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Lovely simple talk about accepting yourself, the secret to letting happiness and love in. People who felt enormous pressure from their family to prove themselves acceptable during socialization and beyond can spend their entire lives stuck in the feeling they aren’t good enough. The wonders you achieve, the amazing things you’ve accomplished feel inadequate to justify your happiness or the value of your love. It can make you avoid true love because it seems impossible that you could ever work hard enough to deserve that.

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And their vision of our future

The soft brutality of crappy algorithms, and how this model delivers blunt reflections of prejudice.

Corporations don’t want our opinions with the nuances and compassion still attached. They capture a causally harsh picture of us and that picture is reflected in the development of the only tools we have to communicate with each other…which reinforces its impact on society.

  • Virtually all internet hubs traffic in this lowest-common-denominator model, embracing and broadcasting our worst and weakest traits as norms. How do we fight this?
  • Whatever systems we have for societal healing and repair (do we have any?) are drowned in a flood of unanticipated impacts.
  • How will these results affect the assumptions built into business and social planning?
  • How will those plans reinforce our tacit assumptions about each other?

Emil Protalinski, writing for VentureBeat: At the Movethedial Global Summit in Toronto yesterday, I listened intently to a talk titled “No polite fictions: What AI reveals about humanity.” Kathryn Hume, Borealis AI’s director of product, listed a bunch of AI and algorithmic failures — we’ve seen plenty of that. But it was how Hume described algorithms that really stood out to me. “Algorithms are like convex mirrors that refract human biases, but do it in a pretty blunt way,” Hume said. “They don’t permit polite fictions like those that we often sustain our society with.” I really like this analogy. It’s probably the best one I’ve heard so far, because it doesn’t end there. Later in her talk, Hume took it further, after discussing an algorithm biased against black people used to predict future criminals in the U.S.

“These systems don’t permit polite fictions,” Hume said. “They’re actually a mirror that can enable us to directly observe what might be wrong in society so that we can fix it. But we need to be careful, because if we don’t design these systems well, all that they’re going to do is encode what’s in the data and potentially amplify the prejudices that exist in society today.” If an algorithm is designed poorly or — as almost anyone in AI will tell you nowadays — if your data is inherently biased, the result will be too. Chances are you’ve heard this so often it’s been hammered into your brain.

 

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(This series will be way better read from beginning to end, rather than end to beginning.)

A little context: I’m not mindlessly arguing for relentless, hurried personal change for everyone. That sounds awful. This is a naggy but loving pep talk for people feeling very stuck.

Life is Trouble

Life is a constant struggle between us and any random shit, little or big, that crops up. Some of these struggles are life choices though they don’t seem weighty at that moment. Moments and small choices can be deceptively deep. A metaphorical Sphinx is checking in with you like: “Love or No Love? Past or Future? Fear or Hope?” hundreds of times a day.

The results are navigational data points along your personal trajectory. The important question isn’t what you chose but why you chose it.  Does it point up, down, back, or forward? If you win a fight to stay the same, you learn nothing new and win nothing except a temporary extension of the status quo. But the status quo will inexorably roll forward into change like an unmoored parade float. The change will come but guided by who? With what goal? Maybe we’re just taking our hands off the steering wheel.

In the context of your life struggle, rationalizing standing still is a choice to remain in the shitty room temperature shallows of life where it’s comfortable enough. This is the inertia of the weary, defensive human heart and we know perfectly well that our cover story for this kind of choice is masking something like “I’m rudderless and utterly flat inside”.

Everything better seems too high UP to reach from here. As enthusiastic as we may sound talking about a life choice, we’re often staging an official personal PR release simply to cover the truth: “I’m afraid and this was the least scary option”. Rationalizing downward is choosing to become a slightly worse and smaller version of yourself, moving forward. Slightly worse because you stopped hoping, slightly less because you’ve given up trying. You without hope or determination is you on a slippery slope.

We downward rationalize every day. Sometimes it’s healthy: Holding steady and keeping things together or maybe NOT accepting some exciting risk because it’s dumb and dangerous. More often it means incrementally settling for less and offering less. It gradually lets the air out of the bouncy castles of human hope. If you lack hope you may well conclude that this, this right here, this stupid mess, is as good as it gets, at least for you, then sigh and return to polishing the turd at the center of the problem. Continue reading

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(This series will be way better read from beginning to end, rather than end to beginning.)

Last time on Naked: Lizard boy began his quest to find love without fixing his broken heart first.

Because I didn’t know I needed to work, I didn’t do the work that needed to be done. And so I passed through the lives of many wonderful women: confusing, annoying and confounding them as I walked confidently in two different directions.

Popular Ways to Not Love

What Problem? If a sunny woman wanted me, I would let her approach and have sexual intimacy, which I have never been afraid of, but not true emotional intimacy. I’m good at having very deep and soulful talks while keeping most of my own personal dumpster fire private. If she was wonderful and came closer, loving me too much and too sweetly, I would fucking panic and begin pushing her away. My reaction to my black radioactive moon problem was to keep things a bit light and distant so we could stay together. This, of course, means creating and accepting a relatively shallow and safe love that doesn’t remind you of the real problem. Or it only does in introspective moments when you wonder if this can really be all there is to it. A lot of decent marriages coast here for years.

