I regret that I have to go back to filtering comments with one of those maddening "copy this" gizmos. I was getting too much spam. I suppose when I have time, I ought to figure out where it's coming from. In the meantime, if you really need to talk to me, do it the old-fashioned way: landline telephone. Information has my listing.

SOCIAL MEDIA

My name shows up on google+ and twitter, but I only monitor and will not add you. I do NOT do Facebook though someone with the same name does. Please use plain email. My phone landline is in the phone book. I have no cell phone.

Other Blogs by me

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE ART OF BOB SCRIVER, PLEASE GO TO: www.scriverart.blogspot.com.

Notes from Alvina Krause between 1957-1961 are posted at www.Krausenotes.blogspot.com


TWO REBLOGS:
Fiction about Indians at www.willowsticks.blogspot.com
Essays about Indians at www.siksikaskinitsiman.blogspot.com



Monday, September 15, 2014

CAN BEAUTIFUL WOMEN BE RESPECTED SCIENTISTS?

Naomi Eisenberger

Naomi Eisenberger is a scientist but also a beautiful young mother.  The impression comes across as a pretty nurse or a glamour health evangelist, but her own intent and open attitude translates that to something appealing on a deeper level.  Here she is:
http://edge.org/conversation/social-pain   speaking on Edge.org, a brainy but progressive bunch that grew out of the beloved Whole Earth Catalog.

I’ve been searching for words for what goes on in the neuronal tissues that aren’t already “owned” by the introspective psychoanalytical crowd, words like “unconscious” or “subconscious.”  Using those words makes people’s heads jump to Jung, esp. reflective young men.  Eisenberger uses the words “substrates” and “neural underpinnings,” which are more clearly physical, measurable and organic.  I’ll try to use those words in future so as to avoid distressing those who think their respective introspective worlds take priority over the body.  It's a useful clarification.

Eisenberger herself accounts for her body-anchored point of view by saying that she began as a social psychologist, moved into animal studies, and then braided them with health issues which often combine the physical and the emotional.  A continuing theme for her was “relationship” but -- maybe because of the animal base -- not cultural romantic relationships.  More attention to belonging, group-to-individual, maternal support.  She was reading about Harlow’s monkey babies choosing between milk and comfort or Bowlby trying to get sense out of attachment even in the face of punishment.  (Me, too.)  

She makes a case for the hybrid mixing of fields like “social neuroscientist” or “psychoneuroimmunologist” in order to get at the complexity of personhood.  It’s sort of like “fusion” music or food -- a blending of focus.  For instance, her experiments test for the relationship between overall well-being and affectionate support (check the vid), using the metaphor of “warmth” which we already use for both temperature and affection, to compare warm hands from a heat pack and “warm heart” from someone’s words.  It works!  Warming hands makes self-reported cheer go up, just like a warm smile.


At last there’s an interpretation of why support-givers get attached: it makes them feel good -- it pleases them!  The idea of co-dependence (attaching to someone who is trouble because the thrill of it all) and the notion of enabling (subtly helping someone do bad stuff so they will stay dependent) had sorted of gutted the idea of the faithful spouse.  We have professed contempt for such a sucker, or maybe control issues.  Now can we move over to make room for altruism?  Does the pleasure of helping have to be pejorative?  This is helpful for professional care-givers as well -- that they are benefiting themselves as well as their --  well, what’s a good word?  More vocabulary needed here.  “Clients, patients, subjects, objects of care . . .”   It sounds sort of domestic, a woman’s kind of thing.  Is it too trivial to be scientific?

At the end of this vid, responding to questions, Eisenberger is asked about the feminist thing -- is she feeling kept down because she is female?  She notes that when her data is presented by a man, the listeners' questions are less challenging and doubting than when she herself presents the same facts.  Also, that men seem to like questions that start arguments and enjoy the intellectual fencing match as a value, which she thinks may be a “scientist” thing.  

Since so much of the foundational psych work was done by German Jews, I wonder how much of it is Jewish traditional education that depends on argument between two students as a way of learning.  I once saw a depiction -- can’t remember whether it was fiction -- in which one of a pair of arguers lost his way.  Quickly, his opponent stepped in to help:  “The response on your part should be . . .”  “Oh, yes!  Thanks!” and they plunged back into the fray.  It’s like lawyers attacking each other’s arguments as hard as they can -- then going out to share drinks afterwards.  Men fight to fulfill the Mediterranean syllogism proposed by the Greeks: thesis/antithesis/synthesis.  Women fight for survival.

