The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Beauty-Power Axis

March 31

I would have gone to see "21" this last weekend, but found out that the actual student the
story is based on is Chinese. When they changed it to a white guy for the movie, that
just pisses me off. And no, it's not just Hollywood. Sigh.


The "Soulmate Process" has roots back in about fifteen years of speculating about the
nature of relationships, observations about them, experiments in my own life
and he lives of students and friends. I believe it, have seen
it in operation many times, but there is an irreducible amount of speculation

The basic idea is that our relationships are mirrors of our own worth, self-image, and self-love. One of the saddest things I've seen is people simply not understanding what attracts the opposite sex (and I have to confine this to male-female
relations, because I simply haven't observed gay mating dances to the same degree. I would suspect that the rules are very

Something called the "Beauty/Power Axis" is critical to understanding this. In general,
human beings will make the best relationship choices they can. All other things being
equal, the average man will go after the most beautiful woman.
The average woman will go after the most powerful man. In our current culture, there are LOTS
of people making a straight transaction (men and women placing equal value on both characteristics) but in
general, the way to bet is that, guys, want to attract more women? Earn more money, buy a house
(men with houses are something like six times more likely to attract a given
woman), get a bigger car. Women, want to attract more men? Project secondary sexual
characteristics, fertility and sexual readiness, and the signs of a healthy
immune system (smooth skin, etc.)
Everybody knows this stuff, but it can be painful to look at.

What this means for personal development is absolutely awesome. It means that, to the degree that this is true, and that
everyone will make the best choices they feel they can afford to make.

God, that realization can be painful. IN RELATIONSHIPS, WE DON'T GET WHAT WE WANT. WE GET WHO WE ARE. We want to believe that our love, our hearts, our sexuality has infinite worth. The last thing we want
to think is that it can be somehow quantified. And in an absolute sense, it isn’t, and can’t. But high-performing people put themselves through discipline and focus the average person just can’t believe.

Women who are “beautiful” are not merely the winners of a genetic lottery. That may be true in junior
high, but from my time in Hollywood watching these women exercise, diet, shop, raise their make-up to the level of artistry, take dance and poise classes, etc. and etc…I am convinced that 95% of women could be “beautiful” if they put
the right focus into it.

And as for men and wealth? Well, the average man, the average PERSON can be a millionare before they retire if they save 10% of their earnings into a no-load mutual fund and let it sit. If they put serious time and energy into learning not only
how to make it but hold it? They can do better than that.
Considerably better.

In other words, these rules aren't more unfair to men than to women. They just are. If you play the game understanding these rules exist, it is sometimes possible to break them. Ignore them at your own peril.

The average person seems to be prevented from the full expression of their beauty or power more by fear than by lack of potential. One might almost suggest that a primary attraction between people is the "percentage of potential expressed." In other words, two people who are operating at the outer edges of their potential will be appropriate mates for each other. One person coasting while the other is maxing out? Not so much.

But you also have to look at the idea that human beings are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

But these things together, and you can glimpse what I'm talking about here:
1)If you are satisfied with the intimate relationships in your life, congratulate yourself: they are a reflection of who you are.
2) If you are NOT satisfied with the intimate relationships in your life, YOU must take responsibility for change. It isn't fair, but
"fair" doesn't really enter into it. Ladies, you can predictably attract a man whose expression of power equals your expression of your beauty.
Guys, vice versa. It is POSSIBLE to find relationships where a straight trade is made, but one almost never sees the opposite: a woman of power linking up with the beautiful but powerless guy. It's interesting to see the cultural and psychological barriers that prevent this 90% of the time.

The Soulmate Process is designed to align your heart's desires and your true nature with your external actions. A by-product of this is that you will become more attractive. You can use the attraction to measure your success, but the real point is to help you see where you are selling yourself short.

1) Make a list of the traits you want in a partner. Be specific, and let yourself dream. No compromises at ALL. If God gave you this mate, you'd be blissfully happy and wouldn't think "damn! I should have asked for X!" You should list qualities of body, mind, and spirit.
2) Look out at your circle of acquaintences, and find the person who comes the closest to your list. IF POSSIBLE, FIND THREE PEOPLE.
3) Invite them to dinner or lunch. Sit them down, and tell them of your project. What you want to know is: what are they attracted to? What kind of person could THEY fall in love with?
4) If you have chosen carefully, what they describe to you is what you REALLY aspire to be. Not what you let yourself admit to, but what you REALLY want. Relationships aren't that complicated. We get who we are, to an uncomfortable degree. If you ask three people, GREAT! Overlap their answers
What all three of them say in common is the core of what you want.
5) Look at the gap between who you are and what they want. Imagine yourself becoming that person. Would that be a good thing? In alignment with your values? Then begin to acquire those characteristics. Along the way, one of the signs that it is working is that you willbegin to attract the opposite-gender equivalent of the person you are becoming. That's just a side-benefit, however. The real reward is expressing a more authentic self.

That's it, in a nutshell. This is more art than science. It is so painful to watch people aspire to partners they simply don't have the power to attract and hold. The sadder thing is that so few people come anywhere close to expressing their true power: whether that manifests as finances or beauty or both. It is as if they are sitting on Fort Knox, and refusing to open the gates. What are they afraid of? I think in most cases people want to be "discovered". To be "seen as my true self", for someone to "see the real me" and not be distracted by little things like looks, weight, money, etc. And to be honest with you, most of the time it seems to me that these people are killing their dreams.

I think that we can all live lives in alignment with our values. Which means that we can all be attracted by what we see in the mirror. Which means that we can be attracted by our opposite-gender dopplegangers. There are few things sadder than someone who consistently and exclusively attracts people they themselves are not attracted to.

In other words: love yourself, turn yourself on, celebrate your life with your actions and words and thoughts, and strive to be the very best you can be. You will find a partner with the same level of courage, clarity, self-respect and honesty that you bring to your life.

And if you don't like the results you're getting from others...look in the mirror again.
Is this superficial? Really? Power is nurtured and expressed through countless small actions from day to day. Those actions are motivated and sustained by our emotions, values, and positive/negative anchors. What we do expresses who we are more than anything else. A snapshot appreciation of money, fitness, success, health, beauty, grace, power...these are, in one form or another, what goes on throughout the animal kingdom, and has powerful analogues in human society.

What too many of us want, and pray for, is NOT that people will "see our true selves" despite our outer shells. What we pray for is that we can cheat, cut corners, attract someone whose level of energy and commitment is higher than our own.

It doesn't work.
By the way: men? If you don't want to be judged according to your finances, don't judge a woman according to her beauty. Women? If you don't want to be judged according to your beauty, don't judge a man by his finances. Very, very simple stuff.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Morning

I will be so happy when I figure out how to really share Google Calendars with Tananarive--both of us using the same account. I can't quite figure out how to do it, other
than just giving her my sign-in info. Oh, well, I reckon it's worth it.
I cleaned out my garage over the weekend, getting it set up as a home gym again. Wow. One ten-foot truck full of stuff to the dump, and another to storage,
pretty much did it. Now I'm laying jigsaw mats down. I've figured out how to use a Bruiser Density cycle without killing myself (short yoga after each workout, long yoga very
other day). Tananarive will have her Fat-Ripper space (alternating jogging on our treadmill with various kettlebell exercises. Jacks the metabolism like crazy).
But for me, I have have an odd feeling that I've found an exercise series that is about perfect for my current needs.
So I started working on the BET Hannibal script. The paperwork has dragged, but what the heck...the project sounds like great fun, the people involved are
good folks (Reggie Hudlin, Vin Diesel) and I haven't written an all-out ass-kicking piece for quite some time.
Tananarive and I are back in the same place and the same time thank God, with six weeks to finish writing "In The Night of The Heat" which is now listed as
"Blair Underwood Presents" Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, rather than a three-way collaboration. Blair is a very honest guy, and was always worried about the public
perception. You know: who wrote what? Well, now it's clear: he produced it and stars in it. T and I wrote it. Clarity is a good thing.
In many ways, I'm coming out of a stress period that has been pressuring my life for the last four years: preparation to move South, the ghastly error I made (not realizing
I couldn't write for Hollywood any more) and the three years of walking an emotional tightrope, trying to be realistic about our odds of working in Hollywood,
at least before we ran out of money. A quite reasonable question: why pay Hollywood prices if you ain't making Hollywood money? Trust me, T mentioned moving to
Atlanta several times. And I understand her position. But there are really only three places for writers to live: New York, Hollywood, and Anywhere Else. I don't want to
live in New York. I can only work television and film in L.A., really. If I live anywhere else, I am dependent on my book writing income, and I'm not willing to
trust that any more. I want more "legs" under my financial foundations. Writing books, television, film, non-fiction, teaching, counseling, and so forth. My goals are
very very clear right now, and Hollywood is a place where my particular talents could pay off nicely--if I can position myself. And that seems to be exactly what's happening.
We'll see, but right now I am optimistic.
The Question of the Day: What is the biggest, happiest goal you ever had--that actually came true?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Impossible Dreams

