Alcoholism

Here is a photo entitled “one year sober.” Says it all.

Here is a book on alcoholism by James Graham: Vessels of Rage, Engines of Power: The Secret History of Alcoholism.

I recommend this book for just about anyone because alcoholism affects just about everyone. There is only a small chance that your life has not been significantly impacted by an alcoholic—be it a relative, spouse, friend, teacher, boss, colleague, etc.

In his book, Graham focuses on alcoholic behavior rather than how much the person is drinking or how to stop drinking. This focus provides a needed emphasis on the harm alcoholics do to others.

I am not now and never have been an alcoholic but have relatives and friends who are. A consistent theme with this disease is the non-alcoholics close to alcoholics do not understand what is happening.

They miss hundreds of clues because they do not understand how the disease starts and progresses and what its signs are. Graham’s book does a good job of correcting this.

Most people can identify end-stage alcoholics because they have stopped concealing their drinking and because they look the part. What is needed is being able to identify the early and middle stages of this disease, the symptoms of which include egomania, malice, false accusations, denial, lying, superficial charm, emotional abuse, and sometimes violence.

The wisdom of the Buddha shows in his making the fifth of the five precepts (guidelines for lay Buddhists) “no irresponsible use of alcohol.”

I am fine with calling alcoholism a disease because it harms as surely as a virus and because there is a genetic component to it. Early and middle stage alcoholics generally can drink great quantities of alcohol and not appear drunk. And generally they do not suffer hangovers.

I have two alcoholic friends who say booze affects them like coffee and one who claims he likes hangovers “because you’re still drunk!”

Having only recently woken up to the seriousness and commonness of alcoholism (maybe 7% of US adults, maybe more), I am very sympathetic to people who simply don’t get it.

My experiences with four near-relatives and several friends, whose behaviors included two attempted suicides and numerous bouts of abuse and delirium, at last got me to see how destructive alcoholism is.

I am no moralist and have many flaws of my own and hate sounding preachy. But alcoholism is a real danger to the drinker and to others and the sooner you figure it out, the better. They’re all around you.

If you are an alcoholic, you have to stop drinking completely and never touch that shit again as long as you live.

China makes an Orwellian game that scores how good a citizen you are

I hope this isn’t true, and if it is, I hope people disrupt the hell out of it.

There’s a new game in China called Sesame Credit. You gain and lose points when you play it.

“But instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line.” (see article below for link)

It goes live in January and will be voluntary until 2020 when it become mandatory.

An article with more detail can be found here: China Just Launched the Most Frightening Game Ever — and Soon It Will Be Mandatory

The importance of seeing the small in the large and the large in the small

When the subject is human behavior and we see the small in the large and the large in the small, we will be much better able to appreciate the spectrum of thought, feeling, and behavior that underlies whatever is in question.

For example, the self-centeredness of individuals scales from the individual (small) to society (large) and everything in between. Two friends can be self-centered together as can larger groups and entire societies comprising millions of people.

Similarly, when we see self in other and other in self, we are more likely to grasp the spectrums of thought, feeling, and behavior that underlie the actions of all individuals.

For example, alcoholics often make false accusations against others as their conditions worsen. They take the seed of unreasonable defensiveness that resides in all of us and expand it into malicious attacks against “adversaries” that do not even exist.

In FIML practice, partners will discover many kinds of small mistakes in themselves. Usually, it is easy to see how these small mistakes, if left uncorrected, can lead to much more serious misunderstandings and bad (because it is based on a mistake) behavior.

For example, the alcoholic who falsely attacks a friend is almost certainly magnifying some little misunderstanding into something huge, something  worrisome or insulting that demands revenge.

Nations can behave like children and all good people have at least the seeds of a malicious drunk in them.

FIML discussions can be greatly enhanced by seeing almost everything as part of spectrums that underlie all people and societies.

A voice they don’t want you to hear

The string-pullers on TV and in DC don’t like diversity of views, especially when they can’t control them.

And they  don’t like the people expressing those views for a similar reason—they say things you’re not supposed to hear.

This explains both the popular appeal of Donald Trump and the barrage of attacks he faces daily.

James Kirkpatrick describes it well:

The rise of Trump isn’t “fascism,” but long overdue resistance and self-defense from an occupied people tired of being treated like enemies of the state in the country they built.

You have to go to alternate media sites to get reasonable analyses of American politics today because mainstream media is all about controlling the message, controlling what you hear.

Kirkpatrick’s essay is well worth reading in full:  Trump’s “Fascism” Is Just White America Finally Hitting BACK.

