Intelligence Could Not Be More Artificial – Screen Addiction Steals Our Reality

Our pre-American forbears led lives of subsistence; work all day, every day for enough food to survive; prepare and eat the food; collapse into sleep; awake to the same exhausting challenges.  This work ethic and focus are a major part of what colonists brought to the New World, driven by the chance to own the land they work, hunt and fish the wilds about them, and live free of the crushing burdens of near-slavery as serfs, peasants, and servants.  They could not dream of a time that was not filled with all the efforts of pulling and putting together the pieces of life’s necessities.

Just meeting today’s needs was never enough. They could not afford to face the seasons unprepared. They had to be alert, to anticipate, prepare, learn, and plan for the cycles and dangers of nature; they had to be ready for the seasons, timing, preparing, sowing, harvesting, preserving, and storing of food: crops, fish, game, fruits; cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood, clothing, tools, weapons; sickness, injury, childbirth; shelter, stewardship of farm animals, and on, and on.

Except for a few times, when nature did not allow work, people, including children, worked, ate, and slept.  Church was a mandatory break for the work-cycle.  Not only did weekly Sunday services provide “leisure” time for peaceful, renewing, and moral guidance, but it also allowed for physical regeneration through rest; it fostered hygiene and discipline; it fostered family and community “leisure” and play.

This kind of all-absorbing farm life continued for most Americans until technology began its ascent.  Within a dozen decades, we expanded, invented, and produced, new tools, factories, mines, roads, bridges, harbors, waterways, and railroads.  Farmers and ranchers produced enough food to allow them to sell it to non-farmers, who earned the money in towns and cities.

“Money-crops” such as cotton, tobacco, wool, hides, and furs, fed the textile mills, the leather tanneries, and tobacconists; cash was used for things the farmer could not produce easily, such as cloth, dye, needles, pins, shoes, glass, pots, pans, jars, jugs, clocks, medicines, spices, firearms, gunpowder, swords, axes, shovels, scythes, harnesses, chains, hinges, nails, buttons, buckles, candles, lamps, and things we needed then that we no longer remember.

Non-farm work had start and stop times.  Workers arrived at a certain time, worked and ate at certain times, and left at certain times.  That meant the rest of the day was up to the workers to use as they chose.  Holidays became expected days of rest.  Merchants tailored shop hours to worker schedules, which gave them down time as well.

The Great Depression and World War II accelerated three trends:  migration to cities, training in trades, and advanced education.

They also introduced and promoted the first virtual technologies, telephone, phonographs, movies, radio, and television.  Costs, broadcast time and reception areas limited the time people spent talking, listening, and watching.  But the attraction was clearly evident.  People would plan their days and evenings around their favorite news and entertainment programs.  Trips to the movies were considered treats.

The return of prosperity brought expanding demand for all the virtual technologies.  One limit on these technologies was location: phonographs, telephones, radios, movies, and televisions were locations people had to attend to use.  One exception for police and fire fighters:  two-way radios mounted in vehicles.  World War II saw the advent of “walkie-talkies,” the conceptual and technical precursors of modern cellphones.

Car radios, and the transistor radios released the listener from having to find a radio, to having a radio with them

The 1950’s, and 60’s introduced computers to American Business.  Once again, computers were locations, entombed in rarefied environments defended by physical security, and complete ignorance of the general populous.

The 1980’s advent of “personal computers;” which were portable, with some effort.  All that was missing was connecting computers through telephone systems – the Internet, and connecting radios to telephones – cellular phones.  The catalyst for the connectivity we enjoy today was the cellphone, which erased any connection between phones and locations, and made people the locations for telephone numbers.

Televisions were limited by the stations that broadcast in their reception area.  Three major national TV networks evolved, connected by satellite to the world.  Connecting televisions directly to satellites, coaxial cables, and now the Internet, brought us out of “network-tv” into the 24/7 “cable-tv” era.

Once cellphones connected to the Internet and television, where we watch movies, we arrived to today, where the distinctions have almost completely blurred.  Likewise have our senses of reality.

