Optimism and Good News

Been spending more time inside lately.  We’re currently in the hottest parts of the summer.  So far I’m managing alright.  I think it helps that I’m getting enough sleep and keeping my mind occupied through computer games and educational programs on youtube and curiosity stream.  I had to get a new phone a few days ago after my old one quit working.  So far it’s doing everything I need done.

In spite spending so much time indoors and not socializing much outside of internet and phone, I’m still feeling pretty decent.  I’m feeling actually quite optimistic overall.  Watching science programs and programs about what is actually going right in civilization while avoiding the negativity and background noise can do that to even a hardened mentally ill person like myself.  I do find it tragic that the advances in science and humanitarian efforts aren’t given more publicity in the media.  I get it that mass media isn’t a public service and they have to draw and audience like every other business.  And nothing draws a human’s attention like fear and anxiety.  There is actually far more going on right than most people will ever know.

Last Christmas I did a piece on science and tech advances that happened just in 2016.  I’m going to do this again at the end of 2017.  I really don’t think people pay enough attention to what’s going on in the realms of science, tech, and humanitarian efforts.  I wonder how many people know that over 90 percent of people in Africa have access to cell phones.  Granted the same CNN article states that only 63 percent of people in Africa have access to piped water and only 30 percent to flushing toilets.  But both of those numbers are better than many people in the developed world thought they would be.  And this article was written in 2016.

When my parents were first married in the early 1970s, many people were worried about overpopulation and as a result my parents decided to have only two kids.  Fast forward 45 years and many countries, especially in the developed world, are actually experiencing decreasing populations.  USA would have the same problem if it wasn’t for many immigrants still wanting to come here.  The fears of overpopulation didn’t come to fruition because as people became more prosperous and better educated, they started having fewer kids and investing more in the one or two kids they did have.  The population is still growing, yes, but that is far more because people no longer die like flies than breed like rabbits.  Smallpox is eradicated and polio is all but eradicated.

There were similar fears about acid rain in the 1970s.  But we as a species, especially scientists and engineers, saw that this could become a problem eventually and we adapted.  As a result, the worst didn’t happen.  Right now there are fears about climate issues and what could happen within the next several decades.  But few people realize that air pollution has actually gone down in many countries and industrializing countries like China and India are going forward with non polluting energy sources now that the prices are more competitive with traditional fuel sources.  My country may have pulled out of the Paris Agreements, but that was my federal government and not individual peoples or state governments.  And in the USA, regardless of individual political beliefs, most people do not approve of the leadership our federal officials are offering.  So many state and local governments are taking it on themselves to develop non polluting energy sources.  I may live in a state where many people aren’t sold on the sciences being climate changes but that doesn’t stop people from putting up wind generators and solar panels.  In my own family, my parents have been using solar panels since the 1980s.  Many people don’t know that the largest state for wind power generation is Texas, a traditionally oil rich state.  Just because a person may not be sold on the hard science doesn’t mean they can’t or aren’t doing their parts to bring about less toxic energies and use less fuel.  Can you imagine how bad pollution and oil issues would be if we had the same cars from the 60s and 70s?  When my father was in the military, he had a street racer car that got less than 9 miles to the gallon in gas.  Pickup trucks now get much better than that, let alone family sedans or smaller cars.  My dad said about his hot rod, “it would pass everything on the road besides a gas station.”  Science is saving our bacon right now, more so than governments or most other established large institutions.

I’m also encouraged by the prospects of private individuals and companies taking on space exploration.  We aren’t living my parents’ space race when it was just Russia and USA doing the work.  There are many things I am encouraged and optimistic about.  But I did not get this way getting information just from traditional sources.  I had to use search engines.  I had to go to science specific websites and journals.  I had to specifically look for the science information because most of it wasn’t being reported in traditional mass media.  But traditional mass media is in decline and will eventually break apart if they don’t adapt to the new realities.  And that doesn’t hurt my feelings at all.  I’m tired of hearing about what is going wrong all the time.  I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way.  I want to know what’s going well and what we’re improving.  I have dig deeper than most people, but I am finding out some of what’s going right.  Maybe more research labs and universities should hire publicity firms to better promote what’s going on.  I think many people would be interested providing the information is presented in the right ways.

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Socializing, Family, and Facebook

The Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and now the weather will definitely start getting hot soon.  I’ve been feeling stable but on and off depressed for months, especially since the middle of winter.  I think some of this depression comes from just being so lonely all the time.  There are only so many books I can read before I’m burned out.  Fortunately I was able to see a couple cousins and their families for the afternoon over the long weekend.  I hadn’t seen either cousin in a long time.  It was fun catching up with them.  First prolonged intelligent conversations I had in months.

