Category Archives: Philosophy

Astrology and the Cycles of Time

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Sample natal horoscopes, from “The Circle Book of Charts,” compiled by Stephen Erlewine, 1972

On Monday, November 11, the planet Mercury will pass in front of the sun, beginning at 7:35 AM EST and lasting five-and-a-half hours.  It will be visible during daylight hours throughout the Americas and seen as a small dot on the sun’s surface, with viewing through solar-filtered telescopes and binoculars recommended.*

Meanwhile, the October 28, 2019 issue of The New Yorker magazine includes an article about the resurgence of interest in astrology.  Titled “Starstruck:  Why we’re crazy for astrology,” by Christine Smallwood, the article claims that interest in this ancient discipline petered out after the 1970s but has made a comeback in recent years, especially among millennials. The current trend employs all the panache of modern technology, from pod-casts to computer apps and on-line chat rooms.  There are on-line classes.  There are zodiac-themed products like clothes and lingerie.  It has become a booming business, complete with all the glitz of modern commercialization.

The astrologers interviewed in the article highlight astrology’s ability to describe character in non-judgmental terms.  They downplay predictions, and emphasize timing.  In short, it appears that this new appreciation reaches a deeper level than I remember from the 1970s and 1980s.

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Ephemeris tables of planetary positions for November and December, 2019, “The American Ephemeris for the 21st Century,” Neil F. Michelsen, 1992

I have studied astrology for over 35 years, and still keep an ephemeris (a table of planetary movements) beside my reading chair.  I still have the tape recording from my introductory horoscope reading.  I was so impressed with the astrologer’s ability to “see my soul,” that I bought the classic beginner’s guide, Isabel Hickey’s Astrology: a Cosmic Science, that day.  For several years, I was possibly obsessed and collected two full notebooks of horoscopes on everyone I met.  I joined the American Federation of Astrologers, attended conferences, hobnobbed with other astrologers, and shared the language, which sounds like a secret code to the uninitiated.

I soon learned to downplay my interest, and finally, not to mention it, because people were simply not interested, scornful, or even threatened.  But I found the astrological approach consistently provides a comprehensive framework for understanding human character.  My natal chart highlighted potentials that soon prompted me to take the science pre-requisites to enter, then attend, medical school.  I followed up with a psychiatry residency but was astonished to learn that astrology far surpassed psychiatry in its grasp of the totality of the human psyche.

Fundamentally, psychiatry—and possibly all Western medicine—focuses only on the negative, on abnormalities, disorders, or illnesses.  Astrology offers balance.

There are many ideas about whether, why, or how astrology works.  After all these years, I’m still skeptical, even though it has greatly contributed to my philosophy of life.  In the early days, I felt in touch with the ages, knowing I was studying a system that in one form or another has evolved over 6000 years (at least), in every known culture.  It corresponds to the “archetypes” that Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung described.  Jung himself was a student of astrology and alchemy, for their spiritual aspects.

Fundamentally, it is based on geometry and is the parent of astronomy.  Long before we had religions or governments, we had the sun, moon, and stars.  Early man looked to the heavenly bodies for guidance and learned to predict the coming of the seasons by the gradual lengthening and shortening of days.  The moon’s cycles, too, became associated with certain kinds of earthly events.  Over time, and over cultures, the visible planets (“planet” means “wanderer”) were noted to move against a background of stars that formed patterns of constellations in a ring around the earth.  In Western astrology, some of these patterns became the twelve constellations of the zodiac.

It’s important to note that a horoscope is completely impersonal in that it is a symbolic map of of the skies as seen at a specific moment in a specific place.  That’s why an astrologer can cast a horoscope for anything, such as the time a question is asked (horary astrology), the signing of a contract, or the birth of a nation.  The natal horoscope, then, pinpoints a time and place, and an individual’s birth is an event that occurs then and there.  The individual then embodies all the potential of the moment.  As the child grows, the moment becomes personified through the individual’s experiences, choices, and reactions.

Given that we are, so far, earthbound beings, it’s understandable that astrology would take a geocentric perspective.  At birth, the individual is stamped with the cosmic pattern of that time and place.  I like to think in terms of electromagnetic frequencies, with each planet (as well as the sun and moon) having its own electromagnetic character.  As they move through time in their various cycles, and with respect to each other, the patterns change, as with a kaleidoscope, and either influence or reflect the meaning behind happenings in an individual’s life.

To understand the concept behind astrology, it’s convenient to think of a natal horoscope as a coded depiction of that person’s life drama.  The individual is the star of her own play.  In Western astrology, the planets–with the personalities of the Roman gods for which they are named–are the supporting actors; the signs are the filters or lights that they operate through; and the houses the props and stage.

As the sun, moon, and planets continue their cycles through a person’s life, they make angles (called “aspects”) to their natal positions, with each moving at its own pace.

Common questions about astrology have to do with whether it is presumed to “control” people’s lives.  My answer is a different question.  “Does the clock control your life?”  No, but it makes sense to go to the grocery store when it is open, if you want to buy food.

“Shouldn’t a life be timed from the moment of conception?” is another common question.  I respond that until birth, by whatever means, an infant is shielded from external cosmic influences by its mother’s protective vibrational field.

I once asked a fellow astrologer what she valued most about the study of astrology.  “Tolerance,” she said.  I had reached the same understanding on my own, and I still find that to be the case.  There are no “good” or “bad” moments, and each moment is unique in its opportunities and challenges.  Considering the infinite possibilities inherent under the cosmic clock that astrology reveals, the potential to deepen and bring that moment to fruition in a “meaningful” life becomes a horoscope’s greatest gift and challenge.

*For the astrologically literate, on November 11, Mercury will be retrograde and conjunct the sun at 18-19 degrees of Scorpio.  This conjunction will square my natal Mercury in Leo from 2nd to 9th houses, perhaps inspiring this blog post.**

**Added November 13, 2019:  Haha.  The joke’s on me.  I was doing something else when I suddenly realized the conjunction noted above occurred in Scorpio, not Sagittarius, thus squaring my natal Mercury in Leo and triggering my grand square in fixed signs.  The full moon in Taurus on the next day (November 12) was involved, too, with the moon conjunct my natal Jupiter at 19 degrees Taurus that day.   This is an embarrassing error, but is consistent with other features of my horoscope that indicate public embarrassment.  It challenges me to admit error, and apologize to anyone I might have led astray.

