Well, here we are. One year ago, I decided to start this blog as a way of helping myself understand this crazy world we live in a little better, as well as helping myself understand myself a little better. I thought that maybe, by putting down my thoughts and observations on the confusion that we are bombarded with on a daily basis, I could come to a better understanding of this world, the people in it, and their opinions. I thought that if I could understand how other people relate to their world, then maybe I could relate to it in a socially acceptable manner as well. I thought that maybe I could fit in somewhere. You see, I am a fairly simple person trying to make some sense out of the confusion. Trying to find the truth behind the lies and misdirection, and hoping I recognize it when I see it. Trying to see if there is still a place for a person who does not want to be cutting edge, who is not in all that much of a hurry, and who is no longer driven to succeed. Trying to see if there is still a place for an old dinosaur like myself, who has seen the truth behind the veil and who recognizes the fact that we live in a disfunctional society while also understanding that most people actually like it that way.
So, what have we learned over the course of the past year? Well, many things. At least, I hope so! But were they useful things? Did we learn anything that, when we logged out, changed the way we went about our daily activities? I think we have. I know I have, and I hope that my mad ramblings have fostered change in you as well. But whether they have or whether they haven't, lets take a look at how the year unfolded and what we learned.
I started out last year in a particularly low spot. When I was released from prison, I came home to an environment that I had dreamed about for years, only to find that, like most dreams, it can easily turn into a nightmare. I had a "bad but manageable" case of PTSD when I went in, and when I came out 5 years later, it was severe and unmanageable. I had all of the classic symptoms-hypervigilance, unreasonable or unwarranted anger, inability to go out into and function in society, such as going to Wal-mart or the grocery store, GAD, and a whole host of others. I also had a reasonably bad back/neck condition when I went in that was not properly treated, and it had advanced considerably. My wife, my 2 youngest daughters, and I were living in my oldest daughter's basement, while I was gone my son-in-law had been raising my girls in a manner that I did not agree with (he is an excellent person and an outstanding father to his own girls, we just have different parenting styles) and had to put a stop to. Plus, you also have the fact that two men in one house never works out well long-term, especially when those two men are practically polar opposites in their ways of thinking and doing things! I was in poor health, considerable pain, and had little or no practical prospects of "making it in the world" as my parole officer so often put it. My wife was going over-board trying to make me comfortable and my two youngest daughters were treating me as if I was a total stranger (and rightly so, to them I was) while my son-in-law basically saw me as a threat to his way of raising his girls and my oldest daughter (his wife) was caught in the middle trying to reconcile two different parenting styles-mine and the one in which she was raised vs. the method her husband and the father of her children was brought up in. Constant friction, and it felt like a low-level state of war existed all the time. And this was all within the first couple of weeks of me coming home!
Then, you have the situation in which I finally was able to receive proper medical care for my chronic back/neck condition and ended up getting habituated to a large number of different narcotic pain medications. Or the situation in which I blew out my right knee and had to get a new one. And the bi-lateral hernia repair was a winner as well, I was badly bruised and swollen for weeks after that one and my balls were swollen to damn near the size of naval oranges. And lets not forget the unexplained nausea and vomiting which lasted for months and resulted in a 60 pound weight loss! We never did figure out what was causing that, but I had every invasive test you could think of trying-upper scope, lower scope, sleep studies, etc. And then there is my personal favorite......the long slow taper. I went through hell for many, many months when I was coming off of the prescription pain meds, and that was on top of everything else that was going on in my life at the time!
So, all in all, I was starting out from what I would consider a particularly low spot in my life-just released from prison, in poor physical and mental health, dealing with family issues, etc.-and I did not have a positive outlook on life. What did I do?
I came back home. I came to the one place where I knew-I knew-that I would find acceptance. Where I knew I would find others who were a lot like me and/or who had been where I was coming from. Where people would offer to help for no other reason than because it was the right thing to do. No questioning, no blaming, no finger-pointing.
