Needs, wants and this

The United States economy is driven primarily by consumer spending. Us companies spend about 230 billion dollars a year in advertising. All that money and time to get someone somewhere to buy something that will be used and “thrown away”.

Today is Halloween and very shortly we will be right into the Holiday season, Christmas and Hanukah. The average cost of the holidays as in girt giving is 887. That is how many gifts are bought.

71% of the United States economy is in consumption. Buying stuff that we usually try to dispose of. I use the word try because nothing is every really thrown away. Landfills are filled up, eco systems destroyed and all because of what?

We do it because it makes up happy giving and receiving stuff. But does it? Since the 50’s America has gotten bigger stuff. Bigger and more cars, bigger and more houses. more clothes, more food, more everything and happiness still seems to allude most Americans. As of 2020 Americans are at the most unhappy level they have ever been. One of the major reasons cited for being so unhappy was the standard of living.. Wait that makes no sense if stuff makes you happy. Consumption has gone up so fast but no one is happier. Stuff will not make you happy.

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There is a movement called the Slow Movement. Slow living is about consuming less and taking a slower approach to everyday life. This year for the holidays maybe we can give our loved ones less things and the few things we do give them we could build for them. Building something as a gift show thoughts and love.

Hand made Christmas gifts are the best. You learn something new and feel accomplished and the gift receiver gets something unique and special. A great idea is to include before during and after photos of you making the gift for your loved one as well.

Lets end this year with a commitment not to the economy but to ourselves and the environment. Let’s commit to make the world and ourselves better.

How does that taste

One of my best friends in the house right now is my dog storm. Look at that picture how can you not be best friends with this guy?

Ok, ok I will try to quit anthropomorphizing, my dog try but will probably fail. Every afternoon I feed this guy because he gets hungry and like I said he is one of my best friends. When the dog first got to the house he was happy with dry dog food but about a year ago he got a taste of the dog food that comes in the can or wet dog food. Now I get to mix a can of wet dog food with two cups of dry food for the guy. The dry food is pretty boring but the wet dog food has flavors written on the side of the can and I am kind of ashamed to admit that some of the flavors sound delicious. Duck, Chicken all kinds of entrees for my dog bestie.

In 1976 the actor Lorne Greene went on tv and told the world they should feed their dogs Alpo and then he fed his own dog Alpo. The term dogfooding was coined and now it is used (especially in the tech world) quite often. Dogfooding is when someone uses their own products, the term dogfooding gained popularity recently when Mark Zuckerberg gave all his employees Android phones because, users had complained about Facebooks Android interface. Shortly after being forced to use Android phones major improvements came.

It can be easy to dismiss claims from others about their situations however it is not a great idea. Everybody is going through something some way and the best approach when interacting with anyone is kindness and empathy.

Its not new

In 1976 Richard Dawkins wrote a book called “The Selfish Gene” . In his book he explained how genes are passed down from generation to generation for survival of a species. The book was insightful and made a huge impact in the scientific community. Dawkins viewed genes as units of information spread through biology. In chapter 11 of the book Dawkins begins to look at culture as if it were evolving in the same way as a species biology. If culture were evolving how would that happen, not through genes but through memes (yes you read that right, Richard Dawkins invented the term meme and we are using it the same way he hypothesized we would).

Dawkins used the Greek word mimeme which translates to, something imitated to come up with the word meme. Dawkins suggest that a meme is like a gene in that it holds information pertinent to societies survival and passes it down in a unit like song, film, funny internet picture.

Very often I hear younger folks throw around words like disruptor or new or revolutionary for ideas that have been around since before I was born.

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In the book of Ecclesiastes the writer gets down about the monotony of life and complains that there is nothing new under the sun it is business as usual. This can be true and may seem like an inevitability. Something as “new” and “fresh” as the term meme is not new or fresh at all. Every new idea that has been introduced was actually introduced earlier.