 

Adventures in Living: Mr. Trumplikin

Thursday, October 3, 2019—At Starbucks yesterday, I sat next to a 60ish age white blowhard, a “Trumplikin” who exuded anger through all his pores.  He started by telling me how the Dems had fixated on yet another bogus issue with which to crucify Trump.  In an hour-plus rant, he regurgitated TV issues, but with the Trump camp’s slant.  He raged over the wall, Kavanaugh, China’s “theft” of intellectual property, the Confederate statues, Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and probably other things that I’ve forgotten.  Oh.  Capital punishment:  kill them fast and make it hurt a little.

He is in manufacturing, has been to China twelve times.  His company makes hydrophilic sponges, I think he said, such as for applying make-up.  I guess the Chinese government restrains waste of chemicals, for instance, by making companies account for everything they use and taxing heavily their excesses.  It was hard to get a clear picture of what he meant, but it sounded like that system works differently (and perhaps better) than the EPA.  He thinks it’s fine that Chinese workers live in dormitories, work 18 hours/day, six days a week for $1/hour.  It saves so much money that it’s worth it to ship the product across the world for sale.  He could not understand that US employers in the US might want to hire illegals here, since that way they can also pay low wages without responsibility.  The only difference is that the Chinese government allows these manufacturers to do it legally.

No one but me sees a middle ground.  I wouldn’t want to be an employer in the US or China, because both exploit their citizens, but in different ways.  I’m surprised at all the costs government imposes—both regulatory and actual—on employers here.  The GM strike, which involves 45,000 workers, is for faster wage increases for new hires, better health care benefits, and to keep some plants open that are slated for closure.  This in the face of declining sales worldwide.

Never mind that I think the industry itself is too big.  “That’s capitalism,” the saying goes.  In the current definition of “capitalism” the do-nothings profit from others’ toil, so I don’t blame the toilers for resenting it.

Mr. Trumplikin can rant at Starbucks, but I rant in my journal.  The system itself creates people like him, so there is no reasoning with him about justice and fair play.  When he claimed he has nothing against immigrants, just go through the proper channels, and I suggested even US citizens are living under bridges and in the streets, so there’s no intrinsic advantage to being a citizen, his response was something to the effect of “create jobs.”  This from a man whose company moved to China to exploit labor, because they can’t do it here and churn stock on Wall Street at the same time.  Oh . . . and we don’t approve of athletes who beat their wives and other women.  Nor do we approve of actresses who bribe college officials to admit their children on athletic scholarships.

I contributed nothing to this monologue, except an occasional “Er . . .” or “But . . .” and allowed Mr. Trumplikin to exorcise his demons, as I monitored my internal blood pressure gauge and tried to deflect the negativity.  He doesn’t like the federal government but didn’t go into specifics.  He agreed with me that (other) Americans are too intolerant.  He thinks video games and social media are responsible for mass shootings.  He conceded the media focus encourages would-be shooters with the fantasy of instant fame.  He conceded that the controversy over Trump is stimulating conversation about politics like never before, even though he thinks Trump should desist from overuse of Twitter.  But Trump says what he thinks, by golly.  You know where he stands.

I left wondering how to reason with people like that.  He has no insight into how heavily he is influenced by the mind control exerted through television, yet he also ranted about “fake news.”

Mr. Trumplikin’s intolerance stands at the opposite pole from my brother-in-law’s intolerance, yet they together personify the “polarization” the media exacerbates by emphasizing and lamenting it.  Last night, S. said he watched three hours or so of the House of Representative’s “discussion” about impeachment.  S. watches Trump’s long speeches (two hours) and I should  too.  That way, I can pick the best candidate in elections.  I said I prefer a two-minute summary, that my opinion doesn’t matter to them.  They are going to do what they are going to do.  My perpetual “None of the above” is never on the ballot, so it translates into my not wasting time at the voting booth.  S. gives the standard response that if I don’t vote, I have no right to complain.  I said I no longer complain, and I don’t.  Complaining does no more good than voting.

Best to do “Process Commentary,” as my blog claims and as I was trained to do as a group therapist.  The process behind the intolerance intrigues me.  I relate intolerance to insecurity, the self-doubt that comes with ambivalence over beliefs.

Both Mr. Trumplikin and my brother-in-law believe in government over the people, just as many people believe in organized religion.  They need that structure to feel safe, the reassurance that someone or something more powerful than the individual cares and is acting in their best interests.  They presume the focus is on the “higher good,” but they are willing to overlook the fact that a different set of rules apply to the “out group,” as Joseph Campbell might claim.  Exploiting Chinese workers is okay, but it’s not okay to exploit illegals in the US.  They should go back to Guatemala to be exploited.  It’s harder to exploit US citizens, so we leave them under bridges and take our jobs to China.

Mr. Trumplikin insisted everything comes down to money.  It’s so trite, yet if everyone believes it, and the system itself is predicated on commerce, money becomes its heart and soul.  This leads to my single biggest contention with the system’s claim to legitimacy.

Vitality and Human Capital

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“Evening in Karl Johan Street,” Edvard Munch, 1892

It is sometimes said that money is a form of energy, but it may be more appropriate to suggest that money is a symbol of vitality, or life energy.  In theory, this is the “means of production” that Karl Marx said defines capitalism.

“Capitalism” has become a sinister term in some circles, but I wonder if the term has been commandeered not by the individuals who provide the vital force that keeps “the economy” functional, but by the aggregators of human capital under institutional umbrellas.

Some claim Adam Smith, who wrote The Wealth of Nations in 1776, is the “father of modern capitalism,” but Smith never mentions the word “capitalism” in his book.  He refers a lot to “capital” and to “stocks,” without defining either term.  For a lay reader, The Wealth of Nations is tedious reading, and it comes across as a tax collector’s bible.  Smith states up front that “the late war,” which he never pinpoints, but is probably the Seven-Years War (the French and Indian War in North America) was exceedingly expensive, and the UK went into a lot of debt to pay for it.  The Wealth of Nations, which supposedly supported “free trade” also supported military protection of UK commercial interests in foreign ports and foreign trade, because it was easier to tax.  “The colonies” were great sources of raw materials, and because Britain had a monopoly on trade with its colonies, it and British investors could buy tobacco and lumber, for instance, and sell at a huge profit.  Smith tells us that growing tobacco in France was illegal, because it was too hard to tax domestic products.

