Category Archives: Society

The Beta Male – Being “Woke” – Part 3

A few summers ago, I was up in Michigan visiting family.  The focal point, my brother’s home, was crowded so I bedded down at a nearby hotel.  It happened there was a lounge in the hotel and so it also happened that taking a break there after reunion time with family each day led me to meet a couple of new friends.

Even if these relationships would be passing in short order, three days to be exact, I would still call them friendships.  We bonded over sharing our purposes for our travel and our daily episodes into life.

One of these people was a very beautiful woman, lesbian in sexual orientation.  I’ll call her Mary.  The other was a somewhat boisterous guy, all American male.  Tom.  And then there was me.

Continue reading The Beta Male – Being “Woke” – Part 3

Bullshit – Take 2 – Being “Woke” – Part 2

Ok, so yesterday I talked about how I had attempted to write a story about the use of the slang word “Woke,” and how I didn’t quite land on the mark with that first draft.  The post I was working on is part of a series I’ve waded into about the fray between gender roles, well, maybe gender behavior says it better.  See my previous posts, “Query” and “Tse’itsi’nako – Thought Woman ‘Being Woke’ – Part 1.”

So, here’s take two – on the Bullshit post. 😊

***

Continue reading Bullshit – Take 2 – Being “Woke” – Part 2

Tse’itsi’nako – “Thought Woman” Being Woke – Part 1

Yesterday, I posed an open-ended question regarding women’s and men’s gender roles and the concepts surrounding modernity’s spin on “re-awakening” in these roles.  And the comments have been great and insightful!

But before I travel down that path of personal pontification over what I believe I’m currently witnessing in this regard, I wanted to relay another story.  A story about a matriarchal society.  And in some ways, I’m not sure it’s accurate to call it that.

Perhaps “balanced” is a better word.

Now I love aboriginal creation stories.  Some people refer to these as myths, but I would say no one story is better conceived than any other and we might all learn something if we stop and take a breath once and a while.  Open ourselves up to wider perspectives.  Expose ourselves to other cultures and different avenues of thought, reasoning, creativity, and belief.

Continue reading Tse’itsi’nako – “Thought Woman” Being Woke – Part 1

Query

So, I’m walking backwards today.  I’ve often said I do things backwards in life, in terms of my career growth, progression of tackling various challenges, both mental and physical, etc.  But today, I’m applying this to writing a post for the blog.

I usually get some type of thought bubble, stumble upon related materials and then try to link them all together.  A draft comes together.  I polish and post it.  And I enjoy, and learn from, the comments that follow.

Today, I’m going to ask for comments before I write.  Yes, the backwards approach.

Continue reading Query

Neurocognitive Scaffolding

Disclaimer:  Beware – today I dive into a more technical piece of work versus my more poetic stuff 🙂

***

I always love it when new terms of art are coined.  The coupling of words and formation of short phrases to describe something, a concept, possibly already known or possibly a new formulation.  It seems to be the perpetual motion of researchers, politicians, and wordsmiths alike, to boil a concept down into a few short syllables to describe something of monumental proportions.

Why?

Well once the label or buzzword or soundbite is created, no one has any need to reference the material supporting it, or even read and digest it for that matter.  It sort of becomes a “given.”  It is a self-explanatory definition that generally becomes universally accepted.

It is the same philosophy journalists use when they try to tell the whole story in just the headline.  Reading the story becomes superfluous, and with lowering attention spans many readers don’t make it past those headlines.

You might even compare this practice to that of our ancient ancestors drawing pictograms and petroglyphs on cave walls.  Reducing an idea to its most elementary form in an attempt to communicate.

Actually, I think images may even be more powerful than words in the sense that they convey detail that encompasses all of the senses that can cross language barriers.  Some days, I would prefer petroglyphs to the written and spoken language 😊

But, should simple or even complex phraseology be given such deference?

I’m not sure.  Such practices have the potential to oversimplify.  And in the case of journalists, many times their stories don’t match their headlines – not even close.

So where am I going with this?  Well, I stumbled upon a new term this week involving our aging brains.  “Neurocognitive Scaffolding.”

