Social Media Is Not The Problem.


I’m an introvert, and I’m happy.  I’m comfortable with my own company and don’t ever feel the need to be entertained. Why others need to is a mystery to me. Sometimes, that lack of understanding is a disadvantage, but I am most of all happy with myself.

Recently, as I have watched the news, I have been struck by how needy people are, especially those in power. The need to be noticed and to be seen to be noticed is in my opinion perverse. However, coming from someone that prefers his own company you may not agree with my analysis. We are social beings and have a need for company and companionship. There is research to show the benefits of our social nature. I am not so naive as to discount the work but I have concerns about the direction of our community building. I’m not sure we are building the communities we need. Your smartphone should not be the limit of your social group.

My favorite pastime is walking in nature alone, and I have spent hours walking alone listening and observing the life around me. I don’t pretend to have any greater skills of observation than others, but I find peace in those moments I’m alone.  Like most, I have my smartphone connected at all times and within easy reach. I am connected and enjoy the ability to interact when needed. I just don’t think I need to interact at all times. In recent years I have paired back and have tried to live more “in the moment” than via my connectedness. Yes my phone is connected but my notifications are off. There are no email notifications, app notifications are off too. Only those who may need immediate responses are allowed.

I hear the complaints about social media making us less social. Social media is not the problem, we are. Smartphones, tablets, and computers are excellent tools. The problem is the workman. The connected world is still new, and society is still learning how to manage these tools. We need to teach our children how to use technology to enhance their lives while also not being overwhelmed. The commercialization of the tools, including the internet, is a push to make you the product.  Social media is a tool, don’t be the product. Use these tools to make your life easier, use it to your benefit. Use the internet as intended by its inventors, a means to communicate over unbridgeable distances. If we direct our children to see computers as a means not an end we will all be better for it.

As I see it, this intersection of valid use and addiction to connectivity is where we need to intervene. I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I would suggest the answers must start with us being able to be alone without being bored. We must learn to be with ourselves.

The ability to introspect and to self evaluate is essential to loving and accepting who we are. Loving ourselves and accepting our flaws is the beginning of understanding and acceptance of others. Acceptance of others does not mean we acquiesce to their opinions, but it allows us to be comfortable with our differences and not be stressed.

If we first learn to accept ourselves then we can more easily accept others. If we can become more comfortable with silence and our own company we will not need the approval of people we don’t know or will never see. Let’s spend some time with ourselves and unplug a little. I’m going to follow my own advice.

WAR and PEACE


The cycle of war and peace continues like the flow of water. Unlike the processes of nature, it is not inevitable. The process of life is about choice. We have the ability to choose the path we take. The decisions we make are not preordained, we are our life’s directors. As we direct our life we must take care of the vulnerable among us. War is a selfish act, resulting from the disregard for the many. It is the result of disordered thinking, that justifies killing as a means of protection. The incongruity of that argument is evident if we would reflect on it. Our reflection must consider the social nature of our species where we will follow those among us that profess caring and loyalty to the group. Unfortunately, the malicious and selfish among us have and will continue to exploit the majority, until the majority decides to be as concerned about the stranger as we are about the ones closes to us.

The more important question that needs examining concerns what will our future be if we do not break the cycle. War may bring a temporary peace, but the underlying discord will resurface. The cycle must be broken, if humanity expects to survive. The cycle can be broken when we address the root causes. Where the root of war is usually the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few. We must reconsider our use of the planet’s resources. It will be painfully to many, but will be beneficial to the most. We may not think that we are exploiting anyone, but if we examine our life it will become clearer that many of us are consuming excessive quantifies of the available resources.

If we all consider and re-order our life’s the great masses of the deprived on our planet could have the possibility to improve their lives. The cycle of war with interludes of peace could be broken by each of us say no to exploitation. We all have a responsibility to our species. Our care needs to extend further than down the street. We need to extend our care and concern to the father thousands of miles away that cannot feed his family, while we dump more food that we eat.

War is and always will be about resources. Let us all take a stand and share.

WORLD CUP!