There is nothing revolutionary about Air BNB and Uber. The companies are offering services that have been around for centuries and they are doing it pretty poorly for everyone involved except their share holders. Employees of both are treated poorly and by employees I mean everyone people who sublet their apartments and cars are not compensated fairly and the office employees that work on the platform are also mistreated. Customers safety is of no concern to management or shareholders, based on inaction and half steps currently taken. There is nothing revolutionary about being bad companies that are selfish and put profits over people.

What then would be revolutionary? What would be an evolutionary cultural jump in our species? Did you knw that at one time there were nine ttypes of humans walking the earth? Yeah crazy to imagine right?

  • Homo Habilis
  • H. Erectus
  • H. rudolfensis
  • H. heidelbergensis
  • H. floresiensis
  • H. neanderthalensis
  • H. naledi
  • H. luzonensis

What happened to all these other humans? No mass extinction, or significant changes in the earth seemed to kill them. Most scientist agree that all evidence points to homo sapiens committing genocide. Violence seems to be very much intrinsic to homo sapiens. Even know we have so many examples of homos sapiens hurting and killing each other because of their religion, skin color, and imaginary lines on a map. Homo sapiens created religion and politics and when people could not agree on what they invented they killed and kill each other over their disagreements on what they or their grand fathers made up. Homo sapiens invented money and when they did not equally spread out the money they let people who did not get a fair share die.

Want to be a real disruptor? Want a real revolution? Ditch the violence, care for life, show real unconditional love for life.

Mistakes were and will continue to be made

I goofed. It happens to the best of us, most of the time my goofs seem to only impact me but there are other times when the mistake impacts others, that is when it can really stink.

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Making mistakes doesn’t always stink sometimes mistakes are insight and answers to other problems. There is a book titled “Mistakes that worked“, the book tells the story of 40 inventions that were mistakes.

“To err is human but to forgive is divine” – Pope

In his essay on Criticism Pope coined a phrase that is often cut short to just “to err is human”, but see when we are mistakes affect others and we must through ourselves to the mercy of the court we are looking for the divine and need to keep in mind the entire turn of phrase. “To err is human to forgive is divine”.

Human nature is both a forgiving and vengeful one. Here is an incredible article outlining how human nature is both forgiving and vengeful. The writer concludes with a call not to change human nature but to change the world. Forgiveness is easier to do when we are more connected and a closer community. Think about how many times you have forgiven close family members and “written off distant friends”.

I think it is kind of poetic that forgiveness is easier when we are more connected and divinity is all about connections and relationships. God is all about relationships. Almost every major religion is about how to live in harmony with life and the earth.

Be like god and forgive others and if you made a mistake look a little harder and see if this is the next invention that will rock the world.

We are in this together

There is this image of earth from space, it is not the first image of the earth from space but it was the first color good image of earth from space. It looks like the earth is rising much like the sun looks while we are standing on the earth. Carl Sagan goes on about the pale blue dot in his book titled pale blue dot. Sagan mentions how everyone that we have ever known and currently know are there on that tiny mote. Sagan’s words are quite poetic.

I grew up in a Baptist church with some evangelical leanings. A big part of the evangelical movement in the United States involves cultivating an us vs them mentality. Evangelical Christians are not the first or only tribe / culture to indoctrinate their participants and believers in an us versus them mentality I only mention them because I have experience with this tribe. I am also a United States citizen and live in a home.

When the first operation Iraqi freedom war started and the United States military invaded Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction some citizens of the United States took on a patriotic us versus them mentality. I see in the newspaper that the unhoused population is an ever growing issue. Almost every day I pass by a soup kitchen and the lines for people seeking help do not seem to shrink.

The Christian bible speaks a lot about good and evil. he Christian bible separates people into just two categories those who are in Christ and those who are not. I would like to point out that the demarcation line may not be what many believe it to be and that is a big thing to keep in mind when dealing with our relationships.

The Us vs them mentality can do us physical and emotional damage. This mentality puts us on the defense, and makes us unconsciously develop basis against others who are not exactly like us. It is damaging to the body and mind but is it a tenet of the Christian religion? Should it be a tenet of any religion? Let me answer the latter first. No this should not be a tenet of any religion, political affiliation, tribe or culture. Inclusivity not exclusivity, tolerance and acceptance not intolerance and repudiation should be the guiding tenants of your world view and religion.