Continue reading Neurocognitive Scaffolding

Soulmass

Lately I’ve read some interesting blogs pointing out just how insignificant we, as humans, are.  And I’ve read others about just how meaningful life is.  I guess opposites attract 😊

Frankly, I’m torn, because these thought experiments bring me back to another interrelated concept and that is “purpose.”

Just what purpose are we supposed to fulfill?  Or, stated another way, why are we here?

Continue reading Soulmass

Beauty – Adaptive or Arbitrary

A number of days past, I made a post titled Wildflowers where I pondered the evolutionary adaptations of plants.  How their beauty, shape, and the perfume of their flowers attract certain pollinators to ensure the propagation of their species.

Naturally, I simply enjoy their beauty, regardless of how it came to be. 😊

Then yesterday, I stumbled upon an article discussing the theories of “adaptive adornment” versus “arbitrary beauty.”*  And I must admit, those terms are much more scientific and deliberately descriptive than my own ponderings.

It seems that Darwin had a second theory apart from natural selection – sexual selection.

Continue reading Beauty – Adaptive or Arbitrary

Forget Civility, How About Just Having an Adult Conversation?

I, like a lot of friends I know, have become a little quieter in cyberspace these days.  Why?  Because of the lack of civility in human discourse out there.   Of course, there is nothing surprising by that statement.  Anybody out there in cyberland has witnessed, or may have been a party to, a discussion that has turned drastically evil.

The evilest one I can remember was where one very confused gentleman, I use that word “gentleman” very loosely, responded to a very factual statement of mine by saying he had my ISP address and was on his way to my house to: “. . . rape your mother and kill your whole family.”  Nice guy.  Apparently, intelligence, in any measurable form, was lacking in this individual.

And such responses tend to scare people off from wanting to engage any further.  Which may have been this person’s objective.  No intelligent response, so they had to threaten me with violence.

Continue reading Forget Civility, How About Just Having an Adult Conversation?

Dragon !

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and postings on the Net lately about Millennials.  And a lot of it is very derogatory and carries an overall tone of blame.  Blame for what?  Apparently, there is a blame game now where if it looks like you’ll be delayed in reaching some of society’s dictated milestones, such as marriage, children, and owning a home, then you are defective.

In fact, people falling in this category are more than just defective.  They are downright utter failures.  And those in this generation acquiring a higher education are also called fools for racking up student loan debt.

Of course, if you visit the pages like LinkedIn, the general tone is that if you’re having difficulty achieving the American Dream, regardless of who you are but especially if you’re a Millennial, it’s because you are incompetent and lazy and simply haven’t learned to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  It’s also assumed that you do not know how to prioritize your purchasing power and always spend beyond your means.

If you were only like the commentator who walked 20 miles to school each day, uphill, both ways, and forwent buying so much as a candy bar until they could afford to buy a falling apart car with the money they earned mowing lawns and doing other odd jobs until they became a self-made . . . blah, blah, blah . . . judgmental bigot?

I find such types of gross over-generalizations to be pretty ignorant.

Continue reading Dragon !

Flame-out

It seems like the subject of divorce has hit that state of synchronicity.  I am seeing all sorts of articles popping up on the subject, and I had just written one myself.  Well, a writing friend of mine recently had an article published about not wanting to have her divorce characterized in some “Stupid, Jerkface Language.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

Continue reading Flame-out

Elsewhere

I dislike beginning another blog with a chant about being absent for a while, but there it is.  I’ve not been here.  I’ve been elsewhere.

But where is “elsewhere?”

I kind of like that word.  In fact, if I ever incorporated a township, that’s what I’d name it – Elsewhere.  And everyone would be invited to go there and take a mental vacation.  And better yet, while you were there you could conjure up any type of reality you desired.  The only limits would be the boundaries of your imagination.

Actually, I think we are all in Elsewhere every day.

Continue reading Elsewhere

Contrasts – ምዕራፍ 7 – Molecular Hysteria

I paused for a few moments to take in the panorama.  Absolutely beautiful.

