Neuroscience and The Abyss

Is it possible that all the extrasensory electronic stimulation that as a post modernist society we are all increasingly exposed to are causing some members of the population to fall into a moral and mental abyss? Take the extremely disheartening and disturbing shootings that occurred this past week, which you are familiar with I am sure, and consider the fact that the perpetrator was at times consumed by a video game in which he vicariously killed other humans in a simulated combat game. It would appear and has been documented that such behavior leads to a form of hypoesthesia where an individual becomes desensitized to sensory stimuli to the point where the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred. This leads directly to a form of deadly nihilism which completely replaces any fragments of feelings or moral code that remain in an already socially confused and alienated individual. As a society we need to be extremely aware of such dangers and the inherent ripple effect that violence has on ourselves and others.

Compare hypoethesia to its’ antonym a condition known as hyperthesia. This is a condition where the senses become heightened. A heightening of the senses as one was perhaps enjoying the wonders of nature. Would this not then logically lead to a form of empiricism? A state in which the very reason one would have to live would be the experience of such full and heightened awareness of touch and feelings? All the senses engaged at once instead of only the senses a video game could provide? Perhaps we should also be acutely aware of the lack of this state in so many of our lives. We have dangerously replaced nature with a poor facsimile. We should take care to recognize this shortcoming of humanities’ electronic creations and make concerted efforts to remedy the lack of nature in our lives. It has been shown that being outside in nature actually helps to lower ones blood pressure, all by itself. Certainly this wouldn’t work if one was being pursued by a wild animal.

This brings us to guns. Do human beings need guns to exist happily? Absolutely not. One of the beautiful advances of modern civilization is the very fact that one can exist peacefully without constant threat of death or pursuit of by wild animals as our ancestors had to endure. For the most part we can live in peace.  Sadly there are times when madmen seek to destroy this peace by blowing things up etc. Instead of emulating the violence that has occurred we should seek to sublimate such events. More video games that have less killing and more civilized behavior would be in order. We must learn to take care of each other lest we end up in a hell world of our very own creation.

“Maybe every other American movie shouldn’t be based on a comic book. Other countries will think Americans live in an infantile fantasy land where reality is whatever we say it is and every problem can be solved with violence.”                   — Bill Maher

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” — Isaac Asimov

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

U.S. Constitution Is Like the Bible; Keep What You Like Ignore the Rest!

Ever notice how certain manipulative people edit out parts of books that might endanger their credibility? Take that old glorious manual written by men out in the desert all those thousands of years ago, the Holy Bible. How many times have you heard that book edited and rewritten, misquoted and selectively cited? Usually it is cleverly manipulated in the name of raising more money for one or another ministries that promise to provide you with abundance if you send them some ridiculous tithe of your hard earned cash. Did Moses ever refer to tithes? No. Did Elijah or Elisha ever ask for one tenth of your earnings? No. How about the big guy, the number one, the lord, the Savior, did Jesus Christ himself ever ask for a tithe? No, in fact he turned over the tables of the money changers who were selling sacrifices with which the Jews were using to make atonement. In fact in only one book of the Bible is the tithe ever mentioned and that is in the book of the lesser prophet Malachi but when you listen to the television evangelists or hey, the pastor down the street from your house, more often than not they won’t straight up tell you like it is. They want your hard earned cash to gas up their tax exempt Mercedes Benz!

It seems now the United States Constitution is now open to the same selective interpretation. In light of the recent Boston bombings some would now redefine the rights of United States citizenship and try the one surviving psycho as a “military combatant”. Interestingly, but not coincidentally, these are the very same people who take the second amendment to read that United States citizens have the right to bear arms including Bushmaster rifles and AK-47s which are weapons designed with killing people in mind and nothing else. Thank goodness these very same people, mainly the strange conglomeration of vitriol filled dunces on Fox News, were not the people who drafted the Constitution to begin with. However, they are very reminiscent of these crazy ministries that want you to think their way lest you be ostracized and left out in the cold where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. They support the seedy misinformed party that would manipulate you right into the nineteenth century.

To continue on the idea of tithing it is now past April 15th. We have paid our dues to Uncle Sam. So our sense of nationalism and patriotism is to some degree defined by our willingness to continue to fund the governments of our cities, states and nation. It is up to each of us then, as citizens, to carefully oversee where this money is spent. In a democracy such as ours the majority should rule. How is it that we cannot enact a stricter gun control statute when the majority of people overwhelmingly approve of such a measure? Suddenly we are being taxed without representation! The slick and slimy elected officials are ignoring the demands of the people and trying once again to manipulate our freedom! We need to be sure the money we have paid into the system is well spent and we aren’t being swindled and lied to! Let’s stop paying these fast talking elected officials who ignore the people and serve the plutocracy. Don’t waste our tax money dammit! It is time to change the number of senators elected per state to reflect the population of each state. We’re paying for this!