So is the Us versus them mentality a tenet of the Christian faith? It seems on the surface that the us versus them mentality has become a tenet of the Christian faith. I see a whole market for Christian material and content but where does this idea come from? Many believers who adhere to this mentality will point to scripture like

  • Amos 3:3 – “Can two walk together except they be agreed?”
  • Ephesians 5:11 – “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…”
  • II Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…”
  • John 17:13–16 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”

The scripture on its face seems to support an us versus them mentality but if you look at the scripture in context it becomes clear that it is less about us versus them than intentions and love versus apathy or hatred.

All the people of the world are on the same side there is not an us or them there is just us. The world, the universe for that matter is all one, and when one part of the body is sick (without love) the whole suffers and should help (not hurt), the others.

The us versus them mentality is toxic and needs to be dropped right now. I have done it many times. As a joke I will ask my friends and loved ones “who do I hate this week? A boyfriend that broke a sisters heart? I hate them they are not in, a driver who cut you off in traffic I hate them.”

If you read John 17:13-16 you will see that in Jesus prayer for his apostles he does not ask that God take the apostles out of the world but that they are protected. Why not just take them away or isolate them from the world? because the world needs everyone working together figuring out life.

Notice in this scripture:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector . . . ”

“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10–11, 13–14 csb)

The Pharisee thought that they had all the answers but he did not and neither do you or I. The most dangerous person in the world is the one who thinks they have all the answers. Humility and learning and growing will not exist in a religion culture or tribe that believes that they know everything. Let’s all just love each other and learn together and lift each other up as much as we can.

At the end of the day all we are is this tiny blue dot in what seems to be infinite space

G o d or d o g

Yesterday my wife and I watched the movie DOG. The movie follows an US Army ranger who has had a traumatic brain injury and must take a fallen comrades dog to his funeral. The dog is also a solider and the dog and the US Army Ranger have suffered physical and emotional trauma from war.

The solider decides to drive the dog to the funeral. During the road trip the solider and the dog meet another solider and dog who have suffered trauma. The fellow solider lets him know that it is important to talk with someone about the trauma. anyone one wether it is God or a dog because without out talking it through bad things can happen.

Talk therapy also known as psycho therapy was first discovered studied and researched by Sigmund Freud in the early 1890s. Freud understood that life can be painful and confusing and that talking through our relationships and situations helps give us clarity and peace.

Computer programmers will often speak to rubber ducks when writing out complicated code. By speaking out our thoughts we can actually hear them and understand why we think the way we do. Many people do not realize what has caused their trauma and how that trauma has affected their lives.

In church as a younger person I always wondered about pray. In pray we would thank and ask for support from God an omniscient being. Why pray? If God knows everything than why do I need to mention anything to God? It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized prayers were not for the God that they were aimed at but the believer. It is through prayers (if you are praying right) that you discover epiphanies and self actualize.

Never be so busy that you cannot take the time to talk through your situations and relationships, with your God, dog, friend or rubber ducky.

What even is it.

Growing up we were told to not be jerks. As our kids grew we try to teach them to not be jerks. I was wandering this morning about the nature of the word jerk, specifically what is a jerk?

There was a movie starring Steve Martin titled the Jerk. The movie told the hilarious story of a naïve innocent country boy who moves away from his family to the city. I always wandered who the jerk was in that movie? Steve Martins character was always helping and learning and lacked a cynical attitude that seems like a prerequisite for being a jerk.

After some quick internet searching I learned that the title was inspired by Dostoyevsky‘s The Idiot. So in the movie the Jerk it seems like the Jerks may have been the men and women in society that took advantage of the protagonist. In Dostoyevsky‘s The Idiot well that’s another discussion for another day.

A jerk is a motion that yanks something into a different direction. A jerk is also a person that is rude and obnoxious and abruptly annoys others with words or actions.

