Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment: carry wood, drink water!
|That is one ENORMOUS cactus!|
|YAY for firewood all stacked and ready for cozy evenings!|
|That is one ENORMOUS cactus!|
|YAY for firewood all stacked and ready for cozy evenings!|
Early Mediterranean cultures envisioned that marginal bodies of water similar to the Mediterranean Sea surrounded most of the continents. The name “Earth” describes the portion of the planet that is inhabited by man in spite of the fact that the majority of the planet’s surface is covered by water. Our planet was named before ocean exploration began.
Which says to me that if fish had developed the ability to talk before they could walk, the third rock from the Sun would be called Water and perhaps Mars would be Earth. And they would've all drowned before evolving onto land due to an inability to keep their mouths shut. Oh wait...
*A 180-pound man has an approximate terminal velocity of 125 MPH if his arms and legs are spread out. If he's rolled into a ball, the T.V.** is 200 MPH due to less drag. (No, that does not mean homosexuals fall slower. :P)
**Perhaps "TV" is also the fastest method to fall out of consciousness. Coincidence?
A complete list of his work can be found here:
If your time is limited, these are my favorites that are definitely worth a click:
We Feel Fine
Justcurio.us (Altho it's unfortunate that so many people don't take this site seriously. It is rife with inane questions and answers and spam URLs.)
Aliasing is the reason the tines of the tuning fork appear to be moving back and forth (fluctuating) when filmed at high speed. They're not really - he explains that the reason they LOOK like they are is because the video is filming at almost twice the speed of the vibration of the tines, therefore the Nysquist Frequency is in effect.
So what you're seeing is not really happening. (Well, the fork is vibrating, but the tines are not moving back and forth altho they certainly appear to be.) It is a false frequency. Your brain is being fooled into believing there is additional movement that is not actually taking place. Interesting that we are so easily misled by our eyes, yes? Also compelling that they use the term "aliasing" to describe this phenomenon. Google defines alias as: "as known or named at another time or place."
What other false frequencies are we subject to? What other time or place might we be living in?
If our brain is so gullible, why do we trust our eyes (or other senses) to define our world? I read an interesting tidbit the other day about how our brains have more activity when seeing something new than when receiving expected visual input.
"Predictable sights trigger less brain activity than unfamiliar stimuli, bolstering the view that the brain is not merely reactive, but generates predictions based on the recent past. 'The brain expects to see things and really just wants to confirm it now and again,' says Lars Muckli..." (NewScientist.com)
A thought to add to that is it is generally accepted by the scientific community that our body regenerates itself every seven years (some cells are closer to 15, but still not nearly the same as your chronological age). If that's true, why do we retain long-term illnesses for decades? For that matter, why do we HEAL? What makes things change or stay the same?
If our brains are unconsciously predicting the future for us, and therefore we are always re-creating our present situation without thought, it's no wonder the more things change, the more they stay the same. Perhaps we are the alias - the false frequency that isn't really happening. Who's to say the rate at which our eyes perceive is the same frequency at which our brain processes the information?
"Reality is an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." ~ Albert Einstein
- Von Neumann
I would like to exchange my Immune System for a new one. After 41 years, this one appears to be quite sluggish and is not annihilating bacteria and viruses as fast as it used to. Maybe it needs updating or was there a service pack released that I missed? I can provide the receipt upon request.
Please refer to the Human Body Owner's Manual, Chapter 432, Section 23678, Subsection 41 which states that consumption of a Starbucks chocolate brownie and Haagen Dasz Coffee ice cream in the midst of a chest cold will temporarily render said Immune System worthless and voids the warranty. This applies even if preceded by chicken soup.
We have more eyes than Santa Claus. Please stop wasting our time.
Universal Customer Service
Thank goodness for that since I am a walking contradiction!