Another striking feature of Smith’s book was that it was so cold-blooded regarding the value of labor.  Labor should be paid enough to raise four children, because statistically, two die before reaching majority, and the parents need to replace themselves. Rents should be as high as the tenant can afford.  Farmers are lazy because they do a variety of different things, whereas factory workers do the same thing all day and are more efficient.  He refers to the “idle” without defining them, but when he says the “idle” will spend gold to buy exotic birds and fish from remote lands, where bank-issued currency is not accepted, it becomes clear that the “idle” are rich rather than poor, and possibly associated with the court and the aristocracy.   He also noted government jobs are greatly coveted, because of the security and “perks” they provide.

It is therefore not surprising that Smith’s book was so popular that its author was appointed Customs Commissioner of Edinburgh after it was published.

When Karl Marx defined “capitalism,” as the “ownership” of the “means of production,” he didn’t specify what the “means of production” was.  It was assumed to be the machines or the land from which salable items were produced.  But nothing is produced without human effort, which leads to the idea that the “means” is the human labor itself.   “Ownership” thereof is either explicit, as in slavery, or implied, as in employment by the aggregator of human capital under a larger umbrella.

The intrinsic value of human capital has never been fully appreciated.  Both Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman mentioned human capital, but neither took the idea far enough to assert that only individuals can be “capitalists” in the purest sense of the word.  Human beings, by their individual efforts provide the means, through the application of their vitality, to produce commercial goods.  This is what translates into money, the tangible result of the applied effort.

This may sound like a petty point, but it has far-reaching ramifications.  In the United States, it is said that all taxes ultimately fall on the individual.  This means that the individual in this country is supporting taxes imposed by federal, state, county, and sometimes city governments, and is expected to obey laws enacted by all four levels of government.

The system is a hierarchical, patriarchal one of “government over the people” that was set up intentionally by an elite group of landowners, lawyers, businessmen, bankers, and other conspirators who met in secret, locked in a room in Philadelphia for three months, drafted the US Constitution, and by-passed state legislatures to have it ratified by special assemblies.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who are considered among the “founding fathers,” were both out of the country at the time.  Thomas Jefferson was appointed Secretary of State and approved by the Senate without his knowledge or consent.

Alexander Hamilton, who was an ideological protégé of Adam Smith and a British subject, was New York’s only standing delegate to what became known as the Constitutional Convention.  Suffice to say that he had a heavy hand in the drafting, forming strong alliances with George Washington and James Madison, and was probably instrumental in insuring certain provisions, including federal control of all “economic narrows,” such as roads, waterways, the postal service, coastlines, money, patents and copyrights.  Ultimately, the Constitution is an economic document that assumes all taxpayers are federal government property.  Undoubtedly, Hamilton made sure the federal government could assume debt, because as Treasury Secretary later, he pushed through the first tariff, the Hamilton Tariff Act of 1789, and the whiskey tax in 1791.  The whiskey tax was in advance of his creating the first US central bank.  Stock shares in this bank and the Bank of New York, which Hamilton had previously started, were among the first stocks traded in what would become the New York Stock Exchange.

So all the hype US citizens and taxpayers have been sold all these years about “freedom” and “democracy,” and “capitalism” and all the noble values people assume the “founders” intended, are the result of masterful marketing, a talent now well developed by New York’s Madison Avenue.  The bottom line is the US is and always has been an economic machine in the tradition of British imperialism.

So this “government-over-the-people” mentality has been carefully cultivated over the US’ 245 year history, based on this implicit notion that everyone must work to support “the economy,” which is an amalgamation of the federal bureaucracy in Washington DC, Wall Street, the bankers—and of course the military– but it is a perverse, upside down system that is now collapsing from its own weight.

The undervalued human capital that has been conscripted and seduced into this arrangement is catching on, resentful and angry at the betrayal of those whose version of “protection” translates into higher and more painful costs and increasing restriction of individual freedom.  The hoi polloi are not “rising up,” as the revolutionaries might wish.  Instead, they are “beaten down,” giving up, flunking out, doing drugs, both legal and illegal, going bankrupt, committing suicide in shockingly increasing rates, getting sick and tired of the stresses and strains in living in such a “wealthy” society.

While the nation and world are increasingly “de-vitalized” by the expectations and hoops that the “ruling class” have set for them, the human capital that churns the wheel is getting crushed under it.

The idea of  “capitalism” has been twisted and perverted into its opposite by those who would enslave the “human capital,” the vital life forces that provide not only the “means” of production but are also the purchasers of the goods produced.

The healthiest and most vital people may or may not have money, but they excel at self-determination because they only answer to the wealth between their ears.   These are the “capitalists” we can respect and emulate.

 

 

“Us” vs. “Them”

The simple concerns of life are beneath the notice of the detached overlords of “the ruling class,” who look to stock market indicators to determine economic “health.”  In their marketing campaign for the “Rah Rah Money Talks” agenda, they aggressively promote money as the solution for all evils, including (presumably) rooster sinus infections.  There’s probably a patented pill for it.

Pardon my sarcasm, or is it the natural consequence of following this irrational chain of made-for-television reasoning to its obvious (but not logical) conclusions?

It’s popular lately to blame the “them”s like “oligarchs” and “white supremacists” for all society’s ills.  The “us,” meaning everybody except me—who exists in my own “them” dimension—still are willing to play by the oligarchs’ rules of government and the stock market, and look to the government to impose ever more rules to control everybody under the pretext of controlling the other “them”s like the “white supremacists.”

I wonder if the “white supremacists”–who are identified by their fondness for military assault weapons–are derived from the oligarchical, rule-bound, framework.  This human drama must contain counter-forces, to prop up the “us” vs. “them” mass mentality.

The above is a convoluted way of suggesting that the system itself makes the counter-system necessary.  It strikes me that historically, the world’s most despotic rulers had the backing of a loyal military.  The world’s richest people did not fight the wars themselves, but profited mightily from them.   Who benefits from US wars—or any war or military intervention—now?  Certainly the ravages of war are visited on those on whose turf the battles are waged, the civilians, their families and the fighters and families, too.  The spoilers may rest with their ill-gotten gains but live in fear of the “them”s who have not been eliminated or disempowered and are looking for revenge.