Wow. Four times in the last seven days, women have tried to pick me up...on the street, in a video store, in a 7-11, at a hotel. I have no
frigging idea what's going on, but I'll assume it's just a statistical blip. Strange.
Watched Disney's "Enchanted" yesterday with Jason. He's entered an interesting phase where he insists he wants to be a princess. Well, okay.
Have to admit that I wonder if he says that to irritate me, so I try hard not to be irritated. Have to admit that it does tweak me a little.
Probably relates to childhood stuff there. Gay I have no problem with. Effeminate bugs me. Sigh. Just more crap for me to work through. Anyway,
"Enchanted" is just adorable, and it's revisionist and aware enough to give anyone familiar with Disney's tropes an absolute giggle. They are
VERY aware of the buttons they're pushing. Are little girls being programmed to be Princesses? Yeah. And is that unfair to them? Probably.
But little boys are programmed to be Cowboys and Spacemen, and trust me, I doubt that the images given to little boys are any more accurate
a reflection of the actual lives they will live. While boys were playing He-Man, Masters of the Universe when I was a kid, the girls were
trying to get us to play tea-party and "Mommy and Daddy." No wonder girls seem ahead of the curve when it comes to relationships and maturity!
Their games actually prepare them for life.
Which brings us to a question for today: what is better to give your children (or yourself?): a "realistic" view of life, or an impossible dream?
Over the years, I've had a LOT of people tell me: "Steve, you dream too much! You set goals that are too high! Aren't you afraid of being disappointed?" attitude there is that, if at the moment of death the ultimate truth of reality is revealed to me, and I saw that my goals were
too lofty, that they exceeded my capacities, I could deal with that. If on the other hand if at the moment of death I saw that my capacities
exceeded my goals, that I could have had and done more if only I'd had the vision...that would SUCK. So I'd rather aim too high. When it comes to
teaching my children...I admit to pushing Nicki more toward Girley things than I ever would Jason...but she's not a frilly little thing. And Jason
likes to roughhouse...but I guess he likes the pretty things Princesses wear (unless he likes the fact that they get to kiss
princes...Naw. That doesn't seem to be it at all.) Fatherhood teaches you so much about yourself...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Back From Seattle

So...just got back from Seattle, where I attended the Norwescon, SF convention. Used to be my favorite. Still a lot of fun, but I noticed that I kept to myself a lot more this year. Did have a chance to see some very good friends. Charles Johnson, up in Seattle...we might collaborate on a short story. I'm kinda in awe of Chuck, but this would be an opportunity to learn massively. Think I'll take it.

I had a chance to see another friend who just had 80% of his liver removed. He is an extraordinary man of high accomplishment, and it would really hurt if he didn't make it. It's tough going to see someone, with the suspicion lurking in the back of your mind that this might be the last time. Well, I just heard back from him, and his doctor is VERY optimistic. I'm praying so...
Well, career things are really cooking right now. Just got my notes from Fox Searchlight on GOOD HOUSE, apparently HANNIBAL is about to happen, I'll hear back on SHADOW VALLEY soon (already got paid!) and IN THE NIGHT OF THE HEAT is cooking along. Oh! And I'm developing the movie pitch for CASANEGRA and another project I'll talk about in a couple of weeks. Great.
On the physical level, my travel workout now seems to be
A) Jumprope/Flowfit (sets of 100 jumps as fast as possible, followed by a set of FlowFit. Repeat 5-10 times.)
B) Cards. (Shuffle deck, each suit designated to a different exercise: HIndu Squats, Hindu Pushups, Tablemaker [back bridge variant], and Situps). Deal the cards, and do the number of reps on the card.

Afterwards, the 15-minute yoga form.
On alternate days, I need to do just yoga. But A and B alternate on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I can REALLY feel it in my body if I don't get those Yoga-Only days.
Question For the Day: Have you ever made a "Good-Bye" visit to someone you love, and what is the most important thing to say or do?

Friday, March 21, 2008

We get letters...

"Also if I get angry when someone refers to Zionist terrorists lets put it in historical context like we do for Rev. Wright. Lets add up all the blacks in the U.S. since 1776 who were lynched or executed for crimes that white people would not have been executed for. I bet it wouldn't add up to six million. Oh and believe it or not both my wife and I were told during our job hunting days not to apply to certain companies, because they didn't hire jews."

Excuse me. I thought we were talking about American history, not world history. But if we're talking world history, then we have to count every slave kidnapped from Africa, all of those who died along the way, every year of life lost to shortened lifespans (compare the 24 year black lifespan to the 39 year one for whites during the 27th and 18th centuries) every generation who died in slavery before emancipation, and all who were killed before they reached the boats. Totals go WAY above six million dead. But you can't appropriately compare "Jews" and "Blacks'. You could compare "Jews" and, say, "Ebos" or "Housas" or "Zulus" perhaps. Which makes in some ways the million number even worse. But then I'm not trying to compare the evil done to one people to the evil done to another. That, ultimately, seems either pointless or an evil in itself.


"In the 70s everyone was supposed to be colorblind but later a lot of black people started saying they didn't want us to be colorblind. They actually wanted race to be an issue. This is confusing for a lot of people my age and older."

Everyone? According to whom? And you think black people said this after experiencing white people being truly color-blind? Race was always an issue. It is an issue in unconscious evaluations on the hind-brain level. Saying "let's not look at race" isn't realistic. People who say "I don't see color." Are bending the truth. They may mean "I don't judge people negatively on the basis of color but the first comment is like saying "I don't see gender." Sorry. That's just not the truth.
"Then the real comparison should be: Do immigrants from Africa, once adjusted for education levels, do worse, better, or the same as immigrants from Europe? That would seem to be a perfect test to see how America rewards people with dark skin in comparison with how it rewards people with light skin. Any big flaws you see in that test?"

Nope. But racists would suggest that, if Africans do less well than Europeans, it reflects their innate capacities.


"I was referring to the defense that Reverend Wright's views were typical of what is being expressed in Black churches."
Not typical. Familiar. And not just black churches. It is a familiar refrain in black communities. Among some politicized black people. And churches are composed of people. I promise you that Reverend Wright has grieved with black families whose sons were shot unjustly by white cops. That kind of thing sours you if you're not careful.

"I am quite sure that this would take most Americans by surprise."

Only because
1) we differ in our understanding of black history in America or
2) Believe that, given the same situation, white people would react differently. Three thousand Americans dead, and we were ready to torture innocent people (approving torture always means torturing the innocent, because no legal system is 100% efficient) and suspend habeus corpus. That's what fear does. Look anywhere in the world, and fear breeds anger and irrationality. Blacks are the same. I believe this is so hard for whites to see because they KNOW how much they'd hate us if the shoe was on the other foot.
3) Never considered the implication of the following statement being true: "White Americans, born into black lives, would react as blacks have. Blacks, born into white lives, would react as whites have. To the degree that I cannot believe that, I am in denial, and have literally warped my map of reality to handle my own fear." Consider that statement. That is the position from which I see the world. Right? Wrong? I don't know, but there it is.
"Barack Obama's refusal to completely sever his ties with Reverend Wright leads people to ask why. And one conclusion that a reasonable person could come to is that to do so would leave him open to criticism within the Black community. And thatleads to the speculation that that's because such views are more widespread than most Americans would have assumed."

They're more widespread than whites want to believe, because that implies that the damage was far worse then they really want to believe. Unless, of course, they want to believe that whites would have been less damaged, or hold less fear and anger. If that's what they believe, its a free country and they should feel free to say it. I like to know who I'm dealing with. And those who see the world primarily through a political lens would assume that Obama's primary worry is not to be criticized by the black community, so as to gain votes. Do you really think he'd lose more votes from blacks than he'd gain from whites? Really? But there is another, deeper issue here. What Reverend Wright said is equivalent to bleeding in public. LOTS of black people are bleeding. So are lots of women. Jews. Obese people. Gays, The Poor. Homeless Vets. Armenians. Almost anyone is a member of a group that bleeds a little. Some bleed a lot. Some die.

Any group that is still suffering a burden, or has generational memory of such burdens, bleeds. That is just an observable fact. I have personal, intimate knowledge of the damage in the black community, and of what it takes to move beyond it. I know of no one, and I mean NO ONE, who has done MORE work on themselves in this regard, but the scars still tug. THIS is exactly, precisely why I feel such compassion for the people I council, who are damaged in these or other ways, because I see so clearly the cost of familial or social damage.

I PROMISE you that when I see equivalent damage done to white people, they are as likely to stagger and groan and bleed beneath the burden as anyone. To reject the Reverend Wright, Obama would have to reject Black America itself. And that would leave Obama alone, with only those who think such an action was essential as support and family and friends: in other words, the ones who do not understand him at all. I clearly remember a white Conservative friend saying: "you're not one of them, Steve. You're one of us..." God, that voice was seductive. I wanted to believe there was a place for me, someplace where I could be accepted for who and what I was. But I grew weary of being the only black person in a room. Or to again and again note that whites were baffled as to why blacks were angry or dysfunctional, when they came up with every rationalization in the book to avoid responsibility for their own shit.
Arrgh. I could cheerfully have strangled a few of them. Maybe a few dozen.
Obama has moved beyond his personal pain to a degree few people manage. If you think it's easy to move beyond injury, PLEASE point to the huge number of people who are finanically successful, romantically happy and physically fit all at the same time. Love to meet them. People assume there is more healing than there is because human beings lie to themselves about the damage they do to others, and routinely warp their reality maps so that they--whoever "they" are personally--come out on top. For whites? This manifests as "they should get over it: we would have." For blacks, this manifests as "White racism was more racist and brutal than Black would have been, given the same situation."
The less you can understand and empathize with where Reverend Wright is coming from, the greater the chance that, if you'd been born black, you'd be sitting in that congregation nodding and agreeing with him...or be Reverend Wright yourself.

"Steve's statement that he knows "thousands of Rev Wright's" even if he did not mean that all of these "thousands" are not ministers, seems to confirm this suspicion and is disturbing in this light.

