Thoughts on Abnormal Thinkers

I readily admit to being eccentric and having unconventional ideas.  I have never completely subscribed to any one school or tribe of thought, instead choosing to cherry pick the best  ideas from all sides while throwing out the rest.  I get that some people consider me a hypocrite or even not having principles for picking and choosing ideas from the various schools of thoughts when it comes to things like economics, science, politics, and even religion.    Since I hold views from many different sources, and have for years, I have found myself in conflict with most conventional and normal thinking people.  Most of my friends, regardless of what their political dogma, find it extremely strange that my views don’t line up directly with either right or left schools of thought.  Some call me unpractical and even a hypocrite.  I call it ‘thinking for yourself.’  I get that people that don’t hold conventional thoughts or try to figure out ways to improve on currently used systems of politics or science or business or anything else are not going to make many friends.  One of the most painful truths I had to accept about myself and life in general was that I will never have a great deal of friends or popular simply because I look at the world in ways most people can’t picture.  I can see the world from multiple angles.  I even try to see it from the points of view of people that would consider me an enemy of all they hold dear.  My religious friends think I’m strange in that I love science and technology.  My science minded friends think I’m odd in that I find value in many aspects of religion and spirituality.

I have never understood why I have to be all one thing or another.  That shows a lack of thinking as far as I’m concerned.  I have never been much of a conformer, which has gotten me in serious trouble with my teachers and family, ostracized by peers and coworkers, fired by bosses, etc.  But, at least being a non conformist frees me to look at problems from many angles and contemplate more than one possible solution.  I do not believe violence and war solves all problems.  Also, I believe some people cannot and will not be negotiated with and only understand force and violence and death.  I think one of the greatest tragedies of early 21st century civilization is how inflexible and unadaptable many people, especially people in leadership of business, government, education, religion, and sadly sometimes science, are in their thinking and views of existence.  I don’t give anyone any career advice anymore because we don’t know what careers will be around in even fifteen years.  Many jobs will become automated and computerized and many industries and commodities and skills will be made either free or almost free within the next generation or two.  And our rigid and uncompromising ways of thinking and looking at the world are going to hurt individuals, families, communities, and entire nations in the coming years.

Change is coming.  We can either embrace it, grudgingly adapt to it, or rage against it to no avail.  We can’t stop science and tech changes, not even a major collapse in our civilization’s economy can stop it, at least as long as infrastructure and the thought processes of movers and shakers remains in tact.  We all read in school about the Depression of the 1930s and major pockets of civilization being without work and destitute.  Yet, many self made fortunes in business and science advances came out of those dark days too.  And if the money system does fall apart like I’ve heard from my economist and prepare friends, well it will be replaced by something else.  It’s not like we haven’t had failures in the money system before.  I know this isn’t normal thinking.  But so what.  I am not normal.  Never have been and hopefully never will be.  I may not have many friends because of my abnormal and eccentric thought patterns, but the friends I do have are amazing.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Normal does not change the world or individuals for the better.  Normal doesn’t improve anything.  Normal is decay and death, especially in our time and age.  And normal and stasis is only going to make things worse for individuals as time goes forward.  Normal sucks.

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I’ve Lost Interest In Politics but Gained Interest In Science

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I must be the only man in America who won’t be watching the Presidential Debates tonight.  I’ve had my fill of politics months ago.  I am so tired and frustrated how hateful and divided politics has become.  I can’t even talk about politics with close friends and family any more without feeling frustration.  But politics and sports are all many people I know want to talk about anymore.  There is a lot more going on in the real world than politics and sports.  But it’s the abnormal that gets the most attention.  Few people can throw a football 80 yards or charm thousands of people in a speech.

