testing. The clear message was, "You're on our own." I knew her response was deeply influenced by her female conditioning to see sex as something bad. 

I have worked extensively with women, both as colleagues and patients. Few of my nursing colleagues of my age were feminists in the 1960's and 1970's. Most were conservative, religious (mostly Catholic) and vocally sexist. Most were married with children. Many had husbands in blue collar jobs. Yet these women occupied one of the first recognized professions staffed and administered by women. This informed many of my opinions about women, their programming and their mentality as determined by their biochemistry. My appreciation for those factors has led to my usually keeping those opinions to myself.

There is a production locally of a play called "Slutcracker". It is staged predictably in the epicenter of hipster neo-feminism of Greater Boston. Judging from the subway poster, it entails women of all sizes on stage in underwear with various shades of hair dye derived from a crayon box. The play on "Nutcracker" is obviously a neo-feminist attempt to cash in commercially on the conventional Christmas season here in Catholic Boston. Good luck with that.

This represents the current confused state of young feminists, who mouth victimhood (rape culture) yet take on the trappings of female prostitutes, women who choose the sex industry out of poverty, ignorance or perhaps shrewd business planning. Young women in this city walk the streets night and day in skin-tight pants in bright colors to draw attention to their bodies, yet are politically prone to alienate the very people they might attract with this costume. This is an addled and superficial assertion of egoism, not the assertion of the right to dignified consideration as a mindful human being.

Hillary Clinton was not representative of this confused feminism in her own life, despite becoming its avatar in the recent election. She has chosen a life far removed from the neo-feminist confusion. She has been focused, self-educating and cosmopolitan. She has chosen the company of the toughest and most predatory men on the planet. She had one child. She dresses conservatively, speaks with traditional rhetoric and has never looked like she was soliciting sexual attention. Hillary Clinton was not a radical feminist of the 1960's and 1970's, yet she has drawn intense loyalty from that sector. This strikes me as another symptom of the current dysfunction in the modern feminist movement.

Why are young feminists not talking about the core feminist issue: Child-bearing? This morning, I heard a BBC report about poverty in Australia, one of the world's richest nations. They dragged in a whining unwed mother of three on welfare. Was this woman asked why on earth she decided to bear three children she knew she could not support? The woman sounded intellectually competent enough to have thought about this. She did not claim she had been raped. There was no overbearing husband in the picture. 

So, why wouldn't a female journalist bring up the subject of birth control and choice? I can only guess that the BBC would not allow it. Why? Because there is pressure on media by powerful religious, political and economic forces which oppress women by encouraging unintelligent reproduction (right to life). So-called feminists in Academia and mainstream media have adopted the meme of reproductive "rights" over reproductive "responsibilities", because this keeps them from having to challenge the establishment while still feeling morally superior to those who advocate reproductive responsibility, a much more difficult and revolutionary path in most societies. 

Instead of speaking plainly and scientifically about the impediment child-bearing places in the path of women who wish to ascend out of poverty, modern feminism has done the opposite. This does not surprise me, as a person who has worked with many women, but it seems surprising on the surface. Contemporary feminism encourages unintelligent reproduction as a human right. It defends the self-oppression of traditional women in religious cultures who accede to having too many children and killing their own healthy sexual desires. It accuses men of being natural rapists, then defends patriarchal religions, like Islam, Christian fundamentalism and Hasidic Judaism. While superficially supporting obese women, contemporary feminists elevate outrageous transgender exaggerations of traditional femininity and masculinity.

Contemporary feminism in America is the product of thirty years of exploitation of religiosity (often cloaked as "traditional spirituality" or simply "faith") and anti-science in Washington, DC, and on college campuses. Thus the rage of contemporary feminists when challenged. They are trying to stage a new Inquisition, in which the heresy of confident adult gender and sexuality are punishable socially, if not legally. This feminism is a movement of thumb-sucking regression, not progress. That is why it is doomed to failure. Its proponents will not succeed ultimately in the real harsher world to come. That world will not be shaped by transgendered academics or celebrities. It will be shaped by climate change, overpopulation and the reality-anchored scientific minds who can come up with real solutions, when and if politicians allow them to implement those solutions. Hopefully, among those minds, will be women of the future who see a saner path through the impediments of misogyny and sexism.








Friday, November 11, 2016

GET TO WORK


The protests against Donald Trump's election are a good symptom of Constitutional democracy. The violence and vandalism exhibited by some among those protesters are a symptom of the loss of civility in American culture. Yes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are culpable. The media, social and commercial, are also culpable. But, most of all, parents of these youngsters are culpable.

Huge banners declaring that Donald Trump is a racist are infantile and irresponsible. In fact, this is a form of low race-baiting which has undermined the message of Black Lives Matter to the general public, most of whom function in American society without racist behavior or intentions. The throwing of "racism" around as an insult devalues the legitimate complaints about real racism when it happens. It is crying "Wolf!".

Infantilizing our American youth by two generations of overprotective and permissive parents is showing its effect in social contexts. Social science has colluded by validating the extension of adolescence to the age of 30. Education has shifted from preparation for challenges in life to enabling of dysfunction, enabling of substance abuse, and emotional retardation. 

Rather than hand-wringing and whining over Trump's legal election, intelligent opponents of his stated agenda should be getting to work. There is a structure through which protest can be channeled to produce effective counter measures to legislation and executive orders. However, to do this you must get educated, really educated, in law and policy. Dying your hair blue and putting a piercing in your nose achieves nothing other than making you feel cool. It is a form of ineffectual masturbation. 

I did not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I found them equally odious during the campaign. Donald Trump strikes me as the less dangerous of the two actually, despite all the paid-for hype about Hillary Clinton. She is a hawk with great debt to fundamentalist Muslims in Saudi Arabia, who are  turning from less profitable oil production to weapons distribution and manufacture. Her friends are responsible for racist apartheid, violence and suffering on the planet. 

You see, I was not gender-blinded by her propaganda. I vote for a female presidential candidate, who is a pacifist physician and environmentalist, and her Black vice-presidential running mate. If you do not know who they are, then you have a lot of catching up to do. Breaking store windows isn't going to get you there.