Tales from a pre-September 11th World vol. I

I graduated High School 25 years ago this weekend. Our graduation had a slightly chaotic angle to it that some may have had questions about. Some even had (incorrect) answers about it. I have no idea what present-day common knowledge is, but I think I can shed some light on this chaos in my usual overwrought and verbose fashion that includes unrelated musings about topics mentioned along the way…assuming that two and a half decades should be enough time for statute of limitations to run out.

I have pretty good recall but the details here get hazy at times. Forgive me if some of what I write has been created by cognitive closure, but I’m sure of what I am writing. Also, I deny that I confirm that any of this is true. Also, most of this story was reported to me by friends. I wasn’t there for most of it.

To set up the scene, I went to a fairly small school. In 1992, we were the near-culmination of the pre computers-run-the-world era, something for which I can not thank fate enough. Before my home town of Kirtland became Land of the McMansions, we were a small working-class town with a few farms and a few well-to-do communities. It was what was supposed to be great about America: my dad was a machinist for a company and my classmate’s father was an executive in the same corporation. They lived in the same community and their kids received the same education and “opportunity”. There was no stratification by class and less of the self-separation of what Charles Murray calls “bubbles” where the moneyed live in gated communities and send their kids to private schools.  My friends and I had decided that we lived in Bloom County and tried to decided who each character was in our life. It was borderline bucolic.

We had fewer than 1000 kids K-12 and my class had 75 kids or so. We had a lot of unused lockers with so few kids (this is important).

It started with a phone call to my house made by the high school secretary supposedly to inform me that I had been suspended. I was asleep when she called, early in the school day. Like many angsty teens, by my senior year, I had pretty well checked out of the local social scene and made it my chore to be at school as little as possible.

This is a 180 degree difference in behavior compared to my social butterfly middle school years. In Middle School, though I could walk to school and often did, I usually rode in with my school bus-driving mother (bus drivers get to work REALLY early) so that I could maximize my time walking the halls and socializing before classes began.

Middle School actually included a pretty rough hazing but I came out victorious. I wasn’t anti-social but as the sole giant, hairy, Iron Maiden shirt-wearing metalhead 6th grader, I was quickly singled out as the monkey with the white white stripe and picked on pretty regularly by a contingent of meat-headed kids that I quickly identified as the 8th grade jocks, those little darlings of every school system who just can’t seem to do wrong in the eyes of the teachers and just couldn’t get into trouble by calling kids names, spitting, pushing others into lockers or starting fights if they tried. To them I also lost most of my male friends from my own class because they idolized those older kids.

Even some teachers singled me out as a troublemaker. One English teacher once told me that I was spotted smoking behind the school the previous evening. To this day, 30 years later, I’ve never smoked a cigarette and surely wasn’t on that day as she accused, but she was convinced of what she saw. Sure, I was hanging out with kids that were smoking. I was a deviant, just not in the way they thought. But I didn’t take any serious abuse. False rumors and schoolmate hostility actually rather emboldened me, but not in reactive, physical way. I walked away from every fight-because I knew I was a better person. I certainly developed a chip on my shoulder concerning school athletics and “authority figures” as I was certainly justifiably wronged. I can think of instances of this kind of “profiling” from elementary school, too.

Irrespective of my feelings about school athletics, I still went to every high school football game. They couldn’t put a big enough chip on my shoulder to keep me from my social scene and by the time we left eight grade, I was (in my eyes) King of the freakin’ World! Middle School is a time of separating the wheat from the chaff academically and I established myself as one of the sensitive achievers, making me a hero to burnouts and metalheads everywhere who were at the time generally regarded as dumb. I was artistic and had good relationships with girls (because the guys abandoned me for the attention of the jocks) and I won an honest-to-gosh popularity contest: I was elected (running as a lark) “Commissioner of Dances” on Student Council. Me! I threw dance parties! Can you believe it? Crepe Paper and balloons and stuff.

I still get an odd pit in my stomach when I remember the cheers from when my name was called during 8th grade “graduation”. I wore a 3-piece suit with an “Eddie” patch on the coat tail. Things were good all-around.

Then I spent all of high school reversing that.

I started high school with all pistons roaring. I took extra classes, advanced classes and extra credit. I was even invited to be on the Academic Challenge State team (where I kicked ass!) and then the TV show (not so much ass-kicking there). But by the time I got a car and a job and made friends with misfits from all over the county I self-exiled from school. I abandoned art, only socialized with a tiny group of friends at school, but had so many credits to graduate that I was only required to take three or four classes my senior year. So I scheduled all study halls in the morning and came in near lunch time. I took my coat and book bag to my last class and walked out of the closest door 45 seconds after the last bell rang, first car out of the parking lot so I could go to work, then Denny’s restaurant or something fun with friends. Then I would be sound asleep at 9am the next morning, when my mom wakes me to tell me that the school secretary called and said that I had been suspended for something about mice in a locker or some such thing.

I sort of knew what was going on. I had heard that for a “senior prank”, one of the students was breeding up a truck-load of mice to release in the school. But it had nothing to do with me. Not only was I innocent to the charge, I was totally hopped up and ready for a fight. So I went right to school after the call. Moments after I arrived, the Principal addressed my Calculus teacher via the P.A. system, “Is Jimm in your class?”

“Yes, he is”

“Could you send him down to the office, please?”

I’m sure I marched down there with the biggest ready-to-brawl grin, ever. This was just the last in a laundry list of instances of being maligned and knowing I was in the right. I decided that I was the champion of kids who were discriminated against because of the way they look or the music they listen to. I would go out of my way to seem shocking or scary in an absolute challenge for anyone to find me anything but a sweet kid with a big heart and prove themselves discriminatory. Kids are funny like that. I actually considered myself fairly high-minded (unlike now).

I don’t recall the conversation I had with the principal at all. I never saw the mice, but the story I was given (by either my friends or the principal) was that the kid who was raising the mice ended up killing them all on accident and decided to bring them into school and stick them into an empty locker to stink the place up. The locker he chose was one that a friend and I used for our coats & bags so that we could keep our book lockers tidy. As far as senior pranks go, this was pretty mild. In years past, we had the tree from our entryway planted in the middle of the football field, we’ve had fires…I don’t recall anyone getting suspended for those things.

I protested my innocence and was let off the hook right then and there. I thought it was odd from the beginning because, though though the Principal wasn’t as chummy with me as he was with some of my friends, we had a good relationship. He took me to the Academic Challenge Competition, floating on a sea of his Grateful Dead cassettes in the back of his VW Gulf or something like that, after all. He was the first Principal to mollycoddle intellectuals more than athletes, so we got along great. I heard that he asked one of my friends about the mouse incident and was told “If it were Jimm, it wouldn’t be mice in a locker, it would be a cow on the roof.”

Aw, thanks, guys!

But wait a minute! You suspended me through a third party after talking to my friends but not me about an event? This means war. I am obligated to give you a senior prank now. If you label me a troublemaker, I can definitely cause trouble. Because I’m geared for it and, as previously explained, still had that chip on my shoulder toward (capital “A”) Administration as well as schoolmates who seemed to have prejudged me.

Also, I was still angry that my friends and I had been forced to dismantle our “lounge” we illegally constructed (literally with circular saws and plywood and stuff) in the art room while the teacher was away on jury duty almost immediately after we built it (Junior year). As part of my self-imposed seclusion, my small group of friends and I ate lunch on a couple of couches in the art room every day. We had a fish tank, a permanent Christmas tree decorated in Halloween decorations (because, Punk Rock) and pictures of naked women on the wall (I still have that collage). The Principal said, “Yes you have to eat lunch in the lunch room with the “Plebs”.

The Real Story:

Someone was passing a couple “News of the Weird” books around school. In one, I read about graduation activities being canceled at one school because someone called in an on-stage suicide threat.  That’s it!  That’s easy!  I even mentioned it to my closest friends when we were all gathered at a house for (I think) a school project that devolved into a session of watching Holy Grail or Sledge Hammer! No one batted an eye at the idea because the basis of the friendship dynamic of my group of friends was based on saying funny or outrageous or clever things or coming up with stupid, outlandish ideas. We weren’t the beer bong crowd. But soon I will refer to them as my “closest friends” (quotes indicating sarcasm).

I had an adult female friend write this note (I don’t recall a word of it) and had her mail it to the school, then I immediately forgot about it. I never touched the paper or envelope. I presumed that the note would be dismissed or that one member of the administration would suffer silently in curious anticipation or that someone would point out that this was just something someone saw in that “News of the Weird” book which I think half of the school read. But there we were, months later at Baccalaureate at Divine Word Catholic Church (affectionately known as ‘St. Kirtland’) when the ceremony was followed by an announcement from the Principal. It was something to the wording of, “Look, we have to let you know- we think this is just a prank- but someone sent an anonymous note to the school saying, (blah blah, however he phrased it) and we need to take precautions…”

Whereupon, instead of playing it cool, my “closest friends” all whipped their heads around with what sounded to me like 6 or 8 air-cracking Karate chops which broke the sound barrier within milliseconds of each other to stare bug-eyed at me. So I had to do the dance where I try to get them to look at something besides me while I tried not to crack up laughing while also being terrified that I was going to go to jail, get bet up, shot in the face by cops, or all three.

So we go from Baccalaureate to the High School for the graduation ceremony and there’s an ambulance parked right outside the door and a S.W.A.T. team marching the whole class through metal detectors and hand-wanding them afterward. Two of my friends had pocket knives with them. Amazingly they avoided setting off the detector or wands by simply taking the knives out of their pockets and “palming” them. But we got the full T.S.A. treatment, 10 years early.

So we start Graduation and in the Salutatorian’s speech, (the Middle School Principal’s kid) he goes on about about what an imposition and disservice Baccalaureate is because of “Separation of Church and State” (he usually dressed as a nun each Halloween). Then, my father, who can’t handle heavy moments or emotion better than I can and showed up appropriately soused, ends up getting hauled off in the ambulance after having a heart episode or something. It was recently pointed out to me that my disruptive actions ended up helping my dad. I’m not sure if I ever thought of it that way.

In later days of closing schools if a Mercury thermometer breaks and kids calling in bomb threats during every mid-term exam week, I’m pretty sure Kirtland would have been turned into the Iraqi Green Zone and I would still be in Gitmo today. But in 1992, I’m sure that select members of the Kirtland faculty just had some stiff drinks at the end of that day. I even felt a little bad because in my apathy, I didn’t even bother to get a cap and gown and the Principal just gave me one in an “aw geez, Jimm” moment right before proceedings, but I barely appreciated the gesture.

It was years later that I learned that during the lead-up to graduation, the investigation into this led to the few girls who made the mistake of choosing as fashion combat boots, spiky hair and listening to The Smiths got their asses hauled down to the police station to give handwriting samples. I had no idea there was so much chaos swirling around me. I had checked out. Another unintended result was the fingering of another student(s) for my actions. I, personally, was told: “You know who did this? So-and-So”. Considering I did this because I was fingered for something I didn’t do, I should have occurred to me that this would happen. And to anyone who truly suffered for this, an apology couldn’t be enough. But I apologize and truly regret that aspect of this to this day. But I couldn’t have cared less at the time.

Of course now, out-growing the teen anger, I’ve returned to regarding my school group as family (an equally unrealistic, unhealthy view of my relationships). But what can I say, I’m a sentimentalist. As horrible as social media is, I’m happy to still be in touch with everyone. It’s a shame that we’ve replaced instead of supplemented reunions and face-to-face interactions with it. I reserve the right to have been a juvenile and to have done dumb, childish things. I’ve forgiven those who wronged me as children because they also have the right to have done dumb, childish things and I’m friends with most of them now. It’s just part of growing up and I’m happy to have shared in that. In retrospect, this was pretty horrible, considering that one of our classmates actually committed suicide in middle school and another was murdered a few years later- big news in a small school. That stuff never entered my head at the time. I wasn’t insensitive to that, just criminally thoughtless. Today, kids would need therapy for flashbacks, a safe space and probably financial assistance from The Government for life.

Epilogue:
Come to think of it, I don’t really even know what the school secretary said to my mom or even what my mom said to me as I wrestled from the arms of Morpheus that morning. Maybe no one ever said “I was suspended- so don’t bother coming into school”. Maybe what was conveyed was that I “faced imminent suspension unless…” Maybe mom translated incorrectly. Who knows? If this is a game of telephone gone wrong, then maybe someone should have talked to me first.

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How to Circumnavigate your Social Media Algorithm

Has the Facebook ThinkTank got you down? Have any of your normally non-political friends suddenly fashioned a war helmet out of a sauce pan and draped him or herself with the American flag, then proceeded to make every political topic somehow dumber?  There’s a reason the audience was behind the camera on the set of Firing Line and the Big Boys had the microphones. If you let the drunken monkeys onto the set stage, it would be indistinguishable from Facebook. Do what I did and stop using your Facebook wall and we will all love each other again! I will show you how.

Skip the bloviating and get right to it!