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” — Margaret Mead

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Wanted: Independent Leaders for the Republican Party

The Republican party of the United States is in dire need of a complete overhaul. Somehow they have gone seriously off course. By pandering to the far right of extremism and embracing such monolithic mouthpieces as Limbaugh, Trump and Fox News the party has become lost in a morass of discord and hatred. At least Mitt Romney had the tact to admit defeat graciously in spite of the fact that he led a devious campaign filled with distortions of reality. Now Fox News has the crazy people in their glorious team of social miscreants accusing the other side of playing dirty to win the election! Of course the blow hard Trump and Limbaugh are quick to join in this cacophony of blithering idiocy. Whoa to the Republican party if it continues to let these mental midgets define who they are!

The Republican party is in dire need of some person to step above this fray. Someone with the will and fortitude to stand up to and put to rest this creed of lobbyist Grover Norquist. A free thinker who can put the former Scranton weatherman Bill O’Reilly in his place when O’Reilly suggests that the Republican party failed because the majority of people in The United States of America have declining moral values. Stop making excuses that have no basis in reality! The American people are wising up to the Republicans distortions of reality and very bad math. Put forth a free thinker who without condescension can tell the truth to America and argue for a wiser form of government. If not the Republican party will continue to disintegrate into a party that relies on hatred, lies, distortions and name calling if they have any hope of further deceiving the general population and that is not a path to lasting success.

Unfortunately for now there seems to be no such person on the horizon for the Republicans. Any rising star they have quickly becomes part of the military industrial complex and puts on the jack boots of their party members. Even the so called mavericks of the party have been stilted. The tea party has turned into the fossil fuel party. Maybe a camping trip to Greenland in the summer time is in order to prove to the last of the nay sayers that carbon dioxide is indeed heating the atmosphere and something needs to be done quickly and completely to avert worse disaster. Republicans need to embrace science and stop pretending it is something made up to bewilder them and call their faith into question. The sooner the party realizes that it can’t bully its way out of every problem the sooner they might produce a capable and courageous candidate who will not only earn the respect of the American people they will deserve it.

“Conservatives define themselves in terms of what they oppose.” — George Will

“I have a very large Twitter.” — Donald Trump

“The only way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons is to use them.” — Rush Limbaugh

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Note: This was originally posted on November 7th 2012. It seems particularly relevant today as the Nation came precariously close to defaulting on its’ loans due to some delusional Republicans who had forgotten who won the Presidency. The message is the same.

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Art Brings Us Close to the Eternal

Just when humanity brings you down once again and you are at the edge of a cliff staring at the abyss; The storm has overtaken you and there seems to be no way out; Your most beloved has departed suddenly and for no rational reason; A work of art may pierce your soul. Art redeems the purpose of your existence. Art resuscitates you. The breath of inspiration fills you once again.

Art is what differentiates us from the animals. Its’ very existence is unique to the human experience. Art makes us laugh and dream. Art has the power to make us cry and then inspire us to create. It can transport us and give us hope. When the world has gone mad we can find solace in it. We can escape into a painting perhaps. Lose our breath at the sight of a sculpture. Close our eyes and hear the sounds of heaven with songs that seem to come from the angels themselves. We might very well read ourselves into a fantastic saga of trial and redemption.

Art lifts our spirits bringing us close to the eternal. It is no small wonder that many of the worlds religions have directly inspired our most wondrous and precious art. In these days of great confusion and delusion let us remember the artists. Let each one honor the artist in themselves to lift us out of our darkness or if more tribulations are necessary to turn them into an appreciation of our shared humanity and wondrous diversity.

“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages”— Banksy

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”— Banksy

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

U.S. Constitution Is Like the Bible; Keep What You Like Ignore the Rest!

Ever notice how certain manipulative people edit out parts of books that might endanger their credibility? Take that old glorious manual written by men out in the desert all those thousands of years ago, the Holy Bible. How many times have you heard that book edited and rewritten, misquoted and selectively cited? Usually it is cleverly manipulated in the name of raising more money for one or another ministries that promise to provide you with abundance if you send them some ridiculous tithe of your hard earned cash. Did Moses ever refer to tithes? No. Did Elijah or Elisha ever ask for one tenth of your earnings? No. How about the big guy, the number one, the lord, the Savior, did Jesus Christ himself ever ask for a tithe? No, in fact he turned over the tables of the money changers who were selling sacrifices with which the Jews were using to make atonement. In fact in only one book of the Bible is the tithe ever mentioned and that is in the book of the lesser prophet Malachi but when you listen to the television evangelists or hey, the pastor down the street from your house, more often than not they won’t straight up tell you like it is. They want your hard earned cash to gas up their tax exempt Mercedes Benz!

