Tuesday, January 17, 2017

All STATES Matter!

    If you want to piss someone off simply tell them: "You don't matter!"   Instantly you will have a fight on your hands.  We saw this when the whole "Black Lives Matter" movement came out and was met with "All Lives Matter" as a response.  Later this was followed with "Blue Lives Matter".  We all want to MATTER.  We all want to be heard and listened to and our needs met.

    The purpose of the Electoral College is very simple: To preserve the UNION.  We are the the United STATES of America and not the United Peoples of America.  That is really what is at issue here.   The states elect the President and not the PEOPLE.   The States created the Federal Government by coming together and writing the Constitution and ratifying it in their state legislatures back in 1791.   Our Constitution is about preserving our UNION of STATES pure and simple.  Our founding father recognized that not all our states are the same.   Some are more rural and some are more urban in nature.  They each have unique needs and wants that need to be balanced.   They saw the growth of the urban states.  They knew that the urban states would have a majority vote over the rural states without any care of their needs.  If left unchecked, this would eventually lead to civil war and a dissolving of our union.  In a sense, it's purpose to say to the Federal government: ALL STATES MATTER!

    To illustrate this, imagine family of five: a mother, a father, two boys and girl.  Imagine that to make decisions in the family they use a purely democratic system of voting.   It is a true statement that women have unique needs and wants that are many times different from that of men.   Let's say in our hypothetical family,  they want to decide where to go on vacation.  The males may want to go camping and fishing whereas the females may want to go to the city and see museums.   In their democratic system, the males would always out vote the females and get their way.   Year after year the women would be subjected to camping outdoors and smelly fish.  Other decisions as well during the year would not go their way.  Where they eat, what they do, what movies they see, what TV shows they watch etc would all be ruled by the men because they are in the MAJORITY.   Our Founding Fathers referred to this as the "tyranny of the majority".   The majority isn't always right and shouldn't always get their way.    In our family example, it would be better for the sake of harmony (and to prevent divorce) that the men give up their majority rights and do what the women in the family want to do.    It too is about preserving the UNION.  The union of the family in this case.

    Our country is much like this family in that the majority is not always right. All voices, like those of the rural states need to be listened to as much as those of the large urban communities.   Just like the men in the our family example aren't always right and it wouldn't hurt them to go to the city and see some museums from time to time.  So also, our country needs to listen to the right and do things their way from time to time.   It's all about preserving our UNION of STATES so we don't resort to separation because a large group of states no longer matters anymore.   Just look at the state of California.   While they are talking about seceding from the union (over an election), at the same time several northern counties in their own state are talking about seceding from the state of California to become their own state because they no longer matter either.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

I don't care about YOUR children

  Heartless?

  Jerk?

  Asshole?

      Are these words that flow through your mind when you read this title?  How can someone be so hard of heart to say they don't care about my kids?  There in lies the answer to that question.  I don't care about YOUR kids, but I care COMPLETELY about MY kids.  We have been sold this idea in our country that everyone must be involved in the raising of your children.  As Hillary Clinton likes to say,
It takes a village to raise a child

      This is an often quoted, but un-validated and un-substantiated African proverb.  The issues I have with this proverb are:

  1. We don't live in Africa
  2. It's not in line with my Christian beliefs.

        The first issue is pretty straight-forward.  Just because it comes out of some famine-ridden dirt-poor country, doesn't mean its truth or that we should do it here in America.  The second issue is of even more importance than the first.   No where in the Bible can we locate a proverb or commandment of God that is in line with the meaning of this African proverb.  In Judaeo-Christian faiths, the family is the central atomic structure of society.  So much so, it has its own commandment issued by God:
Honor your father and your mother that it may be well with you and you might have long life on the earth.
     Note, that this verse says nothing of children beyond the family unit.  It doesn't call for children of every town and nation to be loved and cared for.  It strictly holds mothers and fathers to take care of their own children.   In fact, the only 2 groups mentioned in the Bible that we are instructed to "look out for" are:

  1. Widows
  2. Orphans

     These two groups have one common attribute: neither has a family unit to watch after them.  When you think about it, this system is much better than the African village-system, because

  1. No one slips through the cracks
  2. Children are protected by those who are most strongly emotionally connected to them

      All to often we hear cases of people "slipping through the cracks" (usually with regard to government agencies).   These cracks are actually more like Grand Canyon chasms  than sidewalk cracks but we minimize them by calling them cracks.  They exist because one person "assumes" that another person will be picking up their slack.  Like 2 football cornerbacks/safety's missing the coverage of a pass because they assumed the other player had that receiver covered.  Likewise, cracks in the "village-system" are too often the case because one villager thinks the other villager will be there to watch out for that child.  For example, a 3rd grade teacher thinks that the 4th grade teacher will fix the missing pieces in the child's education but the 4th grade teacher thinks its already been gone over.   OOOPS! I guess we missed that one!   So the story goes on....

