False Self, or Multiple Personalities? (part 4)

I want to clarify one thing: when I speak of the False Self and the True Self, I am not talking in any way about multiple personalities.  Here is an alternative way to think about it:

True Self: identifying the heart as the center of yourself; finding and giving love as the primary purpose of communicating; accepting, understanding, resilient.

False Self: identifying the brain as the center of yourself; finding and giving information as the primary purpose of communication; critical, judgmental, fragile.

I guess we can add a third: Barbarian Self: identifying your body as the center of yourself. Enjoy your hermit lifestyle, buddy. You won't be reading this.

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Or as Freud put it:

True Self centered in the superego, sort of.

False Self centered in the ego and/or the id.

The False Self isn't your enemy. It's your best friend, and has been from infancy. What you need to know is when it's responding in a situation, or your heart. Your goal is to let your heart, your True Self, be in charge and make all your decisions. At times you will definitely need your mind to help choose, but in the end it is your heart that makes all calls.

I hope this helps.

Living with a False Self (part 2)

In my previous blog post, of yesterday, I spoke of my discovery of living with a False Self. Please go read the bottom part of that post to find out what that is.

Here is a brief summary:

A False Self was proposed by Winnicott to explain behaviors in adolescents and adults. He said a False Self emerges in infants and children when they have big, to them, emotional pains to deal with. You can think of a False Self as the set of explanations, distractions, behaviors used to make the pain bearable.

I have a False Self. I want to tell you what it’s like living with one. The feelings I was avoiding was feeling that I wasn’t valuable to those around me, which as a kid were my parents.

The single biggest thing is that it’s very difficult to feel or experience love. This is because the False Self is a completely intellectual thing, and the mind doesn’t feel love. Only the heart can. [I know, I’m speaking of the brain, heart, and body as being separate; transform those into however you understand yourself to exist.] When someone says, “I love you,” two things happen. First, you notice that your heart responded one way, but your mind wants to take over and formulate its own response. This lasts just a moment, and it causes pain. Because you are feeling emotional pain, your False Self will take over to deal with it. It becomes a well-practiced response for the mind, your False Self, to take over. But the pain remains. You can’t express real love, nor feel it. In any context. I can honestly say that until I realized I had a False Self, and spent enough time to learn when it was trying to come forward and stop it, that I never knew what love felt like. I knew only the outward show that I learned from watching others.

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Most importantly, I didn’t love myself. This was a small bonus, when I read things like, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Well, that was easy; go watch TV. But the drawbacks are huge: I had no confidence in what I could accomplish. I felt that I had to edit everything I’d say so that no one could see that I had no value. Without a love of yourself, which automatically approves of anything you say as valuable, your brain is left to determine it. Talking to a woman, especially one I wanted to impress, was just impossible; I didn’t have the brain capacity to speak while calculating the totality of all ways she might take what I said, good or bad, so I could reject the ones I thought might reveal my lack of value before it left my mouth. So I’d just go speechless around people. Which causes pain. Which reinforces the False Self. I was jealous of Spock; he didn’t need to deal with any of this. Mostly.

Imagination and fantasy are a big deal. Everyone needs positive support. Your False Self can’t do that. It emerged to handle feeling much more primitive. So I had a massively active imagination. These were long-lived fantasies where I was doing something great. These fantasies were not having the world worship me. They were my doing something important, which influenced the world in very major way, but my response was always humble. Inventing anti-gravity technology to allow personal flight and limitless power—and I still lived at home. Setting up a space station, having convinced Warren Buffett to fund my obviously great idea, to allow school kids to get used to working and playing in zero-G. Being a bass player so good that artists flocked to my little house to play with me. Fantasy. It kept me going for decades.

I also had a HUGE inner dialog. It was my False Self trying to talk with my True Self (or something) and I had inner conversations going all the time. My mind was never silent, except when I was falling asleep.

Spirituality is different. I’m still exploring this, but this I can say: the of spirituality experienced by a False Self can’t possibly match that taught by Jesus. The sort of spirituality I felt always led me to be alone. It never felt like I wanted to go out and be with people, to love them, to be with them. It was like a warm blanket at best. Powerless to follow the example Jesus gave us.

Without love, and feeling a self-centered spirituality, I’m astounded that I stayed in the church. There is no reason I should have. Well, one, I was still trying to please my parents. Obedience is what caused the emergence of my False Self, and my False Self was obedient to the end.

