Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Now to continue on with writing the rest of the page!
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I even figured out how to make it float right, see?
Well, I have a website to write, and I'm finally feeling better enough to really get down to it. I'm actually going to take a break to go to the gym right now, but I expect I'll be back on it later.
Unless some other unpredictable, crazy thing happens.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
` You can read about that right here in my journal blog, Science, Wackmobiles and Spurious Brainchildren.
` As I've said before, my entire life has been one long episode of Jerry Springer, and for some reason, I just can't shake the crazies! One look at what I've written should help explain why I'm so obsessed with being rational and ethical!
So anyway, I'm back to working on The Corrigendopedia since the site switch has screwed up its coding, and the first thing I discover is... are you ready for this? THERE'S STUFF MISSING!
` Although my ostrich is still online because it's hosted on Flickr...
...the page it belonged to, the biggest page I had, called Internet Trivia: How much of it is even true? which I mentioned in this blog post: Possibly the lowest form of information, is COMPLETELY GONE!
No worries, though, because that page was largely based on blog posts I wrote in 2005, and I was actually planning to expand it and make it into a proper section. I can probably just re-find my additional resources and continue on with even more silly items I've picked up on my September visit to Georgia, which I've also been meaning to add.
` On the other hand, the jokes I've made for the site are forever lost, as I didn't have a backup of that page. Sniff!
My second-largest page, Rudy and Russo's Big Gullibility Experiment, is also partly missing, as it is cut off just below the lowest embedded video. (This is the blog post to that.)
` That's okay, too, since I'd been meaning to revise that last section for some time -- I didn't even mention that Rudy and Russo emailed me because they liked the page so much!
It's like the html mix-ups read my mind! Spooky, but not really; there are a few different potential html flaws that I think explain this missing stuff.
In better news, my photo journal website S E E Quine's Anomalous World, which I plan to begin again at some point soon (because I have my own computer now!!), is not missing anything, as far as I can determine.
` However, some of the photos on one photo hosting website are no longer there, but that's okay because I need to replace them anyway with the same photos, but on my Flickr Pro site (where you can view my photos and art!) at least, when I get all of them uploaded. I've taken a lot of digital photographs for the past few years, and the ones I have uploaded only go back to June 2008 by this point in time.
` I would have probably managed to upload more, at least back to 2007, it's just that immediately after uploading my June 2008 photos a few months ago, I lost all internet functionality of my old computer and was unable to do continue.
Now that I have a new computer, I have spent countless hours preparing yet more photos for upload (on my old computer, though, as I'm not sure how to do it on this one), then transferred them to my new computer.
` Of course I've been planning to upload them to Flickr, but I just have been so busy working on other, more intense things to distract me of my even-more intense living situation, that I keep forgetting to.
` Not to mention, my laptop has been under lock and key for days at a time, in case someone tries to steal it, so I haven't been on the internet as much as I've wanted to be. Then again, when I am on the internet, I find there's a lot of other things to catch up on and plan (like my emails, blogs and websites), so... you know?
I have, ironically, been working for days at a time organizing my sources for The Corrigendopedia, so I have been technically working on it, just not online:
` For one thing, I've been hand-copying my notes from various sources of information into miniature three-ring binders, which I've divided into different subjects so that all the notes I have for one subject will be together.
` If only I'd taken those notes electronically, I could just 'cut and paste' and it would be much faster, but as you'll recall I didn't have a computer for a while so I had to improvise. Even now that I do have a computer, I'm going to continue this paper organization because; a), paper doesn't give me eye strain whereas my laptop does; b), I'm almost done, and c), I really dig the convenience of a real binder!
` All I have to do is grab the little tab I glued onto each divider and it opens to that subject! There's page numbers and even space at the top that I can use to make notes about my plans for the notes! I have to say, the binder worked splendidly with my critical thinking term paper, so I think the hundreds of hours I've spent on this project is well worth it!
Although honestly, I wish I'd had henchmen to do this stuff for me!
Ironically, it was just after the end of the quarter that I sat down for a couple days and worked on my index cards, finally finishing them at long last! Yes, index cards; I have a little drawer filled with hundreds of cards, each has the title and author of a book at the top, with the status of whether or not I've read it, and a short description below that.
` That may sound obsessive, but I think it's necessary; I really need to keep my sources, and potential sources, on my radar, and through trial and error I've figured out how to keep track of the books I want to read, and have read.
I started out doing just lists of titles and authors of books I wanted to read, but based on that information I could not remember what half of those books were about!
` Later on, I realized that I also didn't even know what most of my own books really were about, whether I've read them or not, so I took my books off the shelves, and made each of them one of these 'library cards'. Then, so that I could easily find each book via card, I organized my books by category and then likewise made little 'category divider' cards with tabs sticking up, and organized the cards to match the books.
` That way, if I need to research something, I'll have an uber-quick way to find what I'm looking for without tearing apart my bookshelves! It was not long before I got the bright idea of extending this concept to my organized list of hundreds of books I want to read!
Anyway, I've got places to go and things to do besides setting things in order, so I'd better go!
Friday, December 11, 2009
` I've been dealing with two philistines who won't leave the residence without taking things which belong to me and my fiance Lucas -- like our bed! -- and it's gotten to the point where the cops have been called... on us!
` It's absolutely unreal the things we've gone through, and I've written all about them in another blog post, here.
Friday, November 27, 2009
With so much activity constantly going on around Lucas' computer, I've barely been able to periodically sneak in to check my email before having to leave again, so accessing the hundreds of pages that I've already written online so I could edit them for The Corrigendopedia (or access any other online resource) was not happening -- there was NO WAY I was going to print all that stuff out!
Instead of being discouraged, I decided to just start from scratch and write everything on paper, largely relying on dead tree resources. It worked pretty okay at first, but then, anything longer than a page became increasingly more of a struggle:
` All that writing in longhand was tiresome to begin with, then every time I needed to make one small change I'd have to erase sentences and then write them again; each time I needed to add something, I'd have to spend hours writing the whole thing again, essentially copying most of it, and then when I realized I needed to add something else, doing it all over again!
` Days would go by with very little progress. And then, how was I supposed to type all that up and proofread it and make any other changes? I'd have to stay up until the middle of the night so I wouldn't be disturbed, and... well... I need my rest (especially since I've had the flu for a month) and I need to be able to get up in the morning!
While I will continue to keep track of my pages on paper, I'd really rather do the writing electronically for such an immense project -- and now I can! I'll be back with more website updates soon!
Oh, by the way, I just visited The Corrigendopedia and it's been moved and rearranged, so I have some editing I need to do in order to fix it. The new address is:
That is such a hard-to-remember URL it's LAME! (I'm going to have to update my links, too!)
Saturday, October 24, 2009
A few days ago, I think I solved my whole 'organization dilemma.' My plan is to write about a general critical thinking topic and give examples - except that those examples may belong to a science topic or some such. The question has been plaguing me, for a couple years now; How To Arrange Them?
My general plan is to demonstrate How To vs. How Not To. I expect I may be able to do well enough to advertise my site like hell and see if I can get some traffic.
So, How To Arrange My Website, and How Not To? My first instinct was to create a site that was a bit like a wiki of all the research I've done, just sorting it by topic, but that clearly won't do in this case. My angle is specifically, 'How To Think' and 'How Not To Think'.
So, instead, I'm going to start off with critical thinking basics and show how they apply to everyday examples, even if many of those examples are large enough to need their own entry. So, the facts concerning that entry will be placed under their own topic.
For example, one thing I wrote long ago mentioned how the Coriolis effect has nothing to do with water spiraling around drains, yet I didn't have enough room to explain, so I intended to do a separate article explaining why this is in detail. But then I had the problem of where to put that article. In the part about how the Earth's systems work, right?
Wait a minute! Wouldn't I first have to explain some basic stuff about the currents of our planet?
Figuring out how to proceed from that point has been a huge stumbling block for the past two years, besides all the scary stuff happening and constant stress and noise I've just barely been able to live through without losing my mind. Not to mention, all the people who told me I'm an arrogant loser for thinking I can make a difference in the world.
It's true that I'm still struggling to get my brain working after a lifetime of severe abuse (and then being told that I'm not capable of getting my brain working again) but I really believe that if I work on this project, my brain will be helped. I have the talent, but the question is, do I have the diligence?