That’s why despots are deservedly paranoid and depend on the loyalty of a strong military and purchased friendship.  They need presumed adversaries like mass murderers and drug lords to justify their ever tighter grip on the society that will not be completely controlled by rules.

If I went into psychiatry to set people free, I have been disappointed, in the short term.  I have seen close up how frightened individuals are of the implications of freedom, which begins with freedom of thought.  To define “freedom” of thought possibly begins with saying what it is not.  It is not merely rebellion, reaction to the status quo, to conventional beliefs or rules.  It does start with conscious examination of those conventions and determining whether they serve the greater whole.

What’s the “greater whole”?  For me that includes the “us” and the “them,” as well as the hitherto unacknowledged non-human life forms on the planet.  To recognize we are all counterparts enmeshed in this drama we call life means having the mental flexibility to imagine oneself in the place of the “them”s and trying to understand what motivates their activity.  There’s obviously a place for the oligarchs and the mass shooters, or they wouldn’t exist.  If we don’t like it, we need to free our thought from conventional beliefs and search for new ways to reform.  Delegated power is fickle and must be recognized as such.  When you delegate power, you will always be disappointed.

Freedom of thought means claiming responsibility for it but also having tolerance for others’ thought, even encouraging it, because it provides a larger area of understanding and perspective.  The push for homogeneity, unity, conformity—what is considered “normal” and socially acceptable—is ultimately deadening, like the mechanization of robots, which act according to pre-set agendas.

Nature does not follow man’s dictates, as we are learning.  Rather than “conquer” nature, as Francis Bacon and subsequent mechanists desired, we have the ability—but so far not the inspiration—to submit to nature’s desire to teach us freedom within the context of our environment.

 

 

Surfing the Dimensions

camellia011316Can you describe this in three dimensions?  Of course not.  Fundamentally, the notion that “reality” is three-dimensional (or four-dimensional, if you include the concept of time) is based on a mathematical depiction of a box, but it doesn’t even describe what kind of box, its color, smell, materials, or anything beyond spatial measurements.

Nothing in nature can be described in three dimensions, yet mathematical rigidity limits our minds to its man-made constructs and inhibits understanding of the “essences” of physical reality.

Albert Einstein could never accept quantum physics, because he believed science should be able to predict with certainty.  That a quantum particle could defy attempts to predict its position and momentum simultaneously offended him deeply, yet probabilities rather than certainties make for an infinitely creative universe with multi-dimensional possible futures.

A desire to know “the” future, to predict or control it, has attended man’s evolution since time immemorial.  When there were no instruments except the five known senses for guidance, man looked to the stars and other natural phenomenon for understanding.  Whether a god or gods created man or whether man created his gods remains a subject of debate, but no one argues about the cycles of the sun, moon, and visible planets.  In earlier times, those who could predict eclipses and the like were believed to have godly powers.

In modern times, we don’t think of ourselves as superstitious, yet predictions abound, and they have the power to influence large groups of people.  But just as you can only predict an electron’s probable location at any given time, you can only predict probable events based on current trends and the beliefs that contribute to them.  A study of astrology shows how futile predictions are, because there are so many factors influencing any given moment.

A horoscope is nothing more or less than a symbolic map of a moment in a specific place and time.  It is completely impersonal, but an individual’s horoscope, cast for the place and time of birth, describes the potentialities of the moment itself, not of the person incarnated at that time, although that person may manifest some or many of the potentialities indicated in the chart.

The so-called “scientific mind” does not accept anything it can’t measure and “prove” by “objective” criteria, meaning it meets certain “laws” of nature.  It’s important to remember these are not necessarily nature’s “laws” but man’s “laws” imposed on nature through mathematics. The ancient Greeks liked symmetry, so conceived of a symmetrical universe, but the cycles of time defy symmetry.  Calendars reflect the difficulty of fitting the solar system into mathematical  laws.  The earth refuses to orbit the sun in exactly 365 days but must take a quarter day extra to make its ellipse (not a circle) complete.  The lunar day is a mathematically inconvenient 24 hours and 50 minutes.  In short, it’s a wobbly universe, not predictable, but in terms of the human time frame, stable enough.

Science doesn’t have the instruments to detect subtle fields or the “essences” of things.  It approaches the “essence” idea with its relatively recent discovery of the electromagnetic spectrum, of which light is the most obvious manifestation.  Astrology and the loose assortment of “psychic” phenomena, operate like electromagnetic energy,  on the principle of vibrational patterns or frequencies.  The Oriental concept of qi, or “life force,” which permeates everything, may approach this idea of energy patterns that are as yet beyond the scope of human instrumentation.

Anyone fully indoctrinated into modern “scientific” thinking might be justifiably skeptical of the claim that there are energy fields outside scientific measurement.  Such people might scoff at the idea that human thought has the power to influence “the” future, yet science has begun to approach that threshold with quantum physics.  That the experimenter influences the experiment–and is necessarily a subjective part of the experiment–shatters the illusion that true objectivity is possible.

Attempts to predict “the” future are also attempts to control “the” future, and those who predict catastrophe become invested in the futures they predict.  They thus take subtle steps to bring about the future they fear, even though it may be disastrous.

It becomes a question of free will and the notion that you can choose what you think about.  Those who believe in pre-destination , that they are fixed on a path and have no choice but to follow it, do not understand the infinite variations possible within every moment in time.

 

 

Love, Weather, and Mindfulness

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Sunrise

I recently saw a local production of the rock musical, Hair, which was a Broadway hit in 1968.  I first saw it in the early 1970s, performed by a travelling troupe in a “Broadway at Duke” series.  I liked it so much then that I bought the album, but I didn’t remember that the show was about a “tribe” of hippies whose leader, Claude, was considering burning his draft card in protest against the Vietnam war.

They use the word “love” a lot in Hair, and on this viewing, the opening song, “Aquarius” brought tears to my eyes.:  “When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planet, and love will steer the stars.  This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius . . .”

It reminded me I have the moon in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars.  I didn’t know that in the 1970s, but peace and love are guiding principles of my life, although no one would suspect it, not even me, sometimes.