Another four years have passed and we are here again. The biggest sporting event in the world is here. The only truly worldwide event is here. The world cup is on and it is the only thing in the world that matters. The beautiful game on its grandest stage. The world cup is being played in the land of the kings and we the devout are kneeling at her alter. For every kid everywhere in the world, except for America there is only one sport that really matters.  It is not soccer, it is football. It is the game that is played with the foot and an actual ball. If you have not been introduced to the beautiful game I suggest you start paying attention. Find your television and enjoy. Brasil is hosting the gods of football. All other sports are insignificant and not deserving of your attention. The beauty of the game is in its flaws. The referees often make mistakes and the gods are not perfect. Therein lies the joy of watching. It can be infuriating, but the team that scores the most goals win. We know the flaws, but we are devout. We watch for the beauty of the dance. This is the heart of football, go out and score goals.

For those of us privileged to have been born into this most wonderful religion, the world cup is the second coming that comes every four years. The true believers love the dance more that score. We want fair play but we are not hung up on it. We applaud the team that expresses the most arrogance, not necessarily the winners. The converts are fervent but mostly miss the point of the dance. They often do not realize that it is about the dance  not the outcome. The converts need fairness and goals, while the true believers need only to watch the ballerina. We, the true believers are satisfied with watching the dancer be expressive and entertaining. To the true believers it is important that there is fairness, but it is not a prerequisite for an enjoyable game.

The joy of football is in understanding that the ball is round and that any team can win at anytime. This is why we watch. Scoring is rarely about the goal, it is mostly about the intricacy of the play before the final kick. Football is a religion not hung up on fairness. It is placated by the spells of athleticism and fluidity that leaves hearts racing. The controversy of poor officiating as always been there and I hope and pray never goes away, lest we have nothing to talk about but the score. The beautiful game is not about the score, but about the dance that enables the score.

Turn your television on and bow at the altar. You will be better for it.

MEASLES, REALLY?


The current rise in measles cases is a direct result of poor vaccination coverage. The current and pass trend in not vaccinating children is dishearten and threatens public health. How did we get from measles being almost completely eradicated to the highest numbers in decades? I want to suggest that this is emblematic of the poor scientific education of American society. We have allowed the principles and fundamental laws of nature to be undermined in the public discussion of societal problems.

The pervasive acceptance of the creation myth and the almost complete rejection of the pursuit of scientific knowledge is  at the root of the resurgence. The lack of understanding and rejection of the scientific method has led to a population that questions everything without the requisite background information.  Questions are healthy only when the questioner has a grasp of the context of the questions. We have lost our ability to objectively analyse the facts. The is not because the population is less intelligent that prior generations, but because we have had a 30 year campaign to undermine the foundations of scientific thinking. Scientific facts and precepts are attacked for economic reasons. The concerted and coordinated attacks have led to a wide-spread loss of societal scientific identity. We have lost our understanding of our place in the earth’s ecology. Instead of seeing our species as apart of the larger ecological system we have deluded ourselves into the belief that we are superior.

Many are under the miss-guided idea that creationism is an equal theory to evolution. This as lead to loss of understanding of the biology of life. Without a grasp of the facts of evolution an understanding of biologic life is not to be expected. The current concepts of biologic life are based on evolution and its essential component natural selection. Without a working understanding the general population is susceptible to the quacks that propagate the anti-science garbage that masquerade as alternative “scientific” theories. These vessels of idiocy need to be marginalized. They are the most dangerous threat to our society. Humanity will not be killed by global war or a rock from space. Humanity will be destroyed if we do not accept scientific facts and methods in our approach to the ecological system.  Science is the only route to understanding the physical world. We are a small part of a larger ecosystem. We are not essential to this system. If we do not understand that fact we will join the many other dead ends of evolution on our home planet.

Our ability to educate our people will determine over survival as a species. Let us drive the anti-science crowd from the places of power and consign them to the waste-bin of history.

GIVE THEM THE FACTS.