Here's my solution; focus on the critical 'How To' bits and various examples, and THEN put the examples in a larger context of their own subject matter at a later time.
It's the only way I can think of that can move this project forward. What did trying to think of alternate solutions get me? Zilch! There apparently is no better idea!
Here I go again, and I'm going to start with a different entry that also has to do with the myth about the Coriolis effect, and other subjects. I have finished the outline for the main article and am now working on the examples.
Check out the changes I've made to the site, and stay tuned for my next article!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
For the past two days, every time I have gone down there to check my email, I haven't been able to because someone has either been watching TV next to the computer or using the computer themselves.
It seems no matter how early I wake up or how late I stay up solely in order to check my email, this is usually the case. The same goes for any public place with internet access, like a library - my earplugs do nothing to dull the roar of constant chatter of other internet-users.
Originally I had been planning to re-use material from my other blogs, including reams of unpublished notes I've been saving for future articles. However, there is no way for me to access, search and read them if I'm endlessly waiting 'in line' for the computer.
* Later... I've discussed the matter with Lucas (my beloved, and generally the 'man-in-charge' around here). He says we'll have to get a laptop so I can go to whatever place is quiet and have my own private computer to use.
My roommates have since stopped watching the movie, but as usual I have to leave for an appointment.
* Next day... The roommates are done with their movie right now and I have some free time to type this in! That's three days I had to wait to use the internet. There's so way it can be a daily habit until I have a laptop.
I've made note of this fact on the Corrigendopedia.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Meanwhile, I've accumulated so many bits of material for this site that I hardly know how to start adding them.
It's obvious that the Corrigendopedia site cannot consist of a list of (eventually) hundreds of articles, all in a line. Rather, I need some way to organize my pages via categories so they are easy to explore.
So I did. (I hope the move from Google Pages to Google Sites doesn't screw it all up!) Look at this and tell me it's not a bad scheme. Do it!
Friday, September 18, 2009
First I was writing one, couldn't figure out where to go with it, then I started another but it was going nowhere, so I have started yet another one, and it has this spiffy 'drawring' (greatly enlarged):
Can you guess what this thing is?
Doubtless you've seen millions, but what are they? Well, I know it's a drawring, but it closely resembles a photo. The vertical lines are meant to be reflections. Also, these things move really fast and we don't get a clear look at them.
How is this thing moving? If you can guess that, you can figure out what it is!
Anyway, the article I started (but did not finish) is called Look Again! Where are your preconceptions from? Someday I'll find a decent middle and ending!
Saturday, September 5, 2009
What is today's Corrigendopedia article about? Well, back in 2005, I was emailed some 'Fun Facts' and found a lot of it false. So, I blogged about it. Finally, I've compiled those posts into one big article and added this ostrich:
The article is called; Internet Trivia: How much of it is even true?
While I haven't actually gotten around to doing a statistical analysis, I can already tell you that the percentage does appear to be over ten percent.
` I also go a little bit into researching and critical thinking throughout the article. It ain't much for that kind of thing, but for now it'll do.
I may stop in here for a minute while I'm on vacation. If not, my next post will be a post-vacation post!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
For now, here's article #2 Rudy and Russo's Big Gullibility Experiment. And my customary drawring....
It took a really long time to fill all that black space in. Maybe next time I won't use a ball-point pen!
As for article #3, since I've busy doing storyboards for a movie (which I'd be more enthusiastic about if I were being paid), I may not finish the drawrings for it and all before going to Georgia for the first time ever, to visit my mom.
` That will be during September 6-13. But, rest assured, I'll still be working on other Corrigendopedia material via paper. Good old paper!
Friday, August 28, 2009
That's right: Most websites seem to have an introduction, whereas mine has a preface. That's only because I know what I'm going to do, I just don't know where I'm going with it.
My 'dedicated' face.
Also, I'm rather proud of myself for coming up with some jokes that made me laugh. I don't know where they came from, but if you ever see the same jokes elsewhere, know that I didn't get them from there. Perhaps there is some sort of mysterious portal in my brain?
Read and witness my comedic stylings and (BONUS!) my purpose in life!
Monday, August 17, 2009
Control. Illusion or not, it's what we all want.
` Whether you're an evil genius who wants to take over the world or some faceless bum who can scarcely take on the world, I am here to show you that the world is already within reach.
The only trick is in grasping it.
Even if plying and dominating others is not on your mind, it is important for everyone to learn how to wrap their brains around anything that comes their way.
` That may seem intuitive, though you need to ask; "How does 'everyone' and 'anything' apply to me and whatever might be in my life?"
This is actually a question that you can answer, because skills are not so much things that one knows as they are things that one does.
In other words, what you know or don't know is not as important as how you observe, approach and engage what you could know.
The first skill you must learn is asking questions. Here are some you might have:
That is completely different than my plans now, so I'm taking it off there. I've been writing for... ever to figure out what I want on there, except I have to do it on paper because this computer is so loud I'm gonna scream if I have to be on here for much longer.
So I'm leaving the Corrigendopedia blank for now. See?
At least it's finally up.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Getting Yer Facts Straight
The Science of Trickery
I'll have those up soon. Just gotta focus. My computer's distractingly loud, no matter what I put in and over my ears, so I have to use other computers to do this. Lame, huh? Time for a new computer!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
For the Corrigendopedia.
"Expand Your View of the World" could be a good motto.
Dissatisfied with this post? Look, I have been posting on other blogs. This, for example, is today's art blog post, complete with Dr. Nociceptor, Cyborg Puppies of Doom, and a meth head who has taken to peeing all over our carpet.
` From there, you will also find links to some amusing videos starring my boyfriend, both as 'Pinhead' and as 'Bruiser', a hillbilly who gets shot.
Oh yeah, and I keep wanting to write about the Morristown UFO Hoax, complete with videos that show the hoaxers releasing the balloons, then calling the news station and saying 'hey, there's some weird lights! We don't know what they are!' and then making the infamous YouTube video.
` ...And later appearing on the news... not to mention, UFO Hunters cites it as more evidence that aliens are visiting us... hilarious!
Aaanyway... I have some homework to finish real quick-like. See ya later.
P.S. I have a considerably less noisy environment now, since I live in a new house, and since the meth head who has been framing us and getting us into trouble is gone. That was a ton of crazy drama!
` No longer is writing a rebellion on a personal level....
Saturday, April 25, 2009
` The answer is: To assuage my burning discontent, to cry out in loneliness, to temporarily escape the constant feeling of imprisonment.
When I was four years old, starting to feel the friction of my dysfunctional family, I remember that I wrote little books on construction paper about the way I thought things ought to be. I wrote fantasy stories of animals, who had children, and they were nice to one another.
` Unfortunately, I don't think anyone knew what I was getting at. Sometimes, I would be made to sit around the table and be scolded about what I wrote, then my books were taken away from me and I never saw them again.
I stopped writing for a while. The abuse from my dad became even less tolerable. He would tell me that I was stupider than a horse because at least horses allow themselves to be broken. Why was he punishing me all the time? What was I doing wrong?
` He kept telling me that I did all kinds of things I didn't even know about and that the reason I didn't remember was because I was crazy.
When I started school, at Sydney Fenn Elementary, I got in a lot of trouble. I was even mean sometimes to my only friend, Tina LaFerrier, who was three years older than me. We were troublemakers and made up our own 'language' called 'Ma' (with an 'a' like in 'shadow').
` I remember fighting a lot with Hubert VanDeusan and I remember him scribbling on my paper so I'd have to erase what I wrote.
` My teacher, Ms. Solomon, was a trip. She said she was a witch who had magical powers and would use them on whoever was bad. Apparently her magical powers consisted of dragging my desk to the corner of the room, where nobody paid any attention to me.
` I went to the principal's office a lot. Sometimes he would threaten me. When my dad threatened me, sometimes I would cry and he would laugh at me because I was crying, and then I would start to laugh, too. Pretty soon, I started laughing every time I got scared.
` Once, the principal, Mr. Leher, made me sit in a chair and I was scared of him. He kept saying, "Look at me!" but my eyes were glued to the ceiling. Involuntarily, I started laughing and drifting away into some other place, and then he slapped me in the face and said, "Do you think this is funny? Are you having a good time?" I didn't know what to do. I was like a deer in a room full of headlights.