I gets bouts and depression and loneliness more frequently than I used to.  It doesn’t help that I don’t really have any friends in my apartment complex anymore.  It also hurts that I had major falling outs with a few old friends that I had known for several years.  One of these friend couldn’t respect the fact that I’m not working a regular job and spending most of my time alone.  This person also thought I’m wasting my time with this blog.  Well, I sent that friend packing.  If a person can’t respect my decisions about work and how I spend my time, then we can’t be friends.

Another friend and I had a falling out over politics.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who can claim that these days.  But I just can’t stand how divisive and hateful modern politics has become.  It didn’t used to be this way.  Besides, political fan boys on all sides seem to be too blind to realize that modern politicians don’t care about the voters unless said voters are lobbyists or big money donors.  The way some of my friends and family post on Facebook, you’d think they were getting paid for every post about politics they put on their sites.  Besides, does anyone change their thinking because of these posts.  It’s like watching monkeys at the zoo fling manure at each other but not nearly as entertaining and far less civilized.  I’d quit Facebook and twitter if they weren’t the only means I had to keep in contact with most of my friends and my key promotional materials for this blog.  Mark Zuckerberg really has a business monopoly that would do any 19th century robber baron proud.

The biggest reason I don’t post about my particular beliefs is that, well, no one group reflects what I value.  When it comes to social issues, it depends on the issue.  When it comes to having a good military, I’m in line with some Reagan era Republicans even if I’m not as interventionist.  When it comes to curbing the abuses and excesses of Wall Street and big business, I’m almost as militant as any Occupy Wall Street guy.  And I definitely won’t support any politician of any stripe that wants to cut science funding.  Science funding is quite small compared to military or social programs.  I don’t have a political home because there isn’t any party that reflects what I value.  And I think many people in the under 40 crowd feel the same way.  And I know it may irritate some of my elders to write this, but I think the last thing our world needs is a senior citizen politician who isn’t familiar with science and modern technology.  My parents generation has been in charge for almost thirty years.  Retire and play with your grandkids already, you earned it 🙂

I guess the biggest reason I have been fighting depression for awhile is that my primary means of socializing and communicating, social media sites, have become so toxic and nasty even among friends and family.  And I think it sucks.  Some days I doubt I really am making any positive difference.  Heck, some days I wonder if people even want positivity and happiness in their lives.

Dealing With Stupid People While Having A Mental Illness

I readily admit I get frustrated when the people I am around on a regular basis do and say stupid things and then keep repeating these mistakes over the course of months and years.  I know I shouldn’t be angry with people just because they aren’t smart.  Some people are just dumb and they are never going to become Mensa material no matter what you do for them.  That is probably the hardest fact of life that I have ever had to accept.  I can handle people not having empathy.  I can handle people being greedy.  But for some odd reason I have had a very tough time coming to the acceptance that some people are just dumb, have always been dumb, and are never going to be interested in the intellectual things like science, technology, history, philosophy, literature, etc. that I am.

Being smart has always come easy to me.  I can’t remember ever not knowing how to read because I pretty much taught myself how to read.  I can’t remember ever having to be forced to read because I read so voraciously on my own. I still do. I actually had to be forced to put down my books and go outside with the neighborhood kids against my will.  I suppose my parents were afraid that I would be one of these really smart people who had lousy social skills.  Well, that happened anyway.  Yet I don’t mind having below average social skills.  Most of the stuff average people like to talk about, like politics, sports, the weather, farming, work, celebrities, etc., I find quite boring.  As much as I enjoy baseball, I wouldn’t have much of a stake in the games if I didn’t have a fantasy league team.  As much as I enjoyed the violence of football when I played as a teenager, I wouldn’t watch any games if it didn’t give me anything to talk about with the average person.  I don’t personally follow politics much except if politicians make noise about cutting science programs.  Cutting science programs will hurt nations long term.  Much of what was the computer and information revolutions came about because of the space programs in the 60s and 70s.  I am not really happy with my current crop of politicians who are cutting science funding and just want to pull up the draw bridge and isolate from the rest of the world.  Who would have thought twenty years ago China and India would be leading the world in developing and implementing nonpolluting technology?  When my parents were children, their parents used to tell them “there’s starving kids in China who would love to eat what you complain about.”  I wonder if Chinese and Indian parents tell their kids “keep studying and going to school, there’s dumb people in America.”