And heartbreaking."

It should be. This is what it is to be human: both to carry those wounds, to fail to take responsibility for rising above one's own wounds, and to deny one's own complicity (or one's cultural complicity) in the wounds of others. And to fail to grasp that when people are hurt or fearful, their logical minds shut down, and they go straight for the lizard-brain template that says THE OTHER is responsible for your pain. There is always evidence that the OTHER is responsible for your pain. The lizard brain always wins. Your only prayer is to find a way to align your goals and values with it, so that there is not a conflict. It is NOT to be black, or white, or American, or whatever. The Lizard brain ALWAYS wins.
"Somebody in one of the post talked about blacks being asked to leave their African heritage behind. "
Asked? What heritage? IT WAS RIPPED AWAY FROM US. This is something I think it is almost impossible for many whites to grasp. Human beings without their culture are pretty much blank slates. What was written upon that was 300 year of institutionalized inferiority and terror. Followed by 100 years of Jim Crow and Segregation, and endless cultural reinforcements of negative stereotype. On top of this cess pool, we have had MAYBE fifty years of actually being American citizens. The first successful hour-long dramatic television show with a black star wasn't until about 1998. FOUR HUNDRED YEARS of negative programming, followed by many 50 years of real opportunity for progress. And you are surprised that many blacks are still limping and bleeding? Good Lord, its like a white person, aged 45, who was beaten and tortured for the first 40 years of his life. You would expect him to be a completely shattered human being. Taken to the sociological level, what's happening in Black America looks like a miracle to me. And the millions of whites who are "surprised" at the damage while oblivious to their own rampant obesity, divorce rates, and financial woes give me the willies.

"Why do they hate me? I/my family am/were against slavery and I have done everything in my power to reach out to help individuals as well as the community. Can't they see I'm different and things are changing?"

Which "they" are you talking about? Those who hate you (and I promise you they are vastly outnumbered by those who don't care about you one way or the other) are those who are consumed by fear. A small, but significant part of any community, and the numbers swell when that community has been damaged. Ever met a woman who was raped by her stepfather, and then abused by several boyfriends/husbands, who now trusts no men? Gee, I'm in favor of women's rights. I've done everything I can to reach out to women. Why does she hate me?
Same phenomonon, on the sociological as opposed to psychological level.

"Again, I do not believe that Obama embraces Wright's views. But this is a can of worms that is not going to go away anytime soon.

And I don't think anything Obama can say at this point will make it go away."

Nor should it go away. This isn't a popularity contest, with the award going to the one most likeable. America will elect the president it deserves, en masse. Now, I happen to believe that Obama would be a terrific president. People who don't grasp how extraordinary he is, what he has risen above, what he has achieved within himself to heal so many of his wounds...those who see the damage to blacks in general, wonder why they're angry...well, I honestly feel that, deep down, as I've said before, since they aren't seeing this as a manifestation of a human tendency to harbor fear, they must see this as a specific "black problem"--in other words, believe, deep down inside, that whites wouldn't react the same way. THIS IS EXACTLY THE SAME as blacks believing that, if the shoe were on the other foot, THEY wouldn't have been cruel slave masters and Southern bigots and compassionless Conservatives, or whatever. They are the same. If you don't understand, then understand you are looking into a mirror. Whites who understand? They are the mirror-images of the blacks who understand. And THOSE two groups are the only ones who need vote for Obama. (That is, if they think that, racial issues aside, he is the man for the job. There are plenty of good, decent people black and white, male and female, who will vote for HIllary or McCain). If there are not enough of those people to elect him, you know what? That's all right. America will get the President it deserves, that it has the vision and courage and intelligence to elect. I hope that we choose to elect whoever would legitimately be best. That person's identity I do not know. I have only my own opinions, warped by my perceptions. But there is always a dance between nominee and electorate. And it is NOT just a matter of "is the Candidate worthy?" It is also a matter of "Is the electorate worthy?" Everyone sorts that out differently. And everyone reading this probably has a different idea of who, or why, and how, X,Y, or Z would be best for America.

On one level, I don't care--The game has already changed, and for the better. As far as a black President, it will be this time, or the next, or the next. Just let a few more of those whites born before 1950 die off. And a few more of those blacks born before 1960. It'll all sort out. The rest of you? Shhhh. Back to sleep. Sorry. Didn't mean to wake the children.

Death at the Seven-Eleven

I love kid stuff. Every night, Tananarive tells our son a "Jason Bear" story, basically a teaching story of some kind that she makes up on the spot at "snuggle time"
at night. Well, a couple of nights ago, she was telling him one, and he liked it. And so he asked for another one, and she did it. And then he asked for another,
and she gave him a very short one,proud of herself for having completed the bedtime tasks. He gave her a fish eye and said: "that's not a story. That's a commercial."
Hah! Who says kids don't learn from television?
I'm at Norwescon in SeaTac. Walked over to the 7-11 at 10:30 last night to buy a deck of cards. A drunk girl in the line ahead of me asked if I was going to play strip poker. "No.." I answered queasily.
Her boyfriend was standing right there next to her He was HUGE. "Well my friends and I love to play strip poker," she said. "And we always win."
"Well, thanks for the warning," I said. "I'll know never to play with you, right?" "Oh, no," she went on. "We'd have fun."
Her boyfriend cracked his knuckles, but didn't turn around. Good lord. After she left,
the Arab night attendant cracked up so hard I thought he would bust a vein. But...I survived the night.
And what was YOUR most inappropriate public come-on?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's Reverend Wright

The recent flap over Reverend Wright is sad, and understandable. Questioning Obama's judgement in attending the church is reasonable. One might wonder:
1) Did he agree with Wright?
2) Didn't he have enough sense to know this would come back to haunt him?
3) Why was he attending a church where such attitudes existed?

These are reasonable, as I said. I would suggest that, were I Obama, based on what I have heard and read, my answers would be as follows:
1) No, I don't agree. But I understand his emotions, and they reflect the emotions of many blacks who consider themselves disenfranchised.
2) I don't make decisions in my personal life based upon their political impact.
3) One goes to church not for what you can get, but what you can give. If this is a congregation carrying such wounds that this rhetoric was an undercurrent, they need people like me to balance and contribute. Leaving would be self-serving: this is my community.
I have heard multiple people express that they simply can't understand the emotions expressed. Note that AGREEING with them, or APPROVING of them, is very different from UNDERSTANDING them.
If you can't understand them, my personal position is:
1) You are in denial about the historical status and treatment of blacks in America.
2) You are in denial about the way human beings process negative emotions.

In other words, in some way you have concluded that black people are behaving in a different manner than whites would, given the same set of historical circumstances. Fine--you have that right. But you should state it clearly, so that we know where you are coming from. Here are some comments I heard during the last 24 period...

1) Q: Slavery happened hundreds of years ago. Why don't they just get over it?
A: Ah...this one is so blind it's hard even to work through it. SLAVERY ended about 150 years ago. Jim Crow lasted until the 40's, segregation didn't break down until the 60's. That means that the majority of black people were raised by parents and grandparents who grew up in an America where they were second-class citizens.

2) Q: But it's over NOW! Why can't they get over it.
A: Right. People just "get over" the things that happened to them in childhood, and cultures forget their past. This is why we celebrate the birth and death of a Jewish carpenter thousands of years ago, why Jews celebrate Passover, why people raised during the Depression horde money, why countless people struggle through therapy trying to deal with abuse in their formative years. Clearly, cultures and human beings have a memory for things that happened to them. "Those who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat it." However painful it may be to remember, that cultural/genetic memory has a survival value.

3) Q: "God should Damn America"? How can you excuse that?
A: I don't. I UNDERSTAND it. There's a difference. That is a vomiting-up of centuries of pain and hurt, when saying something like that would get a black man KILLED. You can suppress that pain, but you can't destroy it. It has to be vented and processed.

4)Q: How do we know Obama doesn't feel the same way?
A: We don't, any more than we can "know" anything about what another human being feels. But if we take people at their words, and their words and actions, over time, tend to be in alignment, we can give the benefit of the doubt. His books detail a fantastic struggle toward self-discovery, one that resonated. I don't believe he was "faking" all of that, lying about it. What seems to be true is that Obama has worked through a fantastic amount of this pain, more than most white people can believe exists within blacks as a result of our time here. He has, for instance, worked through more of it than his wife Michelle. And certainly more than Reverend Wright. If he turns his back on every black person who expresses anger, he would have to associate with no black people at all. And if he had to associate with no PEOPLE who express anger, he would have no associates at all.

5)Q: What does Reverend Wright (or Michelle Obama, or Spike Lee or other black folks) have to be upset about? He/She/They are doing great!
A: So...if you're doing fine, but your sister is being raped next door, you should be cool with that? If you're fine, but your brother has been robbed and beaten, you'd be happy? Of course not. So when individual black people are rich and successful, being confused about that anger implies to me a lack of extending your own humanity to them. You might disagree that things are "bad", but you should grasp clearly that, if they believe things are "bad", they are likely to be upset.

6)Q: Why are they so angry?
A: Anger is a mask over fear. Ask rather: what do they have to be afraid of? Look at incarceration rates, violent death statistics, and so forth. Look at a history of lynching and all-white juries. YES! Many things have changed. But human beings have long, ugly memories. It takes generations to heal. When 90% of the black people born before 1960 are dead, I think we'll be pretty much past it. Like white racism will be a marginalized issue by the time 90% of the white people born before 1950 are dead. Nothing personal.