Eisenberger notes a reluctance on the part of women to “promote themselves” with speeches and panels, so that what seems like pushing on the part of the male may be apparent only because of backing-off passivity on the part of the female.  I recognize all this.  My struggle to discard my exoskeleton of being devout, docile, obedient, conventional, conscientious and all that -- which over the years had turned out to be less a protection than a prison -- has revealed the essential quill pig underneath.  Not much appreciated but much more powerful.  I suppose it began with being an officer with a badge (animal control).  You don’t take guff off nobody.  You drill for the facts.  A male sort of thing.

Jen Wilson (the pastor of Grace UMC)

Oddly it was ministry that showed me the limits of a woman in a male-defined power vocation.  By now the job itself has become far more pink, defined as counseling and success-promotion, the management of emotion instead of rational analysis in search of truth.  I had been attracted by the potential for power but discovered that it depended on the old-boys-network the same as all the other male-defined domains.  It’s not the only field in which content of graduate schools doesn’t count as much as the connections one makes with others.  The “mafia” one builds.  Women will do that for men, but not for other women.  Stigmatized minorities, despite all rhetoric, are not invited and must worm their way in.  (Worming is not a power position.)

At the same time one is making those connections -- the rewards and deficits of relationships -- one is also forming the genetic substrates and neural underpinnings of temperament and morality -- what is formally called “vocational formation.”  It is real and embedded in the connectomes of the brain deeply enough not to be conscious.  That is, you don't know that's what you think.  

Going into the ministry at age forty meant that my “formation” was already formed, much of it on an Indian reservation with an artist twice my age.  I interpret the receiving of support as surrender, intimacy that must be justified, and possibly a trap.  Since a basic and major part of a congregant’s relationship to his or her religious leader is support, this meant a deep conflict that we really couldn’t identify.   As Eisenberger puts it, the female may want to retreat to the lab, the office.  The male, esp. the narcissistic male who feels 
support is only his natural due, will thrive and bloom at the lectern


When I googled for “news” about Eisenberger, I got a story about diet.  Oh, blech.  http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140826-is-fast-food-making-us-depressed  More stuff about how bad fast food is for you. McDonalds is out, of course, but “fat” and “sugar” are out?  What KIND of fat?  What KIND of sugar?  (A recent story tells about sending cereal and sugar to refugees.  It was across the page from stories about dropping sales of cereal and sugar.)  

The story recommends the Mediterranean diet.  The idea is that whatever causes inflammation tends to cause depression, and whatever opposes the inflammatory “cytokines” is going to make you feel better.  Fats and sugars of the wrong kinds can trigger inflammation. No argument from me.  But it shows how the lab and the kitchen have a lot of overlap these days, which means women might feel more at home.  They are used to dealing with the subtle interconnections of cooking, housekeeping, and raising children.  Is running cookies in and out of the oven that different from running volunteers in and out of an fMRI?



But in the end I’m thinking that these concerns and inquiries are linked to having a LOT of financial resources.  How much do you think Eisenberger spends on her hair?  Considering where she lives, I expect it’s more than a hundred dollars a month.  Could she work this hard without household help?  How relevant is it to worry about depression and inflammation in a population that is starving?  

On the other hand, I’m pleased to know these things and they might very well help people in my family or friendship circle, besides leading to rather major breakthroughs.  It is the inspired reweaving of domains and fields of inquiries that may be the biggest breakthrough, even if it turns out to be Penelope’s loom.

All that reweaving can give a gal a backache.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

TRAVELERS, 1924

At last I've been able to return to the Cut Bank laundromat without the unbalanced evangelist pestering me.  It's the best maintained of the three laundromats within thirty miles, but even here many machines were out of order.  No money for either repair or replacement.  The bathroom was also posted out of order, but it turned out that was to deter the "road people" who bathed in there and clogged the drains with paper.  The old couple who attend this laundromat do not like confrontation.  I remarked that it was almost beginning to feel as though there were another Thirties Depression coming and they agreed.  Since then an early heavy snow put the bonanza crop of wheat on the ground.  More people will hit the road.  Custom cutters might as well go home.

Sam and Beulah Strachan

In 1925 my paternal grandparents, in their early fifties with the children raised, decided to look for greener pastures than Manitoba.  Nothing could be greener than Oregon.  They built their own RV, which the family called "The Ranger."  Maybe that was the name of the truck -- it's the name of my little Ford pickup.  


No blueprints -- just farmer-builders.

When I look at family histories, I check the dates about a year after a generational death and often find a little bump-up in the fortunes of inheritors.  This time it was the estate of Archibald Strachan, the Scots fine finish carpenter who wanted to be a gentleman farmer like Thomas Jefferson and so brought his family to homestead in the Dakotas.  The last of his savings financed a trip for Sam and Beulah, intending to check out Portland, Oregon, but also including a swing through the scenic SW USA.  

