Romance trumps machine language

Spend some time on social media, reading or watching the news and you’ll likely find most things reduced to a bullet point, a Top 10 list or otherwise boiled-down nugget of proffered wisdom.

Is it that people no longer care to the think for themselves, or that they’re simply too inundated with the opinions and proof from everyone else that they mistake the consumption of said information for thinking?

We humans created machines to do repetitive, tedious, time-consuming tasks so that we could apply our brains elsewhere. And yet, doesn’t it seem as though we’re becoming more like the machines than liberated, sophisticated refined beings? Machines require a special language, binary in nature, reducing to combinations of zeros and ones. But people can handle romance, where romance is defined as “something that lacks basis in fact” and fact is defined as “a thing that is indisputably the case”. How many facts are there, really? I’m 37 years old (where a year is defined as 365 days except in a leap year of 366). I’m of the female sex. My dog is black (according to the cones and rods in my retinas and related circuitry in my brain). I like to think of romance as complex, something that can’t be measured or proven definitively. Society seems to have a fixation with proof, wanting to know the answer, the truth, as though such things exist. The problem with proof is that it requires simplification and assumptions, all which are value-laden and relative; proof is a proxy for thinking.

Michael Pollen in The Omnivore’s Dilemma wrote about soil fertility and a farmer’s perspective of its complexity compared to Big Agra’s oversimplification of and reliance on fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) to grow crops. His words (below) are relevant to the theme of complexity versus binary thinking as they portray the importance of the complex and limitations of the binary, which can be applied to just about any topic meriting discussion.

“Complex qualities are reduced to simple quantities; biology gives way to chemistry. As [the farmer] was not the first to point out, that method can only deal with one or two variables at a time. The problem is that once science has reduced a complex phenomenon to a couple of variables, however important they may be, the natural tendency is to overlook everything else, to assume that what you can measure is all there is, or at least all that really matters. When we mistake what we can know for all there is to know, a healthy appreciation of one’s ignorance in the face of a mystery like soil fertility gives way to the hubris that we can treat nature as a machine.”

Science is often bastardized in today’s society in an effort to make a point or serve a political interest, when in fact, science as a course of study is anything but binary. A true scientist is one who devotes their career to exploring a subject and its body of literature, contributing to it, inquiring, collaborating with one’s peers, etc. In today’s society the fruits of science are often used to silence the opposition when the real root of science is inquiry, which leads to research to build on a long history of complex subject matter. A person who throws out a data point as a means of oppressing one’s opponent should always be questioned. Science never shuns the questioner, science has nothing to fear, because there is no end to science, not in any topic or of any subject matter. There is always more to explore, research, clarify, understand, apply, redefine, and so forth.

I invested a lot of time thinking about adults when I was a kid, the way they were responsible and knew what was right and how to do it. I couldn’t comprehend why my parents didn’t seem to fulfill my expectations of other adults.

One evening when I was nineteen and waiting tables at a country club during my freshman year of college, I experienced a pivotal moment, the kind that left me unhinged and reeling. The menu was pricy; the people who dined at Seasons At Hilltop those Friday evenings (the only night it was open to the public as it was otherwise a banquet facility) were successful, they had money. They were responsible and did the right things, according to my then-binary thinking.

A man sat at a four-top with his wife and two children, and upon receiving his meal, berated me for the preparation of his steak. I assured him I would resolve the matter, but that didn’t resolve his anger. He continued going off on me. I remembered wanting to say, “Do you think I cooked the steak? Don’t you know anything about how restaurants work?” Instead I offered him a complimentary dessert. When that didn’t satisfy him, I sort of checked out, lost amidst the thoughts drowning my brain, things like, “Wow, this guy’s an asshole—how can he behave this way in front of his kids? What is he teaching them by acting this way?” and “We’re fucked. The universe is fucked. There are these morons—everywhere—cloaked as adults, and…holy shit…we’re so fucked!”

My little theory (which was really a philosophy premised in security) that real adults behaved as they should had just been blown out of the water.

Ultimately I went to my manager and let her handle the irate (so-called) man, as reason and sensibility were lost on him and that’s all I was armed with (a common theme in my life for years to come). Sure, the epiphany stuck with me, but it took a long time for me to synthesize it and develop skills beyond what I knew (reason and sensibility).

I think back to that scenario from time-to-time. Most recently it was because I just sort of realized I’m almost forty. By almost I mean closer to forty than thirty. That means I’m one of those adults I perceived as a child and young adult. I’m supposed to know All The Things and do them right, all the time, according to my nineteen-year-old self. But I don’t. I can’t even know what’s right most times, and right isn’t really worth aiming for in many cases anyway. Implicit in right is definitive, black-and-white. Yet shades of gray are more prevalent. As I move through life, sometimes gracefully, most times awkwardly, I’m constantly reminded that everything is related, dynamic, iterative, and not at all definitive.