I was sitting on top of a mountain pass looking down through the outstretching valley below.  Mountain ridges rose parabolically, expanding outward and then opening up to a gorgeous vista.  More mountains in the distance shrouded in a light bluish haze.  The product of wind-blown dust and the sun’s rays bending around all of those tiny particles.  Photons bouncing through a prism, the colors and shadows changing constantly with Sol’s rotation.

The undulating hills bore the tracks of water courses, washes that were bone-dry now but would rapidly fill in the monsoon rains.  Rains that would carve.  The softness of water overpowering the hardness of basalt, granite, and rhyolite.  Like a sculptor of the landscape etching images that can best be scene from this bird’s-eye view.

Volcanic remains from a once violent explosion.  The center of the caldera sinking as millions of tons of smoke, ash, and debris filled the sky, blotting out the sun until the jet stream cleared the airways.  Once molten rock now overgrown with sagebrush, Mexican feather grass, manzanita, brittle brush, turpentine brush, prickly pears, mesquite, pinyon pine, alligator juniper, and scrub oak.

A light, warm wind blows as black hawks sore at dazzling heights – eye-level now that I’m at the peak.  I speak to them and offer thanks for their company.  A roadrunner scurries across the path in front of me carrying a freshly caught spiny lizard.  Life.  Predator and prey.  A continuous cycle.

There’s no other human soul around me and I’m basking in eternal peace.  Yet there is another battle silently raging in the recesses of my mind and body.  Ever pressing its way into the forefront of my consciousness.   An insidious illness that many doctors refuse to acknowledge even though some seven million Americans are afflicted.   Symptoms growing from minute exposures.  Triggering a cascade of molecular hysteria.  The body unable to compensate.

***

I found myself rapidly getting dizzy.  My brain was becoming foggy and then the headache came.  I noticed my heart beat was irregular, sometimes slowing down, and other times speeding up.  Skipping beats.  And there was the abdominal pain and nausea.   It was difficult to navigate to find a place to rest.  My voice cracked, became hoarse, it was difficult to speak.  There was short-term memory loss, the immediate short-term, making small instant decisions difficult.

You might think I had been poisoned.  Inhaled some insecticide by accident.  Perhaps a farmer spraying crops in the distance.

Or maybe I could have spilled some rat poison or gasoline on my hands.  Drank some polluted water.  Walked through the thick smoke of a brush fire.  Breathed paint fumes in a freshly painted house or from a recently stain deck.  Or maybe it was formaldehyde or ethylene.  Gassing-off of furniture or from the upholstery and plastic dashboard of the car.

All of these factors, and more, can be triggers.  But all I had done was get dressed.

You see, clothing manufactures are spraying all types of noxious chemicals on clothes now.  To make them last longer, wear better, not catch on fire, and not smell when we sweat.  Or to kill bugs when they’re shipped.  No different than the farmer spraying the crops.

Then there are the chemical detergents the clothes were washed in.  Or the washing machine and dryer themselves.  Now contaminated with chemical residues from past loads.

Chemicals that are truly poisonous, but which most people, at least for the moment, can tolerate in small amounts.  Some of us aren’t so fortunate.  Our bodies have become overwhelmed by all the toxins and we can’t clear our systems of them any longer.  Smaller amounts begin producing bigger reactions all the time.  It’s called toxicant-induced loss of intolerance.

And there’s no escape.

It began with a reaction to chemicals used to tan and waterproof leather.  A new pair of hiking boots.  And then exploded to any clothing, soaps and detergents, sunscreens, shaving creams, etc.  Anything that may contain any type of rubber accelerator, biocidic agent, or chromate.   Foods, now saturated with pesticides and herbicides and preservatives, can trigger it.  Molds, that produce endotoxins that gas-off or are carried by their microscopic spores, once inhaled, can debilitate.

This condition goes by various names.  Multiple chemical sensitivity, environmental illness, sick building syndrome, idiopathic environmental intolerance, ecologic illness, total allergy syndrome, and the 20th Century disease.  In terms of our military veterans, this can manifest as Gulf War Syndrome or Agent Orange disability.

One of the hindrances for doctors accepting the existence of the disease is their disagreement on how to define and name it.  It also doesn’t quite fit the traditional allergen-antibody reaction.  Instead of having hives, or a runny nose, watering eyes and difficulty breathing, the reaction is nuerotoxic, like a poisoning.