7)Q: But are you blaming black-on-black crime, teen pregnancy, and drug addiction on white people?
A: No. I am saying that the disproportionate statistics regarding these things is the result of differential history and social disruption. This was created by slavery and the subsequent century of oppression, yes. But black people must take responsibility for their communities and actions. This is VERY similar to the fact that, yes, child abuse can produce emotional dysfunction leading to obesity, but it is the responsibility of the individual to heal themselves and get on with life. I have seen absolutely nothing from white people to impress me that they would have done a whit better under the same circumstances.

8) Q: But are you saying America is a terrible country?
A: Me personally? Hell, no! America is great! From my point of view, arguably the best country in the history of the world. But Americans are still the same jealous, bigoted, fearful human beings you find anywhere else, and you'd better believe that they can do terrible things and then say "who, me?" just like everyone else. The more you've traveled, the more you study history and psychology, the more you realize that all of this crap is just the pale side of human nature. If this is your only frame of reference, you blame America, believing that there is some mythical land of equality and plenty where these things would never happen. But blacks are hardly the only group that pulls this crap: women say "in this sexist culture." AARP says "In this youth-obsessed culture," the unbeautiful complain about "in this superficial culture" and so on. As if the rest of the world is better. It's roughly equivalent to screaming that your parents are "the worst in the world" when you are a testy teen. People talk that way. It's B.S., but that's what they do.

9) Q: But black immigrants come over here and do better than American blacks. Doesn't that prove America isn't racist, and that American blacks are, well...confused?
A: Well, yeah, they're confused. And while it's our responsibility to get un-confused, it ain't our fault. Immigrants of ALL kinds do better than natural born American citizens, on the average. And the further they come from, the better they do. Takes more energy and resources to get here--they tend to be above-average in the first place. In the second place, they tend to see America as the promised land, they hold that mythology, and hit the sidewalks ready to go. And they carry with them their cultural rules for success. The descendants of slaves are NOT immigrants. People like Michael Savage routinely seem to forget this. We had our names, religion, lands, culture,leaders, personal power and language stripped away. What was left was a computer waiting for a program, and the program loaded into our memories was called "Three Quarters of a Human being." We were domesticated, like turning a wolf into a dog. Any who resisted domestication were tortured or killed. Then after three hundred years of brainwashing, we were turned loose with few resources and no compensation, into a hostile culture where even NICE white people tended to think we were...a little slow.

I council white people every week whose damaged and conflicted programming has resulted in obesity, drug addiction, trashed marriages, homelessness, and far more. We are awesomely vulnerable to that early programming. To be quite honest, I HAVE to believe that people who ask these questions have an underlying assumption: black people are different. If they DIDN'T have that preassumption, they would be forced to ask: "under what circumstances would good, intelligent white people feel and behave in the same fashion?" To tell you the truth, in my experience, Liberals tend to ask "how are conditions different for black people" , and Conservatives tend to ask "how are black people different from us?" I'm just sayin'.

Reverend Wright is damaged goods. But I know a thousand Reverend Wrights. My family contains "Reverend Wrights": good, intelligent people who grew up being told to love a country which, rather obviously, did NOT love them as much as it loved its fair-haired, blue-eyed children. If you grew up in a family where YOU BELIEVED your parents lavished affection on one sibling while beating or depriving or denigrating did it feel? What did it do to your life?

Extrapolate that out to cultures, and sub-cultures, and you may understand Reverend Wright's rantings a bit better. Accurate? I think not. Understandable? Absolutely. And I honor Obama's refusal to throw him under the bus. And do NOT think it was "bad judgement" to attend a church where, obviously, Obama's presence would have been a healing influence. Bad judgement politically? Quite possibly.

I, for one, am glad that politics weren't the most important thing to Barack. Makes me happier to vote for him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke is dead

Died today in Sri Lanka at the age of 90. He co-created my favorite film of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and was the last of the three giants of Science Fiction's Golden Age: Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke.

In the early 80's I attended a gathering speculating about the Star Wars defense system, with a mind to provide opinions and recommendations to President Reagan. In addition to military men and a former astronaut, science fiction writers were also invited. One famous writer, a fierce hawk and an advocate of an active space defense system, was in attendance. Arthur Clarke was in Los Angeles promoting a book, and dropped by the meeting. Now, Clarke, who is credited with inventing the concept of the communications satellite, was very much against a space-based weapons system, and this put him in conflict with some of the other attendants, the Hawk in particular. The reception was cool. As a result, this great man ended up sitting by himself at lunch. It felt just a bit like a shunning. I sat with this man whose work had illuminated my childhood, and munching on chicken wings and potato salad we talked of space, the universe, and everything. For an hour and a half, I had him all to myself, and it was just wonderful. Just before he left, he said to me: "I've listened to their arguments about this defense system. And they make me fear for the future of the world."

In whatever far reaches you now travel, I hope that you have an enlightened perspective on our species, Mr. Clarke. And I hope that perspective says that not only are we going to do fine, but that your unique and irreplaceable contributions helped make it so.

The stars are just a little brighter tonight.

Obama: Pleeze Don't Throw Me In the Briar Patch...

Well, I knew that given the same challenges with a Reverend Wright, I would have found a way to express myself effectively, and turned it to my advantage. At least...I would like to THINK I would. But listening to the speech Obama just gave, and the initial reactions to it, I think of the old "Don't throw me in the briar patch" story. In other words, I just heard a speech that articulates race relations in America as well as I've ever heard it done, and placed it in the context of our history and aspirations. THAT speech was an ass-kicker. And if he'd pulled it out, or anything CLOSE to it in the beginning of his campaign, he would have been accused of "playing the race card." But by letting his opponents, and the press, raise the issue and FORCE him to deal with it...brilliant. No idea if he'd planned to do that, but the guy is a master politician. I think it was about as honest and thoughtful on a volatile subject as you're ever likely to hear in public discourse. Threaded the needle quite nicely.

Now. That said, did it do "the job"? Not for me to say. That's for millions of Americans to decide. I will say that his view of America comes very very close to my own. I promise you that there are old-school radicals on either side who think he went too far, or not far enough. There are blacks invested in thinking America is evil who think he sold out, and whites who think America is stainless who will call him a traitor.
But both of those are insignificant proportions of the population. Most are in the middle, and will weigh his words and decide if they think the America, and the future, that he sees is the same as the one they see, and if they share dreams. That is for them to say. It is absolutely vital that Joe-Bob know that his vote creates a better future for his own children. The Reverend Wright expressed emotions I've heard thousands of times, and in variation, from both sides of the political aisle. They are not mine. America is a great nation, arguably the greatest nation in history (I said arguably--assuming one was inclined to rank such things hierarchically, it would doubtless be a rousing discussion. Hmmm. I wonder what factors would be considered to create such a ranking?), but still its citizens are human beings, and heir to the same failings of flesh and spirit as those in all other nations. I choose to live here, and would fight for her, and die for her, so long as such sacrifice guaranteed her benefits to my children and family.
The anger you heard in Reverend Wright can be understood simply by remembering: anger is a mask over fear. If you cannot grasp what a black man in America might have to be afraid of, you haven't been paying attention.

I couldn't "disown" Wright without disowning half my family, most of my friends, 90% of my acquaintences and almost all public figures who have ever spoken with their conscious or unconscious fears and prejudices and reactions giving voice to painful personal perspectives. Without such discourse, we cannot move forward, and move together toward a common goal...we can only PRETEND to do so, and then act surprised when our coalitions break apart.

I think Obama just stated very clearly who he is in this matter. I can understand someone saying: "that's not for me." But America will elect the leader it deserves, that it has the vision and temperament to elect, whether we like it or not. That's democracy for you. I really, really, wonder what happens next. Where's my popcorn?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Secret #4: The Five MInute Miracle

So...Geraldine Ferraro considers Obama an Affirmative Action poster child. Note that Obama's surrogates had the class not to fire back the obvious answer to her jab. She said: "if Obama were a white man, he wouldn't be where he is today." I won't even have fun asking Geraldine what planet she lives on to think being black in America confers substantive advantage (yes, I'm quite sure he gained some black votes thereby. But unless one believes whites have only 10% of the racism blacks have, that votes he gained would balance out with votes lost from bigots and those just "uncomfortable" with his ethnicity or name.) But let's take the core statement and turn it back. Does anyone believe that Clinton would be where SHE is if she had been "a white man"? Really? First, her name wouldn't have been Clinton. I don't THINK she would have married Bill (he doesn't seem to swing that way). So that means she wouldn't have been First Lady of Arkansas or the U.S. kindly remove everything from her C.V. to do with anything she did for either administration. She didn't divorce Bill and run for Senate under her own steam, as Hillary Rodham, so we can conclude that name recognition may have been a factor in the Senate Race. Would she have won it without the White House/Arkansas experience? No one can say: let's cut her some slack and say "yes." So she would have won her Senate seat in 2000, which would give her less elected experience than Obama, who was elected to his seat in 1996. I'd say their experience sounds almost exactly the same, actually--absent the advantage of being married to Bill. Sauce for the Goose, Ms. Ferraro.
I'm in Cincinnati for the Millinicon convention right now. A little sore from a workout yesterday, but very satisfied. I did a Bruiser Century at 7/per minute, followed by the 15 minute Ashtanga routine. It seems to have been damned near as effective in relieving muscle soreness as 90 minutes of the Bikram. If that's true, I'm happy as a clam.
SECRET #4 is the Five Minute Miracle. More pointedly, it is the concept of Synaptic Facilitation applied to the "Body as Bellows" breathing technique from Coach Sonnon's "Be Breathed" methodology. Synaptic Facilitation basically says that many skills are best learned with short practice sessions throughout the day, rather than one long one. Skills that demand coordination like piano playing work perfectly for this: you'll get more out of practicing ten minutes five times during the day than 50 minutes once. Martial arts can work this way. Several instructors, including Guru Stevan Plinck, consider that short breaks multiple times during the day are EXACTLY the way they developed their astounding skills. Maximum strength development is a good one. Several "Max" lifts while you are fresh, as opposed to practicing after you are fatigued. Note that endurance exercise probably isn't a good fit here--the "second wind" threshold is up around 14-17 minutes. Scott's "Perpetual Exercise" idea is basically to change the entire way you relate to breath, structure, and motion by re-training your breathing so that exhalations are created by motion, and inhalations are passive. I looked at this, wondered what would happen if you combined it with Synapic Facilitation, and bang, the Five Minute Miracle was born. Once you've learned the basic, you can piggy-back tougher exercise, more complex exercise, onto the pattern, and it's way efficient for a nice variety of characteristics and results. Not a universal problem solver: some movement shouldn't be practiced until you have warmed up, or aren't efficiently practiced until done in the midst of serious fatigue. But it is very, very interesting stuff.