I came back to D-F. That is right-I came back. You see, I found this place back in 2006 while I was perfecting my skills as a chemist. The standards were a bit looser then and I was within a whisker of reaching Gold level member status when I had to go away for the state-sponsored 5 year "vacation", but I never forgot about this place, nor did I forget the friends I had found here. Sadly, many of them are not around any longer, but I have met many new friends and family here! I was not out of the prison walls for 48 hours before I had found a computer and logged in. Back then I was known by a different name here, but when I reactivated my membership I changed names to more accurately reflect my world-view. Then-mick mouse (NOT micklemouse!). Now-toxinreleased. The future? Who knows? The innocence that was mick mouse was destroyed long ago, but the toxin that was released is not quite so toxic anymore. Perhaps he has mutated into a benign form that no longer poses a danger to society. I would not bet the farm on that, though. These days, I see myself perhaps as more St. Dismas Noviate than as a toxic condition.
I think that my first post here, the essay on getting old, was an accurate reflection on how I saw certain things at that time. While I certainly do not like to admit it, I am getting old. I turned 50 last month, so I figure that means I am at the half-way point of my life. This can be seen in many different ways, and I think that I have looked at all of them but, quite frankly, it all boils down to one thing.
Fear. I have finally reached the point in my life where death, or at least the idea of death, has become important and to tell the truth-I'm scared. It is not the kind of "in your face" fear, like when someone jumps out from around a corner and scares the shit out of you. No, it is much worse than that. It is the kind of fear that is similar to knowing that in a few weeks the bills will be due and that you do not, and will not, have the money to pay them. The fear of uncertainty. The fear of a nebulous future in which you can clearly see the end of the path while the path itself is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. It is exactly that kind of "half-knowledge" that produces the most subtle kind of fear, at least for me. Not so much the fear of getting old as it is the fear of being unable to do anything about it. The fear of helplessness.
But we moved on! After that, I talked a little about my past and how I screwed up my wedding vows and had to wing it, and it turned into one of the most memorable days of my life. I talked about simple things like going to a thrift store or a second-hand shop, and how I saw so much more than just the stuff in the store, how I saw dreams of past and future. We talked (and talked and talked!) about the soul-crushing despair of addiction and withdrawal in "Here We Go Again" as I detailed my journey out of the darkness that is opiate addiction and the hell that went along with it. I honestly did not think that my recounting of a process that we have all gone through in one form or another would be all that interesting, but I guess I was wrong. Not only that, but I was wrong 4364 times, because that is the number of times my story was looked at! To say that I am humbled to think that others would see me as interesting would be an understatement.
Then came the "Event of the Year". At least in my mind it was, because we all graphically saw the unmasking and melt-down of a formerly respected member who was exposed for what he truly was. The "Dickon Event" was a perfect example of a confusing event in the life of a simple man (me) and the attempt to understand what would drive a person to commit such acts while keeping up a totally different persona. Sometimes there is no easy answer to the question, no "cure" for the disease, and no reason why a person continues to travel blindly down the path of utter self-destruction. I spoke out for Dickon, not because I believed him (or in him, for that matter), but because of the good that he did accomplish while he was here. Not that this excuses him or his actions in any way-to me, he was, is, and will remain a sick individual with pedophillic tendencies and he should be put down like any other diseased animal.
I also spoke on what friendship means to me, as well as speaking out for another member who is a friend of mine. In that case, the member was wrong in both his words and actions, and yet I stood by him. He was being stubborn and argumentative, and he was quite clearly in the wrong, and yet I supported him. NOT his decisions or actions, but him. I told him that I thought he was wrong in these instances and that I did not agree with his decisions, but that I would not walk away from him because of that. Maybe I am wrong, but to me, that is a definition of friendship-you do not walk away from a person you call "friend" simply because they make bad choices. Friends are friends-in good times and bad!
I talked about the various meanings of and behind the signs we see every day, as well as how those sights affect and shape us. I talked about how music shaped my life and defined my memories, and for the first time, I introduced you all to some of the other members of my "pack", the ones who keep me stable and who never point the finger or cast blame in any way-The Dog and The Very Noisy Little Birds! We talked about death and dying, and what goes through your mind in those last moments, we talked about how you see yourself and why, and we talked about responsibility and what that really means.