I have been thinking about where we are going as a country and I do not like the trajectory. In spite of it I think we are not lost. There is still time for a late rescue. Examining the most recent employment data both encourages and worries me. The overall number and trajectory is good, the devil is in the details. Most of the jobs created are in sectors that have been and continue to be low paying. These jobs are low skilled and some would call them dead-end. The service sector is growing and has produced more jobs than it lost during the great recession. Job creation is great, except these are not the jobs needed to create a viable middle class. These are the types of jobs that create short-term corporate profits and shareholder value.

Many pundits with their ideological blinders on have “trashed”  the report while hailing the profitability of wall street without acknowledging the interdependence present. They are correct to be worried, but they have not taken the next step to discern the reasons. It is easy to say the government of the day has not provided the incentives for the creation of high paying jobs and that maybe correct. However, where are the high skilled workers? Why are there many high skilled job vacancies? I would like to suggest that the dearth of high skilled potential employees is a result of our ambivalence to and in many sectors disdain for scientific education.

We are a country of magical thinking and low expectations. Many believe that the magician from the heavens created everything and do not encourage their children to learn the foundations of science. These same people have been elected to positions of leadership and continue to lead many into the darkness of ignorance and scientific illiteracy. Our ignorance has allowed for the export of many potential jobs to countries with much less dependence on magical thinkers.  We need to put the work in that ensures that all our children receive a myth free first world science based education.

I am hopeful for America because our young people are willing and able to take on the challenge of a more competitive world. They will deliver if we are willing to allow them access to education without the misleading influence of our pervasive mythical belief system. I do not worry about our kids, I worry about the ignorance of the adults charged with guiding them. Our children are a reflection of the education we allow them to access. Educate them well and we will all reap the rewards.

ENJOY YOUR EASTER.


Often life gets in the way of living and we get carried away with the emotional. The beauty is in the living not in the life. Our experiences are the sum total and the after life is irrelevant. That view of life is much disputed, but it is my view. The constant attempt of the religious to guilt us into prescribed behaviors is admirable only in that it has so thoroughly succeeded.

The complaints that will spring from my expression of this opinion is so perfectly conjured, by the religious, as to make even the most noncommittal give credit to those views. The oddity is that the same people who believe in the absolute power of scientific evidence in the care of patients ignore the validity of those rules to justify their beliefs.

As I tell the story I lost my religion in the sixth grade when a teacher seeing I was bored gave me a book about the solar system. Not far into reading about our tiny part of the universe the story of creation as proclaimed by Genesis lost all meaning. As a 9-year-old I was not sure about what I was reading, but the seeds were planted.

Those seeds grew into my love of science and evidence. I will allow you your belief structure as long as you do not attempt to guilt  me into compliance with your view of the universe. I will acknowledge the evidence and your freedom to do otherwise. I am comfortable with the knowledge that I am not in control of the universe. I am comfortable that your religious convictions do not give you any more understanding of the universe.

Religion is about ignoring the uncertainty and providing platitudes to explain the unexplained. I will stand with the evidence and follow it where it leads. I can live with the uncertainty and strive to find the evidence to answer the important questions.  Because I am looking for evidence does not make me any less of a person than you are. It makes me less ideological.

Enjoy your Easter, while I continue to look for the evidence.

WHAT GUIDES YOU?


We all at some point will and have questioned the meaning life. The content of the question maybe different, but the aim is the same. We all what to clarify the reason for our existence. We all want to prove the existence of a higher power. What is the purpose of life? For a long time I firmly believed there was  a higher power and tried to convince others to believe as to did. The imperative to evangelize is strong if we are convinced of the exclusivity of our belief structure. Therein lies the problem. The conviction of exclusive attainment of insight  often paves the path to dangerous attitudes and behaviors.

As I have gotten older and gotten more influenced by a non religious milieu I have come to the conclusion that the higher power is us. It is us that will create the future of mankind and it is us that have created the present. Our world is what we make of it and not a result of divine intervention. The mythical power of belief and prayer is deceptive and dangerous. If only we spent as much time delivering care and less on praying for that change. We have to deliver the change we deserve and expect. The power of belief to affect the physical world is not in doubt, neither is the fact that the claimed results are of biologic processes. The strength of the evidence is that belief is a powerful agent of chance, but itself is not the change agent.