What questions might help you or others understand this methodology?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Secret #3: Fear Removal

So here's the next one of the Seven Secrets: Fear Removal ("The Spider Technique")

Created by Coach Scott Sonnon ( , and based on his work in martial arts and Soviet research into human performance, this one is a corker. The main reason its so important is that FEAR stops more people than practical considerations, by a long shot. There are several basic pieces to the puzzle that have to be linked together.

1) You have to have an aerobic activity to use this. It can be anything, really: jumping rope, rowing, running, walking, biking. An aerobic activity is one where you are exerting yourself enough that you can't sing, but you can still talk.
2) You have to be able to keep going until you reach "Second Wind". The technical term for this is the Neuro-Immuno-Endocrine Response. If you are aerobically fit, you know this: you are getting tired, tired...and then suddenly you have more energy. Most people will hit this "Wall" between 14-17 minutes of a steady-state activity. So...your sessions should probably last 20 mintues, just to be sure.
3) The technique works on Fear, Anger, Anxiety, and Grief. At least. Maybe more, but these have been tested. If you have a clinical situation, or are under a therapist's care, ABSOLUTELY share this technique with them. We've had great success having clients work with therapists.
4) If you have an issue that is too huge to confront directly (say, childhood abuse) you can work on smaller issues, and still get relief. The technique "generalizes"--i.e., it teaches your brain how to deal with fear more efficiently.
5) The Spider Technique can be done about once a week. I don't recommend you do it more often than this: you don't want to anchor pain to exercise.


Let's say that your issue was fear of spiders. And that the chosen exercise is walking on a treadmill. Great. You probably don't want to do this at a public gym.
1) Sit next to the treadmill, and imagine spiders crawling on your body. Do this for at least 10 minutes, until the fear is fully present in your body. "Until you are crying out of your nose."
2) IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS Get on the treadmill and begin to exercise. It doesn't matter if you continue thinking of spiders or not.
3) Between 14-17 minutes of walking, you should hit "second wind."
4) As soon as you've done this, you are done. Continue exercising, quit and get a shower--it's up to you. Yoga would be good, but not necessary.

The next time you see a spider, you'll notice your fear response diminishing by 15-25%. And will continue to do so every time you perform the exercise, until you have little discernable fear. The symptoms will creep back--so it is useful to continue to do this from time to time.

As far as we can tell...
1) If instead of calling it "second wind" you called it "second gear" it would be a little clearer what was going on. The Neuro-Immuno_Endocrine response is an aspect of "Neuro Plasticity", the ability of the brain to compensate for stress to enhance survival. YOu are placing your body under cardio respiratory distress, and it responds by panicking. If you keep going (for about 14-17 minutes) your body "upshifts" to a better, more efficient gear.
2) Here's the giant joke: the brain doesn't know the difference between "Fear" and "Cardio respiratory distress." The hormone dumps are VERY similar: cortisol, norepinephrine, etc.
3) In other words, if you "front load" your body with fear, and the hormones associated with it, and then push yourself through the NIE barrier, your brain is learning to deal with the chemicals more efficiently...and the fear response diminishes.
You have GOT to try this. It's like magic, I swear to God.
So...What questions would you need answered to use this technique effectively?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Iraq and a hard place

I have to admit that people who rail against unions irritate me as much as people who think Big Business is evil. Labor and Management strike me as being pretty much opposite and (if possible) equal forces. When I think about the importance of the Writer's Guild in terms of health care and studio exploitation of talent...ouch.

I turned in an animation treatment BEFORE CHRISTMAS and still haven't even gotten the paperwork done yet. This is absurd, and only happens because the animation union is weak. I can only figure that the problem in perception is that most people really, really do think that "they"--whoever is on the "other side"--are not as human as the home team. So labor thinks management is staffed by monsters, and those who have no need of unions (wealthy, at the top of their field, people in careers without guilds or unions or owners of businesses) think that unions lead directly to Communism or something.
So the common wisdom is that Obama is in a street-fight now, right where the Clintons want him. I suppose that's fine. If he can't protect himself in the clinches, he shouldn't get into the ring. But I'm hoping that he knows that he doesn't have to fight dirty to win. If he is a master, this is where he will show it...or not. Again, if Hillary twists arms to make backroom deals with Superdelegates to win...I may not like it, but would consider that within the rules. Fine.

But if she fights to get Michigan and Florida seated without any kind of do-over? THAT I consider cheating, and so do a lot of other people. And my respect for her plummets. The only thing that would keep me from voting for McCain is a REAL sense of not wanting to reward the Republicans for the way they behaved the last seven years. I'll be between Iraq and a hard place on this one...
The sign-up buttons for the LIFEWRITING DAILY TIP has been down for a couple of months, and I didn't realize it. It's back up now, and I invite you to sign up. Primarily writing tips, delivered to your mailbox daily...
Last week I did a Bruiser Gama Cast Density workout (Clean to Order), followed by a Bikram yoga session. The Club Bell workout only takes 18 minutes (18 sets of 6 reps, starting one at the top of every minute) but it thumps the whole body. Unreal, really. The Bikram session seemed to REALLY help in recovery, but I still felt tightness in my Achilles tendons four days later. Wow.
Heading to Millinicon this week, and Norwescon next week. Any blog readers attending those conventions should be sure to introduce themselves!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Biggest Sambo Alert in Years...

10,000 BC (2008)

Massive, massive Sambo Alert.

Good Lord. The story of a white caveman who unites the tribes of Africa to go after the Alien civilization building the pyramids...I just can't wrap my mind around the awfulness of this film. And yet...I'd be lying if I didn't say I was chortling, and enjoying myself. This iteration of the Tarzan myth is so blatantly insane that it's like a monster mash of my own grade school re-imaginings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is legitimately awful enough to be a kind of wicked fun. The mammoth stampedes are great, the saber-toothed Tiger underused. Did I mention the staggering racism of this thing? I mean, its the first truly, deeply racist film of the 21st century, and deserves some kind of award. Wow. For connoisseurs of bad cinema, an "A"--get REALLY loaded and bring your friends. Everyone else, beware. Maybe a "C" if you're in a good mood. For the politically correct, Oh My. Where oh where is Mystery Science Theater 3000 when you need them? Producer Roland Emmerich is one scary dude. Not enough to make me hate "Independence Day," but close.

The Bank Job (2008)

On the other hand, Bank Job is one of the neatest caper movies I've seen in years. Straight-forward example of British Crime cinema starring the under-appreciated Jason Statham (he would make a perfect Willie Garvin if they did a Modesty Blaise movie, dammit) dealing with a bank robbery in 1970 engineered to recover scandalous pictures of Princess Margaret . Casually excellent, tense, exciting, naughty, funny, and sexy. It isn't that the Brits make better movies. It's that when one of their movies makes it all the way over here, it tends to be better than typical Hollywood stuff--sort of the way immigrants outperform average Americans. Makes it worth while to go out of your way to check out good foreign film. This is a good one, a professional product about a group of very unprofessional thieves in way over their heads. And, seems to have been based on a real crime. The names were apparently changed to protect the guilty. A legitimate "B+" for caper movie fans. A "B" for the rest of you guys.

Friday, March 07, 2008

#2: Intermittent Fasting

Still playing with "Google Documents." Not ready for prime time, but very interesting. If anyone knows of a real on-line multi-collaborator ready "Word" clone, lemme know. I've looked at Zomo and Microsoft Office Online and another whose name I don't remember. I think they're heading in the right direction, though...

Listening to the radio these days is fascinating. Apparently, thousands of Republicans "crossed over" to vote for Hillary in Texas, at the instigation of Rush Limbaugh. MSNBC got 800 calls in one hour of people who said they'd done it, on the basis that Hillary will be easier to beat than McCain. Wow. Sneaky. Smart. What a game, eh?

The second of "Seven Secrets": Intermittent Fasting. Like the reader said, this is no stranger to those who have been reading this blog.
Intermittent fasting is based on about sixty years of research into caloric restriction, the only known means of extending maximum life span in warm blooded animals. In the most basic form, it is "eating every other day," although there are plans that involve "waving" the number of calories from day to day, say, limiting yourself to 600 calories one day, and gorging the next. There are also patterns involving eating from six PM one day to 6 PM the next, etc. Intense, but probably the simplest diet ever devised. So long as you exercise at almost any level at all, weight loss is ridiculously easy. But the other benefits include positive effects in the areas of: testosterone release, cancer, regrowth of nerve tissue, Alzheimer's, arthritis, general mental functioning, and more. A truly incredible "secret." The question I have is: what sorts of information do you think readers will most desire in connection with Intermittent Fasting? Please post thoughts here and on the discussion group.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Women's Brains and Hillary

Suzanne sent me a couple of links dealing with male and female brains...