Soon after that, I was transferred to Garfield Elementary - coincidentally, so was Mr. Leher! I went to Special Ed for 'problem children' because I was everybody's problem. I was so bad that Mr. Peterson, a volunteer from the Baptist church, would drag me around in a laundry bag, even down the steps.
` Sometimes the principal would assist in dragging me down the steps by my hands and any rug burns I sustained were proclaimed my "choice."
I didn't even know what a choice was. Some "stupid hippie" term, I thought. And so was 'self-esteem'. That was a really bad word, my dad taught me. He said that the way they treated me was "stupid", too, but he never told mom because then she wouldn't let me go to school anymore.
I was about seven at the time. I remember that I went to music class and had to sing. I didn't really like most of the songs. Worst of all was Gospel music, but when I refused to sing words that made my palms sweat, like "God" and "soul", I got an 'X' on the clipboard and privileges were taken away from me.
` I hated most singing "All night, all day, angels watching over me." Were there really angels? I asked one of the teacher's aides on the way back to class one day. She thought there were.
` I looked around the hallway. I was frightened. I knew I was a bad person, and angels were supposed to get rid of bad things, right? I started to become terrified that there was an angel that was going to get me.
` But then who was I supposed to run to for help? I didn't even consider my parents, as they were no help at all. I wasn't sure I believed in the devil either, but I thought that at least I would not be in trouble with him.
` Then, in the classroom, what should I have but large pieces of colored construction paper. I think they were from an art project. So I started drawing angels, on winged horses galloping across rainbows and clouds, dropping bombs on devils. But wait, that was wrong. If angels killed devils, then they would kill me too, and I didn't want that to happen.
Well, what if they were wrong? What if bad was good? Since I was punished constantly for no discernible reason, I thought that maybe 'bad' was just what other people wanted it to be. It sure didn't have anything to do with my actions.
So I was bad, but I thought that I must really be good.
Soon enough, my angels turned to pathetic white laboratory mice, and the devils turned into large, powerful black rats. The mice had puny weapons while the rats were always scurrying underground and blowing them up.
This competition also gave way to Mu-loos and Dragons. The dragons were the ones I wanted to be - sleek, strong, fire-breathing, flying - while the Mu-loos were the ones I didn't want to be, the ones I laughed at.
` They had beaks and ate pine trees and each other's droppings and had horse hooves on the back feet and fingerless nubs for front feet. I came up with six types of Mu-loos, more pathetic than the last, as well as six types of dragons, each one having a different special ability.
Soon, I began turning little notebooks into story books, but used different creatures for these, ones supposed to be villains. I really liked them, but other people acted like it was a huge chore to even look.
` My dad didn't read them either but he said that while my illustrations were good, the dragon-like character representing myself was ugly. I didn't know why. I put a lot of work into drawing her fancy markings and tall hair - she always took the longest!
` I had a certain number of circles I put on her wings, and each segment of her tail had a different pattern in it! But he didn't like it - I remember showing him a drawing of the various characters, with the one supposed to be me on the end.
` He said, "Well, it's okay," and then he folded back the part of the paper with my character on it and said, "Much better!"
` I knew it was a stupid drawing, but something inside of me was hurt. I didn't know what it was.
I spent my last year of grade school, sixth grade, in a place called C-FIT. When I told people where I went to school, they laughed and didn't believe the name.
` I think it stands for Child-Family Intensive Treatment. It was very intense - they did things to make us mad, like watch Sesame Street, and when I would try to run away from being treated like a five-year-old, they would grab me and cross my legs and sit on my back! Pissing the students off was down to a science.
` Unfortunately, nobody ever heard of or believed this type of treatment until after I was gone, whereupon the school was shut down.
` During my internment there, I had a fascination with writing about cats who slunk about in the shadows at night. They had homes but a lot of the time they wandered around, stealing sandwiches and making fun of dogs.
` The cats gradually turned into superheroes with cool gadgets who were a great deal like Batman, though I didn't realize it at the time, but they still made fun of dogs and other animals who I identified as my enemy and were sometimes supposed to represent real people, like the kids who hated me and poured Pepsi on me.
I also drew special pictures of teachers, teachers aides and students in each year of Special Ed. Most of the students were depicted favorably while the others were terrible monsters or absurd creatures. Sometimes, my parents got called because of my drawings.
` At C-FIT, I drew very accurately the faces of the people who were supposed to be watching the twenty or so students who went there, but the rest of their bodies was quite different:
` Mr. Galbraith got to be a giant mushroom (like these scary mushroom people I saw in a cartoon) and Mike Swanson was part swan and part doughnut (because we weren't allowed to say the word 'doughnut') and the principal Anne Vaner was a rock with a bulging vein because she was angry, and Colleen the counselor was a Colleen Chevrolet Used Horse and Allison Rafter was some annoying thing or another that says "don't worry be happy", and Genette was a Flower Face (because flowers were plants' genitals) and Lauri was a Loris and I don't know who else.
` I remember one day, I told Mike and Mr. Galbraith about how I kept asking this woman at the mental hospital I'd just been at if she was videotaping me. She left the room for ten minutes, apparently as a test, so I did some things to prove to myself I was being paranoid, such as pulling my pants down and screaming, "THERE IS NO VIDEO CAMERA!"
` Before I could get to that part, however, they started laughing and said, "We were watching that!" I remember at that moment that they were standing very close to one another, as if they had their arms over each others' shoulders, and their mocking faces seemed to fill up my vision.
` I never talked to them about my problems again.
My constant lack of control in the world had long been manifested in obsessive compulsiveness, which got me in constant trouble. One instance was my set of three pencils that must always stay together because they matched. I was like that with a lot of things.
` Well, I wasn't allowed to have more than one pencil. I would keep them in my bra, but Mike and Mr. G would reach in and take them anyway.
` One pencil was not good enough, though. I kept throwing it because I didn't have the other two pencils and it was driving me insane. Mike grabbed it and put it in his desk. When I asked for it later, he took it out and then acted like he was handing it to me but instead dropped the end of a wooden pencil, the lead and the eraser both chewed out of it, and told me to write with the 'stump'. With no lead, I couldn't write. Then he said, "Well, you should have thought of that earlier."
` There was seriously no lead, though - it had been pulled out. I told Anne Vaner what happened and then tried to get my pencil back, and you know what he did? Took it out of his desk, then dropped the stump hidden in his hand, just like before! And she said, "Wull, Sara, there isn't anything I can do."
` They kept telling me it was my choice and my decision. I had no idea what that was supposed to mean. It reminded me of when my dad would scream at me, "Don't make me kill you!" or "Don't act like I'm going to hit you, because that makes me hit you!"
` Understandably, my pictures of them got more and more detailed. Sometimes, they would be taken away and I'd never see them again.
` I wrote a lot, too. I was also made to write things called 'compositions'. Once I had to write one about why I should be good. I had very little understanding of the subject. I recall writing the words 'I should act happy'. Happy was only a way of acting, after all. By then, I had forgotten what the word 'emotion' meant. All I knew was actions and facial expressions. Feelings did not seem to have a place in the world of emotions.
` One composition I was very proud of. But Mr. G. wouldn't read it because he was mad because he had to beat up another student - at least that's what it sounded like. Instead, he tore it up and threw it in the wastepaper basket. I tried to grab the pieces before my bus left at the end of the day, but Mike and Mr. G wouldn't let me! I cried and cried.
After I apparently failed horribly at school, I was made to stay home all day. But I couldn't believe my parents would just drive to work every day and leave me by myself. I was sure they didn't trust me enough. Instead, I was led to believe that there was a hidden video camera on me, like in the mental hospital.
` During this time, I was lonely, so I talked to what I thought was the camera all day. When my dad did something bad to me, I wrote it down in another little notebook. I wrote about his abuse, my thoughts, my attempts to undermine him, and what I thought of the world. It was a very sad little world, and I had nothing to compare it to.
For six years I wrote. Six long years. For the future. So I could look back on it with a different perspective once I was out.
` I was also writing a novel. It made no sense, I know that now, because I didn't know about how other people's lives were. Just mine. It was about a girl who saved the world.
When I was eighteen, my mom had enough sense to kick him out of the house. Unfortunately, he considered anything that belonged to me to be his. He took it all. All those hundreds of hours of writing. Gone.
I would never be able to see what I wrote. The fruits of my labor. The only thing I had done during those six lonely years. Those six years when I was frightened to see that my culture encourages smiling. Smiling triggered the worst feelings for me. "How can anyone smile?" I thought. "They are sick people."