At the end of Hair, the protagonist, Claude, after deciding not to burn his draft card, gets drafted, goes to Vietnam, and gets killed.  I commented to friends afterwards that we have come no closer to peace and love since the 1960s and 1970s, when kids our age were so idealistic.  We as a generation have become jaded.  The death of our hopes may have been predicted by Claude’s death in Vietnam.  But the Age of Aquarius is just beginning, and astrological ages last 2000-2500 years, so there’s still time for peace and love to evolve.

A few days later, in Barnes & Noble, I encountered a cute black man at the condiments bar.  I was complaining about the hot weather. He said something about cold, and I said I prefer cold to hot.  He said it’s “God’s weather.”  Later I thought “How quaint,” but at the time, I replied rain and breeze are God’s weather, too.

Yes, it’s all God’s weather, even climate change.  As I’ve become more attuned to the infinite and subtle variations, moment-to-moment in the “climate” of my environment, I’ve come to appreciate how useless weather predictions are.  A 90-degree day can feel hotter if the sun is intense, the air humid and still, or even if there’s machine noise or mosquitoes.  All increase levels of discomfort.

I avoid thinking in terms of God, but it’s convenient for encompassing ideas of totality.  All-That-Is, Seth’s (of the Jane Roberts’ series) name, carries less baggage, and Westerners don’t understand the Oriental concept of qi.  For me, this totality equates to the energy of universal love, pervasive love, all-inclusive love—an Aquarian concept–but “love” is another baggage-loaded term.

According to Seth, to some Native American traditions, and to the mystically inclined, the weather responds to human thought and will.  In order to hone my climate-changing skills, I figure, my intent must be clear and considerate of all who are affected by it.  To pray for rain, as former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue did, could cause flash floods in the mountains.  To ask for weather that makes everyone more comfortable implies rain without telling “God’s weather” how to achieve it.  Cloud cover, breeze, rain, nightfall—all these make everyone more comfortable.

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Along these lines, I looked at a special issue of Time on “Mindfulness” and noticed this is the cover subject of National Geographic, too.  There is so much attention given to this lately that I find it amusing, in a smugly cynical way.  It smacks of “Agenda” from the urbanites, who are suddenly praising the benefits of office plants to relieve stress.

There were multiple references to “we all,” who feel stressed by competing demands on attention and how TV news is depressing, but “The Agenda” doesn’t suggest turning off the TV.  No.  Even Psychiatric News, which expresses concern about loneliness, suicide, and the overuse of social media, only calls for increased funding for treatment.

I also read some of the National Geographic issue on mindfulness.  The entire issue was apparently written by some life coach type who fills it with mindfulness rules, or guidelines that structure every minute of the day, from wake-up until bed.  While some of the ideas are good, the slant was one of goals and performance.  The practical value of hugging (releases oxytocin, the emotion hormone, we are told), gratitude, volunteering in the community, eye contact and presence were stressed. It impressed me in one specific way when it recommended being grateful.  Awareness of gratitude implies appreciating the things that go right and shifts focus away from worries and cares.

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Animals are mindfulness gurus, but nothing I read mentioned that.  While “The Agenda” wants to sell mindfulness through teachers, courses, methods, books, videos, and apps, I think about all the ways it can be incorporated into daily routine.  Brushing teeth with the non-dominant hand comes to mind.  This is reminiscent of Carlos Casteneda’s Yaqui Indian mentor, don Juan, who recommended putting on the other shoe first, to make a conscious variation in a daily habit.

Seth of the Jane Roberts series recommends bringing mind back to the body, even for just a few seconds, to generate a sense of safety.  It’s a way of grounding oneself in the moment in space and time.  I’ve found that sitting at stop lights can provide opportunities for taking deep breaths and consciously relaxing tight body parts.  It seems driving has become more stressful over the years, with traffic heavier and more impatient.  Mindfulness is watching the chickens, or the clouds, or opening my senses while shutting off thought, which is easier said than done.

I realized while reading that these authors are at least a generation younger than I am, immersed in child rearing, work and other commitments, and don’t have the luxury of laziness.  But people my age and older, too, are imbued with the work ethic, which never retires.  Even I have a compelling need to “be productive,” to “make good use of time,” to “accomplish.”  Even when I’m lying on the lawn watching chickens, I’m “being mindful.”  Mindful is an ant crawling on my arm.  Mindful is anything that makes me uncomfortable.

 

 

In a world full of bad news, I was delighted to find this uplifting interview with Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica.  This is an attempt to re-blog from Justice4Poland.com.  I hope it works.

People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday. “We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads […]

via ‘World’s Poorest President’ Explains Why We Should Kick Rich People Out Of Politics — Justice4Poland.com

Who’s Crazy Now?

 

munchscream

“The Scream,” Edvard Munch

 

The following story has been rejected by both Analog and Asimov’s science fiction and fantasy magazines, so I’ve reverted to my most reliable publisher, myself, to give a wider audience a chance to reject it, too.  I think it’s amusing and somewhat reflective of my philosophy of life, such as it is.  If there is a target of the satire, it would be The System as it exists today, one that creates mental illness by feeding it through an interconnected web of perverse incentives.

 

 

I am a visitor from a different future.  They label me schizophrenic, not the paranoid type.  My official diagnosis in 21st century mythology, is “disorganized schizophrenia.”  In the past, this form was known as “hebephrenic,” from the Greek, meaning “youthful mind.”  In real life, it means I laugh a lot, for no apparent reason.

I have been hospitalized, this time, because I went to the emergency room on a cold rainy night and told them I wanted to kill myself.  Everyone in the ER knows me.  They ask my name anyway.  This time I say “Gunga Din.”

They write “Charlie Appleton” on their clipboards.  If they already know, why do they ask?  I play along.  I practice my postures in the hall. The ballerina pose.  The dog pose.  The boxer pose.  It makes them smile.  I talk back to my voices and laugh at their jokes.

When I laugh too loudly, they usually give me a shot of haloperidol, an anti-psychotic.  This makes my body slow but my feet restless, so I dance to music played by my friends in our shared future, music only I can hear.

If I’m lucky, they give me another shot, this time of lorazepam, a benzodiazepine and addictive relaxant, but on days Nurse Bully Bozo (not his real name) works, he substitutes diphenhydramine, a sinus and allergy medicine, for the lorazepam.  He gives himself the feel-good shot in the medical supply room.