This is important for several reasons. One is a "positive" for Hillary. To the degree that male and females brains are different, without one being 'superior" to the other, then men will build social structures that are advantageous to men--that it, they will fit the way men think. The average woman will do the same. Therefore, a woman who can negotiate the territory of a game designed by men will, on average, be at a disadvantage. If she can compete effectively, there is a good chance that she is actually more competent than the average man negotiating the same territory. So...go Hillary!
She is in essence running an "emulation program" to allow her to play a male game with a female mind. That would mean, to me, that in a real-world scenario, she would out-perform a man who "tested" at her level in regard to male traits--because she has her female traits in addition. "SoftPC" on a Mac running at the same speed as a PC implies a BLISTERINGLY faster Mac running at native speeds. The real world is not the game imposed upon it. There are always more possibilities than any single perspective allows.

It's the old "a woman has to do twice as much to get half as far..." while an overstatement, has some truth to it. Of course, a man trying to survive a structure designed by women would have a similar problem.

And there is another interesting thing: if women think a bit differently, it would make sense that they would have different values and perceptions. Which would lead them to different goals. This would screw up the statistics about male and female salaries and presence at different levels of power...simply because the average woman doesn't want the exact same things in life as the average man. I have no idea how to sort that out, but I think its a reasonable possibility.

And BTW--that "a woman has to do twice as much to get half as far" is also a standard belief system in the black community...concerning race. And as always, I refuse to take a position on that one. So I similarly think that a black person who performs a given set of tasks devised and designed by white people at level "A" is actually capable of performing at level "A+X" because of the "emulation program" thing. Hillary speaks "fluent male," just like I've often said I speak "fluent Caucasian." Can't blame her for playing a rough game rough...that's the way " the boys" laid it out. I may not find it evolved, but it is certainly impressive.

Michigan, Florida, and reality maps

We have a perfect opportunity to look at what I consider to be dishonest thought patterns in connection with politics. The Michigan and Florida votes, and the different way Clinton and Obama followers look at it, is great. Let's assume that people on either side are equally honest and intelligent. Their different thought patterns would make sense given that, if one assumes that "the perception of an advantage will cause schetoma.
Now, if I understand this, the state parties in Florida and Michigan decided to move up their primaries. The DNC said "no" and said that their delegates would be stripped. The nominees agreed with this, and not to campaign. And agreed to have their names removed from Michigan and/or Florida. Hillary's remained on in Michigan, and Obama and Hillary were both on in Florida.

Hillary supporters say that since Obama ran a national ad, it broke the agreement in Florida. Obama's people say that it was all right with the DNC.
Hillary wants the votes in Michigan and Florida counted, saying it would be unfair to the voters, and bad news for the party in November.
Obama's people agree with the possibility of a Do-Over
##'s what I think. If I were a Hillary supporter, I might hope that my argument to seat 'em would be taken...but I'd also think that Obama was the biggest sucker God ever let live if he let it happen. And I'd know that if the shoe were on the other foot, Hillary would be screaming "play by the rules." This is politics as usual. I would HOPE that Obama wouldn't make the same argument...but I can't say for sure.

I can understand someone thinking
1) They should be seated.
2) They shouldn't be seated.
3) There should be a do-over Primary
4) There should be a do-over caucus.

But what I CAN'T see is someone saying that someone who has a different opinion has no point at all. And if I'm a Hillary person, and can't see how a good, honest and intelligent person could consider it unfair to seat those delegates? In my opinion, I'm being dishonest. That what you're looking at point blank is the way partisan thinking cripples morality. If the shoe were on the other foot, I am SURE that some Obama supporters would make the same arguments. And it would be just as dishonest. I am disappointed that Clinton is making it, and I would HOPE that Obama wouldn't. But cannot say.

So...when you are listening to radio or television commentators trying to push their point of view, or reading blog entries, or whatever...look for the percentage of people who say "they should be seated" not as if it is an intelligent option, or as if they would like it because it's an advantage for the home team, but say it as if IT IS THE ONLY HONORABLE WAY TO VIEW the situation. Their reality maps have, in my opinion, been warped by the desire to win...or they are straight-out lying.
And your question of the day is: where in your life have you seen a sane, otherwise honest and honorable person warp events horribly, and lie to protect an advantage or fragile self-perception?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Controlling the Myth

Controlling the Myth

I remember lecturing at the Smithsonian a few years back about the institutional need to control the "story" that people tell about your goods, services, or industry. Stories, you see, don't follow a linear script, they are webs of emotional association that bypass temporality or ordinary ordering of significance. The child's sled "Rosebud" looms larger in a dying man's dreams than all of his other successes or failures over a stupendous life in "Citizen Kane."

Watching Tananarive get a little depressed last night was frustrating. I'd warned her not to expect a knockout. In fact, while the media pushed the "knockout" scenario over and over, I never heard that from Obama, figuring that he was too smart to do anything other than keep playing his safe rack-up-the-delegates strategy.

Remember back a few weeks? Texas and Ohio were supposed to be firewalls to crush his momentum. Hillary needed wide victories in both, just to break even. Then, just before the election, it was "If he doesn't take all four states it indicates buyers' remorse." Wow. Lowering expectations, controlling the story. Smart.

I do resent this "the press hasn't vetted him" routine. Repeat a lie often enough, and people consider it truth. Excuse me? Do YOU know what elementary school Hillary attended? McCain? It seems to me that every inch of Obama's life has been dragged through the public eye to a microscopic degree, but by repeating over and over again "he hasn't been vetted" it's obviously made a certain number of people believe this nonsense. Politics as usual. I am SO proud of him that he hasn't lashed back in ad hominem attacks. Can you even imagine that if Michelle Obama had been disbarred for perjury that this wouldn't have come up in Clinton attack ads? He has to keep to the high road, if nothing else as a demonstration that it is possible to deal with the political scene without wallowing in the mud. I don't blame Hillary for playing the game the way the Boy's play. Not at all. But I don't respect her for it, either.

So now Obama has to shake it off and keep going. Michigan and Florida? If you want to seat them, then give both candidates a chance to campaign there, otherwise you're going on pure name recognition, and pre-existing party structure. If she tried that, I'd very seriously consider McCain. Or maybe moving to Canada. But if she campaigns and beats Obama fair and square in Michigan and Florida? Cool. No problemo.
Slowly depressurizing after turning in Shadow Valley. Trying to get a good work schedule going, and upping my yoga. I was short-changing that, certainly.
So...I'm going to go over the seven subjects I want for "Seven Secrets." And I'd love to have readers comment on them, what they'd like to know, what they do or don't understand about them. I'll be posting the same entries over on the Lifewriting/Five Minute Miracle forum, so that the answers can be explored in greater depth.

1) I.D.E.A.--Instinctive Designation of Energy and Attention. The idea is that mastery includes the ability to perform, instantly, what you would do had you all the time in the world to think about it. Honed instinct. This depends upon clear perceptions, an aligned value-goal core, an accurate map of reality, and great behavioral and conceptual flexibility. Also, many, many experiments, testing your theories of human behavior and reality again and again until your predictions and results come out the same. Even better still: publish your data and allow others to test with their own experiments.

The best way to "Calibrate" your instincts is to select high goals in all three major areas of your life: body, career, relationship. Find role models of similar accomplishment, and determine what those role models did, felt, believed and overcame in order to reach their goal. When possible, find at least three in each major area, overlap their behaviors and attitudes (NLP's "Belief Systems, Mental Syntax, Physiology) until you find the critical behaviors. Analyze your own behaviors and attitudes, and "subtract" yours from the Role Model's. What remains are the behaviors and attitudes you must integrate to shift your life in the direction of health, balance, and accomplishment.

The "Three Goals" pattern works most neatly if you accept the following goals:
1) A committed, passionate relationship
2) A healthy, energetic, sexy body that matches your own values. You'd be perfectly happy with a partner with your body, or the flipped-gender equivalent.
3) Enough money that it is a convenience, not an obstacle. You work where you love, or love where you work.

All of these can be modified, of course. No one but you can tell you what you want and need to complete yourself in this life. But a warning: be very careful of the voices that tell you you don't want money, or to lose weight, or to have a permanent significant other. They often lie. Unless you are perfectly happy and never complain about being broke, or rejected due to appearance, or may be bullshitting yourself. That's not to say you can't wander the world as a mendicant, or weigh 400 pounds and happy, or live alone and unlaid...but you won't COMPLAIN about it, will you?

As you move in that direction, you will encounter stress and failure that hit you from all directions. Every time, you will have the chance to keep moving forward, searching, and modeling behaviors and attitudes, applying flexible behavior and concepts until you are no longer "spun" by life. Life just is. You pick yourself up, and move on. And if you have searched intelligently, if you are modeling the thoughts and actions of the most successful men and women in each category, you will eventually find your own way of being. You will have a kind of grace as you move through life, and the decisions that cripple other people barely even tweak you. You have the capacity to keep your word to yourself under massive stress.

And you start making instinctive, automatic decisions that bear out over time. And start having an experience of riding the wave rather than having it wipe out your sand castles. There is the same amount of storm, but you are in the center of the cyclone, relatively unruffled. It's an interesting experience.