This is the Forbidden Forrest problem. A secret broken heart hidden in dark woods breeds monsters and they…wander. 

Arms Length. I might become suddenly difficult and spiky in a distancing way. Or maybe I’d cheat and be at a safe and cool distance from two women at once because triangulation guarantees an underlying lack of intimacy. Even if triangulation isn’t cheating but instead a profound commitment to something else in your life, good or bad, it guarantees this emotional distance from the beloved. Doing this doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means you are choosing to keep your distance. Perhaps it’s reasonable? Perhaps you should hold it up to the light?

Personal breathing room isn’t toxic, and the required amount is individually set. A secret need for more breathing room means a dishonest foundation. It’s breathing room to express something forbidden. 

The Two Way One Way Street. In a later phase, I went for women who had acid scars on their psyche just like mine. Brilliant, wounded, complicated women. I picked those who didn’t dare to love so that I could love them without the fear of true reciprocity. This was unconscious by the way, I had no idea that I was choosing badly on purpose. I thought I had a type, but I had a pattern. Here I could love passionately, without restraint. It was joyous to love deeply but ultimately sad and empty standing under Juliet’s balcony all alone. The partner’s corresponding pattern is to receive love in a passionless, flat way. They are judgemental and critical.

This is mutually unrequited love as a couple’s lifestyle. Two people who aren’t allowed love build a love machine.

You Probably Don’t Even Know Your Own Truth

A question: Why can’t those people see what they’re doing, and just fucking do something else?

Because they are terrified to be vulnerable and learn what’s really inside them. What’s inside them is a fucked-up child who wasn’t loved right and now compels them to live a life plan crafted and set in stone by that FUCKED UP CHILD.

A question: What the fuck did I think I was doing during my version of all this nonsense?

If you answered “I honestly can’t imagine”, you are correct. We would also have accepted “Wasting everyone’s time for nothing”. I might as well have been a moth dry humping a light bulb. I was a whirlwind of impassioned actions without a map or a plan. I was that dumb fly that never gives up on banging into the window to get outside. For way too long, I learned nothing and persevered. I looked within…but the monkey in the mirror just looked back like “What?”.

Continue reading

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I don’t believe Chakras are the literal mystical energy centers believed in by new age people. I also don’t believe they are the nonsensical-fantasy-things-that-don’t-really-exist, as believed by nearly everyone else.

Chakras are symbolic foci for real aspects of our selves, our sub-selves, the parts of your overall whole being. They are defined as 7 modular aspects of self that come on-line by stages as we grow and experience life. They absolutely can be blocked and out of balance, under or overactive. Below is the traditional list though it can vary a bit, they work upward from the bottom of the spine to the top of the head and each is associated with specific areas of our lives, feelings, and personalities. They are distinct color-coded points on the spectrum. But ultimately their functions blend into a healthy, unified self.

  1. Root – Base of the spine; red; governs survival instincts, grounding.
  2. Sacral — Lower abdomen; orange; governs sexuality, intuition, self-worth/-esteem.
  3. Solar Plexus — Upper abdomen; yellow; governs impulse control, ego.
  4. Heart — Center of the chest; green; governs compassion, spirituality.
  5. Throat — Throat; blue; governs communication, emotion.
  6. Third Eye — Between the eyes; purple; governs rationality, wisdom, imagination.
  7. Crown — Top of the head; indigo; governs connection with the Divine

The Chakras rather neatly mirror Abraham Maslow’s almost universally accepted hierarchy of needs. Notice how the artist used defining colors for different levels.

Compare the Hierarchy of Needs:

  1. Physiological needs
  2. Safety needs
  3. Social belonging
  4. Self-esteem
  5. Self-actualization
  6. Transcendence

(There are somewhat alternative versions as well.) If a sub-self is broken at the physical safety level, of the self-confidence level, for example, self-actualization is blocked. The person experiences various psychological symptoms expressing the fears and frustrations of lack and instability in those areas of life. The chakras and the H of N chop up the human pieces a little differently and each one tilts a bit toward the surrounding belief system that hatched it. Still, it is the same invention, spontaneously cropping up to fill the same need for vastly different communities.

The invention is a simple map of the human soul and what it needs to thrive. It describes the places we can break down and suggests a course of treatment.

The Chakras and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs also dovetail nicely with Carl Jung’s Individuation, the challenging synthesis of becoming a complete, integrated person.

I’ll be writing here soon about some original and creative ways I’ve recently found to work with this material but I think this overall idea is interesting enough to consider on its own.

 

 

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“The Brain tunes itself to criticality, maximizing information processing”

Our brains are clearly amazing at processing the “blooming, buzzing1” world around us.  A recent experiment supports the theory that when neurons work together they actively cooperate to achieve their maximum processing capacity. They seek the urgent, intense edge of their ability. Picture them as the human runners in an Amazon “fulfillment center” except happy in their work.