I readily admit I do not understand neurotypical thinking.  I have spent years trying to figure the average people out and have even point blank asked people why they think the way that they do.  Alas, I haven’t gotten any concrete answers or come to any real conclusions.  I definitely believe the Tommy Lee Jones line from ‘Men In Black’ when he said, “The individual is smart but people are dumb and panicky animals.”  I see this everyday.  I do much better dealing with only one or two people at a time rather than trying to deal with crowds.  I don’t understand why for the last year and a half about all I see on my newsfeed and friends’ Facebook comments have to do with politics.  Some pretty cool stuff has happened in other fields just in that time, namely in science and technology.  But no one likes to discuss any of that.  About the only people I can discuss science with are my parents who had extensive science backgrounds because of working in the medical fields.  Even then I am convinced they don’t like discussing science that much and do it just to humor me.

I have always been interested in science and technology.  I pursued a career in medical research until it became painfully obvious that my mental illness wouldn’t allow me to continue this path.  It helped that I had some good science teachers in school that were willing to put up with my endless questions.  But after spending over a dozen years in the adult world, I painfully realized that most people didn’t have that luxury.  Most people do not see the beauty and wonder of science and the natural world.  I think that if people like this were to take a few evenings to watch some presentations by the late Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku on youtube instead of whatever sports ball game or political news is trending this week, we’d have a much more informed and enthusiastic populace.  We’d also have more interesting people too.  And isn’t being interesting a worthy goal?

Since the fall of communism and the rise of information tech in the early 1990s, we have lived in some really interesting times.  It seems hardly a week goes by anymore that some breakthrough is happening.  Sadly, most people I associate with on a daily basis are blind to these wonders.  And it seems that the few that are paying attention are worried about some dystopian future.  Personally I am very angry with Hollywood and popular culture for selling people these horrible visions of the future.  Visions like that are intellectually lazy and probably dishonest. And it’s not like there isn’t a market for good science fiction that shows a possibly cool future.  Star Trek has been around for fifty years and is going as strong as ever.  People are worried about machines that have no empathy or compassion?  Please, most people I know lack empathy and compassion and our world still works.

I guess in my ranting frustration I have to take heart in the fact that the entire world doesn’t have to be inventors or scientists or artists or humanitarians.  The politicians, freaks, cranks, and creeps may get the lion’s share of the attention from the media.  But it’s the scientists, engineers, health care workers, artists, humanitarians, and incurable dreamers that make living better and more meaningful.  I end this article with a few thoughts from the late Buckminster Fuller about how it often doesn’t take a great multitude or following the crowd to make a positive difference. buckminster-fuller-earn-living-technological-breakthrough

Normal People From A Mentally Ill Perspective

Been reading a lot of Facebook posts from mentally normal people for several years now.  Read one this evening that really took the cake when it comes to normal thinking.  An old friend of mine and I were talking about the lunacy of modern politics and I expressed the sentiment that ‘politics are the new religion’ and that I was fearful that someday liberals and conservatives would force their version of a modern crusade.  To which one of her friends said to the effect ‘I hope so.  We conservatives have all the guns.  We need to clear out some of these tree hugging freaks.’  Well, go to hell!  Is this what normal behavior is?  Do normal people advocate murder against people they don’t agree with?  Yet the idiot who spouts such stupidity has probably never seen a war or even a gang fight.  My father spent over three years in Vietnam as a C-141 pilot.  He flew hundreds of war wounded out of Vietnam on medical missions.  He saw what war does to soldiers, some of whom weren’t old enough to buy a beer in a bar yet old enough to take napalm for Uncle Sam.  My father was at a base that came under rocket and mortar attack.  He said it completely changed his perspective once it became obvious it was him personally that his enemy wanted to kill.  He also brought home American Prisoners Of War only to see idiot protesters on the base chanting such intellectually stimulating ideas like ‘Baby Killer’ and ‘They should have killed you too.’  My father has been to war.  He has seen what it can do.  He is also not a violent man.  He may have voted for President Bush in 2000 but he also saw the whole War  on Terror as an endless fool’s errand before it even began, let alone before it became popular.