` And all along, I learned, it was just me. The rest of the world was okay. I was the one who was sick.
Years later, I was starting to recover from the abuse, when something even worse happened. I was tortured and mistakenly thrown in a mental hospital and left to die.
I have written about my dad's abuse and the torture incident online before in great detail, so there is no need for that. I will bring them together with this item at some point.
Years went by. The flashbacks began to fade. Finally, I got ready internet access. I was trying to pull my life together. Finally, I started to write on a blog, specifically because I didn't like myself but couldn't accept that I was worthy of that.
` I just thought of it as a dull exercise to strengthen my writing skills. It was difficult to persuade anyone to ever read my blog, even the guy I called my boyfriend, who treated me like a small child and showed no interest in anything meaningful I had to say.
I wrote about science and various oddments, but I felt ashamed when I felt compelled to write about what had happened to me in the past. That wasn't right for a science blog. I did it anyway, with much guilt.
It was pretty certain that I had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder my whole life and was utterly ignorant of what most people considered 'normal'. Instead, I was treated as if I was stupid and lazy or else was being a sob story and using 'victim leverage'.
` I wasn't given any chances. I didn't know about what I could do. Even so, I felt like my future was grim because I had to marry this guy that I had no interest in anything.
` Whenever I showed curiosity to something new, I was told that it wasn't really interesting or was ridiculed for being a smartass. Whenever I did something Socially Awkward because I had never learned how to be an adult, I was shamed because I supposedly should have known better.
Worst of all, my therapists had all been jackasses and had no interest in talking to me, only reading my file and telling me that I was mentally ill like my father, so the only person I had to talk to about my problems was this guy.
` He told me that if I wanted to hurt myself that I should go right ahead and work through my problems, but if I wanted to get better, I should ignore whenever something triggered a memory and bury it deep inside.
` The whirlwind of memories in my head just spun faster and faster as I clung tighter to him. Then he called me 'needy' and made me feel guilty if I didn't say I loved him.
I was fortunate enough to get away from him, only wearing the special engagement ring from him once or twice, without even first having a physical relationship, and I quickly found my first Real Boyfriend, Lou Ryan, who just got home from playing 'Pinhead Simon' on 'Crypticon Idol'.
` He actually thinks my feelings are important, and my PTSD has since gone away. I learn by his example, but only things that he's better at than me. He doesn't always understand what my problems are, but I am patient with him. Usually.
` Just last April 1, we were going to Johnnie's show at Haley's, and I was telling him my homework strategy and he didn't understand how I was just trying to get my assignments done on time by pushing back other assignments to the days I didn't have anything due, and he kept nagging me about wasting time by cleaning and I wound up screaming at him that cleaning the house a little and making things in order and quieter was not a waste of time because it helped make my brain work better. Finally, he understood my plan and shut up.
I really hate it when people doubt the choices I make. It was only in January of this year (2009) that I finally started to realize that I am justified in wanting to help myself, and am competent enough to follow my instincts, rather than thinking that anything I feel like doing must be 'rationalized' by miles of mental gymnastics. No wonder I never did anything before.
` Now I go to school, and I've had a couple of jobs, too. It wasn't as terrible as I had thought.
It really used to bother me to be myself. Apparently, thinking through my past traumas - and there have been far too many for me to completely handle - was supposed to be bad for me, so I stagnated and closed up, and making myself better was wild, sporadic and painful because I 'knew' it was wrong.
` Now I know better. I know that working my way through the abuse and torture that I have suffered in the past is what I needed.
Still, my home environment is not as good as it could be. Living in a ghetto house is better than the scary ghetto apartment I used to live in. We're even having major victories over our crazy slumlord!
` However, the whole thing with not having a quiet environment for long... each day I have two choices. Use the lulls in the house activity - which are not very predictable - to do homework OR to write my screenplay that has been stagnating in my mind for the longest time.
` It is difficult because I have severe ADD, and earplugs are my only defense. I don't like taking Ritalin because it makes me focus so hard on the TV noise that that's all I know and I'm compelled to come out and watch TV too.
Right now, I have to cease and desist all activity soon because B-Gangsta wants to play the piano and fill the house with really loud piano noise because he won't put on the headphones. It is very loud and stressful and I won't be able to organize all my homework and other projects in my piano room, either, which was what *I* was planning to do instead - and it really needs it.
` I also won't be able to do my homework because of all the loud TV-watching going on in the other end of the house. It drives me nuts. I'm never able to relax when I have to hear it. I wish I had a choice.
So, now all I do is wear earplugs all day and hide in the corner. Ohhhh the TV! It is a huge terror. Lou Ryan still laughs at me because it affects me this way, but I don't know what else to do. I have a million projects that would make us all rich and I just don't have enough time to be ME.
` I need eight hours a day to do homework and do all my other things. Since I understand that working on my own things, like my websites, videos, screenplay, learning a very important language, etc is useless, I sometimes go hang out with other people. That is another way of being 'me', but it does not help me finish all these years of unfinished projects I have piled up in my piano room. Oh yeah, and playing the piano. I haven't done that for a really long time.
Sometimes, I just want to kill myself. Life isn't worth living if you have all these goals and other people won't let you attain them. All I need is an office. A place where I can go to be safe. The closest thing I can do is take a nap in the middle of the day and then be awake when no one else is, except Lou Ryan makes me feel ashamed of that because it's not a smart thing to do.
I tell ya, no matter how many times I escape, I only find myself in a larger cage.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
In my previous writings, I have tended to write about what I have learned without mentioning my own desire to learn and to teach, nor the personal meaning I derive from it. This, I believe, is a mistake:
` Rather than just reporting the straight dope (as well as I can), showing people how it affects me as a person would most likely help others understand the reasons why I work to get these ideas across.
Such a personal journey may seem like a startling approach until one realizes that brilliant minds like Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan had been quite successful using similar methods. There's just something about learning from another human being who is in awe of the universe and our ability to learn about it that makes others want to be in awe as well.
And that is where I'll begin.
Monday, March 23, 2009
` In my dialogues (triologues?), I shall address all the insanity involved therein.
Even though this is my week in between quarters, don't count on it getting done any faster than other things I have going. Some of them being blog posts.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
As a consolation of not having any current material, please enjoy decoding this essay by Robert Hutchins, which I have added some formatting to for those of us, like myself, who have difficulty reading large blocks of text.
` But first, an appropriate quote, lifted from Jon Stewart's America (The Book):
"It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not the few."
-- Pericles"Yes, Pericles, but have you gotten a load of the many?"
Also, I feel I should make sure everyone knows the definition of 'liberal education', as it's important in the essay.
` Instead of a specialized education, it is, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities; "a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement ... characterized by challenging encounters with important issues, and more a way of studying than a specific course or field of study...."
Without further ado, here it is:
The Idea of a College
Robert M. Hutchins
Robert M. Hutchins (1899-1977) was President of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1945 and Chancellor from 1945 to 1951. This essay originally appeared in Measure 1 (Fall 1950): 363-371. Reprinted in Engaging the Humanities at the University of Chicago, ed. Philippe Desan (University of Chicago Press, 1995).
I should like to try to make clear what I mean by a college and a college education. This I shall have to do chiefly by saying what I do not mean. Educational discussion in this country, like the discussion of everything else, is based on headlines.
` Hence it is possible for an educator who says he favors the abolition of football to be accused of being against health; if he says that the aim of a college is intellectual, the rumor will spread that he is against morals; if he says that he is against making the college either a vocational school or a place where the young are adjusted to their environment, he is charged with indifference to the fate of countless millions who have to make their own way in the world; if he says that he is for liberal education, the conclusion is that he is undemocratic.
` Yet a moment's reflection will show that none of the consequences assumed to follow from these positions actually does follow from them.
For example, big-time, industrial football, the symbol of the noneducational aspects of educational institutions, confuses the public mind about what education is and contains elements of injustice, hypocrisy, and fraud that run counter to the high ideals that our educational institutions profess.
` It is perfectly possible to be against football of this type and to be for health and exercise. As for me, I am for exercise, as long as I do not have to take any myself.
It is not the object of a college to make its students good, because the college cannot do it; if it tries to do it, it will fail; it will weaken the agencies that should be discharging this responsibility; and it will not discharge its own responsibility. It is possible to say this and still be for goodness.