And the question of the day is: What questions do you have about the process I've described? What would you need to apply it, or want to apply it in your life? What examples do you have of similar processes (if you have them) and how they have or haven't worked in your own life?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


So...Frank is convinced that Kerry lied. I am not. If I listened only to, say, Johnnie Cocheran, I'd think O.J. innocent. Listen only to Chris Darden, and O.J. is guilty as hell. Listen to both sides, make a personal guess. Listen to what the judge and the jury say. Do I trust the verdict? Why or why not? Are there political axes grinding away? If I don't care much, I just listen to the verdict and accept it, unless I have a specific reason to believe the system corrupt. If I care massively, I do original research. In-between, I try to listen to what experts are saying on either side, and see what makes more sense to me.

The political threads are so tangled (that is, there are obvious and powerful reasons why Kerry would be attacked: to nullify the competitive advantage being a bona-fide war hero would have over Bush) that I have to take anything said against him with a grain of salt unless it is presented by
1) Someone I know personally.
2) Someone I have reason to have a high level of respect for.
3) (presumably) Neutral governmental sources testifying under oath.
4) Kerry himself, confessing.

Otherwise? A lot of "He-said, She-said." I might look at the people who BELIEVE in one side of the evidence or the other. Is there a great difference in intelligence, education, ethics? Not that I can see. The basic difference seems to be political orientation. And it seems to me that if he is lying as badly as some on the Right say, the government would have motivation to get involved. Otherwise, I'm left with two interesting things:
1) I find it possible that he may have been wrong about the position on the River. In Cambodia? Out? Some of his crew says yes, others say no? Could he have been wrong by being wrong, not by lying? There is certainly room for a raised eyebrow. But again, listening to only one side of a case always produces a slanted response. Insufficient data.
2) Was he probably exaggerating about atrocities "on a daily basis" "known up and down the chain of command"? Probably. But was that exaggeration out of step with what human beings say when they are highly agitated? No. "You always..." "you never..." "They all..." are common exaggerations, and I see equal amounts of this crap on all sides. In other words, if he witnessed three atrocities, and heard of two more, it is quite reasonable that he would overload and say "every day." People do that. "Up and down the chain of command"? Highly unlikely. Could it have SEEMED like that? Sure.
3) When the government says "this doesn't happen" in relation to atrocities, they are lying or deluded. Too many documented cases throughout history, and too many stories I got from people who were there. Approved of? In general HELL NO. Do officials look the other way? Doesn't every organization seek to protect itself?

I look at this the same way I look at the question of child abuse in the Catholic Church. The damning thing is not that it happens and we hear about it. The damning thing is that we NEVER hear about it unless a victim comes forward and insists the church take responsibility.

What? The Church has NEVER known of a pederast before the local newspaper does? It seems to me that they NEVER out a pederast priest and turn him in to the police unless the community is already in an uproar. Because I can't believe they could be so oblivious as to NEVER know, I come to the conclusion that they cover it up, unless there is no choice.

And the number of times the military has prosecuted soldiers for unseemly behavior without ANYTHING about the event leaking before hand seems suspiciously low to me.

And I'm not saying that there is something wrong with "our" soldiers. Or soldiers at all. Or "us." Far from it. I could take the position that
1) America is the best country ever
2) Our citizens are the best ever
3) Human beings are, on average, wonderful.
4) Our soldiers are the very best among us

And there would STILL be atrocities. It isn't the warriors. It is the nature of war itself. You can't open those doors of human perception, loose the bonds which universally constrict the capacity for violence, and then bond these guys (and gals) together and drop them into a war zone without clearly demarcated enemies. Let them get tired, hungry, frightened, angry. Watch their buddies blown apart. Put them in a kill-or-be-killed frame of mind in which the denigration of the foe is a normal part of daily conversation and action. And not expect that some percentage of them are going to go off the rails. They will. They always have.

And again, I've had maybe five friends who were seriously involved in combat. And in private conversations, three of them had seen things that haunted them, that they would not talk about publicly. In some cases, done things.

"Every day" "all of them" "up and down the chain"? No. "Doesn't happen" "Isn't policy" (THAT'S a huge, grim laugh) etc. No. The truth is obviously some where in-between. And this assumes the very best of intentions of sterling men and women with the world's best training.

Under stress, flaws are revealed. All are flawed. War is hell. Assuming these human drives can be perfectly contained is naivete at the least, willful ignorance in the middle, flat-out lying on the end.

So what Kerry said, absent an admission of lying FROM HIM, or sworn testimony evaluated by a (supposedly) neutral judge, strikes me as being, within the limits of the human tendency to re-construct reality around powerful emotional cores, plausible. And the Swift Boaters to have been a political hit squad.
I finished SHADOW VALLEY and sent it off yesterday. I'm still in a bit of shock...
Do you ever work on something so long, and so hard, that you begin to forget why you were interested in the first place? What was it, and when it was all over...was it worth it?

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Golden Hour forgotten?

As the meme rushes out everywhere that the media is "harder on women than it is on a man" in relation to Barack and Hillary, I notice that everyone with that position seems to forget the absolute fawning she got when she was the presumptive candidate. Or that she absolutely trounced the other men. Obama's popularity is assumed to be "because he's a man"? Jeeze. And it's oh-so-hard to be a woman out there, as Hillary says over and over again, making a major campaign point out of her gender. By my count, she and her surrogates mention gender about three times as often as Obama and his surrogates mention race. I think he'd be happy to forget about it. I haven't seen a moment as potentially uncomfortable for Hillary as the "Louis Farrakhan" question was for Obama. They knew they had him on a tightrope, one that was specifically racial. He has gotten where he is without any of the usual support from the usual "black" political establishment (Saturday Night Live did an hysterical sketch about Obama keeping Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton completely hidden). But...that's politics. All of that is just business as usual.

But the Florida and Michigan votes are different. That feels very clearly, to me at least, like cheating: agreeing to play by one set of rules at one point, and then shifting at another. (Similar but not as egregious would be Obama saying that he'd use public funds, and then waffling later. Personally, I think it would be insane to limit himself to public funds if the Republicans resort to the 527-style "Swift Boat" attacks. Any agreement would have to be very very carefully worked out.)

I'd be perfectly cool with several different plans for Michigan and Florida, including not seating the delegates, seating them after a candidate is chosen, seating equal numbers of Obama and Clinton deligates, a primary do-over, a caucus do-over, etc.

But if she can win in Ohio and Texas, and convince the Superdelegates to come to her...I won't like it, but I'll vote for her. If she twists arms to get Michigan and Florida seated, I'll consider voting for McCain.
Got about 10 hours left on "Shadow Valley." Keep you posted.
I left out one critically important piece of the "Seven Secrets" puzzle: the "Golden Hour." This is the concept of fighting, clawing, negotiating, and sacrificing to get one hour out of the day that belongs to YOU, and no one but you. With one hour per day you can do ALL of the following:
1) Meditate to drop stress levels through the floor.
2) Get into the best shape of your life
3) Write a book a year
4) Read a book a month, or gain almost any skill you desire (assuming it can be done at or near home.)
5) Work out your time-management program, and prioritize your tasks for maximum efficiency
6) Change your entire life for the better.

It is key. People lie to themselves horribly about how little time they have. The average person thinks they have no time. The average person also watches about three hours of television a day. What the hell is THAT?
So the question of the day is: If you had one hour a day to dedicate to what YOU want, and only what YOU want...what would you do with it?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Shell or Spine?

Anyone out there have experience with Google Documents? Looks like when it grows up it might be a perfectly fine way to collaborate (sharing documents is easy) and even write a book solo. I hear that web-based Word Processing, etc. is the wave of the future. But right now, the documents seem too small (500k) and the formatting doesn't quite work. Still, I'm experimenting.
That's Fred Armisen on SNL doing an Obama impression. Not bad, but it seriously annoys me that SNL seems to have seriously short-changed minority comedians over the thirty years of its existence. This would have been a perfect time to rectify that, and they chose not to. MadTV seems to have no problem finding talented black performers. Hard to believe Loren Michaels couldn't, if he really wanted to. Then again, SNL's roots are the National Lampoon, which in its entire history never treated black people as human beings--only as "black people." In other words, never had them in the magazine without making a specific, and generally derogatory, reference to their race. The apple don't fall all that far from the tree.
It's kind of fun to see the number of people who now say the "why is Obama black? His mother is white..." routine. Are they really that ignorant? All right, it works like this: those with African blood were defined that way for purposes of social control and economics. Down to 1/8th African blood we could still be sold. Clearly, this is not a genetic or anthropological designation. It is purely social, and we had to live with it for almost 400 years. Now, I grant it's ridiculous. But anyone who asks that question is so oblivious to the history of race relations that it calls into question anything else they have to say on the subject. Now that Obama is functioning in what I would call a Post or Trans-Racial fashion, everybody wants to claim him. Great. Fine. Let the entire system of designations break down.

