Saturday, July 14, 2018


Happiness writers generally agree that happiness is the result of shifting our attention away from what's wrong, and focusing on better possibilities. It is often said that “happiness is a choice.” But then why aren’t more people happy?

Happiness is complicated. Some people find happiness even in situations that would challenge the most optimistic person; some are unhappy despite having it all. For some, happiness is fleeting and depends on their present circumstances, whereas others seem to be generally happy or generally unhappy no matter what is happening in their lives.

Biologically there are two basic human motivations: approach or avoid. People pursue pleasure and seek to avoid pain. Being stuck in avoidance is when we are imagining what happens when things go wrong, or when we are somehow inadequate, incompetent. It is a pattern in which we doubt our accomplishments, and there is a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud,"  unsuccessful, or unacceptable, unworthy. We dwell on ways things could possibly go wrong and the possible consequences.

But fear is more complex than just forgetting or deleting memories. Fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat. It is important to understand that perceived danger can elicit physiological changes in the body are associated with fear, even when there is no actual threat. The fight-or-flight response is an inborn response for coping with danger, it works by accelerating the breathing rate (hyperventilation), heart rate, constriction of the peripheral blood vessels leading to blushing and vasodilation of the central vessels (pooling), increasing muscle tension.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol, is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.

Some other hormones involved during the state of fight-or-flight include epinephrine, which regulates heart rate and metabolism as well as dilating blood vessels and air passages, norepinephrine increasing heart rate, blood flow to skeletal muscles and the release of glucose from energy stores.

Fear is about survival and it triggers the Brain's Fire Alarm System. When there's a fire, you run and pull an alarm that tells everyone in the building to get out right away. Fear is a defense reaction which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. These acquired sets of reactions or responses are not easily forgotten. The animal that survives is the animal that already knows what to fear and how to avoid this threat. Fear responses are often dependent on the reinforcement of a safety signal, and not the aversive conditioned stimuli.

In many cases, it may be true that happiness is a choice. To some extent, we choose our own thoughts and reactions, which impact the way we feel, and can improve our happiness quotient by taking steps to change our thinking (e.g., keeping a gratitude journal, staying mindful of the present moment, accepting what is or developing healthier coping mechanisms). We can view our emotions as a signal that some aspect of life needs to change and take action to return to a better state of mind.

The reward system contains pleasure centers or hedonic hotspots or brain structures that mediate pleasure or "liking" reactions from intrinsic rewards or even euphoria. One definition of pleasure a form of alleviation of pain.  The feelings of pain (or suffering) and pleasure are part of a continuum.

There is a neurochemical relationship between pain and pleasure. However both pain and pleasure originates from neurons in the same locations in the brain. Although we often refer to pain and pleasure as opposites, but in a way, this is incorrect; we have receptors for pain, but none in the same way for pleasure.

The linking of pain and pleasure perceptions together allows us to be able to reduce pain to gain a reward necessary for fitness, such as childbirth.  Fear and disgust signal dangers, and we do well, evolutionarily, to pay attention to them in order to maximize our chances for survival and reproduction.

 Sex, sports, fighting, lying, stealing, gambling, and substance abuse may yield an adrenaline rush. Evolution doesn't suggest why we seek out fear, disgust, or anger. Some people like anything that gets their minds off their own problems. Car wrecks hijack our attention, action films and horror films may distract us away from our own problems and may allow us to feel we are better off than those who are more unfortunate.

Some people are simply wired to enjoy high levels of physiological arousal and wiring may explain why some hate scary movies and some don't. Some have a harder time screening out unwanted stimuli in their environment and are more likely to have intense physiological reactions to fear. For example, childhood trauma can permanently rewire the brain to be more focused on threats.

Happiness is an emotional issue. At any given time each cell in out body can be in one of two modes: growth or protection. Dr.Bruce Lipton writes that the only way to go from protection into growth is through the heart. And gratitude is a good starting point. The latest buzzword is Mindfulness, which is simply a good way to manage our attention span so we can move away from the darker emotions into the light of happiness.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Plutocracy or plutarchy, is a form of oligarchy and defines a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens. 

We humans are the most marvelous and complex organism we know of, and here we are on the most beautiful jewel-like planet in the known universe -- but we are allowing a greedy few to literally ruin everything,  just to pile up more money that they don't even need.