Despite the AMA’s denial, there is so much information about this disease and its various manifestations that I won’t attempt to try to cover it all.  Treatment is extremely limited and primarily consists of avoidance and boosting the body’s natural ability to detoxify.  Kind of hard to avoid clothing 🙂

Some medications can lessen symptoms but there is no treatment to my knowledge that is getting to the root cause – an increasingly toxic planet caused by human occupation and alleged progress.

If you find this concept hard to wrap your mind around consider this, there are some 85,000 chemical compounds licensed by the FDA for commercial use in America.  And very few have been tested for safety.  The umbilical cord blood of infants in this country, just prior to their birth, before they have even taken their first breath, test positive for up to 287 industrial chemicals with an average of 200 per baby.  These chemicals include: polyaromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, furans, pesticides, flame retardants, industrial lubricants, plastics, consumer product ingredients, wastes from burning coal, gasoline and garbage, lead, mercury, methylmercury, perfluorochemicals (PFCs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), to name but a few.

***

So, as I hike through this paradise of nature my mind grows cloudy and my body becomes weary.  A contrast of pristine beauty flooding my senses with intoxicating images, forms and scents.  A vision that is totally energizing and invigorating, while the body betrays and is overwhelmed with fatigue.  Predator and prey . . . the continuing cycle that none of us can escape.  But perhaps our predator has become ourselves.

***

Postscript: Sometimes I believe that the Source strips away many of the material distractions in our lives to get us to focus on spiritual development.  You are compelled to pay attention to those matters of soul growth.  Our mission in life is not to work and pay bills and engage in immediate sense gratification.  There is so much more about getting to and experiencing our true essence.  I believe that this is one of those times.

Photo: Sitting on top of a mountain in the southwestern desert, gazing though the valley formed by an old volcanic caldera.

Language for “Chapter 7” in the title:   I know you’ve all noticed that I’ve been using different languages in the titles of these chapters I’ve themed as “Contrasts.”  Today’s choice was Amharic the Semitic language descended from Ge’ez that is the official language of Ethiopia.  I enjoy marveling at different languages as I explained in my post “Like.”

Prior Chapters of Contrasts:

Contrasts – Kapitel 1

Contrasts – Hoofstuk 2: Which Animals Do You Watch?

Contrasts – κεφάλαιο 3 – Cabrillo National Monument

Contrasts – Chapitre 4 – Two Museums

Contrasts– 第5章 – Wild Spaces

Contrasts – Isahluko 6 – Southwest versus Midwest

Source Materials:

Case Definitions for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

A Report on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

How many toxins is your baby getting in the womb?

Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns: Detailed Findings

What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?

Amputated Lives: Coping with Chemical Sensitivity by Alison Johnson Chapter 2 The Elusive Search for a Place to Live

Chemical Sensitivity Foundation Research Bibliography

Seminar explores multiple chemical sensitivities topic

Fragrance-Free Workplaces

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Link Rot: As always, I cannot predict how long a hyperlink on the Net will hang around.  They tend to disappear over time or be hijacked to other sites, but they were current at the time I referenced them.

If My Memory Serves Me

“White Crane Spreads Its Wings.”  “Repulsing the Monkey.”  “Grasping the Bird’s Tale.”

These phrases, in isolation, might give you a laugh, but if you’re familiar with Tai Chi, you’ll recognize these names right off as they refer to particular forms or moments that can be part of several different Tai Chi routines.  The words help construct an image of the movement that is not only descriptive but that helps you to memorize the parts of the form for practice.

In a multi-form routine, these word images help my poor brain remember what it’s supposed to do, and after a while, since this memory involves movement it can be incorporated into what’s called “non-declarative memory,” which requires no conscious awareness.

And thus, we have moving meditation 🙂

***

So, I’m back to studying about how our brains work and this time I’m reading about short-term memory.  Memory is kind of important for without it we might have died off as a species.

We learned that fire was great for preventing us from freezing to death and wonderful for cooking our food, but not so great if directly applied to our bodies.  We learned which berries were and weren’t poisonous, and how to hunt bison and mammoths without getting killed – probably by watching someone else die.  But then we remembered, passed the information on, and managed to propagate the species.