It’s not the politics. I don’t ever take someone out of my feed for views different from mine.  It’s the behavior.  It’s the anti-intellectualism.  It’s both sides calling each other anti-intellectual while offering nothing to elucidate.  Even those who end up on the same side of an issue as I often come to it incorrectly and express it appallingly. It’s the relentless relentlessness in my face non-stop. Go join a Group and whine to each other there. Maybe read a book before you Pontificate.  Simpleton challenges to answer for someone else’s  politics are a waste of my time.  In fact I don’t owe anyone any answers for anything. Every time I investigate an outrage, the outraged person has completely missed the point. I don’t need busywork in correcting your misunderstanding of an issue.

I have a place to discuss politics and it ain’t Facebook. I listen to a podcast by a guy who teaches law at U Chicago, is a Hoover institute fellow and has an endowed professorship at NYU.  I follow people who have worked in the government for several presidents and award-winning economists.  I know that you need me to know that the President’s daughter had boots flown from London, the URUGUAYAN taxpayer cost of another kid’s visit, and other pettiness just frothing over the cup of American journalism, but please go find a productive and quiet way to entertain yourself, please, while the grown-ups are talking about real stuff. 

I read about issues to become more educated about them and that doesn’t happen on social media.  No one there has questions, just bottle rockets of worldview. That’s not a discussion.  I understand that the world is going to go insane now.   I’m so sad you’re only catching on now. I hope you don’t think it just started.  If you chose this time to chase off the sensitive thinkers, you sure can. 

Learn from the memes and pop culture news websites. 

Everything is bumper-sticker simple.

I also can’t believe I just watched the same behavior jump from one group of friends to another. Do you not feel like a fool for parroting what the other side has been squealing for eight years?  More than the criticism of this guy , I’m most disgusted with the obsequious blind eye-cum-genuflection to the others. Nothing lowers the value of one’s political opinion to me than lickspittle behavior or naivety. But some people were born to bow and grovel before others. I am not.  We know that in a power vacuum, a group will choose a leader and each who isn’t chosen will know at a primal level that he or she is not the leader.  Yeah, yeah, we all read ‘Lord of the Flies’.

And it’s not just politics.   If you need to weed out the avalanche of pictures of abused dogs, self-help affirmations with sparkly unicorns, dog adoption requests, Amber Alerts, game players,  and non-stop adorable pictures of a white cat called Lucie, this works for those, too. 

Sometimes you can actually get your friends to behave.  They may not spam you personally but Facebook wants you to see everything they do and if they comment or react to something useless from their feed, Facebook will put it into your feed- “Hey! Your dumbass friend reacted to this dumbass news article”.  No matter how many times you tell it “I don’t want to see things like this” it just can’t seem to learn.

This is an intermediate-level endeavor for HTML coders/MS Office users.  There are several ways to do this and it will look like space language to some of you and a foolish waste of time to others who understand this stuff better than I.  These instructions are made to have mostly cutting and pasting and minimal typing.  If you can think of a faster way to automate this, please share in the comments.


 

 

First, download your Facebook data (General Account Settings: bottom, right).

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Next, find your Friends.htm document and open it in your regular web browser.

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Choose your ‘Friends’ tab.

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Highlight your friends’ names and copy them.

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Paste them into a spreadsheet like Excel, Google Docs, Open office, etc.  I recommend column 4.

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Now here comes the work.  Paste their profile links in column 2.  This will take a lot of time because you need to visit each of their profiles, which is more laborious the more friends you have. But if you care about them, it’s worth it. Break it up into groups of 50 or so.

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Now fill in columns 1, 3 & 5 with HTML code to make a hyperlink with the general form <a href=”Link to friend’s profile“>Friend’s name</a> then use a formula to combine all of that in column6.  You can use the formula in my formula (fx) bar in the pic below or search for the many ways to accomplish this combination.

 

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Copy the completed links into a new spreadsheet tab and paste “Values” to shake off that formula.

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Now use as many columns as you like to subdivide them into as many categories as you like. You can use a code that only you understand -if you like- to give yourself notice of preference or those you need to be given a rest. Now you can make sure to prioritize family or closest friends or whatever.

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Now you can quickly build this into an HTML table using the same column-filling/combining tactic I used to build the link code and paste it into an HTML document. You can expand this to include links to personal websites, Instagram profiles, and other wondrous Web 2.0 experiences that produce an algorithm-based feed that is supposedly your preferred echo chamber, but ends up mostly pissing you off.   Then either keep the HTML document on your computer and click on the links from there or post it wherever you can host HTML documents.
For extra credit, you can build a sortable table if you are comfortable with a little Javascript. There are tons of tutorials out there to make this easy for you.  

I use WordPress and they have a handy plugin called TablePress that lets you upload the raw spreadsheet and simply select “make table sortable” and/or add a search box.   Go ahead and give ‘er a spin:
Type into the box, “Stooge 110” And you get the most agreeable of the Stooges group.

 

FacebookCategoryCodePersonal SiteInstagram
Larry FineStooge100110Personal Site
Moe HowardStooge100110Personal Site
Jerome HowardStooge100110Personal Site
Shemp HowardStooge100120Personal Site
Joe DeRitaStooge100120Personal Site
G. Gordon LiddyPlumber100110Twitter
Steve HarrisBass Player100110Personal SiteInstagram
Jonas HellborgBass Player100110Personal Site
Rob WrightBass PlayerOh! My Leg!Personal Site
Stanley ClarkeBass Player222 222Personal SiteInstagram
Alfred E. NeumanSchmuck000 000Personal SiteInstagram

Hey, I love Shemp, too!

Why didn’t I just use the Facebook ‘Friends List’-maker function?  Because this still just produces a feed and you will find that if you actually go to someone’s profile, the feed is missing all sorts of great stuff that your friends post. You will also find that due to non-interaction the algorithm has completely separated you from some friends with whom you do not want to be separated.

Dedicate one day a week to a different group.  And when you want to see sniveling wannabe wonks, you know where to find them. And don’t forget to say “Hi” to them once in a while.  No one has to be unfriended or taken out of your feed, which is a futile task. And if someone unfriends you, you can still follow them unless they block you. 
What if Facebook doesn’t like this and blocks your website? Well you could make the code into a google search for their profile (if it’s worth it).  They can’t block an HTML document on your desktop. The preferred outcome of this is that, based on your new interactions, your feed algorithm will learn what you really want and begin to behave by mimicking that.

I actually started this project well before the most recent Presidential primaries, so this wasn’t completely devised with the goal of avoiding bad politics.  But Boy-Howdy did I recently get a fire under my tuckus to finish it.

 





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The Fate of Dad’s 1966 Harley Davidson Electra-Glide

My dad only bought one new vehicle during his whole life. It turned 50 last year.

This is a 1966 Harley Davidson Electra Glide in ‘Candy Apple Burgundy’. Here is his photograph as featured in the Plain Dealer Newpaper, getting his Motorcycle Endorsement with it.

My understanding is that this was when motorcycles were available with ‘reverse’, though he opted against it. Not only was it his only new vehicle, it was probably the only one he didn’t crash. Dad drank a little (OK a lot) and was known to occasionally bring most of a telephone pole home with him, or he’d arrive less a bumper. He was wont to declare that luckily the bike knew the way home when he didn’t. The worst abuse that bike ever endured was the regular high-speed ejection of the lids to the white fiberglass saddlebags.

These are pictures I found on the internet of a similar one, mine aren’t as clean.

Before most of the trees in Kirtland were cut down for McMansions & BMWs, this was a lovely little sleepy town of pickup trucks & drunks with only the occasional Mormon cult killing. My dad was a known figure- the big guy on the pink Harley, helmetless, shirtless, often shoeless and smoking a cigar as he motored down the road often with his long-haired kid on the back (or chasing saddlebag lids down the road).

I have a few pictures of it at our house in Eastlake, where we lived until I was almost two years old. The bike was there 7 years before I was, so it has been part of my world for as long as I can remember. After my parents divorced and my father’s place turned into a flophouse for his other drunken buddies who took turns being tossed out by their ‘ol’ ladies’, we would take the gas out and wheel the damn thing right into the dining room for winter storage. Yes, dad had a two-car garage and 3 or 4-door pole barn where it could have been stored but never mind that. The Hog needed to come inside. As time passed, it pretty much became the only thing we had of value. The most remarkable thing about it was the sound. I’ve only heard a few bikes that sound like it. Unfortunately, Harley Davidson attracts the type of people that do stupid things with the exhaust, often under the pretense that if you’re as loud as a jet engine, you …are less likely to be hit by a car? I mean, I live minutes from Amish Country now. Buggies are low-visibility, too. They just drive where they’re supposed, when they are supposed to at a reasonable speed and use reflective tape. But I digress. This thing had a little bit of rumble, but also had a high-pitched cat purr that I could pick out of 100 other near-by running bikes. I used to think it sounded like The Jetsons’ saucer.

Not old enough yet, but at least my feet reach the pegs.

The community knew my dad was often in dire financial straits, so he weathered many a cold knock at his door by friends and acquaintances who were interested in in buying it from him. He never felt to be in such dire need as to go that far.  My dad passed away when I was nineteen; barely out of school, still clueless as what to do with this stupid life. We had to figure out what to do with it. My sister and I had no idea how to take care of it or do the maintenance.

FFFffrrrrrtttttttttt

Why yes, I was making fart noises with the air compressor.

My family even had a 40-acre farm in Maryland (this will come up again later) that my dad sold when he was quite ill, right before he died (without consulting me!) in order to clear some debts he was afraid of leaving to me & my sister. But the family farm went before the bike! I wanted to go to college (another cruel joke that I played on myself!) and was intimidated by probate court, antique vehicle maintenance and home management and the hassles of the estate that my sister was in charge of anyway, so I let my family talk me into “selling” it to the next-door-neighbor, Ken.

Just about…just about…

Ken Barbe and his wife Linda were awesome neighbors when I lived on Locust Rd in the South end of Kirtland. He had a full-size tee pee for his grand kids, a functioning canon, an in-ground swimming pool and most importantly a garage that was probably bigger than his house. All we had was a tennis court that was so neglected by the time we bought the house it couldn’t be used for anything but crossbow practice. Ken was a fussy, exacting mechanic who was always working on something cool like a ’47 DeSoto with suicide doors or a hot rod for his kid. His son Michael or Mike was a few years older than I, but I don’t really know him from school. My sister may.

The arrangement with which I was presented was that Ken would buy it from us for a very low amount of money, then restore it. Later in life when we had our wits and stability about us, Ken would sell it back to us for what he paid + what he put into it. Instead of interest, he would get to enjoy it as his own- as it was (you know where this is going). This sounded great. I knew Ken would be the guy to help us out and his exacting nature in mechanics would be the only one I trust with Dad’s bike. My family comes to me in these situations with my decision and my reasoning for the decision laid out for me (always the same as theirs): “Jimmy you don’t know how to take care of a motorcycle and neither do I, so we’re going to sell this to Ken under these circumstances so we don’t have to worry about this now. Sound good ?” (said with a Sullivan nod).

“Uh….OK?” I didn’t like it but I couldn’t disagree. I certainly didn’t have a leg on which to fight. What college-age boy didn’t at least secretly what a motorcycle? Especially as a replacement for a lost connection with a parent? But I did ask one thing of them: Put this is writing because who knows how long this will take. I trust Ken but things happen and if he were to be hit by a bus, I could present this to his heirs. I may have even had the forethought to ask that it be notarized, even if I didn’t have the wherewithal to maintain a bike. Dad had told me recently that one of the tires was original (it had very low miles) and not only did I not even have the money to replace that, I didn’t want to be on it when it blew.

A year or so later, Ken saw me in the yard and invited me over to take a look at it. He had purchased a stainless steel replacement for every bolt, nut & screw in the thing, then he decided not to use them. Instead he acid washed what he removed in order to keep it as original as possible. He replaced the white saddle bags and handles with black leather ones with long fringe. Not my thing (I’m not into the car wash look), but as long as the white ones were still around, I didn’t mind. The only other change was to add an oil cooling system, which it lacked. It looked pretty cool. I was happy.

Then some years went by. Then a bunch of years went by. Life proceeded and I met a girl to marry. So I had to save money for a wedding. Then we had to save money for a stinky old farm house. Along the way, I picked up a cool old diesel Mercedes that I wanted to keep going, but before I put money into it said, “Wait! I can’t have a project car and a project house, plus I need to focus on getting dad’s bike back before Ken kicks it. Ain’t none of us getting younger! I have been telling this story to friends with motorcycles for decades! I need to be actionable. So I let the Mercedes go because let’s face it, I’m not a “car guy” by any definition. Though I sure loved that diesel.

Sure enough the day came. Someone in the family came to be in possession of a fair amount of liquid cash and said, “Hey, maybe we should talk to Ken about getting the bike back”. So Mom made the approach and big surprise: Ken has no idea what we’re talking about. Other artifacts of Life proceeding include the passing of my stepfather and the move my Mom made to another house after that event. Of course, no one has any idea where that paper got to in 20+ years and those moves. I may have had the wherewithal to ask for notary, but not a safe deposit box. So we have no argument and no one to blame but ourselves.

