the world’s become a centrifuge
us whirling out of balance
speed’s increased across the board
without a check on stress
we elements’ve begun to part
our ‘us as one’ to fragments
homogeny begins to slough
in final fail we crumble
the world’s become a centrifuge
us whirling out of balance
speed’s increased across the board
without a check on stress
we elements’ve begun to part
our ‘us as one’ to fragments
homogeny begins to slough
in final fail we crumble
Stepping back and taking a 50,000 foot view of the current state of things in the United States of America right now, I see an apocalyptic wasteland, crippled by financial uncertainty brought on by rampant disease. As it’s citizens attempt to protest inequality and racially-charged police brutality, additional racial tensions erupt and are made vastly worse by (wait for it… ) riot gear clad police violently lashing out at the citizens they are charged with protecting. All the while, the president encourages escalating tensions by threatening additional brutalities from the safety of the people’s White House.
He said he would run this country like his one of his businesses, right?
As usual, I am having trouble with the fact that Donald Trump’s base of support would eat a shit sandwich if he said it was a big brown chicken nugget.
As Agent Orange spitballs ideas such as paying people who don’t have sick leave, massive financial stimulus packages, and other socialistic methods to help patch the smoldering wreck that was his ‘beautiful stock market value’, I can’t help but wonder why no Republicans are screaming about Trump’s sudden socialist shift. I mean, this is obviously going to taint the free market.
Just to be clear, right now the biggest difference between Bernie’s version of socialism and Trump’s is that Bernie’s would actually be part of a cohesive plan, and not part of some knee-jerk, radioactive act of desperation.
In the world of material worship, socialism is an old testament god that may only be summoned in the event of an apocalyptic event. Specifically one that threatens the wealthy, as well as us lowly serfs.
*Sorry for the mid-post edit. But by some snafu of editing, two paragraphs switched places.
Yesterday’s news reports were saying that U.S. Intelligence officials had recently briefed Congress on Russia’s current efforts to re-elect Donald Trump. When it became known that this briefing had already happened, the president went, well… ape-shit.
And no, not because he was upset that a foreign power would have the gall to try to intervene in a U.S. election (like his 44 predecessors would have done). Nope. This guy got pissed because other parts of our government now have this damaging information. And also because (and this part can’t be understated when it comes to Trump), one of those people was Adam Schiff. A man who clearly appears to terrify Donald Trump because of his sheer tenacity.
This appears to have upset the president to the point that he felt he had to shit-can the Director of National Intelligence. Again, not something any of his 44 predecessors would have done, for fear of how the American people would have perceived a move like that. However, Donald Trump has never indicated that he actually cares about what roughly 59% of the country thinks because they don’t agree with him. And his world that’s enough. To him, they are now nothing more than pesky impediments to his need to rig the scales.
So Trump had a hissy fit and then simply replaced the Director of National Intelligence with the next in a long line of temporary and disposable sycophants, all of which are sure that they alone are special to him.
This kind of news can really send my mind in a million different directions, none of which are good. And certainly not if you are like me, and prefer your country maintaining some autonomy in this world.
This is serious shit. This kind of national betrayal goes way beyond just “conservatives finally get to own the cucks”. This is the kind of crisis that has large swaths of the American population suddenly looking at one another, wondering who’s going to be the one to step forward and lead us all this worsening juggernaut of ever-worsening strife.
Last night as the evening news was broadcasting this latest development in our national crisis, one part of my brain began to go into alarm mode. Yet at the same time my parental instincts were awakened to the danger, and began to actively search for a more comforting interpretation of this reality to portray to my children.
For me, that’s the biggest crime President Trump has committed. He has threatened my family’s safety and security simply because he had no self-control or moral compass, and now he needs to protect his own extremely thin skin.
This headline is probably single-handedly sending a few people off the deep end. Why? Because, just like in 2016 Bernie is getting the popular vote, but not the delegates. And of course, in this case the DNC is far more willing to agree with the Electoral College.
Over the course of the weekend I had a few friends text me about their concerns for Bernie as the New Hampshire Primary approaches. Most of them, lamented in one form or another, “Why are the Democrats being so mean to Bernie?”
My answer was always the same: They’re not. They’re doing what every organization does. Protecting their own. Unfortunately, in this case, just like in 2016, they may be cutting off their nose despite their face.