` A college can make a highly important contribution to goodness by supplying the intellectual foundations of morality in an atmosphere conducive to the maintenance of good habits. But the family and the church have the main burden of inculcating and developing these habits. I may say in passing that I am for the family and the church.
A college should not aim to teach its students vocations, because going through vocational routines is too easy and lulls the conscience of a faculty that does not want to face the enormously difficult task of educating the young; because an educational institution cannot do a good job of vocational training; because the shifts in technology and the migration of workers may make vocational training at one time in one place useless at another time in another place; because jobs are easier and easier to do and require less and less training of any kind; and because the great problems of our time are the right use of leisure, the performance of the duties of citizenship, and the establishment of a community in this country and the world, to none of which vocational training makes the slightest contribution.
I shall never tire of telling the story of that Dean of Christchurch at Oxford who was asked by a student what was the use of studying Greek. The Dean replied, "It is not only the immediate language of the Holy Ghost, but it leads to positions of great dignity and emolument."
` The study of Greek now leads only to positions in the teaching of Greek, which, though of great dignity, are not of great emolument. [That is, payoff.] It was a mistake to seek to justify Greek on the ground of its vocational value, for that has now disappeared. And in a world of rapid change the same fate may at any moment overtake any subject that is taught because of the emoluments achieved by those who have studied it in the past.
` It is possible to say this and at the same time feel concern for the economic future of college graduates. The question is not whether it is necessary to learn how to earn a living, but where it is desirable to learn it. In general the way to learn how to do anything is to do it; and industry is the place in which the young should learn how to work in industry.
A college should not seek to adjust its students to their environment, because it cannot tell what their environment will be. It cannot predict where they will live, or what social, economic, or political conditions will prevail when they have reached maturity.
` The world is now changing so fast that current information has little value because it will not remain current. What the father knows of the facts of life is almost useless to his son. If the present demand for instruction in current events succeeds, it can lead only to one result: it will fill the students with miscellaneous dead facts. The college that wishes to adjust its students to the environment is likely to teach facts miscellaneous in the highest degree, for adjustment to the environment may mean anything, from how and when to dress for dinner to how and when to vote for president.
And certainly our object must be not merely to prepare our students for any possible environment, but also to induce and prepare them to try to get a better one.
` To do this they must chiefly have some standards of judgment, some idea of good and bad. If it is charged that the effort to prepare students to bring about a better environment will lead to a crop of maladjusted, neurotic youths, I reply that Socrates and Gandhi are worthy ideals for the rising generation, and that I have little fear that America will ever produce too many men of this type.
` The charge is in any case absurd, because I am urging nothing more than what is inherent in any democratic system, namely, that by the exercise of the intelligence of the population the community should struggle forward toward a better world.
` To struggle forward to a better world you have to know what kind of world would be better.
It is possible to say all this without being a reactionary, or a medievalist, or a theorist. In fact, if he will only think, the contemporary, practical, democrat will see that he cannot say anything else.
` The power we want our graduates to have is power in and over the unpredictable future. The power the college is best equipped to help them gain is intellectual power. It is the power of understanding and judgment.
The object of an educational system is to supply this power. It may, perhaps, do many other things that are interesting and useful; but it fails to the extent to which it fails to supply this power. Its contribution to the moral, physical, and spiritual natures of its students and to their "success" in the world is made by way of this power.
` No other agency in the community has the responsibility of supplying the intellectual power that the community requires. If the educational system does not discharge this responsibility, it will not be discharged.
In a democratic community every citizen should have as much power of understanding and judgment as he can develop, because every citizen has a voice in the management of the community.
` The progress, and even the safety, of a democratic community depends in part upon the intelligence of the citizens, and by this we cannot mean the intelligence of some citizens, but the combined intelligence of all. For this reason democrats since the earliest times have advocated universal free compulsory education.
In the last fifty years a remarkable reversal has taken place among democrats. They are still for universal free compulsory schooling. They seem to feel that it would be undemocratic not to be. At the same time the demands of labor unions and the ambitions of parents have raised the school-leaving age to heights undreamed of by our democratic ancestors.
` As the President's Commission on Higher Education and the GI Bill of Rights suggest, the policy of this country is to the effect that schooling is a good thing, that being in school is better for everybody than being anywhere else, and that the more schooling everybody has the better everything will be. But the hordes of students let loose upon the educational system by reason of this policy, the difficulty of obtaining competent teachers to staff so vast an enterprise, and the great differences in the ability of pupils to get an education in any definition of it that our democratic ancestors would recognize have led some of the most vocal advocates of democracy to propose, in the name of democracy, the most undemocratic educational ideas.
For example, in the report of the President's Commission on Higher Education, presented by men who have the deepest democratic convictions, we are urged in the name of democracy upon a course that divides the population into the mass and the elite.
` The mass, we are told, since they are not really capable of being educated, should not be allowed to clutter up existing educational institutions, because they are not bright enough. Two-year community colleges will be established for them. They should go to these colleges because everybody should go to school as long as possible. But they should not be educated, because they are not capable of it.
` The two-year community college is therefore a kind of waiting room, or housing project, in which the young are to be kept out of worse places until we are ready to have them go to work.
Perhaps we need waiting rooms or housing projects for the young. Perhaps we need the mass equivalent of those girls' finishing schools of the last century in which young ladies were accommodated with genteel occupations in that difficult period between the time at which they reached physical maturity and the time at which they could get married. But it would be helpful if things were called by their right names.
` To call a waiting room or a housing project a college or an educational institution is to cheat the student and his parents and to confuse the public still further about what a college, or an educational institution, or an education is.
The doctrine that educational opportunity should be open to all is the great American contribution to the theory and practice of education. But you will notice that the opportunity that should be open to all is educational opportunity, not the opportunity to spend two years doing anything that occurs to you in a place erroneously denominated a college.
` The advocates of the two-year community college either keep silent altogether about what its curriculum is to be or say that it is to be whatever the students would like to have it. This is based on the hypothesis, which I regard as wholly undemocratic, that these students cannot be educated, and therefore they might as well do anything they care to.
` It is assumed that their interests will be largely vocational and recreational. Hence those offerings of American universities which we have hitherto regarded as somewhat eccentric, offerings in tap dancing, embalming, cosmetology, and janitoring, would become the normal course of study in the community college.
Meanwhile it is supposed that those colleges and universities which now exist, freed of the burden of struggling with the vulgar mass, will go on educating the elite. It is suggested that the preexisting colleges and universities will assist the community colleges by supplying them with teachers and administrators.
` This is of course fallacious, since the preexisting colleges and universities are not prepared, and apparently do not intend to prepare, to turn out teachers of tap dancing, embalming, cosmetology, and janitoring.
The choice before us is clear: either we should abandon universal suffrage or we should give every citizen the education that is appropriate to free men.
` We cannot say that we are for democracy and at the same time protest the impossibility of preparing all the citizens to take their part in a democracy. In a democracy the people rule and are ruled in turn for the good life of the whole community.
` If democracy is to work, every citizen must have the education that rulers ought to have. If we do not know how to give every citizen this kind of education, we shall have to find out.
Liberal education is the education appropriate to free men. Since it originated at a time when only the few were rulers, it was originally an aristocratic education. Hence the deeply convinced democrats who wrote the report of the President's Commission assume that you cannot be a democrat and be for liberal education.
` They most undemocratically assume that the mass of the people are incapable of achieving a liberal education—but they have no evidence for this, because the mass of the people have never had an opportunity to achieve it. It is true that, as large numbers have come into the American educational system, education has deteriorated and liberal education has almost vanished. But this is the result of the indolence and inattention of educators rather than the ignorance and incapacity of students.
` To teach a boy who does not care about being educated how to read, write, figure, and understand the ideas that have animated mankind is hard; it is far easier to forget that he is going to be a citizen and set him to learning, or to think he is learning, a trade.
We must applaud the notion of education for all; but we must deny that this ideal is achieved by having everybody in school. Everything turns on what is done there. To the extent to which the pupil is acquiring the power of understanding and judgment, to that extent he is being educated.
` It is impossible that too many people can be educated in this sense. We hear a great deal today about the dangers that will come upon us through the frustration of educated people who have got educated in the expectation that education will get them a better job, and who then fail to get it. But surely this depends on the representations that are made to the young about what education is.