I guess I need to abandon the idea that an object can or should maintain a link to a loved one. This isn’t about having a motorcycle. I have purchased many vehicles, new & used. But you know, when my step dad was in his last hospital stay, someone came and stole his Quad-bike out of his driveway. My dad sold the family farm to a childhood friend who was still paying on it when my dad passed and tried to claim that he was paid in full when that happened. We had to sue him for the rest of the money. Who does that to the children of a deceased school friend? Seeing my dads getting kicked in the ass posthumously is certainly less shocking after a few times, but does start to grate. But in the end it’s a lesson: Don’t make these stupid deals because you think someone is your friend. I had a glow of “I live in a small town where you leave your doors unlocked and we’re all chummy family”.

Ain’t true. Things and like they used to be. I live out in the country and lock my stupid garden shed so my tools don’t get pawned for heroin. That defunct tennis court? My parents sold that to the Kirtland Tavern. After the down payment and receipt of the fence for their volleyball court, they decided that they had paid in full. The judge said, “Where’s the paperwork?” (or something like that) Don’t make these stupid deals. No one is your friend.

Now, is Ken a dishonorable person? I don’t know. He’s a lot older now and the grapevine says he gets debilitating headaches. Maybe he has no idea what we’re talking about. But how any reasoned person can come from that conversation with my mom and look at the title for that bike and think that we sold him a 30-year-old collectible Harley Davidson with super-low miles on it for a couple thousand bucks? A family as broke as mine is so used to not having anything nice that money doesn’t mean anything to us. We live for experiences. I’ve never been so broke or in debt that I would start just hocking stuff that means so much to me- I can live with debt. I surmise that Ken knows better. I surmise his family knows better. But I’ve made my peace. What else can I do? Enjoy your bike, Ken. I would never had agreed to this if I didn’t trust everyone involved.

So there’s the story. It may be a little too personal, but every time I found myself holding a beer in some dude’s garage, looking at a motorcycle or collection of motorcycles, I had to pipe up with: “Well, you know one day I’m supposed to get my dad’s bike back….” I don’t tell the story too much these days, but in case I did previously and someone needs a wrap-up or wonders why it didn’t materialize, here it is.

 





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All I should ever need to say about Donald Trump

This is for those of you new activists who just can’t help yourself in turning my Facebook feed into a firehose of nothing to say about our new President- with misguided memes, faltering bleats directed against straw man arguments and news articles that I can easily find anywhere else (I don’t need you to shove them into my face, thank you), offered by you without comment (or with a short dumb comment because you have nothing helpful to add to the conversation), who have completely displaced my nice normal feed of cats, club sandwiches and cats with club sandwiches (not to mention my friends’ kids playing sports) with this piffle.

If I were to tell you how & where you’re academically wrong, you’ll think I’m defending him, so I’m going to show you how to put a little thought and research into what you have to say which -right or wrong- is so much better than your mindless Share-button slacktivism. No wonder Donald thinks you’re a loser. You’ve already proven yourself toothless. But you’re not going to read this-you’ve already shown that you don’t have the discipline. The rest of you will love this!

As you all know, I’ve given up on politics but consider myself (to steal a term from one of my old Profs) an archeologist of religion – to which politics are inextricably tied. My only interest in Donald Trump would be if there were some grand metaphysical model driving him. Sure enough, there is. To understand Donald is to know his churchin’ . We have to talk about Swedenborg, Megachurches, Jimi Hendrix and Oprah. A lot of this is new to me, as I don’t study modern religion because it’s too fragmented and fractious. But my central Thesis of religion is reaffirmed again and again, which I am delighted to see in new material.

Well! What a personality we have in Donald Trump. This is what you Libs get for chasing off the Conservatives. Are you happy now? You could debate Bill Buckley. You can’t debate this guy. He’ll just tell you that you suck. And conservatives: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??! At what cost victory, King Pyrrhus? You had the upper hand in the “dignity of the office” conversation and this guy is going to destroy it without having one erogenous zone breached. So what exactly gives him the will to overpower us like this? Like I keep saying: History is fascinating but the motives behind the people who make it are even more so, as it invariably ends up being some goofy metaphysical interpretation.

It’s not always metaphysical. Bill Clinton is a super-smart dude. You know him if you read Carroll Quigley and through him, Cecil Rhodes. When Obama climbed wet-behind-the-ears out of the Faculty lounge, those on the watchtower alerted us to Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers, Edward Said, Jeremiah Wright and his Dr. Strangelove: Zbignew Brzezinski-but Obama has a cadre of Jesuits just like any Republican would. Jimmy Carter also kept new ager Brzezinski in a closet apartment like Lazlo from ‘Real Genius‘, but being a good Southern boy, was also all for the new progressive evangelicalism. Do these ideas agree?

Reagan consistently quoted Theosophist Manly Hall and was a known stargazer, but in an ecumenical move, Billy Graham helped him create the first post of Ambassador to the Holy See, something for which Truman got his ass handed to him. Was it just politics? No one ever really figured out what wind was under Reagan’s wings.

Hillary? What was she reading? Surely not the Hite Report. This is clearly a person without a driving philosophy beyond her presumpive Beatified Assumption. She pulled a Bob Dole: “It’s my turn…plus I have a vagina. I don’t owe you anything”. And she got pretty well steamrolled (if you look outside of New York and California). Then in her concession speech she was suddenly a devout Methodist? The Clintons will seemingly throw anything against the wall to see what sticks (‘member when Bill was Pro-life and loved everyone who signed the “Southern Manifesto”?), but she isn’t pandering. We will get back to Hillary’s Methodism later. Bill was working on his “electable” haircut at age 15 while Trump has been just moving forward like a bulldozer. He is going to succeed massively because he can’t recognize anything else, even when he fails. Here’s why:

This is a long chain and each link connects to the one before and after.

The Fredrick Trump family worshiped at Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. Methodist Minister of the Reformed Church of America, Norman Vincent Peale, famous for the book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” grew that church from 600 to to 5000 members. Peale married Donald to Ivana. Donald met Marla Maples in that church. Funeral services for Donald’s parents were held there. Donald routinely offers Peale as one of his favorite speakers. Trump hosted Peale’s 90th Bday party. Trump’s book, “Art of the Deal” alludes to Peale’s “Art of Living” radio show. Peale was also very close to the Nixons and Married Julie to David Eisenhower not to mention ministered to the family during the Watergate troubles.

Perhaps your grandparents remember him. Peale’s ‘Positive Thinking’ method offered higher satisfaction in life through affirmations and visualizations. His ‘Positive Imaging’ book is strong mix of theology & psychology. He established a religio-psychiatric outpatient center and wrote books with psychoanalyst Smiley Blanton until Mental Health associations disavowed Peale which caused Blanton to distance himself. Criticism includes the fact that Peale’s method is based on unsubstantiated anecdotes and not Empirical data. Hypnotists recognized that Peale’s methods include hypnosis, self and otherwise, concealed and otherwise. Eventually, Peale was criticized and eschewed by most religious communities as well as the mental health groups, not that his church got smaller. It grew to over 5,000 active members.  For this he got a 1984 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Where did Peale get his ideas? They ain’t Christian.

Not long before America’s Civil War (The War of Northern Aggression, for some of you) a guy with the finest snake oil salesman appellation ever given, Phineas Quimby, combined the philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg with Franz Anton Mezmer’s theory of ‘Animal Magnetism’ to form ‘New Thought’. Basically, in “New Thought” positive energy and ‘good vibes’ are thought to influence physical life, right down to curing any disease. Mary Baker Eddy was under his care, but denied his influence in her forming the Christian Science movement, which clearly reflects his views. Quimby didn’t necessarily elucidate his views to the public, so Eddy felt free to steal and his proxies such as Emma Curtis Hopkins and Warren Felt Evans are given credit for “organizing” New Thought. Hopkins’ students, Charles & Myrtle Fillmore used “New Thought” to form the Unity Church (now Unitarian Universalist). Evans finally got everything into print incorporating Swedenborg’s influence. Swedenborg surmised that the Bible describes a human’s transformation from a materialistic to a spiritual being, which he calls rebirth or regeneration-similar to Gnostic Apotheosis or alchemical lead-to-gold exotericism.

The New Age / Christianity crossover scene went nuts with this.  Harshing one’s mellow officially made you totally a negative-vibe merchant, man. Clearly Quimby’s positive energy and mesmerism is reborn in Peale’s affirmations/visualizations and suspected self-hypnosis. Quimby, Helena Blavatsky and Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin are pretty much the axis upon which the entire modern New Age movement rotates.

But Peale did not put ‘New Thought’ into Methodism. That was done in the late 19th Century by Charles Wesley Emerson at Emerson college, under the influence of Henry Drummond, author of Natural Law in the Spiritual World. At Emerson, E. W. Kenyon, learned New Thought Methodism (Possibly urged by Ralph Waldo Trine, possibly urged by Ralph Waldo Emerson (a lot of Ralph Waldos out there) and became the “father of the New Faith movement”. The “New Faith movement” is the well from which your modern Televangelists spring. Father of the “Word of Faith” movement Kenneth Hagin, whom you know from TV was a student (plagiarist, really) of Kenyon. And from this eventually came Megachurches, Marble Collegiate being the first. So what do New Faith Preachers teach?

First, they teach that those freed by Christ’s sacrifice have been freed from the law and live in the Spirit. The theology mixes Joseph Benner’sI Am” – that God is all of us (Kabbalic Pantheism) with Phineas Quimby’s “New Thought”-that we all become equal to God (Gnostic Polytheism).

Word of Faith means: thoughts and words spoken aloud affect your physical world. This includes material gains and blessings of health. New Ager Jane Roberts’ “Seth Material” mirrors this in claiming that consciousness creates reality and matter, though centered on beliefs and thoughts not necessarily vocalizations.

“Believe & Receive/Prosperity Theology/Positive Confession” theology teaches that God wants you to be healthy and wealthy and you can do this by simply calling it into being. God wants you to rise above your condition and be successful so that you can do acts in God’s name. This is why Joel Olsteen thinks his giant house is from God. They teach that you can will success into being by “Visualizing” and “Magnetizing” the needed elements for success- somewhere between “good thoughts bring good things” and God will reward you for acts with material wealth.

The idea from Kabbalah that words and their vibrations and resonance have magical interactions with the omnipresent power of the pantheistic God (God in everything)-especially how the universe was created via the Hebrew alphabet or the meditations on the 72 names of God to get through the gates of the Sefirot (or however it works) is a deep and fascinating one, but for our purposes let’s just say that Quimby’s ‘New Thought’ expresses it as ‘The Law of Attraction”. Pure New-Agers call it ‘Thought Power”. It ties into their ‘we are energy’ ‘we are vibrations’, ‘at one with the universe’ and what have you.  So thoughts or words (or the “cosmic vibrations of words) influence realty and outcomes in the physical world from willing your sickness away to reaching for that Rolls Royce.

Theosophist Helena Blavatsky wrote: “That which science calls gravitation, the ancients and the mediaeval hermetists called magnetism, attraction, affinity. It is the universal law, which is understood by Plato and explained in Timaeus as the attraction of lesser bodies to larger ones, and of similar bodies to similar, the latter exhibiting a magnetic power rather than following the law of gravitation.” ~Isis Unveiled., 1887

Annie Besant: “This is the secret of right receptivity. The mind responds according to its constitution. It answers to all that is a like nature with itself. We make it positive towards evil, negative towards good, by habitual thinking, thus building into its very fabric materials that are receptive of good, unreceptive of evil. We must think of that which we desire to receive, and refuse to think of that which we do not desire to receive.” ~Thought Power, Its Control and Culture, 1903

Today, people are not literate enough for passages like that so Joel Olsteen has dumbed it down to: “Your words affect your future” just “Believe, Visualize and speak out loud”. “You’ve got to send your words out in the direction you want your life to go,” “Words are like seeds, when you send them out- if continue to believe them and listen to them, they can come to a reality.” “Like a magnet, we draw in what we are constantly thinking about.”

Sounds just like Deepak Chopra, right?

Gloria Copeland thinks that you can control the weather in this way.

Well, if your thoughts and words call results into being, that’s just like the Creator speaking the world into existence, no? As if they teach that you are a god. The “Little gods” doctrine states that as you are a child of God made in God’s image, you are in fact, a ‘little god”.

Paula White, present personal minister to Donald Trump, will chair the Evangelical Advisory Board in his Presidential administration. She is also the “personal life coach” of Tyra Banks, has ministered to Michael Jackson & Darryl Strawberry and curiously is married to the Keyboard player for Journey, Jonathan Cain. She has expressed the New Faith Little gods Doctrine:
“You tap into what you really are. Do you know what the Bible calls you? It says you are little Elohim. You are a little god.”

Here are other examples:
Kenneth Copeland (student of Ken Hagin, student of E.W. Kenyon):
“You are anything that he is” “You don’t have a God in you. You are one.” “When I read in the Bible where he {Jesus} says ‘I am.’ I just smile and say, ‘I am, too!’ (video)
Benny Hinn: “You say, ‘Benny Hinn, am I a little god?’ You’re a son of God aren’t you? You’re a child of God aren’t you? …What else are you? Quit your nonsense. What else are you? If you say ‘I am’ you are saying I am a part of him. Is he God? Are you his offspring? Are you his children? You can’t be human.” (video)
TD Jakes: “When God created Adam…God said, “I wanted to see what I looked like, so I made you to be my image. You have my DNA You {are} created out of me. You are a derivative of me.” (video)
Earl Paulk: “Adam and Eve were placed in the world as the seed and expression of God. Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods. Until we comprehend that we are little gods and begin to act like little gods, we can not manifest The Kingdom of God.”
Many more in my notes.