Some suggest that there is nothing lost in believing, but I would suggest differently. Belief is wonderful as long as it does not detract from the facts. The loss of focus on the present and the fatalism of the religious is a consistent and persistent drag on society. Thankfully, we live in a country that for a long time has professed religion without allowing the religious to impose their will and fatalistic determinism on the rest of us. This escape has provided a fertile milieu for development. The dependence on evidence is and continues to be the basis of a properly functioning society. As noted in our current political debate the more religious the participants the less our leaders get done. The lack of productivity from the political class is a win for many believers, but only highlights the fatalism of their belief structure.

The troubling trend is that the religious and the professed have gained power and are attempting to reverse our gains. I hope we realize this troubling trend before it completely changes our country for the worse. I hope logic, reason, and evidence continue to guide us.

GO CREATE SOME MEMORIES.


Life is what we make of it. It is short and turbulent, then it is over. The question of what comes next has been and will continue to be asked by the many with no really fulfilling answer to the had. For the religious the answer is often clear while not really clarifying. Humanity continues to look to the skies for our salvation. Some see a maker and some see the origins. Whatever you see, if that comforts you it is good enough. No one has a complete or even a near complete answer.
The joy of life is in the living. Live well and make others happy. Live well by making yourself happy. Live fully and experience the creator. Live fully because our conscious time in the universe is short, it is like a minor wrinkle. Our years cannot be compared to the vast time scale of the cosmos, our time can only be remembered for how we lived it. There is only the past and future, live life well and leave or create joy in another heart. It is in creating joy that we can change the direction of the universe. Our atoms will be reused when we no longer need them and we will not know any better because this is the true nature of all life. We arrived, we depart and we are forgotten. Let’s live our time not trying to be remembered, but live it to create memories.

“WE DON’T SAY HAPPY HOLIDAYS”


For the first time I truly understand why people of other belief systems are offended and sue when their kids are subjected to prayer in school. Recently I took my 3-year-old to daycare and she told me, “we don’t say happy holidays”. Without thinking and with the teacher looking on I said, “Honey its okay, say whatever you want because it doesn’t matter”. From the look on the faces around it was as if I had called for the killing of Christ. If you know me personally you will understand my views on Christmas.

Since I am not afraid to say what’s on my mind I nearly did, but I had to restrain myself. For the kid’s sake. I am already having a hard time de-programming the bovine defecation that is sold as holiday cheer. Santa? Why are you teaching my kid a myth. To round the day off the school sends home a note saying that Santa will be visiting the school and we should provide a gift but not tell the kids. Give me a break. Stop preparing our kids to be easy marks for the predators.

Alas I will send the gift but I will let them know that daddy and mommy sent the gifts. I will not be party to the deception of our kids. Every chance I get I speak the unvarnished truth. The truth hurts sometimes, but in the long run we are better for it. Like the proverb says, “tell the truth, tell it even, cost it what it will”, I’d like to follow that advice.

Myths have taken over American society. Our political class is intellectually dishonest and the people are following blindly. Teach your kids to be honest and they will succeed. God bless America.

WHOSE DEATH IS IT ANYWAY?


As a physician I believe my job is to assist the body in healing. I cannot heal. I am an informed assistant and no more. The trauma of death is mostly a problem for the living, but is necessary to complete the circle of life. The ceremonies and traditions surrounding death are a means for the living to understand and be comforted. This need is reflected in the opposition to suicide and assisted suicide.

How do you want to die? In an ICU or in your own bed? I vote for my own bed with my family close. I don’t believe the government or religion should have any say in how I choose to die. I alone have the right to choose when my life ends. The reasons for my choice are irrelevant. I alone am responsible for my passage out. If I choose to die while others think I have many years of productive life to live, so be it. Its my life after all.

Physicians should give good evidence based advice and allow their patients to complete the circle on their own terms. Every physician should be allowed to legally write a lethal prescription, if their patient so requests. The owner of the body gets to decide in what direction the assistance should go.
What are your wishes? What are your thoughts? Make your wishes known early and often.