Now, “friends” are not people we know, “social media” is anonymous and often anti-social.  “Gamers” give a whole new meaning to “WoW,” spending days lashed to their computers, dispensing with bathroom breaks, installing Mountain Dew, refrigerators, and cutting pizza delivery slots in their doors.

We already have an entire generation living in basements.  What is next?  Maybe evolution will soon give our species extended narrow thumbs for “Texting,” and dimmer judgement for “Sexting.”  Maybe someday, all our ogling will be “Googling.” Is the “Zombie Apocalypse” upon us with the living “undead?”  I wonder if Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence will converge into caskets, from which we never need emerge?  Will we live to see the rise of VARZI?

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Independence Every Day – Divorce Virtual Opioids

This is a great time to be alive in America.  The average American has a better life than kings, queens, and pharaohs of the past.  We are safer, live longer, are free to go where we want, and enjoy knowledge and experiences that would have astounded the world only a few decades ago.

One area that is encroaching on our freedom is the enticing addiction to the virtual world to the exclusion of the real, here and now world.  More, and more, I walk through crowds of “zombies” stuck in their phones, tablets, music, and video.  They are not really “here.”  The inattention to life has begun to dominate our culture.  Isolation from “real” family and friends is rapidly wearing down the social skills of our society members.

The siren attraction of the imaginations of others is sapping the development and practice of imagining for ourselves.  Children need that development as they grow up.  What kind of adults, parents, employees will people become if they have no experience of self-creation?  What will our culture become when all we have is “copies” of the excellent ideas generated by a few “imagineers.”

Try doing without the virtual toys and tools you spend so much time with for 24 hours:  No cell phones, tablets, pc’s, internet, cable tv, DVD’s or other electronics.  You will quickly find out what you have been missing, such as talking with your family, reading books, playing musical instruments, inventing things, fixing things, learning things, eating with people who are present and making conversation about your life and the people you love.

We had to fight for our independence as we started this nation.  Now is a good time to exercise total freedom from the seductive draw of virtual opioids.

No Penalty for Synthetic News – Voracious Media Swallow Anything

For quite a while, papers such as the National Enquirer were the only place a reader could find out about the conception and birth of the extraterrestrial, alien children of movie stars.

“Enquiring Minds Want to Know,” led supermarket and drugstore shoppers to buy the tabloid for gossip and secrets of the rich and famous, celebrities, along with eyewitness tales of the occult and UFOs.  It only took a dozen or so specious or craftily worded articles per week to keep the America Media publication flush with advertising revenue.  No one cared about journalism, or retractions, or misspellings – entertaining fiction was all it was.  They had a big enough budget to settle lawsuits and keep printing.

Now the ever-widening maw of the internet has spawned info-fantasy outlets to compete with reality.  Exempli gratia:  The recent articles about a couple of California “Breatharians,” who claim to live on “energy that exists in the universe and in themselves” and that they are sustained by “cosmic nourishment.”  This must put the National Enquirer in the backseat of audacity.  No fewer than six news outlets on Google News published the articles; YouTube videos of the couple and their two children have hundreds of thousands of views.

I will not honor this idiocy with more details, but I will shake my head at what the word “news” has come to mean.  I shudder at the thought of how many people might believe such unfiltered, synthetic, mental trash.  Our children are already screen zombies with waning connection to the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual worlds they inhabit.  The gullible, undereducated, and socially diminished cohorts of the future may have little reality on which to build their lives.

The comedian Gallagher quipped, “I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence.  There’s a knob called “brightness,” but it doesn’t seem to work.”  That was before cable TV and the Internet.

Apnea – The Loud Annoying Killer

Could you be suffering from sleep apnea?

I have sleep apnea, and have been treating it for 2.5 years.  Snoring is a symptom, although not all snoring is caused by apnea.  I am not talking about your run-of-the-mill snoring; I mean SNORING!!  I thought snoring was universal.  Snoring runs in my family – my brothers and I can easily drown out the sound of a chain saw.

Sometimes I can be a little stubborn and skeptical.  (After all, I did not hear any snoring, and it did not keep me awake.)  OK, so I snore a bit.  Doesn’t everyone?  I found out how much my snoring kept my wife awake, because she told me about it.