I talked about time, what it is and what it means. What are the effects of its passing, on both myself as well as on others that I care for. What happens when it runs out. As I said in that particular post, I can see the effects of time, but I cannot see the end of it. All I see is my path dwindling off into the mists of the future. I talked about the effects of time on those that I love and how hard that is for me to handle. I told you about what happened during the year I was born and what was happening in the world today, in "Origins" I told you a little about who I am and where I came from, and then I wrote you a couple of love stories. Actually, I didn't write them for you, I wrote them to tell you about me. They are the love stories of my life, and memories that will never fade.
Then suddenly, winter was almost over and spring was right around the corner! We started talking about wealth and attitudes, personal privacy (or the lack thereof), and the far future. We looked at the differences between prejudice and racism, as well as my opinions on both. About paths not taken and the many "What if?" that surrounds our lives.
We talked about pain, and all of the different flavors that it comes in, conspiracy theories, and the battle between the gays and the christians. Then I went into detail about my pain and the world that it makes me live in, what I thought about this country, and the problems I have with my daughter, and I finally finished up with a commentary on children and violence. Which brings us to now.
While this blog has nominally been about me and my life, it might also served as a glimpse of the inner workings of the world. If all of the events that I have discussed relate in some manner to me, I think that they could also be used as a model of what is happening in the world. It could, perhaps, serve as a commentary on the state of our world as we see it today. However, the entirety of this post has merely been window-dressing, a way to hold your attention for the very last article, which I will now lead into. This article is about the culture of the lie, and how we are all participants whether we want to be or not.
This world is based on the culture of the lie. Even when there is absolutely no reason to do so, we will still lie about everything, and this extends from the basest individual to the largest corporations and countries. Now, many of you will automatically say "But I don't lie!", and you might even believe it, but the very statement goes to show what I am talking about. There are the overt lies and the covert lies, the lies of omission, and the half-truths. There are the lies in which you deliberately allow the other person to continue in a misunderstanding and the truths that you tell in furtherance of a lie. There are the comments and innuendo that you utter, knowing full well that they will be taken out of context or misconstrued. The facts are simply this-you are being lied to, you are lying to others, and you quite often do not even know about it!
The following examples are easily found, if you want to look for them. But be warned-a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!
THE BOOK MONOPOLY
There is a corporate oligarchy that controls the American book selling and publishing industries, just as there are oligarchies (often overlapping) that control music, media, and the news. The major book publishers are owned by huge parent corporations such as Viacom and Time-Warner. In 1998, the German conglomerate Bertelsmann bought Random House, which includes Knopf, Ballantine, and Bantan Doubleday Dell. That one company now controls over 30 percent of the non-fiction market in the U.S. When you add in Simon & Schulster and Penguin Putnam, the total jumps to 54 percent. In all, there are seven major corporate publishers, and they make up 74% of the world-wide non-fiction market. And the news is even worse for fiction! Random House controls over one third of the fiction market; three other publishers added together control a third, and the other third is everyone else combined.
The German Bertelsmann megacorporation entered a deal in the early 2000's with Barnes and Nobel to run their online bookselling efforts together,m and this one company now has most of the power over the books that get published and sold in the U.S.. And speaking of Barnes and Nobel, they recently attempted to buy the Ingram Book Group (which is the largest book distributor in this country), but they were thwarted by the antitrust regulations. However, this just goes to show what the mind-set is here-how would most booksellers fare if their biggest competitor was also their biggest supplier?
What does this all mean? Well, all of this centralization means that there is ultimately less choice for us as consumers. Fewer executives are making more decisions about what does and does not get published. And it is not just the publishers that are shooting down books. The major chain booksellers also have a say in whether some books gets published and some do not. There have been documented cases in which they have said that they are not extremely wild about a particular upcoming book, so the publisher just shit-cans it. Also, the pricing policies of the major chains and big on-line booksellers are affecting the independent booksellers as well. The major publishers know in advance that the major booksellers automatically discount most books by 10 to 30 %, so they price their books higher to adjust for this. Then, the indie booksellers that have to charge retail get screwed because they have to charge $24.99 for a hardcover that is not particularly thick.
THE CHASE LEGACY
Even as Chase Manhattan prepared to take over J.P. Morgan over a decade ago, its past was already returning to haunt it. Documents revealed at that time showed that Chase, which was already known to have helped and assisted the Nazi government of Germany during WW II, aided slavery here at home as well, as two of its predecessor banks owned an insurance company which worked to insure slave owners against loss.