Now, we light-skinned black folks have ALWAYS been encouraged to consider ourselves "different" from our darker-skinned brothers and sisters. Better. Not as good as white folks, you understand, but different. This is how you create a "colored" class in places like South Africa. The Colored act as a buffer, a system of social control, spies, and reinforcement of basic racial attitudes. They have better jobs and lives because they are more capable, of course. And they are more capable because they have more White blood, of course. Shockley would be proud.
We'll get beyond this. We already are. But let's not pretend not to understand why black people designate light-skinned folks "black." We didn't start it. It was obscene to begin with. But 400 years of programming can't be overcome in two generations--and that's all it's been since we've been fully fledged American citizens. I've often asked: what is the wound that heals in less time that it took to inflict? Considering all factors, I think that black America has made an absolutely astonishing recovery.
In fact, I'll go further. I've said to Tananarive on a number of occassions that there is nothing to worry about, ultimately, about black America. Yes, we will lose many of our children to drugs, jail, despair, violence. But that was the inevitable consequence of the artificial barriers dropping, exposing us to raw competition in arenas where we are dreadfully "always outnumbered, always outgunned" and the other team has a "who, me?" attitude about fouls--and all the referees are paid for by the other "team" as well. Fine.

But my point was that, so long as you really, honestly believe that blacks are not really different, and not really inferior, the pressure and heat creates an evolutionary pressure that will inevitably create not just competence, but excellence and new ways of operating. The sports metaphor works well here: blacks actually changed the games of boxing and basketball with rhythmic and positional play that the white teams and competitors could barely understand. And those "diamonds" remember the game very very well. How they were treated, and how people conveniently forgot what their parents and grandparents did ("gee, why do we call him black?")

Part of that, I think, is fear. People don't want to consider the results if black folks ever got power and decided to "get even"--as illogical and un-spiritual as such an intent would be, it goes right along with human behavior throughout history. And I think that a LOT of white racism throughout American history has been about postponing this day of reckoning long enough that no one remembers the cause of the grievance any more, and the price never has to be paid.

In the war between white and black, (using an admittedly violent metaphor for the purposes of clarity) I have a perspective that you can't get in, say, the "war" between men and women unless you are an hermaphrodite or transexual. I really don't have a dog in this fight, and can sit back and watch the fur fly. It's sad. And entertaining as hell, in a sick way.

Obama, I think, is genuinely beyond this. His autobiographies suggest a level of personal reflection far beyond what most people ever really attempt. He has actually processed a huge amount of his personal pain, and emerged on the other side (his wife Michelle, however, has not). It is the avoidance of processing this stuff that poisons relationships, cripples careers, and, I believe, dooms "diet" programs.
I think he is what he seems to be. That DOESN'T mean he'd make a good president. I personally consider him the best of the field, but that's just an opinion.

I do think he is one of the healthiest, best-integrated human beings I've seen on the national scene, and that that is part of what people sense about him. He likes himself, and he loves others. He sees his own flaws, and carries his own cross. He doesn't want to "get back" at you, and is responsible for his own life. He seems more honest, more congruent than most people. Where I look at Hillary and KNOW she is blocking huge amounts of emotional pain, hiding behind a mask...I would bet that Obama's public and private personas are closer together than 99.9% of people in the public arena. It costs a gigantic amount of energy to wear a mask all the time (part of the price black men pay in society--for too many generations they dared not reveal their true feelings, for fear of LITERALLY being killed. No shit.)
So much of this stuff is breaking down now. But just like a woman who was sexually abused in childhood keeps a cocoon of fat on her body despite the fact that her abuser is long gone, a culture retains the armor that protected it in generations past, shedding that armor slowly. Obama isn't carrying a lot of armor. He has something far more interesting, I think. Like a master Aikidoist, he has a CENTER. He knows who he is.

We all need more of that. In life, you can either have a shell, or a spine. With a spine, you get cut and scarred more, but you can bob and weave, and you get to feel the wind, and the rain on your face. You are more alive.

I choose a spine.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Today's My Birthday!

accept my little experiment and actually ask black women what they considered to be a greater obstacle in life: race or gender. REMEMBER, PLEASE: I’m not trying to prove that one or the other is a greater barrier. My position is that it isn’t really possible to determine the answer to that question, but that the group who could come CLOSEST to an answer would be black women (if you want to know whether a BMW or a Porsche is easier to maintain, wouldn’t the best group to ask be people who own, or have owned, both?)

At any rate, here’s Dan’s post:

"I've asked 4 black women the question about race v gender –

3 of them told me race was more difficult; one by a lot, two by a little. One black woman told me her gender had been more difficult for her, by a lot.

One bisexual latina I asked told me it was her gender, by a lot.__

Today I was in the lunch room at a client's down in El Segundo and found myself sitting with 16 working-class women who did telephone support -- so I polled them.

They were:__
- 7 black_
- - 4 white_
- - 4 latina_
- - 1 asian_
- _I got a total of six different responses to my poll –
- __Has your gender or race been more difficult for you, and by how much?
- __Race, a lot
- _Race, a little_
- Neither or not applicable
- _Gender, a little
- _Gender, a lot
- _Mind your own business
- __Adding in the four black friends and one Latina woman I'd asked, here's what I've got so far –
- __Black women - race by a lot – 4
- _Black women - race by a little – 2
- _Black women - not applicable – 1
- _Black women - mind your own business – 2
- _Black women - gender by a little – 1
- _Black women - gender by a lot – 1
- __White women - race by a lot – 0
- _White women - race by a little – 1
- _White women - not applicable – 0
- _White women - mind your own business – 0
- _White women - gender by a little – 1
- _White women - gender by a lot – 2
- __Latina women - race by a lot – 0
- _Latina women - race by a little – 1
- _Latina women - not applicable – 0
- _Latina women - mind your own business – 0
- _Latina women - gender by a little – 2
- _Latina women - gender by a lot – 2
- __Asian woman - mind your own business – 1
- __It's an interesting cross sample -- and meaningless, obviously. The only non-heterosexual in the study (as far as I know; I didn't have the temerity to ask the women in the call center) cites gender as worst, by a lot, and in her case I know why.
- __Out of 21 people only one person selected the neutral option -- a black woman. I wish I'd started with her, I might have changed the structure of these questions -- said, roughly that being black hadn't been a disadvantage, being female was sometimes a disadvantage and sometimes an advantage, and on balance it was all a wash: "Look, just being a person is hard."
- __It's too small a sample to be meaningful (and let's not discuss the awful way the data was gathered) -- but I do get more black women thinking being black is harder, and Latina and white women feel being female is harder. For what it's all worth with such a trivial sample size.__Sometime soon I'm going to try to get this poll up at Even that won't solve anything, all online polls suffer from self-selection, but it's an interesting set of numbers regardless. Maybe some smart person out there will do a real study.
- ##
- STEVE HERE. Thanks, Dan. I’m going to make a broad, rough statement. My guess is that the darker the skin color, the more likely someone will consider race to have been a greater problem. The lighter the color, the more likely gender will loom large. Make of that what you will.
And speaking of Vantage points...
Saw “Vantage Point” last night. Illogical, ridiculous, paper-thin and just a huge amount of fun. The assassination of an American president during an anti-terrorism conference is examined from multiple points of view, and each new perspective (the same five minutes is re-played about ten times) reveals new information. I heard it referred to as “an entire season of 24 condensed into two hours.” Not a bad description. If Jack Bauer, Tony Almeida, and Chloe O’Brien had popped up I wouldn’t have been surprised at all. A “B+” for those in an undiscriminating action movie mood. Regular movie goers, maybe a “B-“
I sure agree with everything said about decriminalization of Drugs. But did you notice that the general discussion revolved around two options:
a) Criminalizing drugs.
b) Giving up and selling them everywhere.

Kind of interesting. There are always more than two options to any problem, and when you only see two, that invariably says more about you than it does the situation. The third option that I like is to legalize any drug less toxic than alcohol or tobacco (which might well include Marijuana, Cocaine, and Heroin, but not Meth), and sell it in “Package” stores with heavy taxes. Invest ALL the profits in anti-drug campaigns and rehab clinics, modeling the most successful such programs. I believe the following cascade of effects might be expected:
1) Saving huge amounts of money in the law enforcement/prison system, which could be reinvested in the community.
2) Returning huge numbers of incarcerated drug users AND DEA agents to more socially beneficial functions.
3) By selling drugs at below street value, a major source of capital for street gangs dries up.
4) By pumping billions of dollars a year into anti-drug and rehab campaigns, the demand would dry up.
5) Central and South American drug cartels are reduced to ordinary agricultural concerns. Still profitable, but without the kind of money—or need—to corrupt American and Central American law officials.
6) Greater stabilization of those governments, and the ability to invest their anti-drug money in their own infrastructure might even lead to better working conditions, leading to a reduced negative pressure in, say, Mexico which contributes to the Illegal Alien problem. This may be wishful thinking on my part.
7) More honest and accurate information about the usage and dangers of drugs means less addiction and overdose.
8) The ability of organizations like DEA and DARE to speak honestly about the dangers of drugs—and the ways to use them which minimize those dangers (one of my favorite is the anti-marijuana propaganda quoting obscure reports suggesting that one marijuana cigarette is as likely to cause cancer as smoking a pack a day. Even if this b.s. was true, the obvious suggestion would be a vaporizer, or brownies. Duh.) would lead to greater overall respect for authority. When kids KNOW they’re being lied to (kids don’t smoke pot primarily because of peer pressure. They smoke it because they like the way it makes them feel. I’ve never heard a single anti-drug program state this simple truth.) they wonder what ELSE the adults are lying about.

I really that this would work. I also think that any politico who seriously advocated it would be killed immediately by those who stand to make billions and maintain higher levels of social control by keeping them illegal. It’s such crap. And has destroyed so many lives. And wasted so many billions for NOTHING.

And again, until you’ve been to a cocktail party fund-raiser for a “Just Say No” campaign, you haven’t experienced true surreality.
Today is my birthday! Fifty-Six years on this planet. Thanks for helping to make ‘em more interesting.