They also teach that Jesus’ spirit left the cross,”became sin” and went to Hell for three days to personally fight and overcome Satan, but that is beyond the scope of the Trump discussion. Arguably, “Hell” hasn’t even been created yet. Again, that’s for later-

Now to switch gears without a clutch for a moment

Existentialist Peter Drucker is the father of the modern Corporation. Though “Corporations” are evil capitalist baby-eating bugbears in modern Liberal society,  the original concept was almost Communist. A corporation was to be a productive community wherein all involved shared in the success of the corporation’s product, making people feel part of something bigger than themselves, thus healing the existential alienation brought on by displacement of modern technologies.  Over time, of course, corporations became systems with those at the top owning airplanes and living in gated communities and those at the bottom being wage slaves. This is not a result of capitalism, this is a result of human interactions. Just as in Communism, it became those at the top well-fed in beautiful towers and those at the bottom in bread lines. And your liberal friends hate corporations but love communism because they can’t follow the idea beyond the initial sell. That or they think that can make it incorruptible. Go ahead and say this out loud: Corporations are evil because they follow a Communist model.

He grew up Lutheran in a house where politicians, intellectuals & scientists like Friedrich Hayek hung out, but he was more interested in Keynes’ “Behavior of Commodities” which changed his management style to be based on personal relationships, not number crunching. He admired Zen Buddhism and Martin Buber’s existential “I & Thou” theology. Drucker adopted Kirkegaard’s notion of upper & lower duality of life (provable absolutes/improvable in-absolutes -similar to exotericism/esotericism in mystery religions or Sartre/Heidegger’s inner & outer worlds).  As a social ecologist and management consultant he helped develop the first MBA programs. He brought order, hierarchical structure, growth plans to the Red Cross, Girl Scouts and invented concepts of “Management by Objectives” and “Knowledge Workers” and espoused importance of Marketing. He was given a 2002 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Drucker did not self-identify as a born-again Christian, but after seeing Nazism & Communism, determined that Western Civ was fundamentally sick and ascertained that the key to social reform was in Churches (owing to masses of people being influenced, not in correction of sin), so sought to bring corporate structure to evangelical church communities. Simply, he saw that they got things done.

When Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame wanted to grow his church exponentially, he contacted Peter Drucker and Norman Vincent Peale. They got together and established the ‘Institute for Church Growth’. Drucker’s Protégé, Bob Buller created the “Leadership Network” which has touched almost every recognizable church out there. Two of the institute’s best students were Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, Pastors of two of the largest megachurches in America. What do the Megachurch progeny of ‘Institute for Church Growth’ teach?

Follow along now. This is when it starts getting scary.

Megachurches have only one goal: Growth. They are called “seeker-sensitive” meaning they want only unchurched people to come in and they openly refer their ministries as a “product”.

The theology is mostly based in self-fulfillment & acts in the name of God replacing a true relationship with God. Acts that fulfill the needs in others fulfill your own need for self-worth.  The “narcissism as the root of altruism” argument is not a new one- ask Calvin. But New Faith gets naked and rolls in it.

Schuller was the self-esteem preacher. Self-esteem is a need. Rick Warren says that “God is happiest when you have unlocked your personal potential” in vocation & charity while repeating “It’s not about Me”. No message of repentance or sin is given by him, as if Acts are method to salvation, not the result of being saved. Bill Hybels redefines sin as ‘flawed ways to gain personal fulfillment’. To these people, feeding the poor or fighting AIDS is the path to Heaven.  To heck with those silly commandments.

Now let’s talk about this sticky subject of hypnosis and self-hypnosis. The nice thing about this is that it is not alleged by people with vendettas against preachers, or anti-religion people or conspiracy theorists. It was noticed by hypnotists. They watched Norman Peale and said, “Yep, he read our books”. Just like anyone evaluating a Megachurch management structure can say “Yep, these guys read Drucker”.

It’s not anything magical, it just a way clever people have figured out to get to your decision making process while you are unaware, usually because your ego is being stroked. Peale’s “visualizations” were to be focused upon to a degree that excludes normal, discerning thought, right into auto-hypnosis. Peale then endorsed New Age authors who promoted hypnosis and guided imagery as a means to help with visualizations.

Most religions incorporate some kind of trance or chanting. Despite Biblical admonishments against “vain repetitions…they think they will be heard for their many words”, you have mantras, chants and meditations on the name of God. Praying the Rosary has been called the same, as they resemble Hindu prayer beads. Theosophist Annie Besant wrote:

“Memorize a number of short affirmations, invocations or aphorisms, and begin each day by saying one. If at any time during the day your mind is unoccupied, repeat the saying silently to yourself. An example of one is the following; ‘From the unreal, lead me to the real, From darkness lead me to light, from death lead me to immortality, Peace to all beings.'”

Similarly, Rick Warren calls for you to learn “Breath Prayers” to recite with almost every breath, which are no different than mantras. “Emerging” churches tout mystical contemplative prayer in the vein of Richard Foster and Dallas Willard or Brennan Manning, or even the third century Desert Fathers of North Africa. This is not true prayer, but shutting off your mind as much as possible which is supposed to put you into an alpha-wave trance wherein your mind becomes open to the positive influence of the verse. Mystical chant music does the same.  When you groove, you stop thinking and become open to ideas.  Jimi Hendrix and Timothy Leary talked about this extensively.

How else could this influence through Ego-Feedback work?

Corporate Churches are all about marketing and Neuromarketing is not off the table. This has been in political marketing for a very long time, too. There is nothing on the Earth more high-stakes than a US Presidential election and Neuromarketing is surely used for much lesser products. I wonder if they…

We all know that our personal internet experience is shaped largely by algorithms on Google and Facebook servers. They know us better than we do and have figured out our motivations because all of humanity acts in predictable fractal-like patterns. All they had to do was watch you for a while.  They record every single thing you do down to things you erased and rewrote in a Facebook field before you hit “post”. Somewhere on a Google server(s) sits effectively a record of your subconscious that they use to create an echo chamber for you that feeds your ego. An echo is a mantra. What do they use it for? To sell you stuff. They sell you objects and they sell you philosophies. They influence your politics just like they sell you Snickers bars.

You know that the word ‘narcissist’ is a buzzword these days. A narcissistic person is more susceptible to the echo chamber because it strokes their ego. You keep hearing what you want to hear and get sold a lot of B.S. with it. So a narcissistic culture is cultivated by those selling you objects and politics. This is not really different from those TV commercials that got you to drink crappy light beer by convincing you that you were cool enough to talk to the girl in the bikini.

Think about your most annoying internet friend that assaults you non-stop with political emails and Facebook posts. This person is kind of smart but not as smart as he or she thinks. This person feels called to enlighten the masses like Jehovah’s Witnesses feel called to show up unannounced at your door every other Saturday. This person has politics zipper-locked to Ego and is angry, snarky and condescending and is indifferent to your fatigue or annoyance at their deluge of out-of-context crap. They may have lots of supporting data memorized but no understanding of the other side of their debate, only the straw man that has been fed through some manner of demagogue or pundit. John Stewart or Stephen Colbert make you feel witty and sell you a line to whip out on social media. Rush Limbaugh and NPR spend a lot of time telling their audiences how intelligent they are while only serving least-common-denominator material can get you an audience as large as theirs. In this, the fine art of rhetoric is murdered. In every good debate I’ve watched, the guy who gets to speak first begins by reciting what the other guy is going to say and proceeds to smash it into 1000 pieces. Then the other guy starts his side of the debate by picking up his own pieces. No one has this skill now. No one knows the other side of the debate. And the less they are able to, the haughtier they become, because they can only perceive their own echo.

In these churches you are fed a constant stream of self-worth, self esteem and assurance that your decisions are backed by the Almighty and that you wield holy power, backed with mantras & contemplative thought. It’s a different kind of echo chamber. Then the two cross! Your religio-political friend says, “How can you be a Christian if you support that or don’t support this!”- all based on some concept of social justice that has been spoon-fed to them that completely ignores the corruption of the system that touts the issue.

As stated, the only metric these churches care about is growth. How much growth are we talking? Rick Warren’s Saddleback church has a mere 20,000 weekly members. It’s in the American top 10 Megachurches, but not a pimple on the rear of David Yongii Cho’s church of 830,000 in South Korea. Rick’s book “The Purpose-Driven Life” is one of the best selling books of all time. In 2005, Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame called Rick Warren and said that he read “Purpose-Driven Life” and invited Saddleback to provide management training through Rick’s P.E.A.C.E.* plan (featuring Drucker’s 3-legged stool concept) to create the first “purpose-driven country”. Soon, other African leaders were interested and now Warren hosts an annual 30+ African leader summit in hopes of creating the first purpose-driven continent. Since most Catholics are non-committal or only participate on major holidays, Warren is probably the most influential person on the planet speaking on behalf of the lord.

*P.E.A.C.E. stands for Plant Churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, Educate the next generation
unless there are Muslims in the crowd, then P = Promote reconciliation.

HuffPo recently tried to make a scandalous story out of “Trump’s Minister” Paula White “bilking” her followers out of money which is “… a tactic that other religious leaders frown upon.”

Say WHAT? The New Faith and seeker-sensitive guys have been raking money in by the bulldozer-push for decades! You ever go to McDonald’s in suburban Georgia and count the “Lord’s Gym: His Pain My Gain” T Shirts?
They are all under tax investigation, the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral had to be sold to the Roman Catholic Church, all of these guys take the money to the grave and they want to freak out and call her a charlatan for asking for $115??? HuffPo have nothing to say about Paula’s “little gods” doctrine and they have little to say about Obama sidling up to Rick Warren in 2008 and less to say about Warren’s Inaugural invocation for Obama where Warren referred to God and Jesus in idioms of Islam (the Jesus who is not divine, The God who does not need offspring, with which some Christians have a problem) again and again.

And Oprah is selling this stuff like crazy. She has given T.D. Jakes a television show. She features Rick Warren or Joel Olsteen at every round-table. She pushes positive-thinking New Agers like Marianne Williamson, who just repackages Helen Schucman’s ‘A Course in Miracles’ (supposedly automatically written by Jesus) for a modern generation- selling millions of books. She is clearly a disciple of New Thought, and has profound influence over a very large number of people. She single-handedly put the “The Secret” at the top of the Best-Seller list (here’s a tip: The Secret is ‘The Law of Attraction’). Oprah preys on low-self-esteem women worse than Charlie Sheen. She sells self-esteem in a way that makes Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral look like a lemonade stand. Her level of New Agerism makes Shirley MacLaine look like…well I can’t think of anyone who isn’t ultimately a New Ager.

And now you know why Hillary is a Methodist. It’s code for New Age Thought Power. Put a Christian name on something (-anything!) and the rubes in flyover country will be none the wiser. And this is why you can witness your atheist/agnostic friends, to whom religion is an anathema, ignorantly spouting the same ideas as those preachers.  “I don’t believe in the church but I’m sending you good thoughts or vibrations”.  It’s all the same now.

So here is the evolved, matured world of Norman Vincent Peale (and Phineas Quimby) and the world that produced Donald Trump: A New Age/Church Corporation that teaches that you are the same as God and can call forth victory and success by sheer will and vision. The result of Acts mean more than the motivations behind them and justify the means to them. He’s a garden-variety New-Ager with Jesus-y words all over the New Age concepts.

One small piece of my politics:  To me, a Republican sees the only way to help the economy is to get out of the way of it.  But he wants to make deals and tweak things.  That’s big-D Democrat in my book. It used to be small government vs big government.  Now it’s big government vs. freaking huge, all-encompassing government. That’s all we’re dealing with, here. There are no good guys. He’s a new age Democrat, just like Hillary.

So Trump has the will and strength to simply step out of piles of muck and move on. Bankruptcy? Infidelity? That’s in the past, brother. We’re moving forward!  It’s funny to me that no one has compared this to Hillary’s ability to step out of scandal after scandal while her business associates go to jail or end up dead while she shimmies out with her ambition and white-knuckle grip on the coat tails intact. It’s not coincidence that she and Donald have the same religion.

And if you think this is small potatoes, you are fooling yourself. If you Bill Nye pimps think some grand, secular enlightenment is coming and the religions will be exposed as daft, don’t hold your breath. This stuff is taking over the world. It has a secular side and a “spiritual” side.  Popular Christianity will just write out and diminish Jesus and re-define itself as a collection of cultural dress and songs, while elevating the accomplishments of man. It will have as goals things like picking up highway trash in place of surrendering to Jesus. And even the New-agers, including the ones who claim to be atheist are usually Quimby-ites whether they know it or not. “Gee Whiz, Aw shucks, I just speak for the little guy” politics are dead. Stop letting them sell to you that way. You live in a world of high tech manipulation and I see manipulated people every day. They scream it at me.

As Bill Cooper would say: “The Truth Doesn’t Matter. What the people with the money and power over you believe is what matters, because it is going to affect your life.” So you might as well familiarize yourself with some of these concepts. If you live through this in continued haughty ignorance, that just means more bad things for my Facebook wall.

