Tuesday, June 28, 2016

we need a better simulation

I remember a time when the internet wasn't taken for granted.  Rather it was barely more than a new and exciting idea.  I remember reading about a game far too advanced for my 300 baud modem, where players could wander a pac-man like maze, as ascii characters who could interact with each other.  Other real life people, from around the world.  Millenia before World of Warcraft. 

I thought my social difficulties would not only be solved, before I was entirely aware that I even had social difficulties, but think of all the interesting people I could meet!  I'd have a whole world of people to sift through.  It's funny, because in some ways, it was very true, and now I do take it for granted.  I've had an online presence most of my adult life, and met lots of interesting people, and had countless discussions of far greater depth than could ever have been accomplished in person.. and yet somehow, it hasn't been as amazing as I thought it would be.  

I never really felt like I was meeting those people.  The acquaintances I made never really became lasting friendships.  Countless little ascii characters came and went over the years.  It never really turned out to be quite as impressive as I'd expected.  Was it further evidence of a deficit on my part, or was I expecting too much?

Now we're learning that there are neurochemical processes stimulated by human interaction.  A handshake, a hug, even just making eye contact.  These are behaviors we've evolved physiological responses to, that form the groundwork of our relationships and human interactions.  The exchange of ideas across the internet just isn't going to have the same effect on the brain as hanging out with someone.

It's too bad my brain just goes haywire when I'm around people.   I've been very grateful for the internet, but a wheelchair is no substitute for a working pair of legs.

Friday, June 17, 2016

end of the world, as we know it

Impermanence has been one of the most difficult things to come to terms with, in my life.  Everything we do, everything we know, everything we are, a moment all too soon to be gone forever.  Entire civilizations rise and fall, cultures come and go, the very earth we walk on will be unrecognizable one day, and gone the day after that.

In Buddhism, this is considered a fundamental mark of existence.  The idea though, is that in truth, we never lose anything, because we never have anything to begin with.  The pain that comes with impermanence is really the pain of desperately clinging to that which doesn't actually exist.  It's something to be meditated on at great length, until the illusion of ego falls away, and we realize that nothing is lost, because nothing is as we thought it was to begin with.

In physics, there is the idea that time is really just another dimension of space.  Length, width, depth, time.  In order to understand this, again, ego needs to be removed from the equation.  If we were to go back in time, there is no self to step outside and back in.  Rather, it would be like rewinding a video.  All the same things would happen again.  We only experience time as we do, as that's how the brain is wired.  We are on a ride that only moves forward, thinking that everything behind us is gone forever.  In physics, impermanence takes on a very different meaning.

Still, it is so hard not to feel an overwhelming sense of loss, at all that goes wrong in the world.  At all that will go wrong.  How much has been lost behind us, already?  How much more will we lose?  How can we not get emotional about history as it unfolds before us, one horrifying event after another.  All the senseless political maneuvering and strife, the constant churning of avarice, and altruism, the desperation of rationality, and the completely fucking nuts.

As we turn from day to day, amidst the cacophony of this vast human endeavor to stop each other from destroying each other, how can we not be moved by it?  How can we be aware of it all, and not be overwhelmed by it?  How is it that every terrible thing we do seems to be overshadowed by something even worse?  Threatening to trounce all of it, what this plague of humanity is now doing to the entire planet itself.

Climate change is more terrifying than most people realize.  The rate at which we've poured carbon into the atmosphere over the past century far exceeds anything that's ever happened on this planet before.  This is likely to mean a climate shift more severe than ever before, while most people don't even seem to grasp how serious past climate shifts were.  Those that happened before humanity even existed.  Those which wiped most species off the face of the Earth, forever.

These things are geologically gradual, though.  It's not something that occurs over the course of a few years.  It's impossible to predict how severe it will be, how quickly.  It could cascade into a series of reactions that could be very serious, very fast.. or could drag out over decades.  Over centuries, we're talking about a very different planet.. but on the other hand, it's impossible to predict what technology will be able to do, to mitigate the impact, reverse it, or even recover from it.

Much that has gone extinct in the past is irrecoverable, as DNA decays beyond recognition within a few thousand years.. but we likely will have the means to resurrect much that goes extinct in the modern era - if we get through the worst of it, without civilization collapsing entirely.. and assuming it doesn't spiral out of control so severely as to make Earth as uninhabitable as Venus.

There are too many variables to really know how this will all play out, but if we're lucky, it will all make for quite a story, someday.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

medical limbo

It doesn't help that I'm still working my way through getting treated again.  It wasn't a miracle cure, but it sure helped.  I decided to just let myself relax, until I'm back on the Omnitrope, but now it's been over six months, and I'm still just hanging around doing nothing.  Other than dealing with doctors and all that.

Jumping hurdle after hurdle, finally got a prescription, but my endocrinologist insisted on starting me at the lowest possible dose.  It basically doesn't count.  It's not enough of a dose to do anything for anyone, other than rule out a serious adverse reaction.. but in a few weeks, I get labwork, and I hope to hell my doc bumps it up to at least 0.4mg - but who knows.  Doctors hate doing anything more than absolutely necessary for poor deadbeats like me.  Have to fight for everything, every step of the way, while they try to politely shoo me away.