If everything is exploited for maximum profit, then humans will also be exploited. Present rates of ocean acidification alone could wipe out humans and most other animals. Scientists say we've entered a sixth mass extinction, and humans are the primary cause -- that's all humans, including the ones trying to ignore the problem.

Recent events have  lot of stunned people wondering how we got where we are. There is so little respect for each other and for our home planet and everything seems to be for sale to the highest bidder. The media has become a sordid portrayal of dystopia -- a "can you top this" grim saga of explicit violence and exploitation.   Where is the heroic dream of helping and caring and pulling together to make things better?

On the one hand there have been such a lot of real technological progress and inventiveness that improves the quality of communications, transportation, housing and health. But climate change and the depletion of water and soils looms, threatening food supplies and a healthy environment for all creatures, including humans. All this begs a closer look at the big picture and a better understanding of the changing paradigms and moral values.

At the end of the last Great Ice Age, humans changed from being nomadic hunter-gathers as agriculture allowed people to stay in one place and build permanent dwellings. This fostered the development of essential changes in our social relationships and human values so that the acquired skills and knowledge of individuals could be bartered or exchanged. And from this a monetary system evolved along with ownership and wealth and a system of the rule of law. Gradually governments evolved to regulate human behavior and commerce.

By about 2500 years ago several moral or religious traditions had been established, such as Judism and Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Muslim-ism and others. These became institutions of moral and legal governance which conferred or concentrated political power and wealth into the hands of a few. And with the development of gun powder and metal weapons, a few rulers could demand and achieve compliance of the many.

Gradually, educational institutions were established which began to systematically sort fact from superstition. And the invention of the printed word in about 1450 greatly enabled the literacy of the many rather than the privileged few as had been previously. Within just a few decades the ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers were translated and revived in the popular imagination, so that ideals such as democracy became a real threat to the corrupt aristocracy and the church that had been virtually all-powerful for a long time.

That aristocracy feared implied spiritual and political dimensions of the new enlightenment, and began wielding their powers against it. But the new autonomy of an educated populace only grew stronger. The ensuing struggle cut man in two, setting one half against the other.

Luther and Calvin accused the church of misleading the believers of Christianity, and Descartes, a Roman Catholic follower from cradle to grave, was concerned not only about the schism in the church, but the rise of skepticism. He and others discounted the value of empirical knowledge in favor of divine revelation which gave rise to Cartesian materialism. 

Materialism is a preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual values. This soon led to Scientism, which is the belief that science and its method of skeptical inquiry is the most reliable path to the truth. The scientific paradigm ignores or devalues anything that cannot be weighed, measured or sold. People have come to trust science so much that all else is being lost at great pearl to our very survival.

The Renaissance was a period in European history, from the 14th to the 17th century, regarded as the cultural bridge between the Middle Ages and modern history. The effect was to give rise to a middle class when there had previously been only the rich and poor. Out of this middle class there soon arose a powerful group of merchants, bankers and military men who rapidly gained political power.

They built fleets of ships that greatly enhanced commerce and military exploits. Colonialism began with the pre-colonial African empires which led to the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans who all built colonies in antiquity. But with the discovery of The New World, the Earth's Western Hemisphere afforded European monarchs a new opportunity of Empire over a number of territories and peoples who could be subjugated and exploited under their sovereign authority. And this trend still continues as machines, and machine-like hierarchies in large organizations, deliver efficiency for the wealthy.

For 800 years, Europe, and later America, progressed through the expansion and energies of the rising urban middle classes, resulting in economic growth and advances in personal and political freedom. Industrialism tore this happy conjunction apart. In 1982 there were just 13 American billionaires. Now there are hundreds.

 The three wealthiest individuals in the world have assets that exceed those of the poorest 10 percent of the world's population. The net worth of the world's billionaires increased from less than $1 trillion in 2000 to over $7 trillion in 2015 so the gap is growing up dramatically.