Published 13Jan17
25Jan17 Addendum:

Four days after I wrote this, Dilbert’s Scott Adams appears in a podcast and declares that as a trained hypnotist, he recognizes the Trump has been trained at the very least in “persuasive body language”. If you could identify it, you would see it in the Megachurch preachers all of the time.

tweaked 17Aug17

Posted in Religiosity and Philosophizing | 1 Comment

You must understand the concept of Epigenetics to understand weight loss

Epigenetic changes happen as DNA “reads the environment” and makes adjustments by up-regulating or down-regulating what is expressed (read) from it based on exposure to the environmental stimuli. Your DNA dictates who you are, yes, but each attribute governed by your DNA has a range, not finite value.  The most familiar epigenetic phenomena I can think of that we all know is the sun tan.

You are aware that the more time you spend in the sun, the easier it is to tan. Exposure dictates genetic behavior.

Generally, sun tans happen when cells called melanocytes oxidize the amino acid Tyrosine and create melanin, which protects you by dissipating over 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation, the proliferation of which makes your skin darker. Increased exposure to UV radiation from the sun induces production and induction of cytokines, growth factors, and neuropeptides, such as alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone which lead to increased melanin proliferation in the exposed skin. More sun exposure = faster, easier tan.

If you hide in your basement all winter then take a vacation to Florida in May, you burn to a crisp because all of these systems have down-regulated. Though your DNA has the code to make protections, exposure (or lack thereof) dictates that that part of the DNA is not being read to produce them. This is simply efficiency. Why run those reactions when there is no sun? Your body’s ultra-efficiency is often what gets you into trouble in unnatural environments (Suddenly sunny in January or swimming in a sea of Frappuccino).

Gradual increased exposure to  the sun will cause these systems to “up-regulate” and ramp up the systems that produce melanin to protect you without burning you to a crisp. Environmental exposure dictates up or down-regulation of what is “read” from the genome.  How efficiently an organism deals with epigenetic changes dictates how well it evolves genetically.

If a tree with a tap root that reaches a deep underground stream is faced with drought and loss of the stream what does it do?  It grows fine feeder roots right under the soil surface to collect as much rain water as it can right from the soil surface as soon as it falls from the sky.  Environmental exposure dictates genetic behavior.

Heat-shock protein expression is absent in the antarctic fish (big surprise).

Of course this is true for all of your metabolic enzymes. We have systems / pathways in place to utilize many different fuel sources, but the modern Western diet (environment) is glucose-based, so fat-burning pathways go away. Hitting the gym does not bring them back. An insulin-free diet does.

We eat glucose non-stop, often in enough volume to trigger the release of insulin: Toast or yogurt for breakfast, bagel for mid-morning snack, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner, something sweet before bed…day after day for decades. When glucose / insulin is omnipresent, your fat-burning pathways down-regulate. This is simply efficiency. Why run those reactions when you are in perpetual glycolysis?

When you finally decide to eat right and go to the gym, you don’t lose any fat because you ‘burn’ glucose preferentially. If you happen to burn up your stored sugar, your liver will tear down your skeletal muscle (proteolysis) and turn it into sugar (trans-amination) and protect your fat, which is meant to save your life.

Sadly, when you do burn up your stored sugar, it is actually stored as a compound with lots of water, which is heavy.  So loss of that water + sugar gives the illusion of having lost a lot of weight, which comes right back as soon as you refill those glycogen stores.  This leads to heartbreak that causes many to just give up the idea of diet & exercise.

If exposure dictates genetic behavior, then you will metabolize fats and cholesterol more efficiently when you eat more fats and cholesterol and up-regulate those metabolic pathways-this must be done in the absence of insulin. But be careful.  If you have been in the Glucose basement for a long winter, do not rush into the Florida bacon. Gradually move from lean meats to fatty.   Years ago when I first read Dr. Atkins book, he explained that everyone is afraid of meat and cholesterol but your cholesterol actually goes down on his diet-but he wouldn’t explain why! Epigenetics was not a hot topic in the early 70s.

Once those adipose-burning enzymes are up and running, you are called “fat-adapted”; You burn fat preferentially instead of burning glucose preferentially.  Ascertaining what fuel you are burning can be done via Respiratory Quotient, just remember that your muscle shows up as glucose once trans-aminated.

If you then frequently burn fat as ketones via extremely low glucose load, you can become “keto-adapted”. This is why it takes some people 3 days to become ketotic and some people 3 weeks: enzyme up-regulation. And then the fat melts away sometimes too fast. You don’t have to live this way, but if you need to swing the pendulum, you can do this for months or years.

And this is why genetic twins can have vastly different metabolic behavior-same genes, different reading of those genes.

This is done by diet, not exercise, but exercise will help all of this along tremendously.

Inversely, the Inuit, who only ate fish and blubber and got all of their carbs & phyto-nutrients from lichens they scraped from rocks, most-likely had severely down-regulated glucose metabolism enzymes. Some of the people in the “Paleo” crowd do, too.  They spend so much time metabolizing fats that they need to schedule “Glucose overfeeds” so they don’t down-regulate those enzymes. Take as long of a pause as you need to come up with whatever that says about modern society. It’s ridiculous but at least they understand the system.

So when someone like Mark Sisson writes a book with the strapline: “Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy” this is what he is talking about, though it probably looks like pseudoscience to the cynical diet-book recidivist. I refer to this concept again & again while talking metabolism.

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Obesity is a marker for metabolic dysfunction, not the end result.

“I’m not overweight and I run a lot, so I am not at risk of diet-induced metabolic disorder because I balance my calories with activity.”

This is incorrect. Obesity is a marker for metabolic dysfunction, not the end result.

In fact being “Skinny-fat” can be more dangerous than carrying extra pounds. What is skinny-fat? In short- not enough meat on the bone.

You must maintain muscle volume to carry out basal metabolic function. You know how your doctor looks at your cholesterol and says, “Well, your ‘bad’ cholesterol isn’t high but your ‘good’ cholesterol is still too low,” and you say, “But if ‘good’ cholesterol is for removing ‘bad’ cholesterol which I don’t have, why do I need more?” And the Dr. says “Just shut up and fix it! I’m a doctor, not a professor!” Skeletal muscle is a similar circumstance.

If you are an adult, if you’re not gaining muscle, you’re probably losing it. And you don’t gain (significant) muscle mass with Yoga or being a cardiobunny. The human animal needs to live in a way that increases muscle mass. Do not fear “bulking up” and in turn lose your ability to thrive as a normal human.

Secondarily, research shows that thin people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease have a risk of death twice as high as obese people. We now know that excess fructose sugar (1/2 of sucrose-of which the average American eats 25-30 lbs./ year) causes the same chronic damage to the liver that alcohol does. This is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or N.A.S.H.-Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and you can suffer this while skinny as a rail. Throw in hepatic dyslipidemia (fatty liver disease) and you have yourself a fatal party and your pants still fit.

Refs below:

Thin NAFLD Patients Have High Death Risk

Lean adolescents with increased risk for metabolic syndrome

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Busy as a bee this summer.

Here’s to hoping for a return to Bloggery this coming cold season.
monarda
Kim Kimberly George Flower Gardens by Kim coach kimi Ohio Chagrin Falls Solon Aurora Hunting Valley Joseph Benner Way Out Vegan

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You have to read the instructions. And obey them, by the way.

When I managed a pet store, I tried to sell a small book with each reptile.  Philippe de Vosjoli wrote great little books that offered tons of information including dietary concerns.  Reptiles are cold-blooded and their intestinal flora only get up to working temperature when the rest animal’s whole body is warm enough. Many of them are fully vegetarian and therefore can not get vitamin D from animal products. They must get it from the sun. Vitamin D is part of calcium use and affects bone density.  If you don’t get as much sun in your area as they get where they evolved, or if your reptiles never go outside, you have to replace that sunlight by artificial means; with full-spectrum light bulbs. Metal halides are good because they produce heat as well as full-spectrum.

It’s quite a different metabolism from a mammal. Bringing a reptile into your home is like obtaining a diabetic infant.  It can’t tell you it is sick, weak or mal-nourished and its diet and environment must be micromanaged every single day. And small changes can affect it quickly and disastrously.

Philippe explains this very thoroughly, but somehow people always missed that chapter. They missed the chapter that said that $20 lizard needs a $400 light fixture and the $80 bulb needs to be replaced every six months.  Inevitably, 4 months later, the customer might bring the animal back to me with a soft jaw or bony hip/tail joints and ask me what’s wrong – if I were lucky.

If the lizard were lucky.

Usually, no questions were asked and no sick animal was produced. They were just in the store again 4 months later to buy another $20 lizard. In the years I spent at the pet store, I sent many, many animals home to a wasting death. Ask a pet store employee why he or she works there and they will tell you that they love animals. Gah. You must heed the whole set of instructions.

I now recommend Melissa Kaplan’s website for that information.

I told you that story to tell you this one:

A few weeks ago I was doing a project in my basement where it’s kind of dark. I came upstairs into the bright light and found that I couldn’t see.  First I thought my computer was dying. Then I developed total tunnel vision and couldn’t look outside into the snow. I said (to Lucie), “Well, this is alarming.”

That night I was reading in bed and realized it was only my right eye.  I hoped that after sleeping, I would just wake up and it would be OK.  But, no. It wasn’t. The next morning I looked into a mirror (yes, it took me 15 hours to look into a mirror) and the situation was obvious- my right pupil was 3 times bigger than the left.  I had what is called a bilateral posterior ischemic optic nerve neuropathy (PION). So I did an internet search and of course WebMD pops up and tells you you’ve had  a stroke or a transient ischemic attack and/or you have dain bramage. Or diabetes or severe ketoacidosis.

Oh crap. What? Ketoacidosis? Let’s see if this is associated with regular dietary Ketosis.

Yep. I did this to myself.

So I do this Ketogenic diet, right?  Like many people my age and older, I first learned about it from Dr. Atkins. Now there is much more sophisticated science and Dr. Atkins is no longer revolutionary or the wellspring of information on this.  If you’ve been following this year’s weight loss journal, you know that this year has been a stunning success. I lost over 30lbsin just several weeks. But I made a mistake.  I didn’t heed the whole set of instructions.

I have often mentioned that my only problem with Ketosis is charlie horses. So I supplement with Magnesium and Potassium. But that’s not what Dr. Atkins advised. He did, in fact, include a whole chapter in his book about supplementation and why you should do it.  But I missed it.  I missed the chapter that said I need $40 in vitamins. In fact he wrote a whole follow-up book called “Dr. Atkins’ Vita-Nutrient Solution: Nature’s Answer to Drugs”.   Atkinsexposed.org also missed this chapter, then posted an article called “Vision Loss on Low Carb Diets: Low-Carbohydrate Diet Optic Neuropathy.”

So what caused it?  Thiamin deficiency, which stuck in my craw because nutritional yeast is one of my favorite things in the world. This should be one of the best sources and I eat a lot of it.  So I went out and bought a B-Complex vitamin and it fixed up in a few harrowing days.  And boy, oh boy was my wife pissed.

This is also a lesson to those who criticize something without investigating thoroughly.  How often do we dismiss something or speak ill of it while ignorant of what it really is.  Never happens with politics, right?

Read up! Challenge your sources and challenge your instincts.

neuropathy

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In which Jimm becomes trendy and puts butter into coffee

buttercoffee
I was writing this as an entry to my diet journal, but as usual, it became long and involved enough to become its own post.

On a lark, I decided to try the trendy butter-in-the-coffee thing.  I like Dave Asprey. He’s the “Bulletproof Coffee” guy.  Originally, I had an immediate disdain for him because I loathe the word “hacking” used in any context that doesn’t involve Oliver Wendell Jones. “Bio-hack” especially. No, I don’t want to “hack my sleep”, thank you. But some dudes I respect like him, so I have to listen to him, though I really have to review his science sources. I find a lot of it far-fetched or over-reaching in claims. If minor changes made such obvious beneficial differences, we would all be doing it. I think a lot of placebo is involved. That or you have to buy into his whole lifestyle, otherwise you make each individual effort null and void.

But I reserve judgement, I promise.

I like his bulletproof podcast and his interviewing technique but ultimately I find his diet plan too restrictive and diminishing of my quality of life.  I appreciate his research and take it to heart and apply what I think is reasonable under the umbrella of Mark Sisson’s 80/20 rule.

I keep in mind that much of his advice ties into some product that he sells. I don’t think he’s a huckster. I believe him and Mark Sisson when they say they want to make products they believe in available to others. But my goal is to show people that they can get healthy without spending money. No Weight Watchers, No DVD sets, no boxes of supplements, no mass-produced Gluten-free and no mass-produced “paleo” analogues of “normal” food, no Atkins Brand chocolate cake.  A gym membership is strictly optional. I just want you to invest in higher-quality meat and vegetables and put a little time into some Youtube videos instead of your regular TV mush. And ain’t nothing cheaper than intermittent fasting, which is very healthy for you.

In the long run you will save money- not only on fitness products and food, but how much will diabetes or cancer or a heart attack cost you or your loved ones once you’re gone? Once you are lean and feeling good and want to start advancing, Then feel free to dabble in Dave’s sub-atomic particle activated carbon, or Mark Sisson’s multi-vitamin supplements, or Sally Fallon’s $40 cod liver oil or a membership to a High Intensity Training gym or Dave’s super-computer systems that help you build a six-pack through guided imagery. I’m all for it if you’ve got the money, but insist that it is not required for health.