A few months after I was laid off, I was “wasting time” watching videos on the net, and I came across You Can Heal Your Life, which is Hay’s signature movie. I consumed the entire flick in rapt attention, even though I already knew many of the principles covered. (It never hurts to bring it up to the front again.) In the movie, one of the women they interview uses the mantra: My income in constantly increasing. For whatever reason, those particular words at that particular moment, strung together in that particular order really resonated with me, so I wrote them on a post it note and tacked them to my mirror. (My mantra has evolved, as I mentioned in another blog post recently, but you have to tweak these things sometimes.) The results since have been undeniable. I haven’t had a regular paycheck for 11 months, but I have not lacked for money. This is not to say I’ve been rolling in dough, but so far my needs have always been met with minimal stress.
Even with my comprehension of the Law of Attraction and how we create our own reality, I am still in awe of the Universe when I get what I ask for. (I must note here that an Attitude of Gratitude has been my habit for long before this, and that is also an essential ingredient.) I know I still have many issues of self-worth that are not sorted out, but fortunately it appears I am making at least a wee bit of progress.
Anyway, this is just one of the reasons I so admire Louise Hay and the principles she’s pushed into the public light. When you consider that I’ve been a bookworm since I learned to read, and have enjoyed working for Pearson Education publishing science textbooks for the last few years, it seems working for a publishing house that puts out materials I can completely support with my whole heart is a no brainer. And I live right next door to them! WOOO!
I’ve watched their web site for job openings, but so far I haven’t seen anything that I feel confident in applying for. The other day I decided I was going to hand them my resume personally, hoping perhaps if an internal position came up they would consider me. My unemployment benefits are coming down to the end and although I have faith that whatever happens will be the experience I am meant to be having, I would truly prefer to have the experience of another income before the money runs out!
Morning before last I was at the boyfriend’s house working on my part-time projects for Pearson. About 2pm his internet connection kicked me off and wouldn’t let me back on. I took this as a sign to stop shuffling around and get on with the business of knocking on doors for jobs. I know the reason I procrastinate is because I’m afraid of being rejected, and failure, and half a dozen other negative things, but I also planned to visit Hay House that day so I tried to focus on the motivation of what that could lead to instead.
As I got dressed, I realized the outfit I’d brought didn’t look as nice as I’d anticipated. It really needed a belt, but since I was not home, I had no options. My Right Brain (seat of emotions and Ego) tried to argue that since I did not look “perfect,” perhaps it would be better to just go home, apply to some places online, and try again tomorrow. My Left Brain (place of logic) was having none of it. It sternly shook its neurons at Right Brain and argued that this has been my excuse for too many days, which is why it’s taken me so long to find a job. It took me a good 20 minutes to convince myself that the clothes did not matter, and to just get going.
As I got in the car I realized I’d forgotten to bring my portfolio with me that contains my resumes all printed on nice, formal paper. About two seconds later I realized I also did not have Hay House’s address (which took me quite awhile to sleuth out on the net, as they prefer to direct everyone to their post office box). Although I remembered approximately where the street was, I had no definitive way of finding the correct building, and without the internet connection in the house, I could not look it up again easily.
I sat in the car, observing the two sides of my brain firing off like an old married couple, and wondered how it is that I manage to live with myself. Maybe this is why I’m still single. There are already too many “people” in my life with just me.
Left Brain: Your resume is on a thumb drive in your purse. Just go print some on regular paper.
Right Brain: But it won’t LOOK nice and then I won’t make a good impression.
Left Brain: I doubt anyone will notice the quality of paper it’s on. The information on the paper is more important and speaks for itself.
Right Brain: First impressions count tho, and without nice paper people will think I suck.
Left Brain: ::rolls its virtual eyes:: Like the paper is an indication of your worth. Please. You’re making excuses.
Right Brain: Well I don’t have the address for Hay House anyway, so what’s the point? I should just call it a day and go home.
[Note: I had not even gone out yet.]
Left Brain: Hiding at home is not going to bring you income. And you’re running out of time. Don’t mess this up.
[“Mess this up” is not exactly the thought Left Brain used, but I’m trying to keep it PG here.]
Right Brain: But I’m AFRAID of people. And failure. And I don’t want to do this. I hate being judged. Why can’t someone just hire me without all this hassle?
Left Brain: Because they can’t hire you if they don’t even know you’re looking dumb@$$. Now go print out some resumes on regular paper and stop obsessing about all the reasons you “can’t.”