Since the False Self exists to deal with emotional pain, it tends toward very addictive behavior to distract from that pain. I think all addictive behavior exists to hide pain. Alcohol, cigarettes, porn, food, TV, binging, purging, drugs, drugs, drugs, vitamins, looks, exercise, socializing, hermitizing, anger, and probably the rest of all the bad things man does to themselves, are all part of avoiding this deep emotional pain. This is one of the main things I noticed when my True Self began to take dominance: all my addictions disappeared instantly. I won’t say what they were, but the departure surprised me. PTSD’s are probably the response of a False Self. That's just a guess.

The other big thing I noticed was that I love being with people now. I used to only be comfortable in the desert, by myself. Being by myself was the best way I knew to not feel I had no value. Being around people always brought pain. But now, with a dominant True Self, I can honestly say I love being with people. I’m still learning who my True Self is, but the thing I want most now is a close, deep conversation, where important ideas and feelings are expressed, and listened to. I'll add, though, that there was one other place I liked being, where I felt I had value: in front of a class. I loved being a teacher then, and still do, even more.

When Jesus visited the Americas, there is a scene which happened that first day, when the children gathers around Jesus, and angels came down and administered to the children for quite some time. Here is what I think: they were dealing with False Selves. I’m rather firmly of the opinion now that if we properly understood our friends with False Selves, and knew how to talk about it, and help them understand how we will love their True Selves much more than the False Selves, we could have the same society for centuries that the Nephites experienced.

Does it sound as if I am saying that dealing with the False Self is a panacea to all harms and trouble. Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying.

If you have a False Self, dealing with that should be your most important priority in life. If, when you think of yourself, you don’t feel that warm glow of love in your chest, you have a False Self. Try it now. At least half of you have have one. Maybe as many as 70%. Most people in Utah die with theirs.

Layers (False Self part 1)

Self discovery. Each of us survived childhood. Mostly. As several awesome thinkers have pointed out, there is a lot of our personality and character which was determined in childhood, and for most of us, we continue reacting to situations using the same responses we learned as babies.

The Premise

Recently Alain de Botton, a philosopher whom I greatly admire for his ability to describe what it is to be a human, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times titled "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person." His thesis: No matter how well you understand someone and come to believe you are in love with them, your sense of love was mostly formed as you received unconditional love as a baby. The problem is that as a baby you had no idea what was going on, and as you take those feelings as a child and rely on them in an adult romance, you are going to get almost everything wrong. Plus, your spouse will be doing the same thing by responding to situations using the same feelings set during infanthood, and will appear to you as crazy.

I think he's dead on correct.

The Trigger

So I've been on a personal quest to understand why I'm still single at 54. It started almost two years ago. The sister of a friend of mine visited from Boston. Beautiful, tall, academic, and I went and made a total prat of myself. I mean, total embarrassing display of most every nerd/loser/wuss stereotype known. And so began my quest.

Outer layer: The Nice Guy

Within days I had discovered the "Nice Guy Syndrome." This is an idea put forth by Robert A. Glover. Nice Guys all believe that if they are "good" and do everything "right," they will be loved, get their needs met, and have a problem-free life. They are "good" by trying to eliminate or hide certain things about themselves (mistakes, needs, emotions, fantasy) and become what they think others want them to be (generous, peaceful, helpful). The problem here is that they are denying aspects of themselves, which is never healthy. They also make "covert contracts" with anyone they serve: "when I do this favor for you, you are to love me back" without ever telling the other person, and end up disappointed when love does not come. For me, the idea and the behaviors described matched my situation in life very well. That I was a Nice Guy resonated with me, and I followed the advice as best I could. But to very little effect. I recognized some of what I'd given up in life by being "nice," but nothing really changed.

While the idea of the Nice Guy Syndrome gave me tremendous insight in the way I was behaving, it didn't seem to cure the root of why I was still single.

 Inner layer: Self Esteem

After a few months I realized the Nice Guy idea was informative, but not very useful. I started looking around for something which could explain root causes. I happened across a self-esteem repair ecosystem created by Nathaniel Branden. He wrote many self-esteem self-help books, the greatest being The Six Pillars of Self Esteem. His six pillars are:

  1. The practice of living consciously
  2. The practice of self acceptance
  3. The practice of self responsibility
  4. The practice of self-assertiveness
  5. The practice of living purposefully
  6. The practice of personal integrity

You note these are all practices for us to adopt, not just advice. He is wordy, but has good thoughts in there. It takes a while to put all his content into practice, and a lot of root sentences that you need to finish which will reveal hidden thoughts and ideas to you.