Kirkpatrick on Obama:

But even as the lying Main Stream Media shrieks about the imminent Trumpreich, there is an eerie silence as Barack Obama’s Occupation Government engages in actions which would be termed “fascist” if directed against non-whites and non-Christians. Chief among them was Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s declaration to a group called the “Muslim Advocates” that her “greatest fear” was the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric.” Lynch said the Justice Department would “take action” against those who engaged in speech that “edges towards violence.” (same link as above)

It’s ironic that it takes someone who is very rich to actually speak for a huge segment of the American people who are not, but that’s how it is.

Washington and Jefferson were rich. A rich person with good intentions can do a great deal of good.

I don’t see Trump as fascist or dangerous, but rather as the first candidate in decades who may actually do what he says.

Saint Romuald

Saint Romuald lived over 1,000 years ago. He is venerated today in both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

A couple of quotes from the short link below:

Empty yourself completely and sit waiting.

Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind you and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.

link

I tend to see religions and beliefs as something like languages. Much of it is vocabulary and context.

I bet Romuald and Milarepa would have gotten along well and understood each other well.

 

Repost: How delusions are formed

Delusions must start somewhere.

A recent study (Emoticons in mind: An event-related potential study) convincingly demonstrates that our responses to emoticons as simple as a colon next to a parenthesis :) are similar to our responses to real human faces.

Clearly, this response has been learned. No infant is born with that response and no one anywhere had it just a few decades ago.

Our tendency to respond to :) as a face arose with its use in email and texting. This response is now a well-established “public” response to a “public” semiotic. In this context, public means “understood and shared by many people.”

A public semiotic is a sign with wide currency. It is a unit of culture and often of language itself. We can see in the case of the emoticon :) that a new sign can arise due to unique circumstances and that that sign can come to have a deep meaning for many people.

The sign :) seems quite beautiful to me because it is very simple, very easily produced, and very telling about how our minds work. If the elements of the sign are reversed (: people no longer respond to it as a face, though of course we could learn to do that if the reversed sign were used that way more frequently.

I remember the first time I saw a derivative sign ;) and wondered briefly what it meant. If you had a similar experience, you may be able to remember how such a simple sign can bloom in your mind and go from something that is unknown to something of considerable significance in just a few seconds.

That is an example of the birth of a sign, the birth of a semiotic in your mind.

When the semiotic is public, we strive to learn what other people mean by it. When it is private—that is, with a meaning known only to us—there will be other, often very significant, implications.

What would a “private sign” be like? A straightforward example might be a code we use in a diary. Such a code would have at least one visual sign whose meaning is known only to us.

Another kind of private visual sign might be a facial expression that we have come to interpret differently from other people. My guess is everyone has a good many of these. That is to say, the “idiolect” of facial expressions we each use to understand other people is at least as various as different idiolects within a spoken language.

Now add tone of voice, posture, accent, word choice, topic choice, and so on to this mix. Each of those areas of communication uses signs that can and always will be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, including private ones.

Now, consider how an individual may get lost in all this. If someone ever smiled at you as they hurt you, you may have learned to be suspicious in your interpretation of human smiles. Or you may employ your own smile in ambiguous ways.

Now consider all the signs of communication and how many possible interpretations there are. Then consider the study linked above which shows how deep our responses can be to something as trivial as the sign :).

One way we form delusions occurs when our interpretations of communicative signs become too private and/or do not correspond well with the interpretations employed by other people. The other way we form delusions occurs when our interpretations of signs does correspond well with the interpretations employed by other people, but those other people are wrong.

In “public” situations—professional, commercial, business, school, etc.—it is fairly easy to communicate well enough based on established norms. But in interpersonal communication, you can only take “established norms” so far. At some point, you will have to understand your partner and be understood by them in much greater detail than “established norms,” or public semiotics.

Here is a newspaper article on the study linked above:  Happy days: Human brain now registers smiley face emoticon as real facial expression.

Rapid extirpation of complex contretemps

The process described below is a common event that happens often between humans. FIML practitioners will benefit from identifying and understanding this process as understanding it leads to harmonious resolutions while not understanding it often leads to fighting and bad feelings.

In this context, a contretemps is defined as a misunderstanding between two or more parties during an act of communication.

Contretemps are resolved or extirpated through FIML practice or something similar.

Complex contretemps are contretemps that have more than one or two terms and that require several exchanges of information to be resolved

Complex contretemps often proceed rapidly as clarifying information and explanations quickly go back and forth between participants.