"...nearly 80 percent of the national wealth generated since 1973 has gone to the upper 2 percent, 65 percent to the upper 1 percent. Estimates as to the rise in real income for salaried workers over the past 40 years range from 0 percent to 28 percent. In that period, real GDP has risen by 110 percent — it has more than doubled. .... In short, the overwhelming fraction of all the wealth created over two generations has gone to those at the very top of the income pyramid. That pattern has been markedly accelerated since the financial crisis hit in 2008. Between 2000 and 2012, the real net worth of 90 percent of Americans has declined by 25 percent.

Oxfam International has released a new report called, "Working for the Few," that contains some startling statistics on what it calls the "growing tide of inequality." Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

"Wealth inequality in the US is at near record levels according to a new study by academics. Over the past three decades, the share of household wealth owned by the top 0.1% has increased from 7% to 22%. For the bottom 90% of families, a combination of rising debt, the collapse of the value of their assets during the financial crisis, and stagnant real wages have led to the erosion of wealth."

America is losing it's image as the gatekeeper of peace and freedom. A truly peaceful world can never be achieved unless we create a planet where the rule of law rises above the strength of individual nations and the sovereignty of the people is above the egos of their leaders. That world is still within our grasps. But a blink too long and we may lose it.

When fascism was on the rise in Europe, indifference made it possible. 9 to 15 million peoples died in world war I and at least 50 million people died in world war II. Now every 10 seconds, a child dies from hunger-related diseases. About one out of three people on earth don't even know where there next meal is coming from. And almost half of us will get cancer, heart failue, diabetes or or start taking dangerous psychological medications for stress or depression. Sadly, the big pharmaceutical companies  are the world's most profitable industry.

The West and machine-based economies,  may have led the world to the brink of ecological suicide. And that has a big part in the radicalizing for a new world order and a battle against violent extremism and what is typically a male symphony of violence rather than a rational and humane approach to the dilimma.

American political system is being rewritten by billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state. A Plutocracy is emerging:
The average price of winning or holding on to a six-year term in the U.S. Senate averaged $10,476,451 in the 2012 election cycle. Most of this pays for media advertising and that money goes back to the very wealth media owners. The 2016 US presidential elections could cost as much as $5 billion, about double the cost of 2012 election, according to top fundraisers.

That much money can realistically come from very wealthy doners. Following the Supreme Court's 2014 decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, there is no longer an aggregate limit on how much an individual can give in total to all candidates, PACs and party committees combined.

Democracy for sale to the highest bidder is no longer democracy, but plutocracy, or autocracy drifting toward fascism. A report published by Freedom House found 48 countries to be "not free."

Monday, August 7, 2017

Herbicides in Food

Almost 300 million pounds of glyphosate weed killer was used on crops in the U.S. in 2013, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  It is the most widely used agricultural chemical in history.

And genetically engineered (GE) seeds (herbacide resistant) are planted on more than 80 percent of U.S. corn acres and more than 90 percent of soybean acres. Chemical companies are making a killing on this, since they produce both the unnatural GE seed and the herbacide used on those crops.

Roundup is a systemic chemical, meaning Roundup is taken up inside of the plants that we—and farm animals—eat. In fact, Norwegian scientists studying U.S. soy found "excessive" levels of glyphosate inside of the food crops.

Common wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the harvest. It has since become routine over the past 15 years and is used as a drying agent 7-10 days before harvest within the conventional farming community.

Roundup significantly disrupts the functioning of beneficial bacteria in the gut and contributes to permeability of the intestinal wall and consequent expression of auto-immune disease symptoms. Gluten intolerance isn’t a food allergy. It’s a physical condition in your gut when undigested gluten proteins (prevalent in wheat and other grains) hang out in your intestines and are treated by your body like a foreign invader.

You're Probably Eating Roundup In "Excessive" Levels. Data collected by the United States Geological Survey scientists reveal exposure to Roundup could potentially alter your hormones, leading to obesity, heart problems, and diabetes.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported an association between non-Hodgkin lymphoma and glyphosate, significant evidence that the chemical caused cancer in lab animals, and strong evidence that it damaged human DNA.

In 2009, French researchers published a scientific paper in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology showing that low levels of four glyphosate formulations kill human cells within 24 hours. According to Dave Mortensen, PhD, weed scientist at Penn State University repports that 2,4-D has been linked to hypothyroidism, suppressed immune function, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer, among other ills.