Chase Manhattan Bank is, as far as can be determined, the first company whose forerunners have been identified as aiding both the perpetrators of the destruction of the Jews in Europe as well as those who enslaved Africans and their descendants in America.
In the "old days" (mid to late 1800's) the word "Cowboy" was synonymous with thief. Cowboys were drifters-laid back, mostly illiterate unwashed ne'er-do-wells, and President Arther (1881-1885) compared them to desperadoes. It may be quite possible that the cherished myth of the western cowboy was directly proportional to his lowly state.
Monocultures and monopolies are destroying the rich diversity of seed given to us over millennia by both nature as well as farming cultures. Traditionally, over 10,000 varieties of wheat were grown in China. However, these were all reduced to only about 1000 by the 1970's. Only 20 % of Mexico's maize diversity survives today. At one time, over 7000 different varieties of apples were grown in the United States. Over 6000 of them are now extinct. in the Philippines, where small farmers used to cultivate thousands of traditional rice varieties, just two Green Revolution varieties occupied 98 percent of the entire rice-growing area by 1980.
DRUGS FRY YOUR BRAIN
Architect Kyosho Izumi's LSD-inspired design for the ideal mental hospital Won him a commendation for outstanding achievement from the American Psychiatric Association. His plans have been used in the construction of several mental health centers.
Herman Kahn, a civil defense planner for the Department of Defense, used LSD to contemplate the complexities of bombing strategy.
Ralph Abraham, the professor of mathematics at the University of California at Santa Cruz, is a pioneer in the fairly new field of "chaos mathematics" which includes the equations used to generate the swirling fractal images that are so popular among those of us who get enthused about psychedelics. Abraham has very publicly attested to using LSD for the insight in developing this revolutionary new branch of mathematics.
People have said that forced electroshock simply does not happen in the United States, but according to ECT activist Juli Lawrence, it happens much more frequently than we have been led to believe. "In the last year, I have stepped in on several forced electroshock cases. In each and every case, the individual was perfectly competent, aware, and able to make an informed decision. But because the treating physicians had already made up their minds to forge ahead, they (the patients) were not allowed a choice in the matter."
Both the Federal Center for Mental Health Services and the Presidents National Council on Disabilities (NCD) have both released reports in which they admit "that from time to time, some individuals in this country have been forced to receive the controversial electro-convulsive procedure against their expressed wishes."
Earlier this decade, the NDC issued a call to ban the treatment altogether.
"Dude, ya know if you ask someone if they are a cop, they GOTTA tell you they are or else it is entrapment!"
How many times have you heard this little gem? Hell, for that matter, how many times this week have you heard that? Well, regardless of how many movies you have seen this in or how many of your stoner friends have told you this-IT AIN"T SO!
According to Bruce Margolin, the director of the Los Angeles chapter of NORML, undercover cops definitely do not have to tell you that or admit that they are police officers. Even if directly asked, they can legally deny it. In fact, the very nature of their job is such that they live a lie for most of their waking hours! As an attorney who has defended his clients from drug charges for over 30 years, it is safe to say that he has certified first-hand knowledge.
Have you heard lately that the world is going to end because we have stopped reproducing? This is usually tied in with an article about falling birth-rates in such far away countries like Russia and Germany, and how that somehow means that we should be concerned.
An article in Psychology Today says "Contrary to popular belief, there is no infertility crisis sweeping the country. We have just lost all conception of what it takes to conceive. Reproductive technology has made us impatient with Mother Nature."
My opinion is that we do not have a fertility crisis at all, what we have is a society which has allowed technology to displace biology in the reproductive process, which has had the effect of dehumanizing the most human of events. At the very least, this has meant that stress has replaced spontaneity as women become tied to thermometers-constantly checking to see if they are ovulating-while men stand by and wait to give a command performance. And at the most, it involves women and men subjecting themselves to invasive procedures with high price tags.