I never had a tolerance for ignorance.  And it’s especially tough having a mental illness and living in low income housing when I am not surrounded by many smart people.  I do most of my socializing online anymore because I can at least superficially connect with people who share my interests.  For years I have struggled searching for people with the same intellectual pursuits I have.  My therapists and I have struggled finding ways for me to find social activities for someone with my interests.  I finally came to the painful realization that I am not going to meet many people I can relate to, at least not in traditional senses.  Some of my best friends I interact with mainly online.  The internet is my social life now.  I’m glad I live in an era when it’s available as much as it is.  Had I lived in the dark ages, I probably would have had to join a monastery.  Even then I’d probably be burned at the stake as a heretic.  I am happy that science is really advancing.  And it doesn’t bother me as much as it normally would that many of these advances are now not happening in my own country.  I really don’t care if it’s an American, a Chinese person, an African, etc. who comes up with the next huge breakthrough.  We all share the same planet so we just as well learn to work and think beyond national boundaries.  I hope that the anti intellectualism I see so prevalent in my time and place is merely a passing fad.  And even if it isn’t, there are plenty of places where intelligence is valued and science will progress.  The future is already happening, it’s just not evenly distributed.

Taking A Vacation From The Insanity

I’ve been feeling more depressed and frustrated than usual the last few days.  I think it’s because I’m spending too much time on sites like Facebook, twitter, and youtube. I’ve decided I’m going to avoid most socializing for the next several days and see if I feel better then.  It saddens and angers me that I can’t even have a civil conversation with a friend without having to sort through angry posts and memes.  I really hope these people aren’t that mean and angry with people in real life.  I hope they aren’t but then again many people have messed up priorities.

I would love to know when my friends and my countrymen became so angry and divided.  And why do they feel like it’s a God given duty to spew that venom and hate for the whole world to see.  You don’t live in an echo chamber.  People who don’t agree with what you post see that stuff all the time.  We usually don’t comment or respond.  We certainly weren’t this divided in the months after 9/11.

I also don’t understand why my countrymen are so obsessed with politics.  People didn’t used to be nearly this obsessed, at least not that I can remember.  Believe it or not, there are other things going on in life than politics.  Politicians are not gods.  I will say that again, politicians are not gods.  Stop treating them as such.

I imagine my friends on Facebook get tired of me posting about science and technology.  I have only a handful of friends who post on science.  But almost all of them feel a duty to do posts complaining about politicians or complaining about  protesters or complaining about people who complain about protesters.  Protesting, if done properly, can lead to change.  Look at colonial America, Ghandi’s India, and the Civil Rights protests.  Too bad there weren’t more people protesting the actions of the governments early on in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, etc.  I am especially disgusted with some states trying to pass laws for harsher penalties for protesters.  There wouldn’t be as many protests if the politicians were actually doing a good job.  You want to stop protests, listen to the people and quit doing stupid things.  Even Jesus protested the abuses and hypocrisy of the religious and political leaders of his time and place.

While I will be going underground and not socializing much for the next several days, I still will be doing research and writing blogs.  My critics aren’t getting rid of me that easy.  I just have to unplug from the insanity for a few days.  Most people need to unplug from the insanity for a few days and realize that someone who disagrees with them is not evil.

Rant about Politics, Education, Science, Technology (or PEST)

It’s been a few days since I last wrote.  That’s because I’m beginning to feel some of the anxiety and depression I felt back in late summer and fall again.  I am convinced this is because of most of my friends wanting to only talk about politics.  I am sick of hearing about politics.  Most politicians know less about science and technology advances that are and will impact our world than even I do.  A politician can’t build a power plant or bring back jobs once automation has made those jobs redundant and pointless.  Politicians, at least here in the USA, can’t even update critical infrastructure or balance their own budgets.  And it saddens me that my country is getting to where we don’t lead the world in many areas of science and technology.  Who would have thought twenty years ago that China would be offering to lead the world on developing clean and renewable energy or artificial intelligence or genetics?  I am embarrassed by politicians of both major parties.

I don’t understand normal people.  I don’t understand how masses of people can look at facts and ignore them or even outright deny them because of the person stating said facts.  Facts don’t change because of beliefs.  You can ignore the reality all you want but eventually you won’t be able to ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.