      Raising children is best done by those who love and care for them the most.  If my time is taken away to care for your child, then who will be there for my child when they need someone?   It is better that I focus my love and attention on my children and you do the same for your child.  In this way no one gets forgotten and every child gets the MAXIMUM amount of love and attention it needs.  Consider the case where we have 5 parents watching after 5 children and dedicating one hour each to each child each week.   On paper it seems each child will get 5 full hours of attention from over all, but in actuality the hours spent from parents not emotionally connected to them will not be equivalent to those that are connected.  Both the parent giving their time and the child receiving will be less than maximum than those who are related.  This means the 5 hours each child receives will be more like 2 or 3 hours each (who knows some parents might even be willing to let the kid play video games the whole time so they can catch up on their email or social media).   The system where each parent dedicates their 5 hours to their children will have the maximum possible impact for those children as there is a physical relationship between them promoting them to both give and receive the time they have together.

     Some would argue that some children today are so badly raised they are for all practical purposes the same as "orphans" and therefore should be cared for by others or society.  To me, this is all semantics meant to garner support for a welfare system rather than care for the children it espouses to care of.  Again, my view is not some cold heartless robot, but instead of force society's families to take a serious look at their responsibilities rather than shirk them and think someone else will step in for them.  Maybe women will take a longer look at the person they are about to have sex with and consider this persons willingness and ability to truly "father" a child instead of just act as a sperm donor.  Maybe then people will stop looking to the non-existing "village" to care for their children and begin to take their own responsibility instead.

         Let's face it!  Most governmental bureaucratic agencies have very little or concern for our children.  They are merely a case number to be passed on from one agency to the next.  Children are however useful to them in one area:  tax revenue.  All the time when we hear of new tax proposals to pay for education, healthcare, cleaner water, better roads or any other initiative, out come the commercials showing countless faces of children either smiling or crying depending on what emotion they want to extract from the voter.     But that was not the first time children were used in this way.  Genghis Khan ran over most of Europe by having European children running in front of his horses as they attacked another European village. This tactic was effective because armies opposing them were unlikely to send a volley of arrows at them to hold them off from great distances for fear of killing the children.   This tactic is used today, not by butchers like Khan, but instead by so-called welling-meaning socialists who want to disarm you emotionally from fighting their endless onslaught of laws, regulations and new taxes.

The only answer to give these marauders is to call their bluff and tell them,

 "I only care about my children and I hope you will do the same for yours as well".   

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dopamine addiction is real

   Dopamine is a very important neurotransmitter compound in the brain.  It is the brain's "feel good" compound that gives us our natural "high" when something good happens to us.   It re-enforces our desire to repeat an action or activity that we perceive as good for us.   We don't often think about what internally drives us to do the things we do.   We like to think we give money to various charities because we are inherently "good people" but how much of it is from our own brains internal desire to get another shot of dopamine?

   We look down our noses at drug addicts for their weakness to turn away from dangerous chemicals but when it gets down to it, in some sense we are all drug addicts.  Dopamine is such a strong chemical that few of us can say no to its lure.   What is worse, we don't even know that we are addicted to it.   No needle needs to be injected.  No pill swallowed.   No bottle to drink.   Nothing needs to be snorted, or inhaled.   It's always available.  It's always in store and ready to be consumed.  All that is needed is the proper stimulus to activate it and the list of activators is almost endless:
  • Shopping
  • Exercising
  • Skydiving 
  • Mountain climbing
  • Tricks on skateboards
  • Racing cars
  • Riding motorcycles
  • Getting good grades at school
  • Getting promotions at work
  • Eating
    • Sugars
    • Carbs
  • Doing charity work
  • Social media
    • submitting pictures to Instagram
    • posting on Facebook
    • tweeting on Twitter
    • blogging on YouTube
  • Cleaning the house
  • Organizing
  • etc. etc. etc.
   Dopamine is important.  It's what allows us to get good at various activities.  Let's face it.  We all have to start somewhere and usually it's at the bottom.  In order to get better at anything we need to repeat it over and over again.   But unless there is some internal "reward system" it's very difficult to find the energy to repeat a process.   Small rewards act as that reward system and encourage us to try again and again.