What ever happened to love and romance and the idea of letting nature take its course? Instead, we seem to have embrace the idea that science, not sex, provides the best chance for producing biological children. No, it is quite obvious (at least it is for those who are not afraid to look) that the great god technology, along with his attendant priest-the technician-has committed the theft of the ages and has stolen human reproduction. There are well over 300 fertility clinics in this country alone-with annual revenue of several billion-to prove it.
While we are on this subject, lets look at another of the all-time great lies of male fertility-underwear choice. For decades, the accepted wisdom has been that wearing briefs, or "tighty whities", leads to sterility because they hold the testicles too close to the body, thereby causing the temperature to rise and effectively short-circuiting sperm production. Well, a recent article in the Journal of Urology indicates that not only is this is a lie, but it has been one for quite a while too! There is what researchers like to refer to as a "paucity of data" regarding the scrotal temperature as a function of underwear type, so they (the writers of the article, I would presume) conducted their own study under controlled conditions at the State University of New York.
Bottom line? The study showed that there was absolutely no difference in the temperature of the testicles or the scrotal region depending on underwear type.
FORDS BOTTOM LINE
Speaking of bottom lines, maybe some of you remember this. If anyone insists that corporations are NOT heartless greed machines that only care about the bottom line, they have obviously never heard of (or conveniently forgot about) the way the Ford Motor Company handled the fuel leakage problem of the early 1970's.
You see, by 1973, Ford knew that some of its models leaked fuel when they turned over-leading to fires and explosions-and that all of this could be fixed by the simple installation of an $11.00 valve. So Ford immediately told the loyal drivers of its products to drive to their nearest Ford dealer for a quick replacement. They did tell them that, right?
Well, no. First, they did a little number-crunching. They figured that if they did nothing, the fuel leakage would result in 180 deaths, 180 serious injuries, and 2100 burned vehicles. THEN they issued the recall!
Right? I mean, after all, if they could save just one person from burning to death in a fiery inferno of gasoline and metal, it would be well worth it! Right?
Not so much. You see, they figured that each death would cost them an average of $200,000 in legal fees, settlements, etc., while each serious injury would set them back $67,000 and each burned vehicle would result in a $700.00 bill. Therefore, the total cost would be 49.5 million. Then they figured the other side of the equation-if they spent $11.00 to replace the valve and fix 11 million cars, along with an additional 1.5 million light trucks, it would cost them 137 million. The bottom line was that it was much cheaper to let 180 people get burned to death and an equal number spend the rest of their lives recovering from severe burns. So that is what they did.
Nothing. And there never was a recall either. Although eight years later, Ford finally got around to making the necessary minor modifications to the new cars as they were being assembled to prevent it from ever happening. Again.
This case is still being taught as an example of cost-benefit analysis in many college business text-books. And Ford wonders why we were just a bit hesitant in believing their claim that they just did not realize that the Firestone/Bridgestone tires on many of their vehicles were faulty and could cause roll-overs!
America has some of the least expensive gasoline in the world! That is often pointed to as a prime motivator behind our love affair with high horsepower (and gas consumption) cars. It is also a lie. At least the "least expensive gas" part is! Have you ever wondered just exactly why all those foreign countries have such expensive gasoline? Is their gas somehow better than ours?
Well, according to a study done by the International Center for Technology Assessment in 1999, a gallon of gasoline in the U.S cost $15.14! Where the hell is that place, because I don't want to run out of gas anywhere near there!
If you factor in the billions upon billions of dollars each year in federal and state tax breaks, federal subsidies, regulation, pollution clean-up, and other factors, you will find that each gallon has cost taxpayers well over $15.00 by the time it gets to our tanks.
The list is endless. I had intended on looking at subjects in a wide variety of fields- Chinese control of the Panama Canal, Prozac, Rainforests, Sanctions against Iraq, Errors in our children's textbooks, the whole TWA Flight 800m thing, UFO's and astronauts, The world economy, World hunger, and even more controversial topics like assault weapons (and guns in general) and violent behavior. But why?