Right Brain: FINE. Whatever.
I go inside and the printer tells me the ink is low (Right Brain: “HA!” Left Brain: SIGH), so I only print one resume. It is now almost 4pm so businesses will only be open another hour anyway.
I listen to Right Brain describing how much I suck all the way to Carlsbad.
As I approach my exit on the highway, I pull myself together and decide this attitude is not going to land me a job with a company like Hay House. Instead, I give it up to the Universe: if I am meant to work at Hay House, I will “use the Force” as I have done many times in the past, and I will be led to their building without needing the street address. I know for certain this has worked for me in countless prior situations so Right Brain can’t argue with that, and is finally – thankfully! – silenced.
I remember that the street Hay House is on was somewhere on the east side of Palomar Airport, so I pass the entrance and the runway. A couple days before, I was in the same area for an interview with a temp agency and I stopped at a Subway sandwich shop for lunch. As I approach the intersection where the Subway resides, I notice that the street is called Innovation Way (at least on one side, it is a different name on the other). The sign seems to stand out to me, but turning onto Innovation Way would take me in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, I think “well, perhaps there’s a reason I was over here the other day and just because it’s a different name on the other side doesn’t mean it can’t be innovative. Sounds like a street Louise would put her business on,” so I turn left.
I spent about 30 minutes riding around, writing down names of different companies in the various business parks so I could look them up on the Net that night and know something about them before I walk in to ask for Human Resources. I kept hoping I would run across THE building.
I covered about two square miles of cold concrete edifices with the only results being a few “Oh, I didn’t know they were here!”s. It was getting close to 5:00 and I decided I would go through this one last park… they were white, one-story buildings with blue trim and really didn’t look like something that would house a publisher, but I figured what the heck. Things are never what they seem and they’re on my way out.
I wound my way through the alleys noting names on doors and how many offices that were obviously once occupied now stood empty. Recession city, baby. I headed to the back of the complex and as I turned a corner saw the sign I’d been hoping to find:
Holy crap, I found it.
"Look within." What is this, a Dan Brown novel?
(Ok, the tagline is not on the actual sign on the building, but I’m telling a story here – I have a Literary License. Get yours here.)
I couldn’t believe I actually found it (but then again, I could). I was hearing Yoda in my head as I circled the building looking for the front door. There were plenty of single glass entry points, but none with an obvious “come hither” neatly lettered on the pane like the surrounding businesses. You mean I have to figure out which door my future lies behind without even a hint? What if I guess wrong? Will there be lions waiting to eat me? C’mon – at least give me a CLUE!
I started feeling disappointed that I’d come all this way, managed to locate the building without the address, and now there was no apparent front desk. I’d found two locations listed online for Hay House (I figured one warehouse, one office), perhaps I was at the wrong one. Right Brain kicked in reminding me I should “just go home” but it was a weak voice compared to my determination now that I was this close.
My life is one big freakin’ metaphor.
As I rounded the last corner a second time, like any good Hollywood movie, I happened to see someone slip into one of the doors, and in the two nanoseconds it was open I thought I saw a reception area. Hmm. Could this be the entrance? Sure didn’t look like one, but there ARE handicap spaces right in front of it (that would be McGuyver Left Brain taking over). The blinds were drawn so I couldn’t tell what the space inside looked like, but I had asked for a clue and it looked like this was the best I was going to get.
I parked the car and sat there pushing down my flight impulse again. How stupid would I look (or how much trouble would I be in) if I walked into a bunch of cubicles where I don’t belong? People might look at me funny, or even worse, ask what I'm doing there, then I will surely keel over and die of embarrassment. Right there on their most-likely-blue commercial carpet.
My mother always told me that Grandpa told her, “Walk in like you own the place and no one will question you.” He was a Navy man. I have used this method successfully in the past. Today, not so much.
I gathered my resume and my courage and stepped through the door. Oh good – there IS a reception desk, with a receptionist behind it, so I will not be eaten by lions or arrested for being somewhere I shouldn’t be. The worst that can happen is I might look like an idiot. But I will survive this. Oh look, there are chairs. And magazines. And a fish tank. Because of course fish are tranquil and that’s what this company is about. Duh. And - haha - they have blue carpet. I really, really, really want to work here. Now pay attention. Don’t sound desperate. Smile.
