Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Yearning for Problems

My spouse is a mental health counselor, so that means I partially live in a world where mental health problems are constantly focused on. After having lived in this environment for three years, I've come to realize that I don't have any mental health issues. I would have said that timidly two and a half years ago, but I'm more certain of this today than ever, and I can't emphasize enough at how bold of a claim that is in a room full of therapists. It's almost an invitation for them to prod you. Thus, I've only said this out loud twice.

I was looking at /r/preppers on reddit. It's a forum, and the topic is being prepared for when a part or all of society breaks down for whatever reason. There's something about survival situations that many are attracted to, which is ironic because we live in a fairly well-oiled machine. It's comfortable most of the time, and things work predictably. But, tying this into mental health. For most of human history our problems and routines were laid out for us. Go kill something, clean it, don't get eaten while doing it. Tend to your plants. Build a fire. Fix your shelter, etc. Furthermore, I also believe in the adage that "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop." and that that's a large contributor to the prevalence of mental problems today.

There's a part of me that keeps a bookmark in the fragility of modern society. This gives me perspective on "invented problems" vs. "real problems". I think it's one of the reasons I regard myself as having no mental health issues. Now, before you go think that I'm getting all uppity on you. I'm certainly not perfect. I struggle with procrastination and motivation like anyone, but I usually come through. Beyond that, I feel quite the blank slate. Whenever I feel some type of neurosis developing I imagine myself back in the woods, because a man in the woods doesn't have time to worry about this shit! Right? Someone may say "Well, that's because we're more specialized and sophisticated." and this is the point where our sophistication starts working against us.

Now, do I know how to find clean water? No. My family and I are fucked! Do I know how to hunt animals? No. Do I know what plants I can eat and not eat? No. No, no, no, no. I can play you a song, and barter. I figure when the shit hits the fan my trade will skyrocket in value, because there will be no more Pandora or Spotify and everybody will still continue to love music. Anyhow, I'm getting side tracked.

You have to have time in order to worry about your nose, your belly, your bald spot, whether or not your food has a significant amount of sulforaphane in it, whether or not people understand you and see the light in you. "You know what? I'm not sure if my mom loved me enough..." It takes idle time to get unhealthily obsessed with this or that, assuming you're not fighting for your fucking life in the rat race. There are indeed real problems that people have in our society, but unfortunately the solutions are often abstract. If you're hungry, you want some food, first you have to go to work and do something completely unrelated to food, then sit at home and wait for a paycheck. Cash it, take your paper, and go get you an apple. There's more steps in there than that, but you get the idea.

Hunters and gatherers were born into a tribe who knew their environment extremely well, so their problems were simple. This is what our biology is made for. It isn't made for continual profound changes in multiple arenas. Nor is it accustomed to sitting on our ass as much as we do, so we have to invent gyms to aimlessly move our bodies for the sole purpose of moving our bodies, yet another abstraction. This is why I don't understand why everyone wants their laptop to be so light, "Give me the fifteen pounder!"

So, we're accustomed to having problems, and if we don't? We'll damn well invent some. But, inventing your own problems is like recreational misery. If that's the case, you can easily go find some real problems. Like, go clean your room for example. Cleaning is supremely therapeutic, but many people in such royal positions as ourselves can't be bothered. If you live in my zip code, you're royal in relation to the world at large.

What we need is applied problems. They have to have some consequence in making life, "the world" a better place. And don't let perfection ruin a good thing, I know that procrastination trick like the back of my hand.

During my wife and I's first couples counseling session I stated that most of my problems are logistical. That there are things I'm trying to achieve and there are some obstructions, or contradictions I'm unable to reconcile. But, they're there, like a Rubik's Cube on a table, and not internal. In this case, the only internal problem would be that I'm too dumb to figure out a solution. You can't blame me for being dumb, can you?

So it seems that many people are yearning for problems.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Music In the 21st Century

I heard someone say they're tired of hearing musicians say "There's nothing good being produced anymore."

I'm guilty of this to a degree. Albeit, I've usually loved about one album per year, historically. I don't mind that, as long as I LOVE at least one (and of course not that I heard them all)

What I've found increasing since 2007 is the feeling coming through new songs. As I give them a-go I've found myself thinking "This is written as if they know it's not going to last." There's a feeling of half-assery, that they know it's ephemeral (especially when it comes to lyrics). And I don't blame them if that's the case, because personally I find it harder to excellently craft a song that listeners are going to chew, love, and spit out within a week. However... I've found a bright side to this. My music is getting further away from pop-music standards. Since, after listening to Melanie De Biasio's Blackened Cities it dawned on me that the limitations of radio and manufacturing no longer exist. (Side note: The three minute song format didn't arise because it's inherently appealing, it happened because that's about what would fit on a 45 record.) And, the internet is the busiest street corner ever, people who like what I'm doing are bound to walk by.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Most Complex Casino

It's possible that I don't know what I'm talking about concerning this, but when it comes to politics it's possible that nobody, not even those who originate policy know what they're talking about concerning its real world implications—as it seems that any policy will have unintended consequences for some group of people or other.

Nonetheless, the overall tone of the Trump administration seems old-fashion in a not good way. Its idea of bringing back coal jobs like it's 1930. And, the notion that one man is gonna waltz in there like a fast talking 1950's Hudsucker style entrepreneur and revamp the whole thing like it's a casino seems out of touch.

Towards the onset of the 21st century, many people online were discussing globalization as a bad thing, meanwhile those who were for it seemed to be the wealthy business and political magnates. Now, the populous seems about 50/50 on it. From my perspective, it also appears that the concept of Globalization for the masses didn't come into awareness through international business dealings, but through social media, more specifically, primarily becoming aware of the world through social media.
I don't think people saw it coming that the consent for globalization was to come through the likes of Mark Zuckerberg's facebook. From social media and the internet at large people have learned that yes, there are people in parts of Syria living through what looks like the apocalypse. People became aware that Chinese workers making iPhones for us started committing suicide due to their harsh work conditions. Through social media we learned that what we do here, affects what happens over there, and vice/versa in nearly real time.

But despite the awareness of globalization, people are still disenfranchised when it comes to the business dealings, not the things that will affect them morally, but what will affect their workplace, environment, and finance. The people can't compete with those whose careers it is to draft business deals with foreign nations or domestically, nor can they reliably affect instances when the military is used to strategically secure a resource under the cover of a noble slogan.

Business as we've come to know it is ultimately about the bottom-line. Even when a business takes on a humanitarian venture it's still about how that will affect its bottom line. I don't know the guy personally, but I wager that this is what Trump the businessman is accustomed to being concerned with, and not necessarily how it's going to affect people. If this is the case, now he's dealing with the most complex casino in known history. The situation is dicey.


• A compelling podcast episode comparing US healthcare with other first world nations:

• Photo credit:

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