My thirty-seven-year-old self focuses more on being consistent with my values. On being authentic and honest. I’m patient instead of hasty in the face of the unknown. I have more questions than answers. I’m willing to be vulnerable where previously I might have felt embarrassed. I want to be someone who matters. Mostly I want to be a person my children do and can respect as they evolve into their adult selves. I make mistakes all the time. I apologize to my kids. I ask for do-overs when frustration gets the best of me. That’s my I’m-almost-forty definition of being a real adult. It’s far more romantic (and messy) than binary. My nineteen-year-old self would think it irrational and stupid. How naïve would I be to mistaken wisdom and an appreciation of life’s complexity for simplistic idiocy? As for my thirty-seven-year-old self, romance trumps machine language.

Black ink

I started keeping a journal back in 1998 when I stumbled upon a stray composition book in the desk drawer in a room I rented that summer. I used to write in any variety of ink color available to me. But upon writing the initial entry in Volume IV of my journal in August 1999, I started using black ink only. (Well, with the exception of a few entries in blue ink over the next two years, which conjured obvious disdain, evidenced by the entries that followed. Thankfully blue ink didn’t blemish journals beyond Volume IV.)

My absolute favorite pen to write with is the uni-ball Vision 0.5mm. I buy them by the dozen. Over the past few weeks I’ve had to chuck several as they ran out of ink. Little is more frustrating than straining to maintain consistent weight of letters as a pen nears its death. Then again, having to write with a ballpoint is equally if not more frustrating. (I’m a pen snob and rarely yield to using pens available to me at a doctor’s office or business; chances are I’m packing a uni-ball Vision somewhere on my person, and opt for that.) I bought another dozen today, and I’m not at all embarrassed to say buying a fresh dozen pens is as good a fix as drinking coffee or eating chocolate.

Here are my new pens, in all of their full-of-ink glory, stacked neatly upon Volume X; the five remainders from the previous dozen are off to the left, fearing their last letter.

In progress

After several months of latency, I’ve reacquainted myself with Undone. My relationship with the title itself is tenuous; it describes the state of the manuscript and taunts that it shall forever remain as such. That’s why I’m particularly happy to report that the rewriting is officially in progress!

Undone|Progress May 31, 2015 (2)

Anna’s undergoing a small makeover. I’m combing through the pages, updating accordingly to solidify her transformation.

My goal? To finish the novel in time to start my second novel this November for NaNoWriMo.

I just love lofty goals, don’t you?

Just be

You see the posts on Facebook, read the headlines in the papers, hear the ads on television and radio. Seemingly anything of value needs to be…

The best
Ground breaking
Newest
Coolest
Rareist
Prestigious
Hype hype hype

You should make more money
You should be valued more
You should want _________

We’ve sold ourselves to the entities with the deepest pockets, deferred our authority to the premiere sociopaths. We’ve handed over our perceptions and lives to those with the audacity to tell us how to live.

What ever happened to using our own minds? What ever happened to just being?

Is it really so wrong to not want All The Things?

Is it really so wrong to be a woman, enjoying her job and un-worrying about her salary, despite the data showing that men make more?

Is it really so wrong to hang up one’s professional career to parent one’s children and pursue one’s personal interests?

Is it really so wrong to respect oneself and live one’s life according to one’s own scruples?

Is it really so wrong to __________________________?

Of course the only person who can define one’s value is oneself; deferring it to others is a choice.

Maybe the only thing anyone’s missing is nothing.

Numbers

At the Senate Health Committee Hearing on April 8, 2015 regarding SB277 in California, Steven Rubin, PhD (director of vaccine research analytics for the National Vaccine Information Center) testified, urging to permit vaccine waivers, given the vaccine injury statistics as captured in the VAERS database. At the time of his testimony, over 36,000 children were seriously injured (hospitalized, life-threatening injury, permanently disabled or died) by/due to vaccines since the VAERS database inception in 1986.

3,437 deaths were reported. You can see additional data in the link to his testimony below. Furthermore, you can use medalerts.org to search the VAERS database on your own.

Rubin’s statement includes a note about reporting in the VAERS database

There are nearly a half million reports in VAERS. And yet the system suffers from under-reporting, by anywhere from a factor of ten to a factor of a hundred.

More numbers

There’s been a lot of fear about measles outbreaks. No one in the US has died from the measles since 2003. But 107 people have died from the MMR vaccine alone (there are other vaccines that contain the measles antigen that I didn’t include in that search) between 2004 and May 1, 2015. Of the 107 deaths, 83 were children < 3.

In 2013, according to the CDC’s Mortality Multi-cause Micro-data Files, 10 infants (age <1) died of whooping cough (pertussis). Two adults (ages 75 and up) died of pertussis, for a total of 12 people. The CDC reported 28,639 cases of pertussis in the same year. In 2013, 62 children (ages 0-6) (plus one additional person, age not reported) died from vaccines containing the pertussis antigen, according to the VAERS database.

There ARE reasons to question the potential implications of vaccines. I don’t know if it’s fair to assert that vaccines are inherently dangerous, but at a minimum, vaccines ARE NOT safe for everyone. The dangers associated with vaccines might very well be due to individual health issues/susceptibilities/genetics. It’s indisputable that vaccinations harm more than help significant numbers of people.