The entire brain appears to seek this set point or default working state at the maximum of its abilities: “Where it is as excitable as it can be, without tipping into disorder, similar to a phase transition.” A phase transition is where matter transitions from one state, liquid, solid, or gaseous, to a different state.

In other words, our brains are balanced about one millimeter from chaos and disorder. That’s all of us, all the time. Returning from sleep or other off duty moments the brain tunes and retunes itself seeking this point.

While the study neither reveals nor claims anything else about our neurology, I think it points a bright red arrow at possible organic causes of ADHD (as well as ASD, schizophrenia, etc). If the default human phenome, the standard, mass-produced person has this edge-of-chaos set-point, then genetic variation (known to be the prime cause of ADHD) could easily generate a different set point. This variation might generate the quirky, out of step processing that makes us so valuable in the modern workforce, wait, strike that…

It also seems logical that anything that alters this point results in behavioral instability.

More and other interesting details in the reports:

Link to study results 

 

 

1 William James, writing about sensory processing. : “The baby, assailèd by eyes, ears, nose, skin, and entrails at once, feels it all as one great blooming, buzzing confusion; “

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I haven’t shared much of my fiction here. Elsewhere on the site is “The Poor But Honest Princess“. The brief introduction to a Fairytale. I’ve agreed to complete it when a magical unicorn appears so stay tuned. There are also a couple of chapters of my frankly weird psychedelic novel, “Instead of Sleep“. Those chapters aren’t exactly representative of the rest of the book but they volunteered to go first. There’s a good bit of sex, if you’re in the mood for it, some of it quite nice and some rather lonely and horrible. Anyway, here’s Wonderwall. No, I mean the first two chapters of MY magical goddamn teenagers book.

 

Badger

Chapter 1

At the base of the mountains where the river flattens out is a town called Narrowsford. In that town is a boy that everyone calls Badger although the name his mother gave him was Anton. Badger was the son of a wandering magician who kept wandering and a local girl who stayed put. She lasted four years before dying of river flu and loneliness. She had loved Badger in her way, but her way had a lot of sadness and sighing attached to it. Badger’s mother had a wild romantic streak that had gone about as badly for her as it could. Of her countless hopes and dreams, perhaps one had come true.
When she died, Badger was left to grow up with her brother. Her brother was a simpler man with two emotions for all occasions, smug or angry. Smug as he watched others work and angry when he had to do something himself. Badger learned to cook and clean and do farm chores one step ahead of a cuffed ear or a night without dinner. When he was still very young he would sneak off to the little hut where he had lived with his mother to remember her. He would sit awhile and play with the rocks and twigs as if they were horses and carriages going over the big hills he’d never seen the other side of. Continue reading

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(This series will be way better read from beginning to end, rather than end to beginning.)

Long ago, my love was smugly avoidant and entitled. I was an arrogant little sexual aristocrat totally certain of my hotness. I wanted “love” but I only understood it as desire, satiation, and friendship. I was unaware of any lack of perception in myself and felt that mostly, I was always right about everything. Getting whatever I wanted seemed like the universe functioning correctly. I was as contentedly self-involved and selfish as a cat and almost as innocent and guileless about it. I didn’t lie about who I was or sneak around, I legitimately believed I was a special exemption. For a certain period of time, the world seemed to agree.

All the men in my family are on the ADHD/ASD axis and we all begin life with an emotional astigmatism about the meaning and value of other people’s feelings. We aren’t narcissists who don’t care, we are shortsighted moles who don’t notice it. We lack emotional depth perception. It has to be shaken into us.

This is not an excuse, just background. I’m no less culpable for this impediment, just likelier to fail.

I asked relatively little of love and received far more than that in return. At this superficial level, I was loveable and did deserve it because I was handsome, sexy, smart and funny. I was of high value in a low-value economy. Love at this level is better written as “love” and better understood as a consumable experience like cocaine or a carnival ride. If it was a planet, the gravity would be low and bouncy. We would only have first names.

When my first marriage (11 years of the “selfish innocent” phase) failed, the concept of deeper and truer love formed in me and my soul walked in that direction as if it smelled food cooking. I entered a different economy of love where the person I really am was small change. I could be high value again if all I wanted was a thrill, but down here everything cost more and demanded more true value, more purity of essence. This was the only coin accepted for anything worthwhile. True value meant possessing the ability to love with natural reciprocity, belief in a bright future, alone or together, and honest faithfulness. Continue reading

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My mother was sunshine,
not the heat and glare of Summer
or the chill minimum of Winter.
My mother was effortless sunshine,
Slantindicular from the bright window
Across the couch and the low table;

Contrasting clean bright colors,
Highlighting details of
Old vacation seashells
Or a tiny golden Buddha,
and a bookmarked book.

My mother was sunshine,
Warming the room to cozy and
Blessing the cat in his joyful sleep

Hugh Miller

 

 

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