Look, in the end the DNC is a just another business with a brand that they feel is threatened. In the end, political parties care about their own survival first. It’s how they make their money, and support their own candidates up and down the ticket. And since political parties are mostly about portraying a collection of common values to voters, whenever someone from the outside threatens to up-end those values, they get defensive. The Democratic Party is a business with a brand, and it’s one that Bernie doesn’t adhere to. However, his values closely aligned with democratic voters that he is able to run as a party reformer, promising a level of change that still scares the shit out of the party.
I’m not sure why people are surprised by any of this. Bernie isn’t a Democrat. He is a very proud Independent who labels himself a Democratic Socialist. He has been registering as a Democrat when he runs for President because he knows it increases his chances of winning. Because, without that big D after his name, he won’t get the political wind at his back that comes from running in a primary organized by one of the two big parties in America.
On the other hand, I don’t know about you but I am terrified of what will happen if Donald Trump gets a second term. So much so that I have every intention of voting for the Democratic candidate, whoever it is, in the general election. And I am not alone. The DNC knows lots of people feel that way. Which begs the question, why would they risk alienating Bernie’s legion of supporters?
The answer itself is simple, they’re doing it for the same reason a concert venues charge you $7.50 for a bottle of water. Because, who the hell else can you turn to?!
Sure, there are other candidates and other political parties.But when the stakes are this high, a protest vote becomes nothing more than a vote against anyone who’s running against Trump. And passing on negative rumors or stories about any of the democratic candidates is akin to endorsing Trump’s brand of politics. Just don’t do it. Instead, spend that energy passing on positive stuff about your favorite candidate. The worst thing that will happen is you might slow the spread of negative press. But by not reacting in a knee-jerk fashion, you can deprive your political opponents the pleasure of seeing someone knocked down a few pegs.
If we don’t learn this fact now, we may never get another chance.
*The following is multi-part series on the rise of cannabis as a medicine, how it affects alcoholics and addicts in recovery, and how to go about changing the information we have in our minds.
On June 10, 1935 the modern recovery movement was born when Alcoholics Anonymous came into being. And with it came an entirely new way for society to view alcoholism. While this isn’t the only method for people to recover, it’s going to be my primary starting point for now.
AA presented alcoholism as a disease, and one with no known cure. They also offered an ongoing “treatment” for alcoholism that would help the sufferer keep their illness in remission. It soon became very well respected, primarily for the recoveries that it had helped foster. Rather than branching out into other problem areas in society, it instead offered up its 12-step formula to other organizations, to adapt as they saw fit to help other populations with different needs. AA also offered its help to the world of science and health, helping to catapult much of the medical research on alcoholism and addiction that we now benefit from. They firmly put themselves in a position to only help, and never to engage in opinions one way or another. AA also tried very hard to foresee the future in order to avoid falling prey to medical fads, or fickle politics. In doing so, it necessarily took a step back, offering no opinions or endorsements. It’s that kind of foresight that has allowed the program to help as many people as it has over the years. It also gave the mistaken impression to many that the organization itself was mired in the past, advocating faith-healing over science, and allowing people to blame their problems on a disease instead of taking responsibility.
On August 2, 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Marijuana Tax Act, setting in motion an eighty-year assault on plant that had previously been cultivated for a variety of uses by Americans up until that point. The bill itself was drafted by Harry Anslinger, who served (not at all coincidentally) as the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. There is more than enough evidence indicating that cannabis was already under assault on different fronts prior to this point, but history has also shown that Anslinger played a pivotal role in cannabis prohibition. And, like many of the other substances that were being regulated, and prohibited during this particularly active period of American puritanism, cannabis went from being a plant of many uses, to a fast and efficient way to ruins your life just from the penalties alone.
So, for 80 years those two worlds existed on parallel planes, rarely interacting. As the 12-step world grew and expanded to include organizations like Narcotics Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous, the idea of members using any sort of medicine that alters consciousness became taboo in church basements around the world.
It’s here where I need to step and explain something. I have and will use the terms organization, program, members, and culture to describe things like AA, and that isn’t accidental. It also needs to be pointed out that they aren’t synonymous with each other, something that becomes important as this narrative continues.
The organization of Alcoholics Anonymous is just that, the parent organization that exists to serve the groups, and individual members with information to aid in their recovery. This is the same type of organization that I mentioned had “firmly put themselves in a position to only help, and never to engage in opinions one way or another”. Unlike most organizations, they never set rules or requirements for their members to follow, at most they will offer suggestions. Not everyone at the organization is a member, let alone an alcoholic or addict. If asked about their position on different forms of cannabis being legally prescribed as medicine, or about recreational legalization, they would very likely say that they have no opinion on those kinds of issues.