` If we allow them to believe that education will get them better jobs and encourage them to get educated with this end in view, they are entitled to a sense of frustration if, when they have got the education, they do not get the jobs. But, if we say that they should be educated in order to be citizens, and that everybody, whether he is a ditch-digger or a bank president, should have this education because he is a citizen, then the ditch-digger may still feel frustrated, but not because of his education.
Nor is it possible for a person to have too much liberal education, because it is impossible to have too much understanding and judgment. But it is impossible to learn to understand and judge many important kinds of things in youth.
` The judgment and understanding of practical affairs can amount to little in the absence of experience with practical affairs. This indicates the limitations of formal, institutional, liberal education in youth. It indicates, in short, the limitations of a college. Subjects that cannot be understood without experience should not be taught to those who are without experience.
` Or, if these subjects are taught to those who are without experience, it should be clear that these subjects can be taught only by way of introduction and that their value to the student depends on his continuing to study them as he acquires experience. Such subjects as economics, ethics, politics, history, and literature may be studied by young people, but they cannot be comprehended by them.
` Young people may enjoy them, and they may get something from them, particularly from literature and history; but they cannot understand them, because the full lessons of these disciplines can be grasped only in maturity.
` The tragedy in this country is that these subjects are studied in youth and never studied again. Therefore, our college graduates never understand them. Yet these are the subjects which in the present crisis the democratic citizen most urgently needs to understand.
The basic error is that of supposing that a college can give its students all the education they will ever need—that when they receive their degrees they are educated men and women and can stop worrying about getting educated.
` The effect of this on the college curriculum is to jam it with all kinds of courses representing the assumed needs of adults, without regard to whether or not a young person can comprehend them. A course in business, for example, is useless to a boy or girl who has never been in business. In the American tradition a businessman would never think of taking such a course; yet only to a businessman can such a course have value.
We are concerned here with the college and not with the education of adults; but we see that there is the most intimate relationship between the two. In fact the idea of a college depends upon our understanding this relationship.
` If we say that education is a process that is to go on chiefly or exclusively in youth, then we are likely to say that the object of the college is, as the cant phrase has it, to prepare for life. If we say that education is a process that must go on through life, then the object of the college is to give the student those habits, ideas, and techniques which he needs to continue to educate himself.
` Then the object of the college is to prepare the student for more education. In view of the impossibility of understanding the most important subjects in youth, the attempt to do more than initiate the educational process in youth is bound to fail in the most important respects.
I have said that the great problems of our time are the right use of leisure, the performance of the duties of citizenship, and the establishment of a community in this country and the world.
` The idea of a college that I have attempted to outline solves the problem of the use of our leisure by proposing that it should be used for the continuation of education in adult life. The idea of a college that I have outlined tries to solve the problem of the duties of citizenship by proposing that the college help its students to develop the intellectual powers of understanding and judgment in so far as it is possible to develop them in youth.
` I must now say a final word about the contribution of the college to the establishment of a community in this country and the world.
The college should have a common curriculum, prescribed for all the students. The common prescribed curriculum is at least a partial answer to those who say that a large fraction of the population cannot achieve a liberal education and must be relegated, for this reason, to vocational training.
` The elective system deprives the student of one of the greatest contributions that could be made to his education, namely, the contribution of his fellow students. Under a common prescribed course of study the education of the student proceeds through discussion with his fellow students throughout his waking hours; under the elective system it goes on only when he is in class, for it is an accident if he finds another student who is following the same program with whom he can discuss it.
` The disintegration of the course of study under the elective system, popularly called the "enrichment" of the curriculum, has impoverished the colleges by depriving them of any common intellectual life. Extra-curriculum activities have achieved their exaggerated importance partly because the students have only these activities in common.
` So an undergraduate of a great university wrote to the student newspaper not long ago and complained that the curriculum of the University had now reached such richness that one student could not talk to another unless they both happened to remember the score of last Saturday's game.
The accomplishments of college students under a common prescribed course of study are amazing to those accustomed to the listless performance that is the normal reaction of the young to the dreary fragments of the elective system.
` The multiplication of the power of the student is such that those who have seen it are entitled to say that it is possible to give the whole population a liberal education.
We cannot hope to build a community, collegiate, national, or international, without understanding. Of course we may not have a community even if we do have understanding, for men may determine to shoot one another even if they do understand one another.
` We cannot hope for agreement on all the important issues of life. We must have faith, however, that understanding will minimize the areas of disagreement and moderate the passions of those who disagree. A common training that leads to a common understanding would appear to be the most promising foundation of a community of any kind. Hence our democratic ancestors established the common schools.
The advance of specialization in the last seventy-five years has brought with it great gains and great losses. The gains are more Spectacular, but the losses are more important. The gains have come chiefly in our power over nature. The losses have come in our power to control ourselves and understand one another.
` Unfortunately we have recently discovered that we cannot be trusted to use our power over nature wisely unless we can control ourselves and understand one another. Specialized education has now reduced us all to the level of students who cannot talk together unless they both happen to remember the score of last Saturday's game.
` The human community has been split in a billion fragments, which the cults of nationalism, racism, or regionalism are constantly reforming into more and more dangerous combinations.
The responsibilities of the United States are heavier than they have ever been. No one would claim that they are being discharged. The misery and anguish of the world are intensified by that overhanging fear which the United States was the first to let loose upon the earth.
` There are no simple-minded solutions—the most simple-minded and the most irresponsible is that to which we seem committed, namely, that overwhelming force is the answer to every question. Military power is important if it enables you to do something to somebody else that he cannot do to you at about the same time to about the same extent.
` The day of military power ended when the Russians exploded their first atomic bomb; for then it became impossible for us to exert such power without suffering irreparable damage ourselves.
Now at last we shall have to think. Now, if we have the power of understanding and judgment, we shall have to show it. Now we must have intelligent citizens who know how to rule and be ruled in turn for the good life of the whole community.
` Now we must apply ourselves to the task of creating a community in this country and then throughout the world. The education that will help us toward these ends is liberal education, the education of free men. This education is the task of the college.
I must say that this essay has put word to many thoughts that I have had, chiefly that we all need to learn how to think, and how to keep learning, for our own sake. However, though I knew it to be true, I didn't much ponder the fact that when everyone tends to do this, we can work together better.
` After all, I have a tendency to be paranoid about group homogeneity; if everyone got a similar education, then everyone would learn to think more similarly. But then, I think of the unity; there would be fewer prejudices against 'elite intellectuals' or 'uneducated people' because such a distinction would not be so widespread.
` Perhaps, after long enough, there would be no real distinction between academic 'classes' and we would wind up with some sort of 'intellectual communism' where everyone, being given a lot of the same education, would be on more the same wavelength, resulting in more free sharing and equal distribution of ideas.
` And, perhaps, I should work on my metaphors....
I also feel intimidated by those who frame the value of college in purely financial terms, having read far too many articles like this one, not to mention snippets of public opinion. After reading Hutchins' essay, I understand now that this is a fallacious viewpoint to begin with.
` In fact, when I began college, I had no such illusions; the plain and simple fact being that I was very smart and very uneducated and craved knowledge and discipline and perspective so that I could understand myself and the world around me, and only then could I figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
` I tell you, it's worked. A little science, a little art, a little math, although I failed English. I know, right? Me? Fail English? That's unpossible! In fact, the experiences gained in college have really helped me to believe in myself and to write my screenplay and, yes, figure out how I'm going to tackle the Corrigendopedia! And no, I haven't even taken the relevant classes for that sort of thing.
Anyway, I figured out that science is too tedious for a person such as myself, and while the scientific method is invaluable to me, I would rather use it in my own ways rather than actually pursue a science career, as I now understand that I'm an artist and can be no other thing.
` I used to think that I didn't need to be an artist, and that artists don't usually make money and wind up turning into pompous jackasses. In fact, I consider art to be freedom.
` I also consider science and art to be very similar, and I'll tell you why: Art is a creation that is meant to be experienced by critics and can only be judged in comparison with other art and human experiences.
` A scientific idea is a creation meant to be reasoned about by critics, and this reasoning is possible because we can systematically compare it to past discoveries and predict future discoveries, thus determining its relative objectivity.
` Both a work of art or a scientific explanation require creativity, but one is selected for its impact upon the viewer while the other is selected for whether or not it works in real life.