There is a receptionist and another employee blinking at me in expectation.
Ok smiling… smiling… I need words… words would be good… please give me some words… from the brain, out the mouth… c’mon… shit, why didn’t I rehearse this or something? Is this what guys feel like when they walk up to a pretty girl?
“Hello, do you have a Human Resources department?” (Geez, could you come up with a stupider, more UN-informative opening line?)
“No, I’m sorry we don’t.” Employee exits. My paranoid Right Brain assures me she is snickering at my discomfort. Left Brain shushes the beast.
“Umm… is there someone I can leave my resume with then? I’d really like to work for Hay House so I was hoping to speak with someone.” (Way to sound confident, like you really belong here and they should hire you immediately – NOT.)
“I could take it for you, but right now we don’t have any open positions. You can check our web site… there is a card with the address right there.”
I take the card and hand her my resume (on crappy paper, wearing my sub-par outfit, NOT holding my professional looking portfolio) imagining it will go right in the trash as soon as I walk out the door. I SOOO do not want that to happen. What can I say to change her mind? DO SOMETHING besides stand there looking crushed you idiot!
“Thank you. I’ve actually been watching the web site but I haven’t seen anything come up recently that I’m qualified for. I just really want to work here, so I figured maybe if I brought my resume to you in person you could keep it on file and let me know when there is a place I would fit in.” (Now you sound completely desperate. Good job. Just go home you loser. What were you thinking?)
The receptionist is kind of at a loss for words, having done her job and not being able to offer me anything else. I don’t want to leave though as it’s really taken a lot to reach the place I’m standing, and I’m not yet convinced that crappy-paper resume isn’t ending up in File 13. I feel like a six year old on the verge of tears when the Universe finally shows some mercy and breathes a bit of brilliance into my thoughts.
“I know your time is valuable and I don’t want to take up too much of it, but it’s a funny story how I got here today…”
I proceed to relate an edited version of the events that led to not having the address, and how I left it up to the Universe to help me find the building if I was meant to work there, finishing up with how non-descript the entrance is and how thankful I am to have found it. I try really hard not to be as verbose as I usually am in storytelling, and pack all this into as succinct a narrative as possible.
I see the change come over the receptionist’s face just like they describe in books. She starts smiling like we now have a common ground, and agrees that it is absolutely difficult to find the place even when you DO have the address. Then the miracle happens.
The receptionist gives me the name and extension of the person I need to contact to follow up on my resume. SHE GAVE ME A FULL NAME AND PHONE EXTENSION. Of someone that has the power to move this forward, when appropriate... and even tho there are currently no positions open... at the #1 company on the very top of my “I Want To Work Here” list.
In the scope of life, this should appear as a minor event I suppose, but somehow I feel like I won the lottery.
There is no way that resume will go in the trash now, which I suddenly realize was the short-term goal. (My habit is to only see the end goal and forget about the steps in between, then wonder why I can’t simply leap from beginning to end.) I am reminded that “the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.” [Chinese proverb.] I have never been so present in a moment in my life.
I am so grateful – even now as I’m writing this – to have accomplished that one small goal. I’m sure there are people that will scoff and go, “Well geez, all you did was drop off one resume. So what? There’s no guarantee they will give you a job.” This is true. I had the same thought. I have to wonder at this bizarre reaction I’m having myself. It’s not like I’ve never gone job hunting before, and certainly the Universe has its own schedule that trumps ours.
But my intuition says this: there are some crossroads in your life that are not evident when you are standing at them, yet are easily revealed in hindsight. Much like a hidden doorway (or math – ugh!), the answer is obvious once you’re on the other side, but standing at the beginning all you have is instinct and perhaps a few facts to base your direction on. I imagine there have been people that reach a point of success much further down the road, who look back from whence they came and think, “This all started because of that decision I made. Had I known that one choice was so important, I would’ve stopped to appreciate the moment more.”