The author's core thesis: to have self esteem you need to believe you are worthy of happiness, and you need to believe that your efforts will bring you to happiness. Now, as the time, I had never in my life believed that I could be happy. That had simply never crossed my mind. I could enjoy moments, I could have fun, I could laugh at movies. But to be happy seemed foreign to me. Utterly.

So I delved into the author's ideas in a big way. And while it helped me understand what was going on, those exercises just didn't seem to be paying off as a change in me. Something was still missing. It's like an arrow that hit at the wrong angle; it stuck, but didn't penetrate very deeply.

Deeper layer: The Book of Life

As I looked into the work of Alain de Botton, author of the op-ed piece I mentioned at the top, I found he had a website packed with what I think is marvelous advice and information. His thinking ranges all over the place, from some of the deepest philosophers to some of the most practical ideas about relationships, self, romance, work. I'll give you an idea:

Romance: de Botton thinks romance and romanticism is the cause of more suffering in love than any other cause in relationships because it tells us that our soul mate can understand us by intuition, not communication.

Self-Love: Loving yourself is the core of most interpersonal relationships; if it is missing almost nothing can happen between you.

Emotional Inheritance: we all inherit most of our emotions from our parents, who modeled them for us in early childhood. This goes on to be repeated by us in our adult lives, but in situations not entirely appropriate, because we were just little kids when we learned them and never understood what was going on when we learned them. 

Owner's manual: The idea, which I love and now have written, of writing an owner's manual for yourself, to give to those who love you most so they can understand right away why you will behave oddly.

He also makes these fun little videos illustrating his points.

Core: The False Self

One of the topics de Botton addresses (Youtube) is the work of child psychotherapist Donald Winnicott. He lived in Britain, and did a series of radio lessons there in the 1950's which have had a big influence on how we rear children. One of Winnicott's most influential ideas involves the emergence in childhood of a "False Self." Here is how I describe it:

Everyone is familiar with a "persona." This is a term Carl Jung used to describe how we "put on a social mask" in some situations to make socializing with particular groups more comfortable. For example, no one speaks with their children the same way as their boss. Each gets a different persona. We are so accustomed to using personas that most of us can see right through one to the authentic person behind.

But sometimes, particularly in childhood and certainly in infancy, a child might receive an emotional wound so painful that they need to find a way to deal with it. One of those ways is to invent a persona for themselves. This persona can explain why they felt the emotional pain, or find ways to distract from feeling the pain, or maybe find ways to forever avoid the pain. For example, one child might try to avoid the emotional pain by being very intellectual and deny emotion in his life. Another might become very aggressive and angry, striking first. Or, as Wittincott himself said, it could be that the parents tried to make the child "be good" before the child had a chance to test out being naughty, thus turning over his independent self to mom and dad's wishes and become a peacemaker and caretaker. When a child creates a persona for himself, and keeps it present most of the time, it becomes a False Self.

The False Self is there to protect the pains felt by an infant. But when the False Self is strong enough, and dominant over the True Self, all kinds of trouble starts. First, the child may never realize there is even a False Self present when the True Self has stepped so far back into the shadows. And this can continue well into adulthood. Second, the False Self can never run the show by himself. The True Self will always get through, bringing pain, to which the False Self will react to avoid. This creates a personality marked by fear, avoidance, self-distracting behaviors, especially addictions, and maybe every other ill of mankind.

And at least half of everyone you know has a significant False Self, some of which are dominant. I'm pretty sure at least four members of my immediate family of nine are dealing with a dominant False Self.

This was describing me. I won't go into all the behaviors I had, but they all fit this one idea. I'd even seen my True and False selves in dreams and didn't realize this is what it was at the time. If you didn't look at the Youtube video above, do so now.

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I was a Good Child. And I have a False Self. I realized it after a very long and painful night in my tent at the ward campout last Saturday. Now my task is to learn to recognize when the False Self is trying to protect my True Self, and then find ways of letting myself just feel the emotional pain, knowing as I do as an adult, that the pain won't kill me. I didn't know that when I developed the False Self. I'm happy to report that when I am with people, it is probably my True Self you will meet. I hope you like him. He can be a bit snarky but he's a riot. He'll talk a lot if allowed to. At home, or when I'm alone, the False Self might be there, still trying to serve the purpose of his creation.