Although we might wonder a bit about the new wave of “flat-earthers.”

And I know the scientific community goes a little overboard with dissecting and labeling everything but here goes.

It seems we have two types of short-term memory, declarative, like being able to regurgitate specific facts like “sharks swim in the ocean,” and non-declarative, which is like the motor skills we use to ride a bike.  Declarative memory involves “effortful processing” or a lot of repetition.  Non-declarative memory does not require conscious awareness and is sort of automatic.  If we were asked, we probably wouldn’t list out every detailed step that goes along with riding a bike.   We just go through those motions once the brain locks on and our feet are on the pedals, and we use a simple phrase to embody all of those movements.

There are four steps involved in short term memory.  Encoding, storage, retrieval, and forgetting.  Encoding is defined as the conversion of external sources of energy into electrical patterns the brain can understand.  There are three types of encoding:

Semantic encoding – definitions,

Phonemic encoding – comparison of sounds – rhyming, and

Structural encoding – visual inspection of shapes.

The myriad of signals we receive from different sensory sources are registered in separate brain areas.  It’s a fragmented experience, called the “blender effect.”  There is no central storage or hard drive.  Parts of a single event are scattered and stored all over the cerebral cortex.  And a memory trace will lead you to the same parts of the brain where we originally processed the information.

The total number of brain changes to record an event or information is called an engram, and then comes the “binding problem” – how do we bring all of that sensory data back together from the various spots on the cerebral cortex where they were stashed to compose a complete memory?

While it’s counter-intuitive, it turns out, the more elaborately we encode, the more details and complexity surrounding the event, the better our retrieval of that memory.

Retrieval is also enhanced if we replicate the conditions where we experienced the event or came upon the data.  So, if I learned that sharks swim in the ocean while I’m swimming in the ocean, I will remember this bit of information best when I’m back swimming in the ocean.  How convenient.

It also seems that regardless of the setting where we encounter information, the majority of our forgetting will occur within the fist couple of hours that follows.  People usually forget 90% of what they’ve learned within 30 days of the learning experience.  Apparently, we discard what we don’t use quite quickly.

I know, I’ve forgotten much more over the years than I know right now 🙂

Spaced learning is more effective than massed learning and the more repetition cycles we have, the greater chance we’ll convert something to long-term memory.   Tai Chi again provides a great example because we are taught each form separately and then add that to the entire routine, which we then repeat and continually refine.

And something I mentioned before in the post Boring, teaching is more effective if it includes meaningful examples and experiences and emotion.  Real world situations familiar to the learner.  The more personal the example, the better the encoding because we are adapted to “pattern matching” the new information with what we’ve learned before.

So why am I writing about this today?  Because of the fascinating way we’re able to communicate and tell stories, of course.  When I tell a story I want to transmit my memory to you, the reader.  I use as many descriptive terms as I can think of to relay an experience – what I saw and heard, how something smelled, felt and tasted.  How objects sat in space in relation to where I stood or traveled.

We’re able to communicate because of that pattern matching principle.  I relate an experience to you and hope you’ve had enough similar experiences and gathered enough sensory data to “get it.”

Such is the challenge and art of writing.  If we can paint an image that others can see, detail the scent of a flower that the reader can smell, have someone salivating over a recipe or bracing for an explosive sound, or transmit the feel of the smooth, silky skin of another as we describe caressing their face, then we’ve succeeded.

A lofty goal.

And hopefully the experiences we relate will be as memorable to our readers as they were to us.

***

Photo: This is one of my daughter’s dogs, Harper.  He was over for a visit when I snapped this pic.  I etched out the bare patterns with the photo editor creating what I call the “Ghost Dog.”  Its an image descriptive of short-term memories.  We can hold onto basic concepts and sensations, but over time they may fade into the less distinct and more nebulous 🙂

Source: I used the book Brain Rules by John Medina as my source for this post.  Other posts of mine discussing the workings of our brains include:

Move Your Body, Move Your Mind

Writing to Survive

Wired

Boring

and,

Bailer’s Point