It is late and Lou Ryan has just called me, from the bedroom, to come to bed because I have work to do in the morning. So, I'd better go. Until next time....
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
` Anyway, yes, things have been busy and lacking in internet access since I have to contend with other people for access to my office and the internet, and the only thing I'm allowed to do anymore is homework, which is the only thing I have to put on my blogs.
Well, I think there needs to be some sort of content. Also, it's a creative way to display this to my other team member just so that we have a hope of getting a presentation finished by tomorrow.
So, here's my part in answering the question; "Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?"
Wait, I've removed this homework assignment. I'm going to put parts of it in other posts, because it doesn't stand on its own... just like everything else I post here, right?
Friday, February 20, 2009
And they aren't out of control.
But, I shall also need to create characters to carry out these dialogues. This has been my main obstacle. I suppose once I start writing, they'll come naturally.
For now, I'll call them 'Why' and 'Why not?'
Later on, you'll see my creations in the flesh... by some means, so they are a little bit more than talking heads.
Oh, and I also have one other major obstacle... the subject matter, since each time I pick a topic that is most interesting to me, I tend to feel that it is too silly/controversial/trivial/getting off on the wrong foot.
` The truth is, I just need to get over it already and write something, or I never will start!
Since I JUST HAPPEN to have been at a presentation about gay marriage today, thanks to political science instructor Stephen Horn, I should just start there instead of waffling and stalling because, I mean... Why start there?
Well, WHY NOT?!?!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Is that totally out of control or not? I'd say not, since I've seen it done before and it looked perfectly controlled to me. But can I handle it?
` Let's hope so, or I have a huge mess in the future.
Wish me luck.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
` Since last week, however, I've been working hard to figure myself and everything else out, and I've processed an amazing amount of information, which I shall be posting on another blog.
It was only yesterday that I was reading the article about the importance of imaginative play in the most recent Scientific American Mind, and I realized...
THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN MISSING ALL MY LIFE!
I'll explain later.
The Introspective Mad Scientist,
Monday, January 19, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
` Unless it was meant to be a feeder fish, which it was in this case. That is, until the cichlid realized it couldn't swallow it whole.
` That is why, this morning, I woke up to the sounds of Lou Ryan and B-Gangsta trying to flush the poor monstrosity's mangled remains down the toilet.
They got stuck halfway.
Well, this is a great excuse to work on making one of the other two bathrooms in the house usable!
Just thought that might be of some amusement to you all. Now, down to business: In the Corrigendopedia, my main format will be two columns, rather than one.
The left-hand column will have a general, brief overview of a broader topic, while the right-hand column will have more details, including links to specific examples of the same topic.
In other words, it's very non-linear and, by displaying all manner of things, is intended to prompt the reader to ask questions and gain curiosity.
Now, these notes are extremely incomplete and contain no references, precisely because I've heard all of this information from many reputable sources and don't precisely remember where it is I've heard all this from.
` References will be added as I go over the material I got it all from, but that comes later on as I double-check, triple-check and fill in the details of the notes, turning them finally into a proper article.
Does this make sense to you?
The first notes I just happen to have decided to start with are about Evidence-Based Medicine versus Non-Evidence-Based Medicine. The point of this exercise is for me to physically type in all this stuff, in a linear fashion, and show any folks watching out there that I am indeed working on the Corrigendopedia.
` I figure, if I keep doing this every four days, I'll have it 'filled in' by no time.
No wonder I've had so much trouble starting this website - this is the most backwards method possible! Read this and see if you don't agree:
Non-Evidence-Based Medicine (left column)
Is the preferred term for Alternative or Complementary Medicine. Let's compare the definitions of Evidence-Based Medicineand Non-Evidence-Based Medicine. ...
For short I'll call them EBM, and Non-EBM.
Sometimes, Non-EBM is recommended alongside EBM. To paraphrase snarky skepchick Rebecca Watson, "First, bathe in crystals, then have the tumor removed. It works!"
What are some differences?
Why call it Non-Evidence-Based Medicine? The only conclusive studies in 'alternative' medicine are conclusively negative.
` There is at least some degree of certainty in Evidence-Based Medicine.
Biomedical research is extremely expensive and time-consuming, and doing this on the free market results in a lose-lose situation.
` First of all, on the free market, Non-EBM products are attached to health claims before any research is done.
` If they were to do actual research, the manufacturer must provide its own millions or even billions in research money, and if the product is found to be unsafe or not able to meet the company's claims, then they risk a possible decrease in sales, thus sabotaging themselves.
` On the other hand, if the research does happen to show that your product really does work, it won't help your sales because you've already said that it works before even bothering to see if it really works or not!
` Since just saying that something works is what people respond to the most, sales probably will not increase and you've just wasted millions of dollars of your own money.
` This is why free-market companies would rather spend their millions of advertising - that's the only sure way to improve sales.
Offshoot: Herbal Supplements
What is a drug? It is a substance that affects the body in a way other than providing nutrients. In other words, it does something to you other than what food does (of course, some foods contain drugs, such as coffee beans).
Herbs are taken for their pharmacological effects, which therefore makes them drugs. In America, these drugs do not need to be proven effective, or even safe, because they are labeled as 'dietary supplements'.
` Thanks to the Dietary Supplement Education Act, herbs are not allowed to be labeled with claims that they can cure any disease, only that they 'may improve' bodily functioning. A quick perusal through an aisle full of such 'supplements' will reveal a multitude of examples.
Drugs take massive amounts of time and money to establish because they must be regulated.
If mainstream medicine were not regulated, it would be like... alternative medicine! The free market would explode with unproven pharmaceuticals!
` There is very little chance that untested drugs are safe or effective; regulation is what ensures that drugs on the market are probably both safe and effective.
` However, consumers don't usually choose their supplements after carefully reviewing the literature, they choose based on what they perceive as quality. Personal evidence is not acceptable in medicine because there are always people who swear by products that 'work' even though this is highly unlikely for a variety of reasons.
` Scientists know how much individual situations differ, and they see how what seems to work for one person can easily not work for others. If they can't find something that has consistent effects for more than just one person, then there isn't much point in pretending that it does.
It's your health on the line. Would you trust someone who does not think basic medical standards are very important? A consumer typically has no tools to test out whether a product works. They mostly go by what the ads claim to sell, or by what they are told.
` Interestingly, many quacks do believe in what they're doing, even some who have medical training.
Testing methods (Detail?)
Pilot studies are tiny and usually have no placebo group. The point of them is to see whether or not it's even safe to have studies with more people, over a longer time, with a higher dose of the drug.
` In other words, pilot studies are not designed to determine the effectiveness of the drug, only the safety of it as tested on a small handful of people.
` Because the placebo effect is not measured, every drug will seem to show somewhat positive results, whether or not it later turns out to be effective. On top of that, negative studies tend to be published less often.
` In Phase II trials, there is enough exposure to the drug, and a placebo group so that the outcomes with the real drug can be compared with the positive effects from a fake drug.
` It isn't until Phase III trials that one can gain definitive evidence: That is, it's a prospective study, which means that experiment is designed before the data is collected. In Phase III trials, controls like double-blinding are the norm.
` Though Phase III gives the least promising results, they show what's passed all the tests and what doesn't measure up. Echinacea, Gingko, St John's Wort, etc, have all failed.
` If an effect is determined after two or three Phase III trials, and side-effects are relatively mild, then the drug is taken to Phase IV trials, which are the facilitation of common use.
` This process takes about a decade and many millions of dollars.
Supplements, magnets and the like do not need to be regulated, so marketers can use pilot studies, which, remember, are relatively cheap but worthless for determining the effectiveness of a drug, to claim that they've been scientifically tested with positive results.
` Another method is to refer to studies that show positive results for something completely irrelevant and pretend as though they support what the marketer is selling.
The people at drug companies, however, do not have this liberty.
Pilot studies of echinacea affecting affecting the natural course of the common cold were aggressively marketed at the public as if they were significant.
` By the time echinacea got to Phase III trials, no effect was found, though the marketing effects have lived on. In other words, enough people were told, and believed, that it worked, earlier on, and that's all that was needed to get a market going.
When Phase III trials are done on 'alternative' products and are shown not to work, it generally has no effect on the market because commerce is separate from scientific research. No change has been found in sales of Echinacea, Gingko, St John's Wort, etc. when they were shown not to live up to the manufacturers' claims.