The program of Alcoholics Anonymous are those 12-step things you hear mentioned in TV and movies all of the time. If you actually use these twelve things to help you in life, you are following the program. You don’t need to be a member, or even an alcoholic or drug addict to use them. They were designed to be “open source” long before that was a term of use.
The members of Alcoholics Anonymous are just that, the people in the seats. Someone becomes a member when they say they are, that’s all there is to it. Of course, because the membership is made up of people who get to decide if they are members, or even if they are alcoholics at all, it is as flawed as and varied as people are in general. And while that means no one person is in charge, it also means that anyone who thinks they are, will try to be. I invite you to someday attend an AA meeting someday, and then randomly suggest they move their coffee pot across the room. Watch to see how many people think they are in charge. This will become is a crucial point in this narrative, because they are people with lots of opinions, who talk to each other all the time.
Finally, there is the culture of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is where most misunderstandings and conflicts arise within the world of recovery. And it’s here where opinions become dogma, regardless of evidence.
To be continued…
People with chronic anxiety, huddle up! It’s time to give yourself that ‘pep talk’ that only you can give to yourself…
“Get out there Tiger! Don’t worry, today’s going to be boring! Everything going to go as planned, finally. And, for once there won’t be any nasty surprises!”
“No ones going to scream about something in your ear, or yell at their kids when you happen to be close enough to get the ‘shock’ from it. Better yet, I’ll bet you no one is going to yell near you at all!”
“Today you’re not going to have to worry about your boss. You’re won’t need to get clarification from them when they give you vague instructions about some incredibly sensitive matter that they won’t offer you any help with, never mind answer your questions. Instead, everything will make sense, and every angle will be covered beforehand. Doubt is a thing of the past!”
“Today’s the day that your family, and friends won’t ask how you’re feeling, nor will they even have to. You won’t have to deal with that moment when the conversation awkwardly dies, because you don’t have the answer they’re hoping for. Today no one is going to ask you at all, and all of the conversations will be fine.”
“Today will also be the day that your heart rate will finally respond to those breathing exercises everyone has been showing you for years. You know the ones. You’ve tried them a million times, but they only seem to work on normal people. Not today, my friend!”
“And best of all, today you won’t need those rescue meds either. Which means, you won’t need to worry about feeling crappy for days afterwards because of all the side effects.”
“Today is your day! Enjoy, or not. It’s totally up to you! Do whatever you want to today.
And don’t worry, there’s no reason to second guess any of this. It’s all good!”
The last few years has been a tough ride for me personally. I lost a brother to an overdose. I lost my mother to cancer. I lost one of my oldest friends, and the best man in my wedding, to Alzheimer’s. There’s also a handful of other major events that would take too long to explain in this particular post. When I look back at every one of those losses, there is a fairly large gap in my blog post history. Who knows why? I suppose it’s one of the ways I don’t deal with grief, by simply ignoring any decent coping mechanism I have for processing it.
A week ago today, I lost one of the most influential people I have ever had the privilege to know and collaborate with. This time the loss is directly relevant to my spiritual well-being, as well as what I write about.
Brian and I met over a decade ago, when he was hired by a friend of his, who was also my boss. A lucky break for me since the same guy had been telling me that I would probably get along really well with his friend Brian. A suggestion that sparked one of the most pivotal relationships in my life.
He was more than just a friend. He was a mentor in a number of areas for me. At other times, he preferred to be the student. It was one the purest definitions of friendship I have ever experienced. For myself, I believe that’s because we recognized ourselves in each other.
Over time, we created and authored a number of blogs that discussed a range of topics. He was one of the few people I can honestly say was able to deliver criticism to me in a way that completely bypassed my defenses, and the need to defend myself from the criticism. He could bypass my defenses and deliver information in a way that made it easy to see his point, simply removing my normal need to save face.
I don’t write because I want to. On most days, it’s more of a need. But, when my ego flairs, writing the type of stuff I do can be painful sometimes. Based on what I know, I suspect that Brian had to learn how to reduce his own ego before he could help anyone else with theirs. I am a far better person today for having known him.
I haven’t used his full name for a few reasons. The first of which is that I haven’t sought any sort of permission from his family to compose a written memorial. But also because I think I knew him well enough to know that, the idea of anyone trying to memorialize him in any way, would have given him the heebie jeebies.
Over the years he pushed me hard to get over myself, and to finally realize some of the projects I wanted to work on. But, like most people, most of it’s blocked by whatever bullshit excuse for a fear that I’d given myself. Each time that he pushed, he was careful to do so in a way that was always most helpful to others, and less likely to focus accolades back on us. In other words, Brian showed me what humility was, from the inside.