I know this because I see it in his aura.  Where I come from, we all read auras, only we call these “energy fields.”  They are as visible to everyone as the clothes they wear. It’s impossible to keep a secret, so no one tries.  We could see through clothes, too, if we wanted, but nobody bothers. The clothes are more attractive than the flesh.

I’ve attempted to explain all this to the hospital staff, but there are no words in any Earth speech to describe unimaginable concepts, like alternate futures.  They write on their clipboards that I’m “delusional.”  It helps them sleep better at night.

When I threatened to tell Nurse Bully Bozo’s supervisor that he was giving himself the feel-good stuff, he hit me, then told everyone I’d run into a door.  I tried to tell them the gash on my temple came from his ring, but no one believed me. He has an evil-looking ring with spikes on it, but he hid it after the incident.  When I started screaming that the ring was in his pocket, they strapped me to a table for a full day to keep me safe.

I’ve quit telling people I see their secrets.  I merely laugh when the psychiatrist’s deceased mother carps at him during his interviews with me.  She is too, too funny.  She wanted him to be a surgeon, instead of a psychiatrist. She nags him and gives him no peace. “Psychiatrists aren’t real doctors,” she says.  “I knew you would never amount to anything.  Just like your good-for-nothing father.”

I almost feel sorry for him, having a mother like that.  No wonder he became a psychiatrist.  The more she harasses him, the angrier he gets.  His face gets red, his jaw sets, his knuckles holding his pen turn white, and his hand begins to quiver.  I know he can hear her, but he pretends otherwise.  I’m supposed to be the crazy one, in this past Earth I’m visiting.

“Where did I go wrong?” Dr. Gunn’s mama moans, winking at me.  I try hard not to laugh–he thinks I’m laughing at him and ups the dose of my medications.

“Do you still feel like killing yourself?” he asks.

“I’m already dead,” I reply, and laugh again.  Now his deceased father has joined his mother in his energy field, and they are arguing.  They are blaming each other for the fact that their son is a loser.  “He wouldn’t be an alcoholic if you weren’t,” his mother says.

“He might have a family by now if you hadn’t soured him on women.”

They are bickering so much that I have a hard time hearing his next question.

“Do you hear voices?”  Dr. Gunn asks.

“Everyone hears voices,” I say.  “Voices, choices, they make noises,” I chant, trying to drown out Dr. Gunn’s parents.  “I hear your voice right now.”  I dare not tell him what else I’m hearing.  His mother is mad with him because he blew his inheritance on a floozy, who ran off with his best friend.  His father holds a grudge for the time Dr. Gunn had him arrested for slugging his mother.

I hate seeing secrets nobody else sees.  If they only knew what a burden it is, to carry all that baggage.  At least Dr. Gunn is trying.  He understands how widespread these secrets are.  He knows his upbringing was pretty normal, in this past Earth’s time.

“Please, stop,” I tell his parents.  I cover my ears.  Dr. Gunn thinks these are my voices.  He’s so used to hearing his parents bicker that he doesn’t even notice anymore.  It runs in the background, like machine noise, but it drives him to drink after work.

“Stop what?” the doctor asks me.

I try to distract Dr. Gunn from his parents’ argument.  When he’s angry or hung over, he takes it out on me, the staff, and whoever is closest.  At the moment, I’m the closest, and I’ve already had enough feel-bad drugs to knock me bonkers.

“Stop de wop de boppedy bop,” I say, getting up, twirling and chanting.  Dr. Gunn’s parents stop yelling at each other and watch me.  They start to smile, so I whirl faster, then invite his mother to dance with me.  When I slip up and call her by name, Dr. G freaks out and calls security.  They haul me to a padded cell, my favorite place in the hospital.  They watch through a thick, plexi-glass window as my movements slow, and I fall down.  I drift off into my alternate future, where my friends laugh and applaud.

We gather around the instrument panel that monitors my past Earth body and discuss the effects of feel-bad psych meds on it.  We analyze the past Earth energy field and how it affects the hospital staff.  We pass the Spirits around and congratulate each other on having made the right choice in the Earth-split.

My best buddy, Henry, winces as he scrutinizes the scanning monitor and looks admiringly at me.

“They sure walloped you this time,” Henry says.

“This assignment is harder than you let on,” I reply.  “Those people are crazy.”

“That’s why you’re there.  They are suicidal, determined to annihilate the Earth and everything on it, to prove their prophets right.”

“I know, I know.  I’m supposed to prepare them for the coming Earth-split, when probable futures split off like sparks from a cherry bomb.  Different people ride into different futures, depending on their beliefs.”

“They believe in evil,” says Henry.  “At least some of them do.”

“So do I, after what Nurse Bully Bozo did to me.”

“It didn’t hurt.  You have evolved beyond pain,”

At the moment, Henry is beginning to look like Dr. Gunn, only uglier.  He sees my thought and smiles.

“You don’t feel my pain,” I reply, almost smiling, but not quite.  I have a slight crush on one of the other nurses, Nurse Bleeding Heart (not her real name).  She claims to feel my pain.  Her breasts graze my arm as she changes the bandages on my temple.  The cut, which required three stitches, isn’t healing as quickly as they want.  I gouge at the stitches when I get the chance, claiming they are worms eating through my brain.  No one has noticed I only do that on Nurse Bleeding Heart’s shift.

“I don’t feel your pleasure, either, Lover Boy,” Henry says.  “So quit whining and pass the Spirits.”  I give up the bottle, reluctantly.  It’s a great antidote for the anti-psychotic.  It allows me to communicate with my future home and future friends when I’m operating in the Earth past before the split.

We turn away from the instrument panel and sit down to a lively dinner.  I eat like I’m starving, because I am.  That past Earth food is more poisonous than the drugs, so I’ve been refusing it.  White bread.  Soda pop.  Baloney.  Limp lettuce.  Bottled dressing.  Ugh.  We discuss my work assignment for the next day.  Rather, the others talk while I eat.

In the future Earth I inhabit—when I’m not on assignment to the past—everything is free, and money doesn’t exist.  People work because they like it.  They gravitate to areas of special interest or ability naturally and slip into their niches, like so many jigsaw pieces in a puzzle.  Each is unique but integral to the whole.  There is no competition and no overlap.

My future friends voted unanimously to place me in this assignment.  I was the most evolved, they said.  I was normal enough to pass for crazy.  If I couldn’t bring the alternate future to the past, no one could.  The integrity of the Earth split depended on me.