Here is a list of what one psychotherapist labeled our "Core Pains." A core pain is the thing felt as an infant or child which the child was not ready to deal with and caused the creation of a False Self to help. Each has a negative core belief, a compensating personality (which is the personality of the False Self), and distractors from the core pain, which are the annoying parts of the False Self. Most people have one core pain, but two or three are possible in some particularly nasty home situations.

  • "I am Imperfect"
    • Negative Core Belief: "There seems to be something wrong with me."
    • Compensating Personality: I must be perfect. I must prove there is not something wrong with me. Seeking internal and/or external perfection, this personality appears as distant but is actually inwardly clingy and controlling - wanting to perfect self or others. "If I do it perfectly, I will be healed."
    • Core Pain Distractors: In order to feel and avoid the intense pain of "I am imperfect" this personality feels resentment, so the False Core does not have to be experienced, known and felt.
  • "I am Worthless"
    • Negative Core Belief: "I have no value."
    • Compensating Personality: I must prove I am not worthless. I must prove that I have worth and value. This personality caretakes and over-gives to get value. This personality also needs flattery from self and others. This personality struggles with dependence and the need to appear overly independent.
    • Core Pain Distractors: This person distracts away from "I am worthless and I have no value" by focusing on feeling dependent, weak willed - or compensating by appearing totally together, independent, valuable, contained and worthy. The distractor emotion is self-pride through imagination and self-flattery so the False Core pain does not have to be experienced, known and felt.
  • "I Cannot Do" or "I Cannot Do Enough"
    • Negative Core Belief: "I cannot do, decide or act." Or, "I cannot do enough." "I must have done something bad and that is why I am separate from love. Therefore it is better not to do - or else something bad will happen."
    • Compensating Personality: I must prove that I can do, decide and act by becoming an over-doer or an overachiever. This personality becomes grandiose about what it can and did do to the point of self-deceit. This personality struggles with over-efficiency and vanity.
    • Core Pain Distractors: In order to avoid the intense pain of "I cannot do - or cannot do enough" this person uses deceit and lies to hide what they have been doing or not doing. This false core and compensating personality exaggerates to themself and others about who they are, and what they do and don't do, so the False Core pain does not have to be experienced, known and felt.
  • "I am Inadequate"
    • Negative Core Belief: I am inadequate.
    • Compensating Personality: I must prove that I am not inadequate. I must prove that I am adequate and smart. This personality struggles between feeling stupid and smart and tries to be overly adequate by being over-analytic and over-reasonable.
    • Core Pain Distractors: In order to avoid the pain of "I am inadequate" this personality's emotional distractors are melancholy, depression, jealousy, envy, abandonment, and betrayal, so the False Core pain does not have to be experienced, known and felt.
  • "I am Non-Existent"
    • Negative Core Belief: "I don't exist. I am nothing. I have nothing." This false core develops earlier than others - often in utero - and is more deeply embedded in the body than any of the other False Core/False Selves. This false core self believes, "I am nothing. I am empty. I don't know." Because of this, this type of person is unsuitable for Buddhist (no-self) and non-dual spiritual practices because they reinforce the False Core assumptions. This False Core can make itself quite invisible but invisibility is a two edged sword because they become invisible to themselves and their own needs.
    • Compensating Personality: "I must prove that I am something, have something, and that I exist." This personality "thinks" feelings and does not feel them. This could be because of rejection from the mother in utero. This personality dissociates from feelings early and become an over-observer as a defense. They can use their capacity for dissociation or blankness towards a spiritual path that reinforces that it does not have a personality and does not exist. This personality contains the structure of rejection and because they assume they will be rejected, they reject first, and begin to isolate and psychologically disappear.
    • Core Pain Distractors: In order to avoid the pain of "I do not exist" this personality accumulates information because they imagine they are nothing and have nothing. If I have "something" (ie., information and ideas) "I exist." This personality also struggles between the polarity of being social and anti-social, so the False Core pain does not have to be experienced, known and felt.
  • "I am Alone"
    • Negative Core Belief: "I am alone. I fear being shunned."
    • Compensating Personality: I must not be alone - I must connect. This personality is the over-connector. At the time of connection there is a "high" and a relief from "I am alone" however, like a drug addict, the False Self Compensator needs more and more connection to get the same "high".
    • Core Pain Distractors: In order to avoid the pain of "I am alone" this personality uses the main distractor of fear, weakness, paranoia, self-doubt, and terror, or the preoccupation with being strong and being able to handle it all, so the False Core pain does not have to be experienced, known and felt.
  • "I am Incomplete"
    • Negative Core Belief: "I am incomplete. There must be something missing. I am not enough."
    • Compensating Personality: "I must get whole, complete, completed or full through having many varied, extraordinary experiences."
    • Core Pain Distractors: In order to avoid the pain of "I am incomplete" this personality uses the distractor identities of false optimism and over-idealism as well as the polarity of super-standards or rules, with no standards or rules, as well as the struggles between feeling superior and inferior, so the False Core pain does not have to be experienced, known and felt.
  • "I am Powerless."
    • Negative Core Belief: "I am powerless." "I am powerless because I have no force, no influence, got screwed over, etc.
    • Compensating Personality: "I must prove I am not powerless by acting "as if" I am overly powerful." This compensating personality has such an unacknowledged powerlessness it can have psychopathic tendencies or can compensate by acting overly blown-up, imagining themselves to be much more powerful than they actually are.
    • Core Pain Distractors: In order to avoid the pain of "I am powerless" this personality is fixated on revenge and range and can also turn love into lust. Love is warm and vulnerable, but for this personality it reactivates the trauma of separation and so they resist love. Consequently, they move from experiencing vulnerable love to having the imagined "power" of lust, so the False Core does not have to be experienced, known and felt.
  • "I am Loveless."
    • Negative Core Belief: "I am loveless. There is no love."
    • Compensating Personality: "I must prove I am not loveless by appearing "as if" I am overly loving and accepting of what is happening." Underneath this loving, accepting mask lies a passive, sometimes aggressive coat of armor that is difficult to penetrate because of the spiritualized insistence on appearing loving. This type seeks spirituality, and seeks to act loving and loveable but with all roles plays, it cannot receive the love that it wants. The "loveless" struggle with passive-aggressive repressed anger for this reason.
    • Core Pain Distractors: In order to avoid the pain of "I am loveless," so the False Core does not have to be experienced, known and felt, this personality has a core of underlying anger which manifests a dual identity that is passive on the outside and aggressive on the inside. This personality acts "passive" and projects "aggressive" onto another, getting the other to "act out" by frustrating it.