I have been following politics since the late 1980s.  Since then I have heard the statistics that state that my country has one of the worst overall education systems in the developed world.  We have known this for over a generation.  Yet no major overhauls to the way children in the U.S. are educated has happened. We won’t even consider looking at what other countries do in their educational systems.  My country is going to have to radically overhaul education real soon because the information and automation revolutions will make many of the skills stressed in the current system useless.  We have seen these changes coming for years yet not even the current politicians in power seem too eager to update education for the realities of the 21st century. That’s why I, and many other people in my country, have resorted to self educating ourselves by the internet.  Learning is not boring.  It’s just presented that way in traditional education.

Too many people and politicians are ignorant when it comes to science and technology.  We have known for years about the risks of burning carbon based fuels in terms of climate change and unhealthy air to breathe.  Even if climate change isn’t happening, only a fool would deny that people are getting sick and dying from breathing the toxic fumes emitted by coal plants and gasoline powered automobiles.  That alone should have made people pour much more research money into developing alternatives.

I don’t understand some people’s love affair with oil.  Some people seem to think that we never will find anything better than oil and that we can keep using it for thousands of years.  Climate change or not, oil is a limited resource. And some people don’t acknowledge that science can and will find answers to replacing oil whether they like it or not.  I have to think had these people been born in the mid 1800s , they wouldn’t have wanted to give up their kerosene lamps for electric lights or their stagecoaches for railroads. Or if they were born during the Renaissance they wouldn’t have given up their swords for muskets or would have considered the printing press the work of the devil. But there are always going to be people who don’t want to change anything and some who are nostalgic about a past that wasn’t that great to begin with.  I guarantee that in the future there will be people who won’t want to colonize the moon or other planets just because they fear and hate technology.

I don’t understand normal people’s obsession with politics.  And I’m sure most people don’t understand my obsession with learning and science.  Science classes have always been my favorite classes.  I had to take a detour from my desired science career and studied business and economics while I was in college.  As it turned out this study of economics turned out to be a several year diversion from my true passions.  I don’t regret studying economics as it made me much better at budgeting limited money and resources.  But looking back on it I am glad I didn’t find a job in business or economics and especially banking.  I would have hated working in a cubicle and having to wear a suit every day to work.  As much as I enjoy what money can do, I also know that having a great deal of money wouldn’t mean much to me.  It wouldn’t make me feel successful or like more of a man.  Who defines what is a “real man” anyway?  Seems to  me that those goal posts are constantly shifting.  The only winning move seems to me is to not play at all.

If I suddenly had a couple million dollars, I’d probably move to Silicon Valley, rent a small apartment, try to get involved in some small start ups, hang out with really intelligent and science minded people, and essentially live off the interest of my low risk investments.  I wouldn’t buy a sports car, a large house, or even get married.  But I always thought Northern California would be a cool place to live.  Then again I don’t know.  It’s not like I fit in even with people I have lived with my entire life.

If there is a point to these rants I suppose it’s that I simply don’t understand normal people.  I don’t understand why normal fret and stress over things that are trivial but don’t care at all about potential serious problems or opportunities.  Straining at gnats but swallowing camels as far as I’m concerned.  But at this point in my life I am glad that I am not normal.  I don’t desire to be considered normal even if I am somehow cured of schizophrenia.  Normal doesn’t change the world for the better.  I want for my life anyway, for most people that encounter me and my works to be better off for it.  I don’t want to be some political hack or among unthinking crowds.

Mental Stability With Schizophrenia Is Tough and Other Thoughts

I have been mentally stable for weeks now.  It is a welcomed relief to not have to fear having mini breakdowns everyday or risk having major setbacks because of relatively minor problems.  I may have given my readers the idea that taking medications and going to regular counseling sessions are enough to stabilize the mentally ill.  If only it were so.

Many, if not most, mentally ill people are worse off than I am.  A significant percentage of homeless people are untreated mentally ill people.  Just today I read an article about a homeless lady from Oregon who recently died from hypothermia.  She was homeless because she fell two months behind on her rent at a low income housing complex.  No one informed her family members she was being evicted or having mental health problems.  This lady, like me, had schizophrenia.  Like me, she had been a model resident in her complex for several years before the mental health problems came back.  I sometimes find myself afraid that something similar could happen to me.  I have some setbacks, I get in trouble in my complex, I get evicted, and no one bothers to inform anyone who could help me out.  I have also seen statistics that one fourth of people killed by police officers are mentally ill people having psychotic breakdowns.