Well I feel like I know, and even if I'm wrong, this is what it is to Be Here Now. I don’t know where this will lead, but I feel like it's the right direction, and needs to be appreciated even tho I don’t know what I’m appreciating yet, aside from a personal triumph over my own insecurities.
I guess I am appreciating this moment NOW because the success of knowing my resume will not go unnoticed in this company makes it much easier to imagine a time when maybe I’m standing in Barnes & Noble, autographing my bestseller book, thinking back to the day when I stood at that receptionist desk so beside myself, and Lupe the Receptionist changed my world. Wait until she finds out what she started!
Maybe it leads to nothing, and maybe it leads to everything. I am okay with allowing the Universe to keep that secret for now.
The article covers testing of a new neuro-technology that uses functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to track brain activity in people in an official Persistent Vegetative State (different from a coma). It has allowed doctors and researchers to communicate (or so they believe) with a 29-year-old man that's been vegging out since 2003. (Oh c'mon, how could I not go there?) The disturbing news is that if the communication is real, many people in this state could be conscious and literally unable to move a muscle. The prior belief was that these people were "awake but not aware."
Imagine being buried alive and you'll start getting the idea. You can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel everything - but you are absolutely unable to communicate or do anything about the sensory input you receive. Actually, being awake six feet under might be preferable since you could at least scratch an itch and scream if you wanted. Those things are not possible if your brain has become this ambiguous. Suddenly rush hour traffic on the 5 pales in comparison to that kind of lesson in patience.
Mom asked for my thoughts on the article, and I thought you might find it interesting too. I wrote back to her:
I actually read something in that book on the brain [I've been reading] just the other day that was relative and also blew me away. Check out this paragraph:
Pain and body image are closely related. We always experience pain as projected into the body. When you throw your back out, you say, "My back is killing me!" and not, "My pain system is killing me." But as phantoms [limbs] show, we don't need a body part or even pain receptors to feel pain. We need only a body image, produced by our brain maps. People with actual limbs don't usually realize this because the body images of our limbs are perfectly projected, onto our actual limbs, making it impossible to distinguish our body image from our body. "Your own body is a phantom," says Ramachandran, "one that your brain has constructed purely for convenience."
If this is true (and I believe it is), think of how that relates to being dead - would the body image still be projected even tho there is no longer a living physical body, and that's why we get "ghosts" that stick around for three days (or more) then finally move on? Does it take some designated time period in this continuum (perhaps specific to the individual) for the projected image to fade? And if so, the million dollar question would be what IS projecting that image then? Cuz at that point it wouldn't be any physical part of us like the brain. This begs the question: What is the (or is there a) difference between mind and soul?
The book goes on to talk about distorted body images, such as how people who are anorexic literally "see" themselves as fat. That leads me to tie into the article you sent me... if the vegetative state means consciousness is still working but the body is not, is that a physical impairment or a body image impairment? Is this why some of them "wake up?" Hmmm!!!! Perhaps the plasticity of the brain finally repairs the neural networks enough to allow them to "wake up" and move?
As for the last couple paragraphs of the article - I love how often Descartes is coming up these days. I think Science is finally shedding the last of the "machine view" skin. There is just too much evidence of the plasticity of not only the brain, but all our functionality here in this realm, both physical and otherwise. I think a more accurate statement these days would be "I am therefore I am."
The dark side of all this info, of course, is the old adage about once you open the door, ANYONE can walk through, good or bad. (Reference the atomic bomb, right?) Therefore, yay for us advancing technology and science, but NOT yay for what the government could then justify using it for.
There was another article I was going to post in a separate blog, but it's kind of related so at the risk of really giving y'all a time sink (if you're interested enough to read both full articles), I will include the link now.
It's published by MIT News and covers another budding technique using MRI sensors to detect dopamine's progress through the brain, thus giving a look into our thoughts regarding motivation, reward, addiction, and possibly even some new clues to Parkinson's disease. The full text is here.
I received the link to this bit of info from a friend that is into nanotechnology and "directed evolution." He was interested in the error-prone PCR methodology, which is WAY above my head, but I found the news interesting nonetheless. As Switchfoot says, those genetic engineers are the most high tech!
All thoughts and comments are welcome. I love discussion on this type of thing!