Okay, so now after having written all of that nice stuff, it also appears that I have also acquired my own glasses-wearing, mustachioed Obi Wan-ghost, wandering around and bugging me that I’ve still got work to do.
You see, I am not trying to memorialize Brian so much as I am trying to write about the passing of a close friend as a way to exercise my own demons. And also to let people know that I plan to change directions with this blog for a little while, if that’s okay (and even if it’s not). This blog was never meant to be a political bitch session. That’s purely a side effect of our current political climate.
I have been working on a series of essays that discuss the current and ongoing change in status that cannabis is experiencing as medicine, as well as how that might affect people in recovery for things like alcoholism.
Because of some of the training I have, both personally and professionally, this is a topic of great personal importance to me. It’s also one that few seem willing to tackle. And it’s here that Brian recently applied his gentle pressure, for me to continue to explore the subject, so that we could continue to help others in whatever way works for them.
My secondary reason for this post is to ask help from the readers: If you know anyone who can be helped by this information, please share it with them, this topic must be a give and take. Like much of our political discourse these days, the medical benefits of things like cannabis are subject to media favoritism. And the popularity of certain methods and medicines, ebbs and flows on public perception. A perception that is largely informed by backdoor deals and lobbying efforts, usually designed to enrich someone else, somewhere else.
What we really should be doing is using the technology we passively browse, and instead push it to increase our own access to information. We need it to help us expand our knowledge of the truth, and about the real efficacy of our medicines, and our politics. And for many who are trying to recover from addiction, helping them to increase the quality of their own internal lives.
Having said all of that, I want to once more thank Brian for everything he was able to teach me (not always such an easy task). And to also let him know that I miss him, and that I love him. Something I’m sure he knew, but I don’t think I got to say out loud.
I grew up in the northeast, and was in high school during roughly the same time period as Brett Kavanaugh. Here’s what I know about that time period.
Parties were measured by how many kegs they had. When a party was described with terms like ten kegger, no other descriptor was required. This was only a couple years after Animal House was released. And some of the most popular movies about high school life at the time were Porky’s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Both movies were shining examples of how all early 1980’s high school students spent their time — on academics, sports, church, and service.
Every guy I knew that went to a private prep school (which is admittedly a very small number of people) were absolute douchebags. They all basically acted like entitled pricks about everything, especially with girls. And, thanks to people like Owen Labrie, we know more about what happens at elite prep schools than we used to, and we know how far we still haven’t come.
I knew women and men who were raped and sexually assaulted. If the topic came up around someone new, the most empathetic response you could hope for was, “That sucks”, before they quickly changed the subject. But when the victim wasn’t around, people would ask each other what she was wearing. The idea being that if you dig down far enough, there’s always something wrong with what the woman did to make the guy rape her. If you were a guy, you could also count on being made fun of, and told that “You can’t rape the willing!”
Today, while listening to both witnesses testify, I didn’t focus so much on the details of their words, as the context of their speech. And what I saw was a very scared woman testifying before the entire United States Senate, and openly discussing one of the most frightening events of her life.
Then I looked up to see a room full of dour faced white guys hiding behind a hired gun, one who just happened to be the same gender as the victim. And each and every one of those Republican Senators sat in their shame and pretended to look busy, while their constituents made sure to note whether their Senator has the guts to ask their own questions, or if they abandoned their responsibility to a woman that no one voted for (this is getting to be a thing with these guys).
And then the nominee/accused rapist spoke. And suddenly I was too angry to watch anymore. I used to know guys who talked to people like this. Every entitled prick I have ever known has acted the same way.
I was starting to get indignant at the idea of someone circumventing democracy by covertly interfering with the *president and his duties, in acting in what they alone decided are the ‘right’ things to do. They’re completely eliminating the built-in of checks and balances in our government. It’s a virtual coup d’é·tat, right under the *president’s nose!
Then I remembered that the *president conspired with Vladimir Putin to steal the presidential election. And that he probably only did it to save face, avoiding the embarrassment of admitting that he likes golden showers (that, and he’s probably laundering money for half of the world’s autocrats).
And I also occurred to me that most of the Republican party seems okay with this. Apparently they are so enamored with power that they finally put love of country in the second slot. Don’t fool yourself though, the Democrats would do the same shit if they didn’t have to go to work every day.
And through it all, a Republican lead Congress continues to try to force through a Supreme Court justice so conservative that he makes John Birch look like Abbie Hoffman.
And without so much as dinner or a kiss first.