I can give you a thousand examples of how your entire life is controlled via the lie, and a thousand more on how you influence and control the lives of others by using the "Art of the Lie". The lie is subtle and comes in many forms, from a made-up-on-the-spot lie that is so obvious as to be worthless (except as a self-initiated fool detector) to the elaborate webs of fallacy that are spun through years and years of deceit. The lies you tell and the lies that are told to you. Lies of commission and omission, lies designed to hurt and lies designed to shield from hurt. Lies you tell those you love and the lies you tell yourself. But those are just what I like to call the "personal lies", they are the lies we tell ourselves and each other. There is another kind of lie, and it is even more dangerous.
The lies told "on your behalf" or "for your own good". These are the lies told by major corporations and huge multinational conglomerates. These are the lies that start wars, spread diseases, and kill thousands and tens of thousands of people. People like your neighbors. People like your friends.
People like your children.
But you see, the thing is this-even if you know about it, even if you really do actually see what is going on.....you can't do anything about it! Go ahead and shout it out to the tops of your lungs. Give your examples, show your numbers and figures, shove the truth in their faces. It will do no good, people will just turn away because they don't want to hear and see the truth. Make enough commotion and they will react violently, because you are challenging their world-view. And it does not matter in the slightest which lie you expose either! Pick a category-religion, government, civil rights, human rights, and any other fucking thing you can think of.
They are all lies. Lies, built on and maintained by a fabric of lies, and stretching back as far as you want to look.
Now, by this point, I am sure you are saying to yourself (and everyone around you!) that maybe it's a good thing that 'ol toxin is taking a break, because it is obvious that he needs one. Hell, he is seeing "The Matrix" in real life! Secret societies, the Illuminati, clubs like the Masons and the Skull and Bones Society, and bad guys under every rock, twig, and cabbage leaf.
Cough, cough-paranoid-cough, cough.
I'm not going to tell you that the government is your friend, just as I am not going to tell you that everything you read, see, or hear, everything you absorb from any media whatsoever is based on a web of lies. Nor will I tell you that everything that is sent or received via any form of messaging whatsoever (other than personal contact, and even that is not guarenteed anymore) is available for perusal somewhere between the time they send it and the time you get it. Everything. That's just crazy, and who would believe it anyway? Sure, there is some distortion, but not like that.
It's all a lie. The manipulation of the news media, the "official versions" that don't quite match the facts, the social fabrications and the "big picture", religion, the drug war, terrorism, the atrocities we commit upon each other around the world and the reasons we give for doing so, all of it. Lies.
And yet, there exist pockets of truth scattered here and there. Actually, it is ALL there, if you only have the will to look. That is the funny thing about a lie-it can only cover up the truth, it can't change it. The truth will always remain the truth, no matter how inconvenient or awkward it is.
But as usual, I have strayed far from the point, which is that this is the end. It is really no big deal, I guess. It is a damn blog, and probably not a really good one at that, although I have been told that there are a few high spots here and there. And this entry is turning out to be the size of a novel, all by itself! And here at the end, what have I found out?
People are people, no matter where you are, what color you might be, or what gods you might or might not believe in. No matter what kind of job you do or what your political beliefs are, no matter how smart or how dumb you are. We are all the same, down where it counts. OK, Joe is not like any of us, but that's a different story.( Hint: Joe is SUPERIOR MAN!) But I digress. The point I guess I am trying to make is this-we all feel the pains of life, whether physical, mental, emotional, or any other -al you can think of. Regardless of your pedigree, I have yet to see anyone ever bleed a color other than red (and it is not really "red", either), just as I have never known anyone who has not suffered the agony of a broken heart or the pain of broken dreams. Of course, I don't know everyone, but I know a representative sample. Strangely enough, they are all the same, down where it counts. Just like me.
Confused, and doing their best to make some kind of sense out of a confusing world.
If you are one of those people who was unlucky enough (or not, depending on your view, I guess) to get caught up in MY mad rants and rambles and you managed to make it this far, then I salute you. And I thank you as well, because I know that there are a lot of you who check in on this project from time to time, and you could be spending your time elsewhere. Yet you chose to spend at least some of it here, listening to the musings of a fool and offering him your support and your knowledge during his journey through this life and his efforts in making some kind of sense of it all. I thank you all for the gift of your time and understanding.....it is quite rare in today's world and I will treasure both it as well as the spirit in which it was given. There are too many people to name by name, and I would certainly forget some if I tried, so I will end it all with this.
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