I see lots of idiots and fools spouting off on Facebook things they hopefully wouldn’t say to a person in real life.  I have grown to hate social media.  I really have.  The only reason I haven’t cancelled my personal Facebook account is because it is literally the only way I can keep in contact with the few calm and happy college and high school friends I have. And even these people were mostly social outasts when we were in college and high school.  The rest of it is pure garbage.  I see social media as a necessary evil that I have to tolerate, much like fighting traffic or enduring back pain.  I see lots if idiotic trash from people I have known all my life, especially when it comes to politics and religion.  Thank God that scientists and engineers who don’t agree with each other don’t insult and troll each other like a bunch of  normals.  You normals really are a bunch of school yard weaklings trying to cover up the fact you would soil yourselves if you ever were challenged to a fight.  You are also morally and intellectually bankrupt.  There has never been an original thought that came from a normal person.  It was normal people who supported Hitler in Germany, Lenin and Stalin in Russia, and Mao in China.  These alone should show you that normal sucks.

From what I have seen out of normal people, I don’t want the snake oil you are selling.  I don’t want to be normal.  I don’t want to obsess over politics, sex, CNN, money, possessions, Game of Thrones, or whatever horse feces is trending this week.  I don’t want to be a short sighted, unthinking, materialistic sheep.  I am amazed even after thirty six years of living as a human how short sighted and panicky most normal people are.  Normal people are really stupid.  Not even twenty years of easy access to information via the internet and search engines has cured your stupidity.  Smart people never have and never will be able to out vote stupid normal people.  We simply don’t have the numbers.  But we don’t have to.  Smart people keep science and technology advancing.  I know most of you normals are scared senseless of robots and possible AI becoming hostile.  I would laugh and cry both if AI machines and programs had more empathy and caring than humans.  We humans have had thousands of years of civilizing, religion, and moral codes and yet there are still some chumps who think theft, murder, and adultery are good ideas.  Some of you normals seem to think that the basic rules of civilization don’t apply to you.  You think that somehow you are special and are allow to steal, kill, fornicate, and generally be a zit on the face of humanity.  That is more delusional than any thought I ever had as a schizophrenic.  You normals are delusional.  You normals are out of touch with reality.  I never want to be in your stupid social club.  Screw you.   I am sick of normal people.  I never want to be normal.

 

New Normal verses Old Normal

 

When I was growing up as a precocious child in the rural corn belt of Nebraska, I was frequently asked “Why can’t you be normal”.  My classmates, the adults in my life, and even my own family asked me this frequently. I didn’t have the foresight or the courage then to ask “What defines normal” or even “Who defines normal”.

Looking back on it years later I know I never would have gotten any kind of direct answer simply because what qualifies as normal keeps changing.  In 1750 it was normal for two out of three children born in London, England to die before their fifth birthday.  Now in the developed world (and increasingly so in the developing nations) infant mortality is rare.  It is so rare now that if most of us were to look back five or six generations in our family tree, we would find that our most of our ancestors had more dead children than most of us have children or siblings.  That’s what breakthroughs in medical science can do.  As recently as my parent’s generation, most people were married in their early to mid twenties and had children within a few years.  Now it is quite common for people of my generation to not marry until their thirties or even not marry at all.  Back when my parents were in their twenties, if you weren’t married before thirty you were thought insane or gay.  Now the stigmas on both homosexuality and lifelong bachelorhood are in retreat.  Instances like these create new normals out of old normals that no longer worked.