Based on an old Tibetan tradition of putting Yak butter into tea,  Dave Asprey wants you to drink a lot of coffee (mold-free coffee, and of course only his coffee is mold-free)  and add cultured, grass-fed butter and MCT (Medium-Chain Triglyceride) oil. I’ll let you investigate his whole story and reasoning on your own if you are interested. There is a big debate out there as to whether you should use MCT oil or the whole food from which it comes, coconut oil. Dave of course sells “Brain Octane” oil, which is a super MCT oil that was probably “hacked” (rolleyes). This is all supposed to give you unbelievable energy and brain clarity.

Of course you will find a million websites claiming this is all B.S. But not many of them are talking real science.  There are claims that Dave’s experience can be chalked up to his Thyroid medication, or whatever. And of course he’s selling stuff, which bothers people. But to research this you really have to look at the science of coffee polyphenols and the science of how grass-fed butter makes them more bioavailable.  Dave usually has hundreds of scientific papers sourced for his claims. To have one dipshit throw it all away because, “well, you know…Tibetans and Sherpas have altered mitochondria from living at high altitudes, so this is all bunk” is actually a little unintellectual, though it’s what some people want to hear. You have to refute all of his sources, not him personally.

Do intense research and personal experiments, especially before you give people money but before you dismiss out of hand. Finding people ranting in ignorance is the easiest thing in the world.  I have so many friends who have never read a book yet have all of the answers. Misguided vocal minorities are shaping your world every day, so take this seriously.

I’m on the grass-fed butter bandwagon because of Sally Fallon  and have been looking for a way to get more of it into my diet. I just happened to have a jar of coconut oil which is a normal grocery store item (actually my mom gave it to me).  So what the heck. Let’s try it. MCT /Coconut oil is supposedly very ketogenic. I don’t know why I would want ketosis of dietary fats. I want the ketosis to use my spare tire & belly as fuel, not exogenous calories. But maybe it gives that metabolic pathway a boost. In regards to brain/mind clarity, I do know that the brain loves ketones.

When we were young in our relationship, my wife tried a culinary experiment.  We were out of cream for coffee but we had butter and she reasoned, “Well, butter is dairy. How bad could it be?”
Pretty bad, let me tell you.  That one still comes up from time to time when discussing our bad food decisions.  Apparently the trick is to use a blender, not a spoon. You need emulsion.

Most importantly!! When you put hot liquids into a blender, they pressurize and blow the heck up. You must use something big like a Vitamix. I’ve never seen this mentioned in “Bulletproof” coffee discussions, but luckily, I’ve already blown up hot soup in the past and happen to have a Vitamix.

The taste result: Not bad at all. I enjoy coffee purely as a gastronomic experience and will not tolerate a change in flavor at all. I don’t drink coffee as an “energy boost” as my body is not sensitive enough to sense it. I have made this coffee a few times now and decided that I don’t like the coconut oil in it. If I find a way to ingest a tablespoon of that right before drinking the coffee I’m fine. I also add a little heavy cream after blending.

The physiological response: I honestly had the most energetic day of this year. I am not kidding.  I shoveled the driveway, went to the gym and did a full run on the elliptical and was ready to do it all over again.  So I did a full circuit of weight machines which I am normally very tepid with owing to the myriad joint injuries I’m currently suffering. Then I went swimming for half an hour and left the gym feeling great. This morning, my circulating ketone level is pegged and the scale is two pounds lighter than yesterday (possibly water weight from the intense workout depleted hydrated glycogen).

Now, I didn’t  feel energized during this. I wasn’t jittery. It’s just that nothing was fatiguing me. Normally I do a little work at the gym and I’m ready to hit the sauna. But I was flying. I wasn’t  expecting a result from the coffee and as I mentioned, I didn’t feel energized.  So I don’t think it was psychosomatic but you know what? Placebo is a very powerful drug. I don’t care if that’s it. Somehow I doubt it.  Only prolonged experimentation with this will tell me.

I don’t know if you could experience this as I did because I am already ketotic and feeling the perceived energy boost from the fact that insulin is not making me sluggish, stimulating anabolic hormonal pathways and blocking my leptin signalling. If you are currently metabolically tuned to burn carbs preferentially and insulin is ruling your system, I’m guessing you won’t have the results I had. But who knows. Let me know if you do. I’ll be making notes in the weight-loss journal.

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“Stay Out of the Belly of The Beast”


In a 2012 Talk entitled Fitness, Health, and Liberty at the 21Convention, Doug McGuff, an Emergency Room MD from South Carolina explains exactly what is already irrevocably around your neck and only going to tighten by giving a history of our healthcare system over the past 100 years. There is something in it for the liberals because he’s going to beat up on the Big Business. There is something in it for the conservatives because he is going to indict the Government. He will undeniably show how everyone involved, including 100 years-worth of stupid voters are at fault for this mess and why you really only have one job now which is to Stay out of the belly of this beast.

Which I have painstakingly transcribed for you for review of and comment upon. If you pinch the text, please give me transcription credit. But this labor is my gift to the world.

If you have neither time to read this nor watch it, I suggest making an MP3 out of it and listening during a commute, mowing the lawn, running on a tread mill, etc. I have very few friends who stand to learn nothing from this lecture. Doug will:

  • Demonstrate well-meaning, community-intended ideas that came with criminal fiscal irresponsibility.
  • Explain why your inner city emergency rooms look like 19th Century Flop Houses.
  • Show why everything medical you do is at an out-patient center
  • Parse out details such as: HIPAA is not for your confidentiality or assurance of consistent records-it hides the collectivism trumping your personal rights
  • Support my idea that we should just kill all the Baby Boomers now.

~~begin transcript~~

Normally I talk about exercise and diet but there’s not anything that I can tell you about exercise that you are going to remember that Skyler did not cover beautifully yesterday in his lecture so if you’re watching this on video, go watch Skyler’s Talk and you will have everything you need to know about exercise in that talk.  Likewise, with regard to diet, there is nothing that I could tell you today that you are going to remember that wasn’t beautifully covered by Jolly or Dave Asprey in their talks today. So I would reference those for you. So instead of like in 2010 me telling you the how of the Paleo diet and the how of exercise I wanna tell you why.  And I wanna do that from a very unique perspective and that perspective is: 23 years practicing in the epicenter of the implosion of the American healthcare system.

If you care about your liberty and preserving it, you need to care about your health. Now, everyone that’s sitting on an aisle seat on this side of the room, please raise your hand. OK, everyone look around for those of you that are younger than 35-years-old in this room, statistically speaking, this is the number of you that will be dead before you are 35. Keep your hands up. Everyone on this side of the room please raise your hand.   That is the number of people, statistically speaking that is going to have a serious life-threatening health condition or injury before they reach age 35. That’s why this is important that is why I want to talk to you about fitness, health and liberty: preserving personal freedom by staying out of the Belly of the Beast.

Now one thing that I want to make reference to as we go through all this is remember that every step of the way in this story that I am going to tell you. When we made a mistake or did something wrong, we never go back on that mistake. This is true of individuals but it is particularly true of bureaucracies and government. If they make a mistake that did not work out, well they never go back on it. They always double down and do even more of it.

So, medical care.  What is it? What should it be vs. what it is. What medical care should be, is a free market exchange; a fiduciary relationship between the provider of a service and a consumer. The moment that you engage me as a physician, I should have a fiduciary relationship to you to take your best interest at heart. But what is it actually today? What it is, is a 3rd party relationship where the provider is coerced to place the needs of a collective over the needs of an individual. Now in a proper circumstance when you engage me as a physician we would be discussing both the price and the extent of the care that would provided up front.

As it stands nowadays if a patient’s coming through the E.R. even with something as simple as a laceration and they ask me, “Doc, what’s this going to cost me?” I have no idea what to tell the patient. If you get admitted to a hospital you have no real means of negotiating what your extent of treatment is going to be. In most cases, the extent of what is provided to you would be way beyond what you would normally negotiate under a correct provider / recipient relationship. The other thing that happens is: instead of you getting to decide what you want and what you don’t want, whether you want a statin or not want a statin, you kind of get a take-it-or-leave-it attitude because the system is now protocol-driven.  If you don’t fit in to the protocol or accept the protocol…you know, there is no negotiation. It’s all or nothing.

So who’s to blame for all this mess? Doctors.

This is an important point for all of you. Whenever anything is screwed up in your life I want you to say four words: It is all my fault.  Five words?  It’s all my fault. Assume responsibility for everything that’s screwed up in your life. Doctors did this to ourselves. The doctors that did it did it with short-term gain in mind, and they probably knew that the consequences of this would not be born in their lifetime but in the life time of future physicians and future patients. But they sought the help of the Government for short term gain and they set in motion the long term unintended consequences that has resulted in our ultimate enslavement.  So what’d they do?

Anyone ever heard of Blue Cross and Blue Shield?  This came about in the Great Depression. Now before the onslaught of everything that we currently have, a lot of physicians provided a very large mass of charity care and during the Great Depression- a calamitous economic event triggered by Government regulation – not many patients were being paid for their services. This is where you heard about doctors being paid in chickens and eggs and milk and what not because this is all that people had to exchange with. The medium of exchange had gone down to that. That they devised was an insurance system whereby they were guaranteed to receive a payment for their services but they bastardized what insurance actually is. What insurance should be is you pay a premium along with a lot of other people that goes into a kitty that will pay you should you encounter some catastrophic unforeseen event, but the insurance structure that they made was something to pay for everything: routine office visits, medications, screening tests, the whole nine yards. Come to the office with an ear ache or a sore throat, it was under the umbrella of this insurance that you paid premiums for.

Furthermore, they sought a tax-exempt status. What they wanted to happen was people that were buying their insurance plan was for them to be buying that with pre-tax dollars. Normally when you buy insurance, when you buy automobile insurance…when you buy life insurance, you buy it with post-tax dollars. That means if you made $100 the government takes $40 and leaves you with $60 and you buy your premiums with that. When something is allowed on a pre-tax basis, you get to buy it with the $100 you originally made. So in essence, you’re buying it at a 40% discount. Well the Government said “OK, we’ll do that but what we want in exchange for that is a community rating.”  Does anyone know what a community rating is? Basically what that says is: anyone within a geographic catchment area pays the same premium regardless of their pre-existing health status.  So that’s created layers of what are called moral hazards.

So what’s Moral Hazard? Well, Moral Hazard just has to do with what your behavior is under different circumstances. Let’s string a tight rope on the top floor of this building across the street to the other building. Well, Moral Hazard is the difference in the way you behave on that tight rope when there’s a safety net eight feet below you versus when there isn’t. So people’s behavior was changed by the fact that they were covered for everything. The consequences of not washing your hands or eating something that sat out for too long were now much smaller. You didn’t have to pay if you got sick even for the most minor of illnesses. More importantly, you felt as if you were going to be taken care of even if even got a more major illness that ocurred as a result of your behavior over time.

So this was great for the doctors at the beginning of the medical Ponzi scheme. But not so great for those of us down the line. So- what happens next? Well remember this is occurring in a medical market where different providers are competing within that market. So, commercial insurers tried to compete. People that aren’t Blue Cross / Blue Shield that don’t have the pre-tax benefit- they have a lack of tax-exempt status, they’re forced to compete by offering a similar product. So what happens then is the concept of third-party payment for medical services becomes entrenched. This essentially becomes pre-paid medical care. This makes comparison shopping near-impossible because you’re not comparing price as you would in an open free market – its premiums and it creates another moral hazard that’s called Friedman’s Quadrants. And it refers to Milton Friedman.

And I wanted to have a white board up here to draw it for you but to spare us all the rigmarole of trying to get that thing up here let’s just divide this screen into quadrants. And on one side what we’re going to have is your money and then below is going to be someone else’s money. That’s the Y axis. So on the Y axis, we’re going to have your money and someone else’s money. On the X axis, we’re going to have yourself and someone else. So, when a person spends their money on themselves they’re going to worry very much about the price and they’re going to worry about the quality of what’s supplied. That is where the most conservative economic calculations occurs. Now if you’re going to spend your money one someone else, you’re still very concerned about price but you’re not quite so concerned about quality. You’re buying a birthday present for someone and you’re like, “Eh, I think they’ll like it. Maybe they’ll hate it. I will never know so I don’t really care that much.”

So down in this quadrant you’re going to spend someone else’s money on yourself. And that’s kind of where we’re starting off with this. There, you don’t care so much about price but you care about quality and you want to make darned sure that you get the quality you want but you don’t really care what it costs someone else to provide you with what you want. This is sort of the equivalent of being a welfare Medicaid recipient. And in the last quadrant is the worst kind of spending you can do and that is to spend someone else’s money on someone else. When you’re in that quadrant and you are spending you don’t care about the price and you don’t care about the quality. And when you create a third party payer medical system, that’s what you have.