   The school system has long been the biggest source of dopamine pushers.  From little on, we were given bright GOLD STARS on our little works of art or assignments to reward us for our effort.   Seeing those gold stars on our paper would give us our first push of dopamine into our little 5 year old brains and BAM!! We were hooked.  We would do anything to get another one of those gold stars or see our name listed on a bulletin board for high achievement or honors.   Even if he we ourselves were not the recipient of the reward it would many times flow down to us as well.   I can still remember seeing my brother Jim who was 4 years older than me graduate from high school with a gold cord hanging over his shoulders for "Honor Roll".   I was going to be a freshmen the next year and thought to myself "If Jim can be Honor Roll then I know I can be too!"  I put a plan into place the next year to prove I could do it (before I was just a A/B student).   Four years later I walked down the aisle with the same gold cord over my shoulders and surpassing my brother with a 4.0 (he only had a 3.93).  That was probably my biggest push of dopamine I had ever experienced.

    Dopamine rules the world.  It's what drives us to build bigger, faster, stronger, cheaper, better.  It drives businessmen to expand their businesses.  It drives the wealthy to become wealthier.  It drives the Philanthropist to give away even more.  It drives the worker to work even harder.  It drives the athlete to play harder and practice more.  It drives the actor to take on more challenging roles.  It drives the musician to go on the road and perform on stage in front of thousands.

   But it also has it's downside as not every dopamine activator is beneficial over the long term.  Take for example the most common activator today:  Social Media.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pintrest are all built around a common theme.  Feedback.   Whether it's a re-post, re-tweet, a "like" or a comment, it all serves the same purpose: to give the user a dopamine shot.  How many of us post a comment or picture on Facebook and await our friends replies and comments.  We sit there anxiously waiting for their hopefully "positive" replies.   We might even hold off on a post in the evening because we know most of our friends might be asleep and not see it.   Like the old philosophical question goes: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sounds?  So likewise, if I make a great post and no one sees it, does it matter?   I think we are not so much interested in changing the world as we are in getting our little daily/hourly/minute injection of dopamine.  If we are so lucky to have a comment go viral or at least go into the double/triple digits we may be high for the rest of the day or week as we achieved a new level of gold stars.  Also, heaven forbid, if we get a "negative comment" we become like a heroin addict who must fight back against those are threatening to take away their drugs.   We unleash on these poor bastards all the furry of hell who dare to challenge our view and our source of self-pleasure and self-worth.

   Another problem I think social-media has also had on our world is that it allows people to escape from the problems in their life.   Remember the list of things I said dopamine drives us to do?   Build bigger, faster ... work harder?  What if I am already getting all the dopamine I need through social-media?   What if my life is full enough by getting re-tweeted or "liked"?   Do I need to work hard at work?   Do I need to get promoted?   Do I need to hear praise from my boss or co-worker?  Maybe not.   Some people have labelled Millennials as "lazy".   I really don't think that is the case at all.   I think that, for many, they are getting their dopamine from social-media and so their brain's need for more dopamine is all tapped out.  At the same time, social-media can serve as surrogate supplier in bad times as well.  For example, in previous generations if you didn't get a great review from your boss you would work hard to fix it the next year to get a better review (a gold star).  But today, many can retreat their their other world of social media to pump them up and restore their lost dopamine supply.   The problem with this alternate source of dopamine, however, is that it's not a longer term supplier of what we need as a society.  Tweets or Posts, for the most of us, are not going to pay for a house, raise a family or provide a retirement income.  Escapism, whether with drugs, alcohol or social media, never works out in the end.

   As with any drug, it's the misuse of the drug that leads to problems rather than the what the drug is trying to do.   Pain killers, for example, are meant to dampen the pain receptors.  In the right context they allow the body to relax and the area that is causing the pain (maybe post surgery stitches) to heal. The problem becomes when the person only feels normal when they are taking the pain medicine and do other terrible things to fill that addition such as: lying to doctors, embezzlement, robbery and even murder. Likewise, dopamine addiction too causes the user to do things that are harmful to them or others.   The skydiver must take riskier jumps.   The sugar addict becomes obese.  The work addict ignores their family needs.   The social-media addict spends much of their time re-checking their account to check for responses and thinking of better ways to increase their positive feedback.  The texting addict drives with their knees on the steering wheel or with one hand firmly on the phone and their vision down and away from the on coming traffic unaware they have slowly drifted into the opposite lane. In all of these cases dopamine addiction was the root cause for their destruction.

   So next time you post another Facebook comment or tweet another snarky comment on Twitter, or sending another funny text message to a friend, maybe you should first ask yourself this:
Am I a dopamine addict?