So how can we get Roundup out of the air, soil, and our bodies? There's only one way: Buy organic food. In doing so, you're sending farmers a clear message.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Apparently psychiatric drugs are the most commonly used medications. Increasingly Americans take a psychiatric drug -- most often antidepressants, sedatives or antipsychotics. And the number of children receiving atypical antipsychotics doubled from 2001 to 2010. ABC news reported that doctors aren’t even sure how antipsychotics work.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that antidepressants are far from benign drugs. And unfortunately, the combination of depression and medication, as well as still being very much trial and error, has some unique worries due to the nature of the condition itself.

As with all drugs some people react badly to antidepressants, whilst side effects can seem quite mild in others. The irony here of course is that, helpful as antidepressants may be for some people at some times, these side effects can be very depressing in themselves. Because no one antidepressant has been proven to be any more effective than any other, the choice of which drug to prescribe often rests on their different side effects!

The overwhelming popularity of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) was in part due to their apparent "safety" over more toxic drugs when used improperly. Some of the Tricyclics are extremely toxic in overdose.However, in addition to other dangers, there is also an established direct link between suicide and violent behavior and the use of SSRIs.

"The main reason for people stopping a course of depression medication 
is the side effects of the antidepressant."

Antidepressant medication side effects can be physical symptoms like headache, joint pain, muscle aches, nausea, skin rashes, or diarrhea, sleep disturbance such as nightmares and sleepwalking and daytime sleepiness; headache and migraines, flushing, rapid heart rate, weight gain, decreased sexual desire, delayed ejaculation in men, and the inability to have an orgasm in women. But discontinuing your medication on your own is never a good option as there is a dramatically increased risk of suicide. 22 veterans kill themselves each day.

"Anti-depressant drugs carry massive risks, not only to the brain, but also to the heart, kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Scientific research that is independent of the pharmaceutical industry has repeatedly shown that S.S.R.I. drugs can cause severe kidney and liver damage. These drugs also have the potential to cause cardiac arrest and a Parkinson's-like syndrome. Doctors are not required to advise patients of these risks, and they rarely do."

So psychiatric drugs may not the best way to treat depression as they are ineffective and fraught with many dangerous side effects. especially among people taking a type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These so called tranquilizers can produce an acute psychotic reactions. Many people who have taken psychiatric drugs have found out the withdrawal effects of the drugs can persist for months, even years after they stop taking them. Psychotropic drugs are increasingly being exposed as chemical toxins with the power to kill.

Anti-depressants can cause death.  Psychiatrists claim their drugs save lives, but according to their own studies, psychotropic drugs can double the risk of suicide. And long-term use has been proven to create a lifetime of physical and mental damage, a fact ignored by psychiatrists.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (9.3 percent of persons aged 12 or older). Of these, only 2.6 million—11.2 percent of those who needed treatment—received it at a specialty facility. And those who do get "professional" treatment are often prescribed psychotropic drugs.

Recent figures released by the Army's surgeon general indicate that more than 110,000 U.S. Army personnel were taking antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs that were prescribed to them by doctors.

With a renewed focus on individual soldier readiness by the Pentagon after a decade of war, it should trouble Defense Department officials - civilians and top officers alike - that nearly 8 percent of active duty Army troops are on sedatives, and another 6 percent are on antidepressants, figures that are up eightfold since 2005.

Contrary to what the public has been led to believe, the prevailing theories concerning serotonin and serotonin-effecting drugs did not originate from either doctors or scientists. They began life as intensive pharmaceutical marketing programs, which promoted fabricated scientific facts so successfully that they became facts in the minds of doctors, regulators and the general public. Understanding modern serotonin science requires a psychological study of Mass Manipulation.

I think there is a good argument to be made that some substantial percentage of the depression epidemic is manufactured by the medical/pharmaceutical industry. 


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spiritual Wounds

One of the greatest human problems is the idea that "I am not good enough." This issue affects each of us to some degree and to that extent we are all wounded.

Emotional wounds are one of the most common reasons for human suffering. It is an inner rawness and hurt that doesn't seem to go away. It is like an infection, an inner wound that has festered.

Someone may begin to think that perhaps what happened to them, was deserved because of something they did or the way that they were. They may find it easy to lash out at people who love them, and have done them no harm, and to even blame God for troubles and hardships. Then it is a spiritual wound and demons seem to keep coming back to torment the person.