It seems now the United States Constitution is now open to the same selective interpretation. In light of the recent Boston bombings some would now redefine the rights of United States citizenship and try the one surviving psycho as a “military combatant”. Interestingly, but not coincidentally, these are the very same people who take the second amendment to read that United States citizens have the right to bear arms including Bushmaster rifles and AK-47s which are weapons designed with killing people in mind and nothing else. Thank goodness these very same people, mainly the strange conglomeration of vitriol filled dunces on Fox News, were not the people who drafted the Constitution to begin with. However, they are very reminiscent of these crazy ministries that want you to think their way lest you be ostracized and left out in the cold where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. They support the seedy misinformed party that would manipulate you right into the nineteenth century.

To continue on the idea of tithing it is now past April 15th. We have paid our dues to Uncle Sam. So our sense of nationalism and patriotism is to some degree defined by our willingness to continue to fund the governments of our cities, states and nation. It is up to each of us then, as citizens, to carefully oversee where this money is spent. In a democracy such as ours the majority should rule. How is it that we cannot enact a stricter gun control statute when the majority of people overwhelmingly approve of such a measure? Suddenly we are being taxed without representation! The slick and slimy elected officials are ignoring the demands of the people and trying once again to manipulate our freedom! We need to be sure the money we have paid into the system is well spent and we aren’t being swindled and lied to! Let’s stop paying these fast talking elected officials who ignore the people and serve the plutocracy. Don’t waste our tax money dammit! It is time to change the number of senators elected per state to reflect the population of each state. We’re paying for this!

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” — Margaret Mead

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Art Brings Us Close to the Eternal

Just when humanity brings you down again and you are at the edge of a cliff staring at an abyss. The storm has overtaken you and there seems to be no way out. Your most beloved has departed suddenly and for no rational reason. A work of art may pierce your soul. Art redeems the purpose of your existence. Art resucitates you. The breath of inspiration fills you once again.

Art is what differentiates us from the animals. Its’ very existence is unique to the human experience. Art makes us laugh and dream. Art has the power to make us cry and then inspire us to create. It can transport us and give us hope. When the world has gone mad we can find solace in it. We can escape into a painting perhaps. Lose our breath at the sight of a sculpture. Close our eyes and hear the sounds of heaven with songs that seem to come from the angels themselves. We might very well read ourselves into a fantastic saga of trial and redemption.

Art lifts our spirits bringing us close to the eternal. It is no small wonder that many of the worlds religions have directly inspired our most wondrous and precious art. In these days of terrrible tragedy and devastation let us remember the artists. Let each one honor the artist in themselves to lift us out of our dilemna or if more grieving is necessary to turn it into a remembrance of our shared humanity.

“The highest art is always the most religious, and the greatest artist is always a devout person.” — Abraham Lincoln

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” — Freidrich Nietzsche

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween

Neuroscience and The Abyss

Is it possible that all the extrasensory electronic stimulation that as a post modernist society we are all increasingly exposed to are causing some members of the population to fall into a moral and mental abyss? Take the extremely disheartening and disturbing shootings that occurred this past week, which you are familiar with I am sure, and consider the fact that the perpetrator was at times consumed by a video game in which he vicariously killed other humans in a simulated combat game. It would appear and has been documented that such behavior leads to a form of hypoesthesia where an individual becomes desensitized to sensory stimuli to the point where the line between reality and fantasy becomes blurred. This leads directly to a form of deadly nihilism which completely replaces any fragments of feelings or moral code that remain in an already socially confused and alienated individual. As a society we need to be extremely aware of such dangers and the inherent ripple effect that violence has on ourselves and others.

Compare hypoethesia to its’ antonym a condition known as hyperthesia. This is a condition where the senses become heightened. A heightening of the senses as one was perhaps enjoying the wonders of nature. Would this not then logically lead to a form of empiricism? A state in which the very reason one would have to live would be the experience of such full and heightened awareness of touch and feelings? All the senses engaged at once instead of only the senses a video game could provide? Perhaps we should also be acutely aware of the lack of this state in so many of our lives. We have dangerously replaced nature with a poor facsimile. We should take care to recognize this shortcoming of humanities’ electronic creations and make concerted efforts to remedy the lack of nature in our lives. It has been shown that being outside in nature actually helps to lower ones blood pressure, all by itself. Certainly this wouldn’t work if one was being pursued by a wild animal.

This brings us to guns. Do human beings need guns to exist happily? Absolutely not. One of the beautiful advances of modern civilization is the very fact that one can exist peacefully without constant threat of death or pursuit of by wild animals as our ancestors had to endure. For the most part we can live in peace.  Sadly there are times when madmen seek to destroy this peace by blowing things up etc. Instead of emulating the violence that has occurred we should seek to sublimate such events. More video games that have less killing and more civilized behavior would be in order. We must learn to take care of each other lest we end up in a hell world of our very own creation.

“Maybe every other American movie shouldn’t be based on a comic book. Other countries will think Americans live in an infantile fantasy land where reality is whatever we say it is and every problem can be solved with violence.”                   — Bill Maher

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” — Isaac Asimov

Get off the cell phone and Drive! — Jake Shween