` Selling products is all about marketing and advertising. Even Consumer Report, a skeptical publication, does not sway the established customer base.
Some say, "We know it works because people have used these herbs for thousands of years."
` The truth is that most of them are simply new gimmicks for a changing market.
` Even so, a thousand years ago, people had a 50-50 shot at surviving to 18 years of age, and had an average lifespan of 35. Why would anyone believe that they had superior medical knowledge?
Interestingly, many pharmaceutical companies sell herbal supplements because they do not require millions of dollars in scientific research and possible rejection. Instead, the herbs are ready to sell, no impediments.
` The fact that some drugs, like Vioxx, have been found to be dangerous is a good example of how science corrects itself. If some herb made people more likely to have heart attacks, we would have no way of knowing because they would probably never be scrutinized.
Scientists know full well just how much people can fool themselves into thinking that treatments work, via a placebo effect, and that's what science is for.
` Well-designed trials are meant to eliminate one's expectations. That is why scientists routinely find things that surprise them.
Scientific viability is not required when it comes to patents or licenses for 'Alternative' medicine. Take the wide world of 19th century 'Patent Medicine'. ...
` In other words, your invention doesn't have to work - a patent is merely evidence that you came up with a unique idea that no one else has.
Non-EBM practitioners don't have to pass any kind of inspection of qualifications to have a state-issued license. Like psychics, they merely have to decide for themselves what they think makes them qualified, no objective tests administered.
In evidence-based medicine, you can get in trouble for giving substandard care. Non-EBM takes care of this problem by not having any standards to begin with.
` If you're administering some type of treatment that's not even based on scientific research, you can protect yourself from malpractice suits by labeling it 'alternative medicine'.
` Unlike a doctor, your patients are not protected if you behave irresponsibly, even if it's intentional.
How was Vioxx discovered to be dangerous? Scientific scrutiny and research! Since 'alternative' medicine isn't part of the medical community, there is no one there to screen for things that are harmful or don't work.
Examples of Non-EBMs (Offshoot)
Sam Chuchua claims to cure cancer, as do Hulda Clarke and (Adolph?) Brazinski. Each of them has a different explanation for how cancer works - Clark claims it's because of bodily pollutants while another says it has to do with a certain protein, and the other says the key is nutrition. Yet, despite these contradictions, they support one another.
` Why? If they criticized one another's claims, they'd encourage other people to shoot down the others claims with scientific research, and they don't want potential followers looking into that.
Since stem cells have been all the buzz, some Non-EBM practicioners like to profess that they're into that.
` Dr. Hwang implants olfactory stem cells into patients with ALS, MS, spinal cord injuries, etc. He says the reason he's done zero research is because he's too busy healing people.
` So, some neurosurgeons found the time to study his technique and found no benefit, as well as a side-effect rate of 80%, meningitis among them.
Toxins, of course, are routinely used as medicine. For example, scientific studies show that Botulinum toxin actually works in treatment of nervous disorders.
` Dr. Coley discovered tumor necrosis factor, which our body produces when we are infected with bacteria. It's been shown to kill only part of tumors, and can kill other tissues, so it's potentially dangerous and doesn't work well enough to meet modern medical standards.
` However, some people sell products purported to contain 'Coley's Toxins'. The good news is that they don't.
According to one survey, 1/3 of women taking herbal supplements for menopause don't tell their doctors, and 2/3 also say these supplements work.
` It may be telling that 70% of former users say that it did not help them.
Laetrile is naturally found in crops like maize and cassava. When cows eat too much laetrile, they stagger and fall down, showing symptoms similar to 'mad cow' disease (bovine spongiform encephalitis).
` Laetrile contains very well-known poisons like cyanide, and the only clinical effects known are toxic rather than beneficial.
Many Non-EBM practitioners diagnose their patients with cancer, without first having any medical evidence of cancer, and then administer a treatment that costs the patients money.
` Since the patient almost certainly has no cancer to begin with, they are grateful to find that they still don't have cancer by the end of treatment.
Many people who are utterly immersed in Non-Evidence-Based Medicine and/or conspiracy theories have told me that the people working for 'Big Pharma' have a cure for cancer but won't share it.
` My answer is: A cure for cancer would tell us a lot about the nature of cancer itself, because for all those medical researchers know, different types of cancers have different causes, and currently cannot all be treated in the same way.
` If any research hinted at a cure-all for cancer, various pharmaceutical companies would be in a race for the sloagan; 'First to Cure Cancer'. Such a title would amount to the winning company's financial security for the next hundred years.
Upon hearing that, most of these people say; "That's total bullshit!" Then, they usually say one of three things;
1.) "If they did that, people would stop getting sick and the company would stop making money."
And I say to that; "If that was so, then why did pharmaceutical companies bother to completely wipe out other diseases (at least in industrialized nations) such as smallpox or polio, which used to kill and disable people on a regular basis?
` Besides, I would think that saving people's lives is more effective at keeping a patient base than letting them all die, since they may later on need other drugs from your company.
2.) "Their cancer cure patent would only last twenty years, and after that, they wouldn't be able to make any more money off it."
And I say; "If your company actually cured cancer, it wouldn't ever lose its recognition. As I've mentioned, it's the ultimate advertising campaign."
3.) "The cures from cancer can be found in our backyards, and they can't make money off that."
And I say, "Au contraire! Some pharmaceutical companies also make money off of selling herbs that you can grow yourself. Why? They don't require all that complicated and expensive scientific testing.
` The truth is, most people would rather buy their herbs than grow them, just as most people buy fruits and vegetables (or even cannabis!) at the store even though they can grow their own."
Besides, if they really did have a cure, then why do pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars a year on cancer research?
Also, why would researchers and physicians alike let their own friends, spouses and children die of cancer?
` Of course I've gotten responses like, "Those doctors very well-educated, they just don't realize they're not being taught the right things." ...
Most articles about the safety of microwave ovens are sober and scientific. According to them, the radiation levels of microwave ovens are far below the recognized 'safe' levels. If you stand a foot away from a microwave oven, there's virtually no radiation because the levels fall off at, well, the rate at which microwave radiation falls off. Which is fast.
` Still, it's not safe to stand too close to the microwave and look in, because that can give you cataracts.
` On the other hand, there are some really incoherent articles that claim microwave ovens kill people. It is important to note that these are usually written by naturopaths and the like.
People have always asked; "How does disease come about?" Before things like harmful bacteria were discovered, there were many ideas. Some had to do with an irregular flow of life-giving energy.
` One such idea was that a life force from God comes down through the top of our heads and through our nerves, keeping us healthy. When the nerves are crooked, we get sick.
` That idea was called 'chiropractic', though only about 30% of today's chircopractors still make these claims.
It is interesting to note that people with severed nerves do not have diseases aplenty - their organs would be getting no 'life force', so why are they still healthy?
` Also, the neurological symptoms of a pinched nerve are not usually present when a chiropractor makes this diagnosis.
While some chiropractors do have some medical education, they are not required to have basic medical knowledge to get their doctorate, and don't even need to pass any kind of test.
Most of what chiropractors do has nothing to do with disease, but rather it's about manipulating one's spine to relieve back pain. It's about as good as physical therapy and other EBM treatments.
` However, neck manipulation can tear arteries and increases the risk of stroke by five times. If neck manipulation were a drug, it would not survive FDA inspections because it is too much of a health hazard.
In Hahneman's time, medical doctors relied on the four humors, which later evolved into the 'hot' and 'cold' energy in modern Non-EBM practices. Methods of treatment based on this view involved experimenting with bloodletting and having patients ingest toxic minerals, treatments which did kill some of them.
` The best treatment a patient could get was to stay out of a hospital, and since homeopathy did not hurt patients, they had a better chance of surviving their illnesses. Apparently, Hahneman saved lives by keeping them away from doctors.
` In a very real way, by not killing people, homeopathy was superior to 19th century medicine!
Proving a substance generally involves telling people what to expect, so it's no surprise that they can develop matching symptoms. ...
As James Randi has quipped; "The First Law is that you take something that gives you symptoms; the Second Law is that you don't."
In modern times, Dr. Strauss rigorously tests homeopathy, using up lots of money despite the fact that he hasn't found anything yet.
I hope this jumble of assorted notes was not as exhausting to read as it was for me to type! Now, to put everything into its own place and, well, continue on with assemblage!