There are things that go on now most people take for granted that may be looked out in horror by future generations.  Even though wars haven’t really been fought between developed nations since World War II, I can imagine a future where people will look back at their ancestors and wonder how we justified ourselves in fighting wars and proxy wars that went on for years.  Perhaps committing any kind of violence against other people will someday be viewed with the same horror we in 2016 view slavery, inquisitions, and wars of territory expansion.  I can hope, can’t I?  Perhaps in future years it will seem absurd for people to hate others based on their political views.  I can only hope so, otherwise I am forever condemned having to listen to people bicker back on forth about political beliefs on Facebook and Youtube when all I really want to do is chat with a few friends and watch a few videos.  I hope our obsession and splitting hairs over political beliefs will someday seem as absurd as Catholics and Protestants fighting during the Renaissance is to our 21st century sensibilities.  Besides it’s not like politicians ever invented any labor saving devices, cured any deadly diseases, did any serious scientific research, or thought up better and less cruel ways of living.  At most, they provided some funding and got out of the scientists and engineers ways.  Many of the most influential and beneficial people who made a difference in history never held a public office, won a battle, or sat on a throne.  Remember that the next time you take your political beliefs seriously.

Less dogmatic and hateful attitudes about political beliefs would be nice.  What would be even nicer is less stigma and discrimination against those with mental health issues.  Seems to me that having mental illness is one of those few things many people don’t feel bad at all about stigmatizing.  It is essentially stigma’s final frontier.  Every week it seems there are crime drama shows where the accused perpetrator is mentally ill or an introverted loner who doesn’t fit in.  It also seems too common someone with a mental illness committing a violent crime gets far more attention than homeless mentally ill people being beaten by cops or gangs of ‘concerned citizens.’  Funding for mental hospitals has been dramatically cut over the years, often leaving the most afflicted to either the street, prison, or dead.  It seems that prisons have become de facto mental health hospitals for a sizable portion of the mentally ill population.  I know that the stats are a few years old in the link.  But I have little reason to believe that the situation for mentally ill individuals in prisons has gotten much better in recent years.  The treatment of seriously mentally ill individuals, at least in my country, is barbaric and insane.  What did you think was going to happen when funding for mental hospitals was cut?  Did you think the problems of the mentally ill would magically vanish once the hospitals were no longer well funded?  Or did you think mentally ill people like myself are making our illnesses up and don’t need help?  There should be no wonder why I was so quick to self commit myself on two separate occasions.  There should be no wonder why I want to change my medications even after a few mini breakdowns.  I don’t want to wind up in prison or dead for the crime of having a psychotic breakdown in front of the wrong person.  You won’t prosecute the handfuls of crooked bankers who triggered the Great Recession but you will throw thousands of mentally ill people in jail because you don’t know what else to do with them?  Way to stay classy. This is certainly one old normal that is in dire need of a quick death and being replaced by a new normal of more understanding, compassion, and better treatments.  And yes, we can find the funding to do this transition if we care enough to do so.

Speaking of practices some currently on the fringes of normal society abhor, maybe even the age old practice of killing animals for food will seem barbaric to future generations.  If lab grown meat gains traction in future years it could.  Don’t be so quick to scoff.  In 1900, who would have thought Henry Ford and his insane motorized carriage would put the draft horse out of business within several years?  Or who would have thought in 1850 that John Rockefeller would find great and numerous uses for a scummy and sludgy nuisance called petroleum?  These two by themselves got rid of old normals and created a new normal.  The internet is a key example of a new normal.  If I was born even fifteen years earlier I would have never been doing this blog.  Who knows what new normals are on their way?  Stay tuned my friends.  Things are going to be getting more interesting than they already are.

Being The Proverbial Black Sheep As A Kid

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Even before I became mentally ill, I had problems with fitting in with others and making friends.  It has caused me so many problems with others over the years.  When I was a child in grade school, I got in so much trouble with teachers, classmates, and family alike whenever I said anything sounding like it had no earthly reason to come from the mouth of a child.  For example, as a seven year old if I joked about how slow someone was speaking, I would try to make a joke because I saw that children and adults enjoyed humor, and say something like “Speak any slower and we could time you with a sun dial,” I would find myself in major trouble.  I was told I had “attitude problems” among other things.  Yet I would see adults joke with each other with similar humor, and worse. I couldn’t figure it out.  I was often told by adults to “grow up” and yet when I tried to act, joke, and talk like the adults I saw I got in trouble.