Your money

Spent on Yourself

Your money

Spent on Someone Else

Someone Else’s money

Spent on Yourself

Someone Else’s money

Spent on Someone Else

People are not buying their healthcare in a direct transaction. Healthcare is bought with premiums that you have no idea what the cost is and you don’t care. How many of you people are employed and covered under employer insurance? Do you know how much it costs you every month? We got one guy? Do you know how much comes out of your paycheck? Dollars and cents?

Audience member: “$92…126?”

It’s variable but the number of employees that actually know what’s being taken out of their paycheck and whether those are pre or post tax dollars and all sorts of … If you go to an ER do you know how much you’re going to pay?

Audience member: “Just my deductible, 100 bucks”

So you pay a hundred dollars and you’re covered 100%? You don’t have an 80/20 or anything like that? So most people – they don’t know how much is being taken out and they don’t know what’s it’s going to cost when they show up for care. So this creates another moral hazard because you’re down in this quadrant- you don’t care about price, you don’t care about quality.

So, the situation was made worse by the 1942 Stabilization act– we’re in the middle of WWII. A lot of America’s men in the work force are off fighting war. And the thing you’ve got to realize about labor is like anything that’s bought and sold, or anything that’s scarce it has a price. So wages could potentially go up during this time of economic hardship which could put a real strain on employers so there’s a lot of political pressure to freeze wages and that’s what they did. But all of a sudden, employers were hamstrung for competing for very limited labor supply. So what happened then is the government allowed employers to compete for scarce labor by offering benefits such as their health insurance to not be considered in the wages act. What happens then…is these are pre-tax dollars and they’re not taxed and that amplifies this whole effect. So remember price controls will always create shortages. They applied price controls on wages which created a shortage a shortage of labor. So they had to find an end-around and their end-around was to offer benefits or things that were not counted as wages under the act.

Then what happens? The IRS gets involved. In 1943, they made certain that any premiums paid by employees in a group plan were exempt from federal income tax and they decreed that health insurance premiums are now legitimate cost of doing business and they can be deducted from the employer’s taxable income, too. So this has collectivized things both on the employee and the employer side. So collectivism is incentivized. So these tax incentives were available to anyone that got their healthcare collectively through employers but it was not applied to individuals who individually bought their insurance policies for themselves who wanted to stay independent, who wanted to preserve as much as possible that relationship between themselves and their doctors so they were financially punished for trying to remain independent.

So what are the logical consequences? Employees become unaware of the cost of what they’re seeking. And because it’s bought with pre-tax dollars dollars and there is no apples to apples comparison of what that really means in terms of your salary. Especially since taxation rates are gradated. The first money that you make is taxed at a lower rate than the middle money that you make which is taxed at a different rate that the top-end money that you make. So it makes it very hard to form any economic calculations. Employers insure the group without any concern for the given individual’s circumstance so you may have very peculiar or particular healthcare needs based on pre-existing conditions, congenital problems…but it doesn’t matter. They’re insuring the collective- the whole. That’s their concern. There is no concern for the individual anymore and worst of all it feels like an entitlement. It feels like something that just comes along with being employed. When I’m employed, I have “benefits”. I’m covered for my health insurance. And it engenders a buffet mentality. You’ve paid in a certain amount for your premium and now when you go to a buffet there’s a lot of food in front of you and you have to pay $14 to go the buffet are you really going to stick to your diet or are you going to get your money’s worth by gorging yourself? That’s the problem with a buffet. And that’s the problem with the logical consequences of making this sort of system.

So then what happens next? Well, prior to 1965, there’s always been indigent care. There’s always been a need to care the poor or the elderly who became destitute, either because of their actions or innocent of their actions. And prior to 1965 this was done on a charity basis by almost every doctor in the country. There were entire charity hospitals for providing care to the indigent. If it wasn’t a charity hospital almost every hospital in this country had a charity wing. Which is separate from the rest of the hospital where charity care was provided to those who needed it. But what Medicare and Medicaid wanted to do is they promised not to control medicine…”We just want to pay the bill.” But the real point of the thing was not just to take care of the elderly and the poor, the point was to spare them the humiliation of means testing. To actually spare them the humiliation of having to put their hand out and say, “I need help.” But that is the difference between a charitable act and an act of force. Putting your hand out and saying, “Can you please help me.” vs. putting a gun to someone and saying, “Give me this”.

The other thing that is did and the insurance companies rather liked this is it removed anyone over 65 from the insurance pool. So you’re a commercial insurance companies- you just took the totality of your highest risk covered lives out of your bailiwick and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. The public sector is going to take of that so your profit margins just went through the roof and it shifts the cost on the government which is you the tax-payer. Oops.

So, what are the logical consequences of that? Remember, at every step of this process when we screw up we don’t go “oops” and go back, we go, “oops” and double down. So what’s the Oops?

Baby Boomers. Holy Crap! The hugest population explosion in the history of our country was going to come to fruition under this act. So what happened is- you’re promising care to a huge number or people who paid in when it was extraordinarily cheap but you’ve created a system where the cost of providing that care has to go up exponentially. So now you have a situation where if you’re going to keep this thing propped up from one election to the next, which is very important because this is also a demographic that votes and votes with fierce self-interest very much in mind. If you doubt if the baby boom generation has screwed you young guys -they know that they were at the beginning of a Ponzi scheme. And they were more than happy to pass that debt off onto you. You’re going to pay for this with money you’re not going to earn until you are 50 years old.

So how do we keep propping this up from one election to the other? Well we have to control costs. Well we do that by limiting treatment to what is considered appropriate or medically necessary and we try to limit payment to doctors. The other thing it did is it outlawed any supplemental payment form the patient to the doctor. So they start limiting how much they pay doctors- doctors don’t want to see patients anymore. Well a lot of people that were forced into Medicare said “Eh, I’m well-to-do. I’ve got plenty of money, Doc. I’ll pay you the difference between what you get from an insurer- someone that pays out of pocket- I’ll pay you the difference between what Medicare pays you and what you would have gotten.”

Well guess what? The government will not allow the doctor to do that if he participates in Medicare. So if you take that kind of money from someone you are subject to a federal crime that is going to send you to jail and you’re going to be subject to fines which under federal law have treble damages which means that whatever they decide to fine you- you owe 3x that amount. If someone in your office finds out- there’s something called ‘qui-tam’ which is a whistle-blower statute that says not only do you pay treble damages, the person that rat-finked on you, whose payroll you meet, gets treble reward too. So you end up paying six times the fine that is levied against you. So this has huge teeth. So what’s the next thing that happened? That wasn’t enough. It didn’t stop it.

Next thing was DRGs – Diagnosis-Related Groups. This came about in 1982. And it was courtesy of a couple academics by the name of Robert Fetter and John Thompson who were public health and epidemiology experts from Yale. And they came up with this system of paying doctors in what are called diagnosis-related groups. And what they did was they standardized different diagnosis through this giant manual called the ICD which is I can’t remember what is stands for- The International Compendium of Diseases or something of that nature (International Classification of diseases ~Jimm), but what it boils down to is that if you get admitted to the hospital and you have a certain primary diagnosis you get a certain number of hospitalization – a fixed amount they are going to pay for and that’s it. And it’s on the lowest possible end of what you can be paid from something of that complexity. Well what that is, is essentially, is a price control on in-patient medical care. Remember any time you apply price controls you get shortages. This created a shortage of in-patient hospital beds because hospitals could not admit that many people into the hospital and incur those kinds of losses. They had to back off on the number of people they were admitting – make the hospital smaller, have fewer beds because they can’t take that many losses under this payment system. This is why if you go back to your home towns and you look at a local community hospital what you’ll see is this dilapidated, old ugly building that has maybe 134 beds in it. But right next door to it, you’ll see a palatial, beautiful, bigger-than-the-hospital outpatient surgery center or an outpatient radiology center or a blood collection/transfusion center. Because they’re trying to divert their activities into the out-patient setting where these price controls did not exist.

The other thing that happened is it triggered cost-shifting. If you’re going to lose that money on the in-patient side of medicine, you’re going to shift that cost to other areas. This is where you get your $200 Aspirin in the E.R. We’re trying to make up for the constraints there. You push down on a balloon on one area, it’s got to expand in another. So they’re trying to preserve market signaling in the presence of something that distorts it. So that’s going on.

Then next thing that happens is what has affected my life so immensely. 1986 – Signed into law by one of our most conservative Republican presidents in modern history – EMTALA stands for…it was part of COBRA: Congressional Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1986. This was a sub-component of COBRA called EMTALA: Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986. And what was happening is, when you go to do a residency at a public hospital or a county hospital -residency: you’re going to specialize in internal medicine, family practice, surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics; ophthalmology-residencies are paid for with CMS funds- with funds from the Center for Medicare Services. So that created an obligation for hospitals that had residencies because they were receiving funds and tax advantages to take care of indigent care. So in 1985, if you were a private hospital and you have an indigent person show up with a medical condition, you just tell the ambulance to do a U-turn. You go to the public hospital. They receive funds for this kind of care. Go get your care there. And that’s what happened. And that’s how the indigent paid for their medical care was by essentially being the patient for medical residents. But public funds were going to those hospitals. It was considered fair but all of a sudden the public hospitals under the effects of the DRGs were getting all these non-paying patients coming in and suffering even further loss than the constraints of the DRGs. You had non-paying people. So they started to scream and yell that this was dumping. “You’re dumping your undesirable patients on us simply because we’re good guys.” So we signed this into law and what it does now is it requires any emergency department, any E.R. to treat anyone who presents within the hospital property or 250 yards of the E.R. regardless of their ability to pay. What that also means is regardless of their intention to pay.

How quick did you think it took people to figure out how to game this system? You want to talk about viral spread of an idea? It happened overnight. The public hospitals…emptied out. They were like, “What happened? Our waiting room used to be jam-packed” and everyone was going to the more desirable hospitals because they were given a political mandate by force that they could go get that care for free. And it’s an un-funded mandate with severe penalties. There is no mechanism to pay an emergency physician for seeing this.

So what this did is it made emergency rooms the de facto national health plan for the uninsured. State and local governments abdicated all responsibility for charity care and based on statistics, that were done around 2000, they said the average Emergency physician is providing $138,000 a year in uncompensated care, I myself- when I calculate- provide approximately $350,000 in uncompensated care based on Medicare payment rates. Which as we’ve already discussed are price-controlled. So that’s the low end of the spectrum assuming that applying that, I provide about $350,0000 in uncompensated care. About 23-30%, depending on the quarter that you look at, of the patients that I see pay me anything. So this resulted in further cost-shifting just to survive. This is where you get your $200 Aspirin in the ER. And the thing is- it’s the law that was intended to help the poor hurt them the worst.

There was a massive influx of non-paying patients and that contributed to ER overcrowding. And most people when they think of an over-crowded ER, blame this scenario for the overcrowding. But I’m here to tell you it’s maybe 15% of it. Where the real overcrowding in the ER comes from is the lack of inpatient beds because of the price-controls applied by DRGs. Because the people coming into the ER are sick. There’s a lot of minor stuff that comes through and you’re always kind of turning that wheel but there is no shortage of critically ill people coming through the ER. And you have to get them. You have to stabilize them. Get them treated. Get them ready to be admitted to the hospital but guess what? There’s nowhere for them to go. There no bed upstairs. So they end up boarding in the ER. So the size of your ERs bed capacity starts to shrink. So then instead of having 20 beds to move a big back log of patients in the waiting room through, you now have ten. And in a few more hours, you’ve got five. And then you’re really hosed. So the real problem with the over-crowding is not just the massive influx of people coming in the front door, you’ve got nowhere to send them upstairs because of in-patient price controls.

The other thing that happens is the on-call doctors- the people you need for back-up- the orthopedist for the broken hip, the neurosurgeon for the gunshot wound to the head- they stop taking call. And they stop taking call because they know that when they get a call from the ER at 3 in the morning there is a 70% chance that they’re going to get up, go out of bed, take the risk of taking care this patient for no compensation, finish up that surgery and go to an office that’s backed up. So they stop taking call. So we’ve got no back up for a lot of different specialties.

Next thing that happens: 1996 – HIPAA. That stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. And basically what this law was to do was to give Government enforcement of the Hippocratic Oath, part of which is to say: Anything that happens between the doctor and his patient remains confidential. And the reason for this is when you collectivize medicine , the ability to keep it confidential because you’re serving the collective and not the individual becomes compromised.

The other thing that was happening was the government was already planning to mandate – remember this is 1996 the internet boom was going, computers are going to solve every problem on the face of the Earth. So there is this huge governmental push for electronic medical records and they worried about sensitive personal information being stolen so they impose imposed huge penalties if you even inadvertently violated anyone’s confidentiality. I cannot practice medicine on a day by day basis without violating this law every time. If someone comes from a drug house or a rave party unconscious, whoever’s with him, you know, some kid with pink hair and a bone in his nose- I gotta drag this kid in that’s remotely their friend and say, “Here’s the circumstance with this guy -he’s dying right in front of my eyes do you know what he did?” Under this law, that’s a violation. But I have to do it every day just in order to be able to practice. It’s impossible to comply with.

But if you have something called a “compliance program”, if you hire someone to serve basically as a government rat-fink within your own organization, then if you have a slip-up, then you’ve at least demonstrated that is an honest slip up and the penalties are less severe. You have to incur essentially a full-time equivalent of hiring a person on board to make sure that you’re being HIPAA-compliant. And every time you go into your doctor’s office- the first thing they give you is this big long sheet of paper about your privacy rights that you have to sign. Anyone that’s been to the doctor’s office recently knows what I’m talking about. But this was greasing the path for the electronic medical records which I now have to deal with. This all combined, signals the death of private practice.