I hope as you run through this list that you discover that you have no False Self. But if you do, I hope that you have an experience similar to mine, a feeling of liberation and understanding, though there is work to be done. Already I've seen big payoffs, but that may be because I have spent almost two years peeling away these layers. My core pain is was, "I have no value." Now I know I have value.

So do you.

And I'll add this: if your self-help book does not address Winnicott's False Self, it will never have the insight to change people. Neither will your religion. 

P.P.S. There exists a very informative website called Break the Cycle intended to help families break the cycle of one generations of False Selves raising the next. The problem is too much information, and a wholly chaotic presentation. If you have the hours and weeks and months, and want to really understand and deal with a False Self problem, there is where you should park your browser.

Vandalism or Art?

I was out for a walk to day and came across this stencil in Lion's Park, Grandview neighborhood, in Provo. I liked finding it here.

But I recognize it's a form of vandalism. I once found a chalk picture of van Gogh's Starry Night on a bridge next to Provo River. I liked that, too. I think I'm struggling with the difference between vandalism, which I really don't like, and these sorts of honest efforts to add beauty to the urban landscape. undefined

With the stencil, I should say that if the stencil were created by the one who applied it, I think of it as art. If it was purchased, then it's graffiti. Strange, what a small difference might mean.

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What is Your Real Risk Level?

I hear and read this all the time: "I read what pesticides can do to you. I'll only eat organic." It doesn't have to be pesticides. It could be the plastic of your drinking cup, or your chicken, or anything at all, really. Anything found "too risky for me."

I'm challenging that way of thinking. I'll do it using an example. Let's say I engage in two behaviors, one is high risk and one is low risk. I become obese, risking heart disease, and I'll drive a car. The high risk activity, in my age group (see http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_02.pdf for details) kills 184 people out of every 100,000 people, and the low-risk activity kills only 43. So does driving a car make me any more liable to die than the heart disease did already? The answer is no, it doesn't. Here's why: the two are not tied to each other; a small risk does not make the bigger risk bigger. They are not tied to each other in any way. In any given day I might have a heart attack, or I might get in a car crash, but I'll never do both at the same time. I can't die of a heart-attack-caused car crash, I can only die of a heart attack; the subsequent car crash is just where by body lands. Because they aren't tied, any risk smaller than my greatest risk doesn't matter any more; it doesn't add to the greater risk to make it even bigger, it's smaller and the larger risk already covers it. The only risk that matters is the single greatest risk. 