Even as I child I valued my freedom and privacy.  I would often go into the large backyard of my home and pace and think for hours on end.  I often did this to dream up stories, dream up new twists on old games, make up new slants on old children’s stories, and think of ways to do things better.  My classmates would ridicule me for wanting to be alone all the time and I probably concerned my parents for not wanting to socialize more with family and classmates.  I didn’t do it to be anti-social or draw attention.  I just got a lot more mileage out of socializing for short times than most people.  I didn’t do it for attention because I really didn’t want attention once I became old enough to figure out I was a running joke because I was smart and actually enjoying learning how to do new things.  I might not have spent so much time outside if I had a chemistry set.  I’d probably accidentally burned down the house instead.

My real saving grace as a kid was having two friends just as smart and eccentric as I.  My first true friend, a kid named Ben who moved to my town when we were 11, was as interested in music, dry humor, and history as I was in science.  We would often do inexpensive science experiments in the storage room of his parents’ grocery store.  One time we took some old Micro Machine cars, taped magnets to the bottom of the cars, weighted the top of the cars with pennies and dimes, and got them to run along a track of magnets at least three feet long.  We didn’t realize that we made a very crude version of Mag Lev transportation.  Ben and I also joked that we would eat nothing but meat, cheese, and milk for a month to “protest the wholesale slaughter of defenseless plants.”  Yeah, the Atkins Diet as designed by 12 year olds.  Needless to say our sixth grade classmates didn’t get the humor.

I never did enjoy the toilet and locker room style of humor that my classmates did.  Even in high school, I really liked the comedy of people ranging from George Carlin to Jeff Foxworthy to Bill Hicks.  While most of my classmates were listening to Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, and George Strait, my two core friends and I were listening to groups like Metallica, AC/DC, and the Seattle grunge groups that were around in the 90s (much to the chagrin of my parents).

We didn’t win many style points with our classmates because we were contrarian thinkers, often asked questions in class, didn’t just ‘go along to get along’, openly questioned policies and practices of adults that were counter productive and senseless, and we didn’t particularly like sports.

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I was often chided for preferring to spend my weekends and summer days reading books, namely non fiction.  To me, the things that occurred naturally in the world and universe was far more interesting than fairy tales and fantasy books.  To this day I have never read anything by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K Rowling.  Reading books about science, biology, astronomy, chemistry, military history, etc. were interesting enough without the magical Disney nonsense.

I also didn’t do well dating as a kid.  My other quirky best friend, a girl named Shaunna, and I would often hang out on weekends watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000 on SyFy channel if there weren’t any high school dances nearby.  It wasn’t until the last five years did it dawn on me that the reason I did so poor in the numbers of girls I dated was precisely because of my best friend that was a girl.  I was probably shot down by most other girls because they thought I was a player or swinger.  But as a clueless seventeen year old that thought never once entered my mind.  If only I knew then even half of what I know now.

One thing I do know now is that normal is boring.  Normal is mundane.  Normal does not change the world or even a neighborhood for the better.  Far too many people over the centuries have died fulfilling only a fraction of their potential because they feared being abnormal.  I never had, I still don’t, have a fear of standing out and going against the tide of acceptable public opinion.  As far as I can tell, my old friends Ben and Shaunna are still the same way.   Sure it is frustrating to prove a point and still not sway normal people.  But I don’t want to lose the intelligence, empathy, and creativity that were the tools God gave me to try to make my small mark in my corner of existence.  It causes me frustration but it doesn’t cause me fear.  I got over that a very long time ago.  My older brother, being the typical tormenting brother who’d try to whip his younger sibling back into line, would often ask me things like ‘Why can’t you be normal?’  My answer, years later, is something like ‘I tried being normal once but didn’t like it.’  😀

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