I look suspiciously at them.  I decide they tricked me, set me up, and are having a whale of a time at my expense.  Henry sees my thought and grins.

“You are the most evolved, you know,” he says now.  “I couldn’t do what you’re doing.”

“I agree.  You’re not smart enough to play dumb.”  I know Henry has doubts about his intelligence, but I’m lonely on this assignment.

“I could use some help,” I say now.  Henry passes the Spirits back to me.  I take the bottle.

“Thanks for the uplifting Spirits,” I say, “but I’m talking about companionship.  When I’m strapped down, or in a strait jacket, I have to do therapy on myself.  ‘It really is them,’ I say.  ‘It really is them.’”

“We know,” Henry replies.  “We hear you.  We’re there for you, just not physically.”

“Don’t I know it.”  By now, the past body is waking up and I know time is short.  I must return soon, lest they decide I’m catatonic and use shock therapy to jolt me into consciousness.

“You nag all day long, all of you at the same time.  It’s enough to drive a past person crazy.  There’s so much static in my brain I’m surprised other people don’t hear it.

“They do hear it, but they pretend not to.  You push the envelope on crazy, so that they feel normal.”

I look skeptical, so Henry continues.  “We’re all very grateful to you, you know.  If you weren’t there then, we wouldn’t be here now.”

 

 

Autism and Measles

brainwash

Folk art, Telluride, Colorado, 2003

I read a little about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the March, 2019 issue of Psychiatric Annals.  The prevalence has risen dramatically in the last decade, now at one in fifty-nine children.  However, it’s not clear how these statistics were obtained.  Broadened diagnostic criteria, diagnosis by hearsay, and other factors may be involved.

Autism used to be lumped with “childhood schizophrenia” but no longer is.  It lacks the hallucinations and delusions of schizophrenia but has features of social withdrawal, repetitive behavior, communication and socialization problems, and resistance to change.  The article had some history about how the diagnosis came to be and the idea that “mother blame” became popular in the 1950s and 1960s.  I thought that wasn’t fair, because if close others contribute to the problem, the whole family dynamic should be considered as well as the larger role of society.

I also wondered about the cultural expectation for children to conform to socialization models dictated by the schools.  Anyone who doesn’t fit the excessively structured militaristic regimentation of grades, classes, sitting at desks, and listening for hours of every day, is considered abnormal, autistic, hyperactive, or given other labels applied to those who fall outside the bell curve.

Schizophrenics I’ve encountered have trouble dealing with society’s hypocrisy, and I wonder if autistic children retreat inward to escape a world that makes no sense.

Meanwhile, I caught part of an interview on NPR about the measles outbreak, which let me know a judge has blocked the Rockland County, New York ban on un-vaccinated children entering public places.  This “public health emergency” consists of hundreds of cases–465 in 19 states as of April 4, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)–but not one death or any real complications.  The CDC spokesperson on the radio informed us that before the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine was developed, millions of people got measles, and there were hundreds of deaths.  She mentioned complications like meningitis.  Further research revealed the Rockland County outbreak started with a traveler returning from Israel, which is also experiencing a spate of measles. The CDC says outbreaks in the US are primarily among un-vaccinated  people in orthodox Jewish communities.

I was glad that New York state Judge Rolf Thorsen postponed the ban—which I consider a gigantic government power grab to force medical treatment on people—at least until a hearing on April 19.  Even the mentally ill have more rights to refuse medications than parents of children in today’s drug-crazed world.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has issued “an emergency health order necessary to curtail the large measles outbreak in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community” of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, according to the New York Times. Mayor de Blasio has targeted those living in several zip codes for vaccinations and threatens a $1000 fine for non-compliance. This has generated a heated backlash, in advance of a lawsuit, with an affidavit circulating to the effect that the mandate is in “clear violation of the Nuremburg Code which forbids forcing medical procedures on anyone without their fully informed consent.”

Government officials and the CDC lament the “misinformation” being spread by the anti-vaxers, who are “falsely warning that [vaccines] cause autism and lead to other health problems,” says the New York Times.  Now, “City officials say countering the anti-vaccine movement is a priority.”

The Psychiatric Annals report discounted the link between MMR and ASD in one sentence.  That had been a hypothesis of Bernard Rimland, a psychologist who founded the Autism Society of America in 1965, two years after the MMR vaccine was introduced.  (The CDC says on its website that thimerosal, the mercury-containing agent implicated in the claims of autism, was removed from all childhood vaccinations in 2001, and that the flu vaccine may or may not contain it.)

What they don’t say is that a case of the measles confers lifelong immunity.  Nor do they say that some doctors claim even vaccinated people can be carriers of the disease, or that vaccinations can confuse the body such that it becomes hypersensitive or allergic to a variety of usually innocuous substances.

Why do I care?  My psychiatric confreres are wimps hypnotized by their own propaganda.  Psychiatric Annals laments physician burnout and the loss of doctors from an “economy” that turns on the doctor’s signature.  This can be alleviated, they say, by a CWO, a wellness officer, who monitors physician burnout, and by better access and reduced stigma for seeking mental help.  And we should make electronic medical records more efficient, with doctors involved in design of software.

I wrote all over that article.  As one of the burned out physicians who preferred to retire and maybe starve than be beat to death by a psychotic system, I feel especially qualified to diagnose the health scare/snare racket as “suicidal, homicidal, psychotic, and out of emotional control.”  Doctor burnout is also a public health emergency.  We are losing prescription-writing machines faster than we can replace them, and everyone who has a “right” to health care has to pay through the nose for that right.  If they are broke or broken, Congress and federal/state/local bureaucracy, our “medical providers” of first and last resort, will step in and make sure the approved insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, bureaucracies, lawyers, government lobbyists and contractors, as well as universities, get paid to make sure everyone’s rights are protected from everyone else’s rights.  With Congress and the mayor of New York practicing medicine, who needs doctors?

Addiction to Prediction

When you don’t have a television, friends, or family, you have lots of time to read.  At least I do, and lately, I’ve been reading about science and philosophy.

I’ve been trying to understand from a scientific point of view the apparently universal addiction to predictions.  Albert Einstein believed it is the goal of science to predict, as did Isaac Newton.  They believed the laws of the universe could be apprehended and codified mathematically.  This was the basis of Einstein’s discomfort with quantum physics.  That events could not be definitely predicted–only their relative probabilities–led him to insist the theory was “incomplete.”