It's hard math to get your mind around, I know. I'll make it even clearer, if I can. Compare a car crash and drinking lead-laced water from Flint Michigan. The risk of lead in your system is very low. So if I drink leaded water, I'll still likely die in a car crash.

So all I need to know is, what is my greatest risk? Any risk lower than that isn't a risk to me any more; the big risk is the one most likely to get me.

Do pesticides to bad things? Maybe, but until they become my greatest risk, it doesn't matter; that's not what's going to kill me.

This sort of risk assessment has a significant bonus: if you only worry about lowering the one big risk, you don't have to fret over all the small risks anymore. And that will create a more relaxed view of the world, and that by itself will lower your big risk.

So without further ado, here is how you will die. This comes from the link above.

Age Risk Rate/100,000
1-14 Accident 5
15-24 Accident 23
25-34 Accident 38
35-44 Accident 38
45-54 Cancer 106
55-64 Cancer 288
65-74 Heart disease 1092
75-84 Cancer 1139
85+ Heart disease 4014

That's all you need to worry about. Lower that rate in your life and you will live longer. Everything else is less likely.

And enjoy life!

Wasted Energy? Really?

There is a graphic going around, which people are trying to demonstrate how wasteful we are:

I want to talk about this a bit, and show why that "Rejected Energy" box has to be there.

On the left you see the energy contained in the fuels used to power our economy. These are measured in a unit of heat called "∆H" or Heat of Reaction. Heats of reaction is the measure of how much heat the combustion of that fuel (or how much heat is produced by the process for wind and nuclear). 

But the units on the right, the "Energy Services" and "Rejected Energy" boxes, they are measured differently. The "energy Services" box is measured as Gibbs Free Energy, ∆G, but the "Rejected Energy" is measured as Entropy, ∆S.

∆G: Gibbs Free Energy, the maximum amount of work which a process, like burning coal, can produce.

∆H: Heat of Reaction, the total amount of heat generated by a process, like burning coal, when no work is done.

∆S: Entropy, the amount of disorder created by the process. Turning a cold solid coal into a hot gas increases disorder.

All the heat energy of the fuels on the left need to be converted to a form of work. Lighting a bulb, or running a motor, or driving a car, all require work to be done. Heat, ∆H, does not do work. It can only warn things up. Here is the conversion:

∆G = ∆H - T∆S

This is Gibbs Law. What this means is, the maximum amount of work when can be done is found by finding the heat (left side of graph) and subtract the amount of disorder created multiplied by the temperature.

The "Rejected Energy" box is the entropy box, the ∆S box. Most is entropy, but some entropy is created in a way which does no good, so it is energy truly lost. Like delivering electricity heats the wires a bit. Or your car dumps a lot of heat through the radiator and brakes.

The "Energy Services" box is the ∆G box. Useful energy doing work.

Here is what that graph really means: Thick likes can make power rapidly; thin likes cannot. if the ∆S box didn't exist, the ∆G box wouldn't either. All you would have is one huge ∆H box, and heat is all you could enjoy but made at such a low rate that it could not deliver power, only heat. No electricity, no transportation, no manufacturing.

That graph looks exactly as it should, and trying to change it would pretty much send us back to the stone age.

http://www.visualcapitalist.com/u-s-energy-consumption-one-giant-diagram/

First post!

I want to use this blog to express the occasional thought I have, though I can't guarantee it will be calm, or popular, or that you, my reader, will come off looking all the good.

Topics I plan to address:

  1. Driving as though we are operating a locomotive
  2. Child sacrifice is alive in well in the USA, and the world link
  3. Global Warming and the Progressive Luddites: Sir, may I have more, please? link
  4. First row effect and solvent system why aren't these in chemistry books?
  5. Risks that are small mean more to us than far larger risks link
  6. Science by the Press isn't really science link
  7. Walking is more than getting back to where you started
  8. Fossil fuels are the most awesome thing EVER!
  9. Bifenthryn and the undoing of the Rachel Carson DDT legislation
  10. Molecular Orbital Theory is not the Adamic science
  11. The Wilderness Act stopped acting but the corpse is still draped across the landscape of the West
  12. The Internet is like the street in front of your house, and always has been
  13. Self Esteem is the most important thing you can teach your kids, and your friends link
  14. Open Carry your opinion says a lot about your role in society

These will get me going, at least. I hope you have noticed that I'm doing a lot with formatting. This is a test post to see how the wysiwyg editor works in the final display of what I write post.