This is one of the reasons I am paranoid about cops.  I appreciate that they have a brutal and often thankless job but I am still afraid of them.  Some may say “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”  If only that were true.  I have had plenty of experience of authority figures, coworkers, peers, and even my own parents just telling me off over things I wasn’t guilty of.  I used to get yelled out for being too sad and even too happy.  It was like I was supposed to have the emotions of a pile of garden tools.  I’m not unemotional.  I have strong feelings and opinions, especially when I don’t share them.  I have enough white noise and hallucinations going on in my mind even on good days that getting in my face and yelling at me doesn’t calm me down or motivate me.  If anything I want to severely hurt anyone who raises their voice to me.  The Marine drill instructor, alpha male jock, kick ass and take names approach does not work on me.  It never has and it never will.  It only makes me more angry.

I am scared of people who yell and scream a lot.  I am scared of people who love violence.  I am scared of people who think violence and war will solve all problems.  I am terrified of stupid people in large groups.  One of the reasons I hate socializing is that I don’t like being vulnerable or dealing with the unknown.  I have to admit that somedays I don’t want to leave my apartment simply because I am afraid of people in general.

I am not really a misanthrope.  I genuinely love intelligent conversations that are calm and non argumentative.  I have yet to have an intelligent conversation with a dog or a house plant.  And I imagine it will be a long time before a computer can be a worthy substitute for human conversation.  I don’t hate people, I just can’t stand it when they do stupid and cruel things.  Now I know that people are no more cruel and stupid then they were in past generations.  If anything they were probably dumber and less compassionate before mass media and universal education.  I just hear about stupid and cruel actions more just because I am more connected than past generations.   Years ago, for me to hear about a homeless mentally ill person dying of hypothermia, it would have had to happen in my hometown.  But as it is we are more connected now than ever.  That isn’t going to change.  If anything we are going to get even more connected and involved in the lives of complete strangers living all over the world in the coming years.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am convinced that one of the reasons people will fight with others is because we can’t see where the other person is coming from.  I think it was a lack of open communication and intermingling that lead to peoples and nations in past ages to fight wars against each other.  Personally I would rather do business with a foreigner or have dinner with him than fight him in a war.  In all honesty, people have far more in common then they know.  It’s this fear of the unknown that keeps peoples apart.  It is my hope that in coming generations these barriers will continue to be broken down through mass communications and trade.  It’s kind of tough to go to war against a country when you are doing a lot of business with a potential foe.  Perhaps in future generations they can say that it was the internet and international trade that led to the end of massive wars.  I may be a dreamer but I am definitely not the only one who can see a better future than what we have even now in January 2017.

Voting and Politics with Mental Illness

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I got out and voted this morning.  I didn’t have to fight a long line as I went in the middle of the morning.  I did the online registration earlier this year.  I found it intriguing that in some nations a person is automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s license.  I saw that some countries have their major elections on the weekend or make the day a national holiday where everything is closed.  Regardless of the results I did my civic duty for now.

I have to admit this was the meanest and nastiest election I can ever remember.  I imagine there were parents explaining to their kids that this wasn’t a typical election cycle.  At least I hope it doesn’t become the new normal.  This has been a real stressful and unsettling election for me.  I have had to increase doses on all my medications just to deal with the anxiety and depression.  I hate how divisive and hateful this election was.  I have had to block friends and even stopped talking to friends and family over this.  I even quit talking to people I agree with.  Many normals were insane about this election.

Too many normal people have for the last eighteen months acted like the election is the only thing that is going on.  Seriously?  I just quit watching the news because that was all that was being reported.  One of the reasons I got to studying science and tech advances on science web pages was I wasn’t hearing about the state of science or technology on the regular news channels.  I also think that science and tech advances will benefit humanity far more than any elected politician.  It’s no comparison.  I think normal people are insane and out of touch with reality paying so much attention to the election.  Most politicians are lawyers and business people by trade, not scientists or engineers.  A politician doesn’t know how to build power plants. A politician can’t figure out how to grow more crops with less water and pesticides.  It wasn’t politicians who figured out how to build houses that won’t fall apart during earthquakes.  We are electing people to represent us, pass laws, and set budgets.  We are not electing Santa Claus who will make everything we desire come true with pixie dust and magic.  We really give politicians too much praise when things go right and too much blame when things go bad.  Too bad there wasn’t a Mt. Rushmore type monument dedicated to inventors, scientists, and humanitarians.  I’d visit a place like that.

In short I’m glad this election is going to be over soon.  Thank God.  I’ve seen enough nastiness to last me several election cycles.  I only hope that 2016 isn’t a preview of future elections.