It could be said the future is incomplete, too, that science and the future will never be finished.  The ancients (and moderns) have a similar argument about God.  If God is perfect, the mover that doesn’t move, as Aristotle believed, or if God is done, complete, finished, and all life is moving toward that ideal, it does imply an end point.

It intrigues me that science has taken on the soothsayer’s cloak, seemingly without awareness that this is the stuff of superstition and mythology.  What’s this preoccupation with the future?  Is the present not good enough?

Quantum mechanics takes a leap by challenging the assumption of predictability.  It also challenges the mechanistic tradition that ousted God or other life force from the cosmos.  It supports my contention that there is no objective reality standing apart and uninvolved.  The experiment is a creation of the experimenter.

The most significant distinction, here, to me, is that quantum mechanics turns conventional views of science’s predictive aspirations upside down.  The cosmos is unpredictable.  We are floating in an ocean of probabilities punctuated with unlikely events.

We can predict with relative certainty that all our bodies are going to die, but no one can predict how or when.  Those who commit suicide may on some level want to decide the method and timing.  Those who “live dangerously” increase the probability that the how and when will occur dramatically and sooner rather than later.

Psychologically, the admission by scientists and mathematicians that life is unpredictable, that nature, the universe, and even electrons pulsate to their own rhythms–despite the rules mankind wants to impose on them–rattles the cages of the concrete thinkers who believe reality consists of rules.  It’s possible that the theologically inclined and the philosophers are more mentally nimble with respect to probabilities, possibilities, and the unexpected.  The people who believe miracles are possible, that prayer works, that all is not what it seems, might delight in the idea of a probable universe of infinite variability.

It seems science has painted itself into a corner by creating a construct that has little relevance to life.  Will Durant, in The Story of Philosophy, looks to Francis Bacon–who wanted to compile all human knowledge and saw science as the guiding light of the future–as a kind of messenger.  Durant praises Bacon’s vision but notes Bacon was not familiar with the scientists of his own time, like Kepler and Harvey.  His enthusiasm was ideological, not practical.  But Durant also suggests the idea of world rule by scientists instead of politicians is laudable.  According to me, Durant is idealistic himself.  Scientists in politics become politicians, as indicated by the current controversy over global warming or “climate change.”  According to the media-digested and regurgitated “statistics” or “evidence,” scientists speak with one voice.  Dissenters are ignored, discredited, or otherwise cast into the dustbin of irrational heretics.

My point, which I keep skirting, is that today’s science is not my version of “science,” so maybe I should respect Socrates’ insistence on strict definitions.  In our world, scientists as a group are accorded the awe and respect formerly reserved for gods, but who can define what “science” or “a scientist” is?

The Latin root for “science,” is “sciere,” or “to know,” so it presumes nothing about forecasts.  Aristotle made observations and used inductive reasoning to synthesize what he observed into an organized framework.

My dictionary says science is “knowledge obtained by study and practice.”  It also refers to systematized knowledge and classification.  By that definition, any organized body of knowledge could be a “science.”  The dictionary refers to the “science of boxing.”

Also by that definition, anyone who studies and uses a certain skill or set of skills can call himself a scientist.  The science of carpentry, the science of advertising, and of course, political science.  The “scientific method” need not apply.

My definition starts with the scientific method, which uses deductive reasoning to establish a hypothesis and seek evidence pro and con.  To establish cause and effect in a controlled experiment, the variables must be artificially reduced to one.  There is a “study” group and a “control” group, with the numbers in each group great enough to produce statistically significant differences between the groups, should differences exist.  So “scientific research,” at least in modern terms, only seeks to predict probabilities, like quantum physics does.

I have oft-expressed doubts about whether the scientific method is valid for obtaining knowledge that can be generalized outside the experiment, but this is the method used in medical research, at least.  The idea of causation, the motivation to prove or disprove a hypothesis, and the factors that might affect the outcome are arbitrarily chosen.

Does any effect have a single cause?  Here I have perhaps a broader view than most, yet I’m subject to “because” thinking, myself.  I figure it’s so much a part of traditional Western thought processes that many are not even aware of its subliminal effect on how we structure reality.  As I read the ideas of philosophers through time, I see they, too, sought causes for the effects they observed.  This correlated with beliefs in God, or nature worship, or superstitions and mythology.  The idea of an unseen hand directing the forces of nature and thereby life on earth, reveals the human desire to understand.

Quantum mechanics and the Oriental pattern-based approach to understanding shakes the cause-and-effect pedestal.  It no longer reigns absolute in a world in which correlations are given at least as much intellectual weight as presumed causes.

I wonder about such taken-for-granted notions as the speed of light.  How do they know it travels at 186,000 miles/second?  Who discovered that and how was it proved?  How does anyone know that’s the absolute speed limit of the cosmos?

It’s hard to know where hypothesis or mathematical conjecture ends and proof or answers begin.  So much is assumed to be true, until it no longer is, like the world is flat or evolution is a fact.

Are concepts of space and time even legitimate when considering the scope of the universe?  I wonder if any answer will satisfy the questioners.  Aren’t answers just the flip sides of the next questions, or series of questions?

Another serious limitation of the scientific method, especially as it’s applied to natural phenomena or human activity, is that you can’t know what might have been.  There are no alternative scenarios with which to judge and compare.  This is my dilemma with historical trends and concepts like man-made climate change.

Ex-post facto justification for historical events—like dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan—rely on the propaganda generated by “our side” about what might have happened instead.  “The Japanese would never have capitulated,” or “We saved thousands of American lives” are excuses I’ve heard numerous times.  Fact is, nobody knows what might have happened.  It is not given to us to know the results of unrealized action.

The disconnect between science and life also bugs me.  Thomas Hobbes tried to apply scientific principles to human behavior for a model of government.  I suppose the “behavioral sciences” also strive to fit human behavior into scientific models.  This seems backwards.  The deductive method tries to exclude too much and risks being blind-sided by factors it chooses not to see.

My study of astrology made me wary of predictions long ago.  People want and crave predictions, but “good” or “bad” forecasts both put binders on the future and restrict imagination regarding alternative possibilities.  “Science” might be more useful to humanity by broadcasting its knowledge of the present and leaving predictions to the fortune tellers.