The result is inner turmoil, and a desire to escape or suppress reality. This can be in the form of overeating, drinking, smoking, porn, spending binges, etc. When a person indulges in escapism, addictions can form, and open the door to spirits of addiction, which makes the addictions hard to break.

A bad temper is a common symptom. It becomes easy to lash out or have sudden outbursts of anger, hate, resentment, etc. It can be difficult to deal with everyday chores and responsibilities or to fully feel and receive love or to be in a one-sided relationship where you felt as if you were the one doing all the giving, all the caring, while receiving nothing in return?

Codependency is associated with providing care for and rescuing others in order to quell feelings of inadequacy and shame and gain external approval and validation.

"The Blues" is one of the most popular musical forms, and is also a way of life for many people. The term blues may have come from "blue devils", meaning melancholy and sadness associated with the intense visual hallucinations that can accompany severe alcohol withdrawal. It represents the world of harsh reality: a lost love, cruelty, oppression, and hard times.
Maudlin is an adjective: to be tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental or effusively sad or full of self-pity; extremely sentimental. When a person indulges in escapism, addictions can form which are hard to overcome.

Transcendence means "going beyond." It is the act of surpassing usual limits. Although death is certain we have the innate ability to think about perfection or bliss. In a way to imagine what lies beyond a boundary is to have already transcended it.

The difference between what we think and what we feel is the essence of the human condition. Perception is unique to every individual and is simply one's interpretation of reality. The phrase "Is the glass half empty or half full" can be understood also as the basic philosophical question. The  question demonstrates that the situation may be seen in different ways depending on one's point of view and that there may be opportunity in the situation as well as trouble.  Any particular situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty), or as a  test to determine an individual's worldview.

Transcendence represents the unfolding of a personal style. In religion, transcendence is the concept that there is perfection beyond all things human or physical. Mystical experience is thought of as a particularly advanced state of self-transcendence, in which the sense of a separate self is abandoned.

Perhaps the soul is the self, the "I" that inhabits the body and acts through it. Without the soul, the body is like a light bulb without electricity. With the introduction of the soul, the body acquires life, sight and hearing, thought and speech, intelligence and emotions, will and desire, personality and identity.

Even among the animals who live in groups, the strongest usually have the most babies. It is nature's way of insuring species survival. But the strongest are also likely to be the most aggressive. Since humans invented weapons, the idea that "might makes right" is a problem. The more lethal weapons become, the bigger the problem. And the problem has reached the point where a few could destroy all.

So it is obvious that we need to pay more attention to the difference between strong and wise. On the one hand we are wired to praise, admire, emulate, and elect strong leaders.

On the other hand those who are for peace, kindness and thoughtfulness may seem old-fashioned and irrelevant. The popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix.

Once combatants are convinced that God is on their side, compromise becomes unlikely and cruelty knows no bounds. This fanatical bigotry has spawned terrible theocracies. The result has been that secularism evolved organically.

But the separation of religion and politics has seen a substitution of religion with economic interests. This fundamental reallocation of authority has delivered science into the hands of the greedy and resulted in a moral vacuum.

Unconstrained robber barons have embodied secularism at its very worst and have also fostered fundamentalist movements rooted in a profound fear of annihilation. When secularization has been applied by force, it has provoked a fundamentalist reaction – and history shows that fundamentalist movements which come under attack invariably grow even more extreme.

The "One Percent", refers to the tiny percentage of people who control most of the wealth. And divide between the wealthy and the poor is greater that ever before and growing alarmingly.

Plutocracy is a country or society governed by the wealthy. An autocratic power grab is underway to enthrone corporate power and moneyed elites to rule unilaterally over our government, economy, and environment. There’s nothing conservative about that.

For decades, big corporations have wreaked havoc on our democracy from impoverishing the working class, profiting off military conflicts, poisoning the environment and food supply and taking over public schools. Perhaps, their most destructive target is the broken political system.

Religion and even morality apparently have simply been set aside and ignored. Global plutocracy has the appearance of being potentially the greatest threat humans have ever known. Perhaps it will distract us from our private concerns and turn our attention to the greater good.