The line, the tipping point, or the sheep

Do you rest easily with the role of modern governments in our country, or do you question the ethical and health ramifications of the trajectory of governments abusing their powers?

What will it take to cross the line of the average citizen’s comfort? Perhaps the jump from 23 doses of 7 required vaccines in 1983 to 48 doses of 14 (by age 6!!) in 2014 isn’t enough. What will be? How many diseases should we fear? How many warrant chemically-induced protection? Will it be 100 doses? 40 vaccines? More?

Might the line be crossed when the public learns of the National Adult Immunization Plan (published February 5, 2015)? Is the adult vaccine schedule palatable? Will the addition of pertussis to tetanus every ten years, annual influenza, and vaccines for pneumococcal (pneumonia), Hib, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Varicella (chicken pox), meningococcal, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), HPV and Zoster be enough to cross the line?

What will happen when vaccinations are required for employment (beyond healthcare workers)?

What if government starts overreaching in other areas as well; what if counties and states start mandating treatment for diseases and illnesses based on diagnosis alone, raping individuals of the right to second and third opinions, seeking alternative treatments or foregoing any treatment whatsoever? Will that cross the line?

Or might the masses begin to take offense to the pandering by pharma and government via help by the media, stop fighting with their fellow citizens, and start asking questions and demanding answers? Will the tipping point of concerned citizens be reached, enough of them to effectively pressure the government to back off?

Or will the thinkers and questioners slowly be silenced or jailed, until only the sheep remain?

The Great Vaccine Debate: Who’s waging war?

According to an article in the Detroit Free Press today, the chicken pox has been confirmed in children at three Birmingham schools, and as such, “unvaccinated students may not be allowed back in three schools until April 14” [1].

Is it appropriate to deny public education to students who have legally foregone vaccinations for the chicken pox?

What purpose does it serve to force unvaccinated children to stay home from school?

Is it to protect the unvaccinated children?

Is it to prevent the transmission of chicken pox? The premise behind herd immunity is that a vaccinated majority (of a population) is sufficient to interrupt the transmission path of the virus, thereby protecting those who aren’t vaccinated. Most kids are vaccinated. So what’s the worry?

Perhaps unvaccinated individuals are more likely to become affected by varicella after exposure than a vaccinated individual. (Though it’s important to consider that there’s a lot more to immunity than antibodies, such as a robust immune system.) But how are unvaccinated children perceived as a threat when:

  1. Vaccinated individuals are, well… vaccinated,
  2. Unvaccinated children don’t inherently possess the chicken pox, and
  3. A person (vaccinated or not) who is exposed to a virus might be able to transmit it even if they are unaffected by the virus (it’s called being an asymptomatic carrier) [4]?

From where did the affected students acquire chicken pox (varicella); what was the source? Was it the wild virus? Was it from a student who was recently vaccinated who might have shed the virus? Shedding means that a virus successfully reproduces and can subsequently be transmitted; it can happen with the chicken pox (after natural exposure or vaccination) [2].

Perhaps it makes more sense to force all children recently vaccinated for varicella (the chicken pox virus) to stay home, given that the package insert for the vaccine (manufactured by Merck) specifically states that “transmission of vaccine virus may occur rarely between healthy vaccinees who develop a varicella-like rash and healthy susceptible contacts” [3]. It goes on to suggest that it is advisable for vaccine recipients to avoid contact with immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women without a history of varicella and newborns for six weeks following the vaccine [3]. Of course even those who are not immunocompromised can acquire a virus that’s been shed.

The Free Press article states “But Oakland County health officials advised the school to step up the restrictions, requiring – rather than recommending – that parents keep children at home if they do not have immunity to chicken pox either through a vaccination or a prior infection” [1].

Is it too much to expect that the Oakland County Health Department demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the diseases for which they play a role in attempting to manage? Is it too much to expect the health department, which is funded by the Oakland County tax payers, to participate in unbiased discourse rather than igniting unfounded fears and conflicts between citizens? If this type of blunder were made by an auto executive the media would have a field day and said executive would likely be fired.

A more serious question remains: Who is waging this war on children who haven’t been vaccinated (LEGALLY), and when is it going to stop?

I have a sneaking suspicion that if one follows the money trail, the answer will reveal itself.

  1. Erb, R., 3 Birmingham schools ban kids without chicken pox shots, Detroit Free Press, March 27, 2015.
  2. Galea, S. A., et al., The Safety Profile of Varicella Vaccine: A 10-Year Review, J Infect Dis. (2008) 197 (Supplement 2): S165-S169.
  3. Varivax (varicella) [package insert]. Whitehouse Station, NJ; Merck; 2013.
  4. Fisher, B. L.,The Emerging Risks of Live Virus and Virus Vectored Vaccines: Vaccine Strain Virus Infection, Shedding & Transmission, National Vaccine Information Center, 2014.