Bruce

Koyaanisquatsi

Koyaanisquatsi (1982) is a film. It's also an experience, and an album, and a study in photography.

I watched Koyaanisquatsi again yesterday. It is as fresh an experience as when I first saw it on PBS back in 1984 or so. It was shown on American Experience, I think. I only saw the last half of the movie, but the effect on me was profound and mesmerizing. My mind lit up. It met some need in me to see the world differently.

The film is images and music. Nothing else. There is no narration, no plot (other than the ebb and flow of nature and humanity). The beauty of nature. The destruction of nature by man, which is also beautiful.  The magnificent beauty of man. It's all there for you to find. You won't be told what to think. Even in the editing there is no poltical statement or meaning. It presents mankind to you. To admire, or to despise, as you wish.

During production Francis Ford Coppola asked to see the film. The producers showed it to him, and he said it was a film which needed to be made. I saw it the same way that day. It needed to be made. Nothing like it was attempted since Charles and Ray Eames film work in the 1960's and 1970's, but this was done perfectly, It was done right. The Eames work, like "Powers of Ten" hints at the greatness which is possible on film, but doesn't quite deliver. In Koyaanisquatsi the director, Godfrey Reggio, and the cinematographer/cameraman, Ron Fricke, pull it off. The feeling is right, and the footage is interesting, astounding (United Boeing 747's anyone?), meaningful. Seriously, I still cheer during the film. At many spots. The tilt shot of the keystoned glass wall of a building as clouds roll by in its windows. The full moon moving behind a modern skyscraper. The tops of clouds rolling like waves through a mountain pass. All the wonderful nighttime footage of cities in motion.

And the music! Philip Glass writes minimalistic orchestrations, repeating phrases, simple melodies, which perfectly accent the images. I can listen to his music driving through the southwest and it's like I'm in a second version of the film. One of the most remarkable experiences I've had while driving the going south on US 666 to Gallup, New Mexico, driving past the barren desert last the lone and symmetric power lines, while listening to Glass' music as the afternoon sun brought a golden glow to the landscape. It was a perfect moment.

If you get a chance to watch Koyaanisquatsi on a quiet afternoon, please do. And invite me over. And if you want to see it, invite yourself over to my house. I'd love to watch it with you.

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Why I Want Global Warming

Global Warming. 

A cause of some consternation for almost everyone. Except me, maybe.

You see, I'll all for it.

I grew up and live in a semi-arid region, where the only plants that grow naturally are few and work hard for anything they produce which is never enough to sustain even one person per square mile. So the lack of plant life around me as I grew up is a big influence on how I see what the future might be.

I want plants to grow. Everywhere. All the time.

Right now, they don't. They only grow in certain places. Places that are wet. Riverbanks. Coastlines. Irrigated land. 

Ever look at a vegetation map? Notice the vast yellow expanses where nothing is growing? That's a problem. A big problem.

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It didn't used to be that way. There was a time when plants grew on the surface in sufficient abundance that it was difficult to find dirt. Plants grew on top of plants. It is called the caboniferous period, and existed about 360 - 300 million years ago. That's when the coal beds were deposited. The plants grew in such abundance that the dead plants were buried before they could decay back into carbon dioxide and water, and became coal. There is a lot of coal below ground, and it all used to be plants.

Here's what I want: to recreate, as best we can, the climate of the carboniferous period:

  • Average global temperature: 68 °F. Currently: 56 °F
  • Oxygen in the atmosphere: 35%. Currently 21%
  • Carbon dioxide levels: 1200 ppm. Currently 410 ppm

Carbon dioxide is the key. We need to put it into the atmosphere, which will let global warming heat the oceans, so water will evaporate and also warm the atmosphere (water is a very good greenhouse gas). Then the plants will grow, and oxygen levels will shoot up. The air will be warmer, so we will be wearing less. And that means we need to lose weight, but that will be easy will an abundance of oxygen to help us work out.

As I see it, global warming is a total win for mankind.