Sleep is very important to my wife.  Unless she gets 9+ hours every night, I wake up with a zombie.  I bring her a cup of coffee, in bed; she drinks it over 5 – 10 minutes; her eyes open to slit-level; I put the second cup of coffee next to her sink in the bathroom, and run to the kitchen; she smells it and gets slowly out of bed, and does that slow, side-to-side, living-dead sleep-walk into the bathroom.  Twenty minutes later, she is the living, breathing, woman I love.  But, that is when she gets enough sleep.

She tried earplugs, but the vibrations shook her awake, or gave her tremor-nightmares. (She lived in California years ago, and has not gotten over fear of earthquakes.)  I tried sleeping on my side, elevated pillows, breathe-right nose strips, sinus washing, those things you put in your mouth at night to keep your jaw positioned, only minor improvement.  Things came to crisis mode when I started waking up to an empty place in the bed.  I found her sleeping in another room.

Then I heard the word “Apnea;” sounded like a Balkan dialect.  How did this apply to me?  So, I went to the sleep doctor. At first, I did not believe it, even after I had my first overnight sleep study at an apnea clinic.

It took a second sleep study before I accepted the fact:  I do have severe “complex” sleep apnea.  The problem is not so much the snoring, but the silences, when no air is going in or out.  Without treatment, the study showed that, when I was asleep, I stopped breathing 67 times an hour, for 10 – 20 seconds; over eight hours, that would be 536 times per night, 5,360 to 10,720 seconds; 90 – 180 minutes; this is like holding my breath for one and a half, to three hours a night; my blood oxygen dropped to 89 – 94% several times each night (normal is 100%). Frequent interruptions to the sleep cycle can keep you from getting enough REM “deep” sleep, needed for quality rest and restoration of the brain.  That is not good for the brain, or anything else.

Things that could happen with untreated apnea:

  • High blood pressure
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Weight gain & difficulty losing weight
  • Lack of ardor
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Accidents
  • Nodding off during the daytime
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver problems
  • Lower response to medications
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Spouse sleep deprivation
  • Divorce

Still skeptical, I ask, “aren’t these people just selling stuff?” Well, yes, no, yes, and yes, depending on who you mean by “these people.”  Yes, sleep clinics “sell” sleep studies, and they prescribe equipment to keep me from holding my breath 66 times an hour, in my sleep; no, the clinics do not sell the gear.  Yes, “durable medical equipment” companies sell the equipment.  And, yes, medical insurance and Medicare cover their share of the costs.

The doctor prescribed a heavy-duty, nighttime breathing machine called a “bi–pap.”  People with less severe cases use a similar machine called a “c-pap.”

I wish I could tell you that using the machine is a pleasure.  This would be a real treat, if you would find pleasure going to bed, wearing a plastic mask over your nose (and maybe your mouth too), with elastic straps to hold it in place, attached to a plastic air hose, attached to an electronic device that looks something like a portable radio, but without the music, that makes you feel like a scuba diver, or a jet pilot, and makes you sound like Darth Vader, or the announcer at a bus station.  Oh, you will need another elastic strap under your chin and over your crown, if you have trouble keeping your mouth shut, and only breathing through your nose. All this, just to keep breathing a few years longer.

It took me a while (60 nights) to get used to wearing it, AND sleeping; (you also need to remember you are hooked up when you get up in the middle of the night; it makes a bit of a mess when you sweep your bedside table clean with the air hose, in the dark, half asleep, waking your spouse, everyone in the house, and your next-door neighbors’ dogs.)  But, I am resolute; I use it religiously; now it only annoys me.  (Note: Any chances of spontaneous romance at night are, let’s say, ZERO.  Planning is the key.  It is sort of fun dating my wife again.  “Would Saturday about 8ish work for you, Sweetheart?”)

This is an amazing, computerized machine.  It monitors every inhale and exhale, to adjust to your normal breathing patterns and air pressure. It generates a constant flow of air at about the same speed and pressure you create when you inhale.  (If you close your throat, and open your mouth just a little, you can make the sound of the wind blowing; by pursing your lips a little tighter, you can make your lips sputter and vibrate.)