I didn't even want to try exploring Burlington, connecting with people here, or really going out and doing much of anything more than I need to, until I get this dealt with.  I was very active, when I first got here, still taking what my docs in NJ had prescribed, but that didn't last.  I just have no motivation, no energy, and trying not to dwell on it too much.  Without it, I'm afraid I'd just end discouraging myself.  I need to the leg up that the Omnitrope provided, and in the meantime, just wanted to let myself off the hook.

In the meantime, I am completely isolated here, though.  I haven't met anyone, or gotten involved with anything.  I have no reason to go anywhere or do anything.  It's not so bad, relatively speaking.. but it wasn't supposed to drag on like this, for so long.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

the xenophobia of alienation

What is it that draws people towards each other?  What is it that drives us away?  Why is it that sometimes we enjoy the company of some, while the company of others can be so unpleasant?  These seem to be straight-forward questions to most people.  They like people who are A, B, and C.  They hate people for X, Y, and Z reasons.

Maybe they find solidarity in political orientation, or fighting classism, xenophobia, or racism.  Maybe they find cultural affinity in their own racial groups.  Maybe they identify with people who like the same music, the same sports, the same television shows.  Maybe they're just nice to people who are nice, and mean to people who are mean.  Whatever their reasons may be, they don't seem to have much reason to question any of it.  It's cut and dry.  It works for them.

Nothing has worked for me in a very long time.  I had good friends, as a kid.  Friends I made when I was three or four years old.  I stayed friends with them for ten years, without any question, until moving away.  My pituitary imploded when I was about six years old.  I was able to connect prior to that, but it was a lasting connection.  Is that just coincidence?  The pituitary regulates oxytocin getting into the brain.. The "trust" hormone.  Does it all come down to a deep underlying lack of trust for other people?

Growth hormone deficiency also wreaked havoc on my social life growing up.  When I refer to looking three or four years younger than my peers, most people immediately think I was bullied and the like, but I handled that sort of nonsense well enough.  That wasn't the issue.  All through childhood and adolescence, other kids my age didn't see me as one of them, which was much more problematic.  That may have undermined my social connectivity.  Maybe that had more to do with it than oxytocin.  Maybe it's both.

Mostly, I just keep coming back to the A, B, C, X, Y, and Zs, though.  However it may have been set in motion, I learned to go my own way.  I'm not like other people.  I see things differently.  I experience things differently.  My life has been on a very different sort of track.  As if that isn't problematic enough, my interests tend to be on the obscure side.  All of this makes it difficult to relate to anyone.. What do I have in common with anyone?  What am I even supposed to talk about with these people?  How much does all that really matter?

It throws me though, that some people are more "open" than others.  They don't care how different other people are.  We're all human.  They seem to be open to connecting with other people, simply because they're people.  Opposites attract, like-mindedness attracts, everything attracts.  Whatever paths they cross, they make the most of it.  I have little patience for people like that, but still, that just seems really admirable to me.

Why do I have to make anything more of it?  Am I just creating distance between myself and others, that isn't really there?  There is no concrete rule that says we have to be the same, to be able to enjoy each other's company... but that seems to be the way some people are wired, and not others.

I seem to be way at the other end of the spectrum, and I don't know why.  I've spent my whole life trying to figure it out.  At times, I think it's that my neurochemistry is so fucked up, that I can't relate to anyone ever, and maybe that's just the way it is.. but, I don't really believe that.  I can't.  Maybe it's an "all of the above" type of deal.  Not insurmountable, but one hell of an obstacle course.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


As I've shifted to putting all my energy to expressing myself publicly, it has made sense to do so on public issues.  I've always had a political streak, but to focus on it wholeheartedly as I have is new.. but I also wonder if it's a bit disingenuous.

I'm drawn to commenting on issues I know others care about, for the sake of exchange.  I think I also end up channeling a lot of my personal angst into my politics.

I think the US is basically tyrannical.  Not in the conventional sense, but the degree to which wealth governs our politics does essentially mean that the top 10% define public policy, without any regard at all for what the other 90% want.  This isn't as bad as a handful of psychopaths running the government, but it's not exactly democracy, either.  Among those 10% are people who do care, to varying degrees.  They don't want everyone else to be too miserable, and take their interests into consideration.. but ultimately, it is all about what they want for themselves.  Winning elections seems to have become completely divorced from doing anything for voters.

I think this is the root cause, of a lot of the anger in the US right now.  I used to laugh at the crazy right-wingers calling the government a tyranny, but now I realize they had a point.  They didn't consciously understand why they felt that way, and had nonsense ideas about what needed to be done about it, but on some level, maybe they were simply aware that their votes don't matter.  We the People don't matter.

I think I get carried away though. I wonder if my outrage is in part fueled by my own personal frustrations, about my own life.. I've learned to express that through politics, as a way of connecting with lots of people that don't want to hear me rant about my own issues.. but I'm not sure it's entirely honest.  On some level, maybe I'm really more angry about the lack of control I feel over my own life.