This kind of resolution or extirpation of complex contretemps is a process that should be recognized or identified by FIML practitioners (and others). Recognizing it as it happens greatly facilitates a harmonious resolution.

This process might also be called a “ricocheting extirpation process” in the sense that meaning and information ricochet rapidly between partners.

The rapidity happens because partners are both trying to make their points and may fear losing hold of what they mean or meant. This process causes stress, sometimes considerable stress, and generally induces stress tones in speakers.

If it is identified and understood while it is happening, it will resolve more quickly. If it is not identified and understood, the stress voices, stress hormones, and confusion of meaning typically will cause fighting or bad feelings.

I usually give examples of what I mean, but in this case see if you can identify some complex contretemps on your own. They are characterized by the rapid exchange of information and explanations, by stress tones, and stress hormones. They usually are not pleasant. However, if they are identified and resolved quickly, partners should experience feelings of clarity and elevated thinking.

I see them as being like physical exercise. They make you work, but the result is good for you. These kinds of contretemps are common and completely unavoidable. They should be understood as a feature of language and as an inevitable part of interpersonal communication.

After a complex contretemps has been resolved or extirpated to the complete satisfaction of both partners, it is all but inevitable that stress feelings will remain for some time. I believe this is due to emotions having a significant chemical basis that requires time to dissipate. The mind may be clear, but the stress hormones are still in the system.

Two essays about White people

The first essay discusses rising death rates among middle-age Whites and sort of concludes that they deserve it. When I saw the piece was by Barbara Ehrenreich, I clicked on it immediately because I usually enjoy her work. Not this time. I think the essay, Dead, White, and Blue The Great Die-Off of America’s Blue Collar Whites, is terrible. If you read it, I urge you to look at the comments, many of which refute her points very well.

The second essay, The Nation Publishes Ethnically Motivated Anti-White Hate Propaganda Screed, is a response by Guillaume Durocher to an essay that appeared in The Nation magazine.

Durocher’s piece reads somewhat like the comments following Ehrenreich’s. A basic point is that White people as a group have needs and interests and that they should be allowed to speak about them without being called “supremacists.” (At the time of this posting, there are no comments under Durocher’s essay.)

I have written about White identity on this site once, making the point that:

I see nothing wrong with White identity or White identity groups, especially defensive identity groups that want to conserve and promote the values and culture of White people, who can be defined as people of predominantly European extraction.

The issues discussed in Durocher’s and Ehrenreich’s essays are well-worth thinking about and discussing with friends. I doubt they will be settled soon or that they can be reasonably summarized in a few sentences. I raise these issues because they are important and controversy can be a good thing, especially when it is resolved peacefully through words.

___________________

Edit 12/07/15: National Data: November Jobs—Americans Lose Ground As Immigrant Job Displacement Ties Obama-Era Record

On Freudianism and the assertion of interpersonal meaning

Freudianism is an extreme example of the assertion of meaning where there is none, or very little.

It is extreme for two reasons: 1) because it is scientifically groundless and 2) because so many people believed it.

Communism, many religious beliefs and practices, fads, styles, ethnic myths, many “historical” misinterpretations, and much more are examples of false meanings that are asserted and believed by large numbers of people.

You could say that pretty much all human culture is a similar stew of strongly asserted falsehoods mixed with some facts.

Freud was an interesting writer and his ideas were and are worth considering, but they should have remained minor points in the history of psychology and never become “meanings” that influenced the entire Western world.

In this respect, Freudianism is an excellent sociological or macro example of what individuals do psychologically, on micro and meso levels with themselves and others.

Humans are extremely prone to append or assert meaning where it does not belong either because there is no “meaning” in that context or because the “meaning” being asserted is incorrect.

Freudianism shows how powerfully and massively wrong we often get meaning and how wrong our analyses of human thought, emotion, and behavior can be.

At the macro level of trends like Freudianism, we can and should have asked for evidence.

At the micro and meso levels of human psychological understanding we can and should ask for evidence or confirmation from the person or persons about whom we are asserting psychological meaning.

If you do this frequently with a trusted partner, you will begin to see that many of the “meanings” you append to that partner and to yourself are false.

False macro meanings like Freudianism can be corrected through science. At the micro or meso levels of the individual, wrong meanings can only be corrected through a practice like FIML.

In the future we may be better able to understand micro and meso levels of interpersonal meaning through the use of brain scans, but even brain scans need interpretation and will be difficult to use during real-time, interpersonal interactions.

See Micro, meso, and macro levels of human understanding for more on what is meant by these levels.