Overhead burden from Medicare Medicaid, private insurers, HIPAA, it eats up all of your profit margins. In the past four years, 80% of family practice doctors in my community paid themselves no salary. Of the ones that did, they paid their nurses and mid-level providers more money than they were able to net out of their practice. As a consequence, these people were bought up by hospitals who had the scale to deal with the regulatory burden. It’s wasn’t like they were brought in by a hostile take over. These people begged the hospitals to be employees because they couldn’t make it otherwise. That’s what happened. So now what you have is medicine is collectivized both on the provider and the recipient side. Control is easier. You have control of both sides of the equation from the government standpoint.

Even if this was an unintended consequence, you couldn’t have devised a more diabolical system for getting complete control.

Ultimately this created a Hospitalist movement. If you get sick in the old days, your doctor would see you in the office, say “You’re really sick, you need to be in the hospital.” He’d do a complete history, physical exam, write admission orders, send you over to the hospital, you go upstairs and he’d see you. From his office-he’d either see you immediately if it’s urgent or see you later in the evening after office hours. But your doctor who knew you intimately would take care of you in the hospital. No more. All in-patient care is shifted to hospital employees which are Hospitalist. They provide the in-patient care when the patient comes into the hospital. And this happens because the hospital practitioners that became hospital employees are now under sever scrutiny to be productive within the office and if they have to come and provide in-patient care mess up their schedule, they’re productivity falls and they get in trouble for it.

There’s also a refusal to take call because EMTALA increases their exposure to making their bottom line look bad and make them look bad and the hospital and the hospital has no conception of calculating the economic value of doing something that the government has mandated that you do. So the hospital’s been hired to provide in-patient care and these are excellent physicians. But they’re excellent physicians who’re under enormous pressure to practice for the collective rather than the individual. And to their credit what they’ve done because these are doctors – very smart people – is they have become very creative at kind of subverting the system and making it work but what happens is the Government constantly changes the rules of what they’ll pay for and what they won’t pay for so it’s always a moving goalpost. So in order to the help the Hospitalists, the hospitals now hire case managers. Case managers are usually nurses who have the good sense to get out of clinical care or social workers. And they have this big manual from the government about what they will and will and what they won’t pay for and what the diagnostic criteria for being admitted into the hospital are. And they help the Hospitalists figure out what they can and cannot do. Now make no mistake, if something doesn’t fit this template, they’re not saying you can’t admit the patient to the hospital. They can and we do all the time. They’re just saying “We’re not going to pay for it.” And when the hospital is under this much financial pressure, there’s very huge pressure to predicate your admissions to the hospital based on what’s allowed.

So finally, the Patient Portability and Affordability Care Act – Obamacare.

This was signed into law on March 23rd, 2010. I watched it while waiting in a neurologist’s office for four hours to be seen. The reason I was in the neurologist’s office is that I got a weird neuropathy. I thought it was a pinched nerve in my neck. Maybe from working out. But my intrinsic hand muscles atrophied to the point where I could no longer pinch or turn a key. One day I had a patient that went into respiratory arrest. I had to intubate them. I used a laryngoscope to expose their vocal cords and the endotracheal tube- the plastic tube we put down your windpipe- I couldn’t hold onto it as I was passing it through. And I was like, “Oh, crap-I gotta figure this out.” So I was waiting to have a nerve conduction velocity done. As it turns out I had something called Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. We were mandated to have electronic medical records or face severe financial penalties in terms of what Medicare would pay you. So, huge pressure from the hospital – we went to instead of voice-dictation that was transcribed to this computer template that you had to mouse every little bit of the patient encounter. And what is was, was a desk with a glass table top and I was raking my ulnar nerve over and over again. I never thought after 20 years of education I would have the sort of job where I would have a repetitive motion injury. But I was there being evaluated for it while as I watched this being signed into law. And the thing is that everyone’s just really up in arms about this thinking that this is going to do new and horrible things and it’s not.

Here’s what it does: is it just takes everything that horrible about our current system and mandates that you buy into it, even if you object. And the scariest thing about the latest court case is, the first time in American history someone can tax you for something you did not do. You’re not being taxed for taking an action you’re not being taxed for producing something or selling something. Or bartering any sort of transaction. You’re being taxed for an inaction.

So this includes all the negative elements of what brought us here. But the other thing it does- it shuts off any escape valve for cost shifting. Everyone’s co-opted into this thing. So what’s going to happen now is once these price controls are enacted and they cannot be dissipated by cost shifting , you’re going to have massive shortages. It’s going to be really hard to get in to see anyone or get care. So if you get sick, expect to be deflected to the ER when you go to your doctor’s office. The doctor’s office is for routine care and simple stuff. You do anything that screws up the flow of the schedule, they’re going to punch you to the ER. When you get to the ER, expect long waits because everything’s being shunted there. And EMTALA remains in effect. Call your doctor’s office. Go out in the hall; call your doctor’s office on the cell phone. (They) will say, “If you think this is an emergency call 911 go directly to the emergency department. When you get to the Emergency Department, what’s the thing the triage nurse says to you? “Didn’t you call your doctor” No one wants you. Because you are a liability to everyone involved in this system now.

If you need admission, it’s going to be a fight. We’re going to have to find a damn good reason for you to get in and we’re going to have to ram a square peg into a round hole to make sure we get some sort or reimbursement and you’ll be kicked out as soon as possible whether you’re ready or not. It’s all protocol-driven. Any time you receive a treatment it will be per protocol. If you come in chest pains, you’re going to be discharged on a statin. And if you’re not discharged on a statin, that’s going to create the physician being flagged as an outlier and a troublemaker.

The sicker you are the more you’re viewed as a liability. Be prepared to be discharged prematurely. Come in with pneumonia, you’re not completely better, but maybe good enough, they’ll send you home and right now we’re experiencing multiple ambulance u-turns. And what I mean by that is almost every single shift I work I will see at least one ambulance patient that was someone that was discharged from a hospital being driven home in an ambulance that has to do a U-turn and come back because they are decompensating. Guess what? If you’re at risk of re-admission within 48 hours, they ain’t paying. So now the re-admission is even more of a fight than the original admission because no matter what you do, no one’s getting paid. But lots of people are doing the U-turn because of the premature discharges. And understand this is not because the doctors aren’t good. These are extraordinarily smart and well-meaning people. They’re just operating under the constraints of enormous pressures.

So remember, he who holds the gold makes the rules. What becomes protocol is subject to lobbying groups. And what treatments are approved are influenced by Big Pharma. Big Agri is subsidized corn and you end up “needing” Lipitor and “needing” Glucovance. And what lands most people in the hospital is the dietary habits that are created by a Big Agri and the USDA. And you get admitted into the hospital what they bring to feed you will be what the USDA says to feed you.

So remember getting sick – it’s always meant a loss of control but now it means a loss of control and a loss of your liberty. Your doctor no longer serves you. He serves the collective. His compliance is strongly coerced if not forced. Currently it is coerced very strongly. Soon it will be forced. And remember you are a financial loss to everyone involved. It’s cheaper if you die. As long the protocol was followed it’s in your best interest to be a quick healer. That’s why you want to eat the Paleo diet. That’s why you want to do high intensity exercise. That’s why everything that we talk about here is so important. You do not want to get in the belly of this beast.

So, you doubt me? Take the airport test. When you guys are flying back home, look around. The vast majority of people are already within the belly of the beast. And that’s the thing that always cracks me up when you hear, you know, fitness guys that get up here and say, “I’m going to change the healthcare system. We’re going to be more about prevention and health than we are about disease.” Come to work with me one day.

You. Have. No. Idea. How sick people are.

I saw a 48-pound two year old with Type 2 diabetes. At Walmart you can buy nipples that screw on to a Mountain Dew Bottle. Look around you. Just walk out front look at someone out in the smoking area that’s you know, a hundred pounds over-fat. And realize- this person gets the flu? They’re going to be real sick. The onslaught of sick people that need big Pharma-type interventions because it’s all predicated and focused on that sort of recovery from the brink. There is so much of that coming at you so fast you don’t have any time to think of alternative medicine or prevention or anything like that. Doctors are buried by this. So being fit and medication free gives you an enormous competitive advantage and it subverts dependency. Direct control over your life is removed. It leaves you in a much more resourceful mode of being able to deal with the multiple indirect controls that are being exerted over you right now.

So how do you do it? Eat a Paleo diet.

And you don’t have to eat Paleo.

What that means is “avoid Neolithic agents of disease”. Eat nutrient dense whole foods. Single-ingredient diet. You should eat something that has a single ingredient: Broccoli. Meat. Eggs. I was talking to Dave earlier and we were talking about eggs, fat and the diet and how important it was and particularly how important it is in pregnancy and gestation. Dave said, “Look at an egg. Look at a yolk. Everything you need to make a chicken is right there.” That’s nutrient density. Eat a Paleo diet. Find a book: Primal Blueprint {by Mark Sisson}. Rob Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution. The ONE diet by Simon Shawcross who spoke in London. Primal Body Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas and The New Evolution Diet by Art Devany. Pick any one that appeals to you and follow it. If you respond better to visual and aural presentation, see my 21 Convention Talk on Youtube 2010. I’ll lay it all out for you in technical detail so you’ll understand both the ‘why’ and the ‘how’.

Exercise. Do high intensity, low force exercise with plenty of recovery. What Skyler told you is gospel truth. You can read my book “Body by Science”.

“First, do no harm.”

{~Hippocrates}

Find Bill DeSimone’s work and read it. Moment Arm Exercise. You don’t want to injure yourself either. It’s not enough not to be sick. You tear your rotator cuff. Guess what? You’re in the belly of the beast. So you should avoid ballistic exercise and if they use skill based movements in a fatiguing protocol. I love the spirit of Crossfit. I love the notion of: doing-hard-things-builds-character. But what I don’t love is a fatiguing protocol with skill-based movements that are going to get you injured. Same thing with P90X or Insanity workouts. Do high intensity, low force workouts. Because injury will put you into the belly of the beast very quickly. Remember, when you’re becoming super-human, the way to do that is to remember you’re only human. And biohacking -everyone referred to it as cheating. It’s not. It’s not cheating. You’re not cheating anything.

Francis Bacon said it best: “Nature, to be Commanded, Must Be Obeyed”.

You’re obeying nature when you’re following a Paleo diet, when you’re doing what Dave Asprey tells you when you’re doing what Skyler Tanner tells you, you’re being a good animal. A cheetah doesn’t have to count his calories. A lion doesn’t count his calories. They’re in perfect metabolic and physical conditioning without even thinking about it. The same is true for us. The reason it seems like such hard work is we’ve become so far removed from the evolutionary dictates that made us what we were meant to be.

The other thing you want to do is what I call Black Swan Avoidance. Or my dirty dozen plus one. So let’s talk about them.

~~Break transcript~~

Doug humorously reviews a bunch of ways he has seen people die as an emergency room doctor and suggests ways to not get yourself into those situations. I’m not going to transcribe it at this time. But a couple of key quotes/paraphrases are:

“Force is Mass Times Acceleration. Take it from an Emergency room doctor”

“If the grill won’t light, walk away”

“The ladder. This is the white man’s scourge”

“Buy your home to retire in. Don’t build it. I see guys die of a myocardial infarction from arguing with a contractor once a week. We live in a resort area so there may be selection bias.”

“If you ever get into a car at the point of a weapon, you will most certainly die but not until you have really, really suffered.”

“Be Kind. It’s the most important thing for your health and our society.”

“Speaking of kindness-We have these huge forebrains. It’s very important for communication. And it’s what’s lacking when you communicate of the then interact or over the cell phone or by text messaging. There’s a very strange version of stroke called Aboulia, when you have a stroke in the frontal lobe of your brain. I can walk up and talk to the patient and speak to them and they just stare at me with this dead-pan face. And their answer doesn’t come out until 10 -15 minutes after I ask the question. But I can give them a cell phone and call them, step outside of the room and get a complete history from them because they’re communicating in a mechanism that is not at all facial recognition in the pre-frontal lobes of the brain. Realize that when you are communicating over the internet and you are flaming someone on the internet and you’re getting into these little pissing matches that you are not engaging your frontal lobes. You are saying things that you would never say to someone’s because you know damn well you’re likely to get punched or killed. Kindness matters. Because we all must die.”

“I’ll leave you with the words of Ron Harris who wrote The End of Faith and he said this: ‘Consider it. Every person you have ever met. Every person you will ever pass in the street today is going to die. Living long enough each of us will suffer the loss of friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would we want to be anything but kind in the mean time?’”

and

“Stay Out of the Belly of the Beast”.

Doug then takes some questions and tackles subjects such as:

Walmart and it being the logical consequence of the removal or market forces (i.e. You can buy donuts right next to antacids and diabetes medication)

Sexuality and sexual health

Recommendations for health insurance (already out of date)

More details on the bureaucratic Armageddon of Obamacare

Why do other countries with socialized medicine look so cool and we don’t?

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