The world would be a better place if. People live their own life and let others to live their own lives

Poornima Rawat

Not being a jerk can be hard sometimes, although on the surface it seems easy, just leave people alone. It can be hard to allow loved ones to make mistakes that you have made. People are sympathetic by their nature, it is this nature that makes it hard to not step in and give unsolicited advice or guidance. Support and unsolicited advice can seem the same but they are not. Support is helping out loved ones when they reach out to you not prior to.

Not being a jerk can be hard and dealing with people that are being jerks can also be hard. Everyone seems to have an opinion sometimes and those opinions are voiced and directed towards people making waves.

Sometimes it helps to keep somethings in mind. Remember that it is impossible to move without making waves. Remember that jerks usually have the best of intentions and finally remember that: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Today make some waves, shake off the jerks and don’t be one.

There is something off…

22 years ago I sat with my kids and watched a cartoon character voiced by David Spade dance around the palace that he lives in until he bumped into a citizen. The character told the citizen that he threw off his groove then he had employees throw the citizen off the cliff. As the citizen fell he yelled sorry.

The movie was “The Emperors New Groove”. The movie explains how a self absorbed Incan emperor changed his “groove” and learned to see outside himself and acknowledge others. Here we are sitting on Friday and I have felt a little off my groove all week. I really wasn’t sure why I was off my groove or how to get my groove back.

Of course like any other problem in my life I was able to solve the problem through the lessons learned from an animated movie. I am just now getting my “groove” back and I am getting it back by focusing on others.

It doesn’t make sense but often the best way to help yourself is to help others.

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Help yourself by helping others

John Templeton

The secret to a happy and groovy life is in helping others.

The small things

I can remember watching a great sci -fi series called The Fringe on TV. The series protagonist was the son a scientist and played by Joshua Jackson. The unit that the scientist, his son and an FBI agent were part of investigated cases that happened on the fringes of reality. The show lasted for five seasons it was created by JJ Abrams and was a blast to watch.

One of the story arcs of the show had the protagonist traveling into another dimension. Parallel dimensions are explained brilliantly by Neil Degrasse Tyson in this video. Basically (very basic indeed for sure watch the video by Neil Degrasse Tyson) if you imagine everything you know to be reality the earth, the solar system, the galaxies the super clusters all of that has a copy that exists in a different plane if you can imagine a stack of plates our existence is in one plate and other existences are in the other plates. Switch out existence with dimension and you have parallel dimensions. You are in all these dimensions but somethings are different.

In the TV show The Fringe the dimension that he show traveled between had coffee but it was incredibly expensive. Coffee seems small and inconsequential but it is truly a blessing for me. I enjoy every drop of coffee and sometimes I can (insert gasp here) take it for granted, until I purchase some gas station coffee then I realize how good my coffee at home is and I fully appreciate good coffee again.

Life can get complicated, messy and busy, so much so that we take things like coffee for granted.. Don’t do that, gratitude is inarguably good an good for you. Gratitude makes you happier and healthier and it is free!

If you feel like you need something to be grateful for find a cup of coffee (not from the gas station) and take a sip. If coffee doesn’t work look in the mirror. You are very special. The odds of you being born are 1 in 400 trillion! You really are special everyone really is and no matter what that agro a$@hole says you deserve a trophy. Be grateful that you are you and here on earth.

Altogether now

Yesterdays wordle answer was fungi. This got me to thinking about how amazing trees are. Did you know that the trees use fungi to communicate with each other sort of like a world wide web? Scientists are calling it a wood wide web. There is an amazing article in the Smithsonian magazine all about some research into trees. I think the more we learn about trees the more we will respect them. I am a firm believer in the power of education. Education provides an understanding and respect for what we study.

If you ever begin to feel like you are becoming apathetic or even cynical educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about everything and you will discover that education is like a sympathy machine.

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family

Kofi Annan

One thing that seems to always be present in everything I have learned is that.. everything is connected and when those connections are broken society breaks down. Education informs, creates sympathy and connects us to each other. beings working together to learn more and become more, helping each other in person on line and in life. Just like the trees that send messages through the fungi humans do the same. We let others know about the changes in the weather and traffic patterns. We encourage each other and we learn from and about each other.

Imagine where society would be today if, we focused on connections through education opposed to division through polarization of beliefs.

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