Right now I have three different blogs (was only two until about 10 seconds ago, then a friend emailed me an article on brain imaging that is creating more content in my head!) that I really really want to write because they'll be interesting (all science-y and stuff!) and that's what I feel I really WANT to do today.
However, I only have 9 weeks left on unemployment and if I don't find a job that will bring in enough income to pay my bills soon, I could be writing blogs from a tent in the park, hoping to have enough gas to get to a Starbucks to upload them on free wi-fi. Therefore what I *should* be doing is getting dressed and going out to hand people my resume and try to impress someone.
But what I'd really LIKE to make a living at is writing! Hence, I should write, right? But writing is not paying my bills at the moment.
Insert scream here.
I hope others will also repost Joseph Stack's note so that it does not go unread by the masses like our government would prefer. They have already forced even CNN to remove the page with the text on it. CNN!!! They are major news media - what about the first amendment? If this is not proof that our government controls our media, then I don't know what is.
This is important stuff people. This could be any one of us driven to this kind of frustration, altho we may not take the same kind of action. I know I've felt the long arm of the IRS (currently even), and the frustration of being hog tied in a system tailored to the rich and powerful. I am tired of Uncle Sam reaching into my wallet too. There is a place for government in our nation, but the people we've elected to power (with a handful of exceptions, because there are always exceptions to the rule) are corrupt and greedy and need to be replaced by those that are not. Unfortunately, those that are not don't stand a chance in the system as it is.
The Internet gives the people the power because there is communication. The government fears this because they know no matter how many Enron and Arthur Andersen and Halliburton execs there are, there are still MORE of us in the middle class, the ones they exploit. This is why they try to eliminate the truth from the public view, then force feed us what they want us to think on the news. That's what "spin doctors" are hired to do. But there won't be change without action. Reposting is the action I'm choosing for now.
FBI censor (suicide note repost with comments)
by halcyon on February 18, 2010
Domestic Terrorism is a tricky beast. It would be much easier to dismiss this plane crash if the pilot’s skin was brown and he followed the wrong god.
Instead we can relate all-too-well to his soul-crushing frustration.
Like a capitalist version of a burning monk, we have to look at the situation that would motivate such a drastic choice.
A US citizen driven to ultimate frustration is much different than being attacked from 3rd world outsiders, “because they are jealous of us and our freedom.”
His note is the sad final squeak from someone who has lost his voice from a lifetime of complaining to deaf ears. Do i approve of his actions? Of course not. Nor do I approve of any act of terrorism. But I do think there is value in trying to understand the frustration that can lead to such drastic measures.
History shows that every oppressed people has a tipping point that pushes them to action: Be that slave revolt, Declaration of Independence, or suicide bombing.
The FBI has removed his note from the web. I am re-posting it below.
by halcyon on February 18, 2010
Domestic Terrorism is a tricky beast. It would be much easier to dismiss this plane crash if the pilot’s skin was brown and he followed the wrong god. Instead we can relate all-too-well to his soul-crushing frustration. Like a capitalist version of a burning monk, we have to look at the situation that would motivate such a drastic choice. A US citizen driven to ultimate frustration is much different than being attacked from 3rd world outsiders, “because they are jealous of us and our freedom.” His note is the sad final squeak from someone who has lost his voice from a lifetime of complaining to deaf ears. Do i approve of his actions? Of course not. Nor do I approve of any act of terrorism. But I do think there is value in trying to understand the frustration that can lead to such drastic measures.
History shows that every oppressed people has a tipping point that pushes them to action: Be that slave revolt, Declaration of Independence, or suicide bombing.
The FBI has removed his note from the web. I am re-posting it below.
Joe Stack’s suicide note: (now censored from his site)
If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.
While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.
Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.
And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!
How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.
How did I get here?
My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.
The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.
That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.
Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.
On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.
The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.
In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.
Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.
For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).
SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.
(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:
(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.
· “another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.
· “taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.
· “individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.
Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.
During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.
After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.
Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.
Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.
Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.
By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.
To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.
So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.
When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.
This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.
I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.
As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.
I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.
I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.
I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.
Joe Stack (1956-2010)