If you stop breathing, it blows air into your nose to fill your lungs, and gets you going again. The machine keeps track of sleep stoppages, and sends the results to the doctor.  After six months, the records showed only 1 or 2 brief stoppages an hour; not enough to cause any more brain damage.

I would encourage you to consider the possibility that you, too, might have sleep apnea.  If so, the treatment can change, even save your life.

Here are links to good sites about apnea.  You might want to check them out.

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/basics/symptoms/con-20020286

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sleepapnea

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-apnea.htm

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/central-sleep-apnea#1

 

Middle-Class Families Robbed by Obamacare – Before and After Taxes

The New York Times just published an article claiming that middle-class families are better off financially.  They blithely overlooked the greatest tax increase in recent memory and the greatest increase in medical cost Americans have ever seen.  We have been robbed blind.

Many employers dropped or reduced their health insurance benefits and left their employees to shop Obamacare market places.  Not only are the premiums higher and the benefits lower, but now they must pay with after-tax dollars.  Insurance premiums paid by employers is exempt from payroll and income taxes.  Any of the premiums employee pays must come from earnings that have been taxed at about 8% for Social Security, Medicare taxes; the employer pays the same amount in matching payroll taxes.

But that’s not all; the employee also pays income taxes on the earnings – at least 15%.  So 8% + 15% is 23% fewer dollars in the employees’ pockets just to get the money to pay for healthcare insurance.  Since Obamacare started, health insurance for middle-class families has roughly doubled.  They get no government subsidies; they have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals; the deductibles and copays empty the bank accounts.  People who have worked hard, have been nicked by the recession.  They may be working for a fraction of their former incomes.  Families are now strapped for cash, and struggle to find medical providers that will accept their healthcare insurance.

Ask yourself, is the New York Times right?  Have we increased our incomes enough to rise above the tax grab and the insurance double-cross?  Our economic anemia verges on leukemia; Obamacare is the pathogen, not the cure.

Parents Addict Children – Screen Zombies

Parents put their babies in front of television and tablet screens to entertain and “babysit” them.  Parents and teachers believe children can advance their knowledge through computer “learning systems.” Parents surrender to the pressure from their preadolescent daughters for smartphones so they can text their friends and share activities through social media.  Children spend hours at their computers and tablets absorbed in online role-playing and video games.

The problem is these children can easily become lifetime addicts to their virtual worlds.  Notice the bent heads of children with their families in restaurants; they are not saying grace.  Check out kids in buses and the back seats of cars; how many are looking out the windows or talking to each other?

Listen for that faint buzzing sound in movie theaters, and watch the Pavlovian response of children who cannot resist answering voice and text messages no matter when or where they are.

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras is an expert in addiction and rehabilitation.  He paints a chilling picture of the futures of these children in his book “Glow Kids.”  He operates rehabilitation centers for drug and alcohol addiction.  The problem with “screen addiction” is there is no way to eliminate the “substance” from their environment; tech stimulations are everywhere, waiting for the addicts to notice and return to them.

The trance induced by these addictions is powerful; people can spend hours at the screen and be totally unaware of the passage of time or the events that happen around them; their lives have been hijacked, and that part of their lives is gone.

Social media addicts get emotionally engaged with people they never met, pictures of somebody’s lunch, and silent “verbal” exchanges. When I was growing up, if someone teased me or called me names, I was taught to say, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”, or “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.”, or “so are you.”  It really worked for me (except when sticks or stones, or fists or feet were actually employed.  THAT was what we called bullying;).

Now, kids are committing suicide in response to slurs or embarrassments.  Why would they do that? Think about it; no physical harm was done; a normal person would not react that way; it must be psychological; they would have to be addicts to respond that strongly to “cyberbullying.”  Not knowing about the addiction leaves most adult, non-addicts perplexed about what to do.  Instead of rehabbing and strengthening the psyche of the addict target, we try to outlaw bullying; what a thankless, futile waste of energy and time when dealing with children at that stage of development.

I defer to the experts on what to do and not do, but reading this book would not hurt your understanding of this problem.