These people were a mixture of Scots/Manitoba/Dakota history, used to hardship.  With more money and higher aspirations they might have taken a major ocean liner back to Scotland for a visit.  Today the RV's I pass on I-5 are worth more than a million dollars and tow a second small vehicle that costs more than my house.  I have no idea how anyone acquires that much money.  But they share the impulse to go somewhere.  Travel!  That's the ticket!

No windows in the back.  No need for them.  Just an expense.

On Dec. 16 the Ranger entered Portland, City of Roses, which had just had a snowstorm.  They parked in the slush and took the street car to the post office to see whether their banker had sent the next installment of funds.  Disappointed, they walked back along Broadway.  "My sakes!" exclaimed Beulah's journal.  "The streets were full of people going hither and thither, with arms full of parcels, umbrellas, evidently doing some of their Christmas shopping."  The Ranger found a temporary port at the parking lot of the First Congo church. It seemed a safe and respectable place.  The only scary incident was when the little camp stove flared out and started a minor fire, but with everything constantly soaked, it was easy to control by simply setting the stove out in the rain.  Beulah was impressed at the constant supply of fresh soft water and collected it in a bucket hung under the Ranger eaves so she could wash lingerie.

First Congregational Church of Portland, Oregon

Though they were there to look for business connections, they took time to enjoy the big city.  The very first night they attended the Pantages Theatre (60 cents each) where Babe Ruth was supposed to make an appearance.  Beulah reported "the vaudeville . . . consisted of statuesque posing pictures.  Norma with her magic golden violin which played the tunes the audience requested."  A performer on the Wonder Organ rose up out of the stage.  The movie was "No Man's Gold," a cowboy Western with a girl horseman as the heroine.  Since the cowboy's horse was named "Tony," the movie must have been one of Tom Mix's.  Babe Ruth smashed a hole in a paper curtain with his bat and stepped through the hole to offer a twenty minute talk about baseball.

Shopping was at the farmer's market and included lots of seafood.  There was a machine that automatically made donuts, something like the one at the Walnut Park Fred Meyer when I was a kid.  They respectively made much use of both the YMCA and the YWCA, where Beulah watched children decorating a Christmas tree.  They did a lot of reading.  Beulah was WCTU (Women's Christian Temperance Union).

World Forestry Center

On Monday Sam walked up to "Monkey Ward" and discovered “a huge structure of monstrous fir logs built in picturesque and rustic style” -- the Forestry Center which has since burned down.  It was very like the Big Hotel in East Glacier.  On Tuesday they went down to the waterfront and walked among “the more unpoetic but pretty serious and important side of Portland’s busy life.”  All converted to park now.  “Just a little way from the 'Oregon' were two huge sailing vessels at anchor.  Their rigging, masts, etc. were all a mystery to me.”

The Battleship Oregon

A typical meal was “broiled halibut, potatoes, apples with cream, bread and butter.”   They ate a lot of cheese and soda crackers.  No salads. Finally their check came after New Year’s so they could go on, but just at Christmas they located friends from Manitoba who invited them for a much enjoyed day over in St. Johns.  They took in other Broadway shows but also, by accident, attended the Congregational Church’s annual budget meeting.  “They already had $2100 appropriated but wished to raise $2,000.  Their minister’s salary was $5,000 and his assistant $2,500 per annum.  They wish to raise their year’s income or pledge total to $30,000.”  That included some extra for insurance and the music program.


Council Crest was a marvel to these prairie folks.  Three times they dressed in their best and took the streetcar to the top to gaze at the Cascade Mountains.  If you wanted to call it “nature worship,” you’re welcome.  They found a bookstore where Beulah bought “Montgomery’s U.S. History” and Sam bought Darwin’s “Origin of the Species,” and THAT is the rest of the story.  Sam put new brake bands on the Ranger and Beulah bought a new nib for her “little Waterman fountain pen.”  The charms of Broadway were wearing thin, though Beulah thought Sam enjoyed the “20 chorus girls” in a recent show.

By January 2, 1927, the check had arrived so the intrepid and earnest pair fired up the Ranger and set out over the Burnside Bridge, along Sandy Boulevard, and up the Columbia Gorge, the most amazing thing they’d seen yet.  They got as far as Bonneville (no dam yet) before camping for the night -- a little past middle-aged, still full of dreams, and carrying their little house with them.  Beulah recorded,  “we went to sleep with the music of the rain pattering on the roof, which, to me, is nearly always soothing if I know everything is snug.”  These sights remained family icons for the next generation.

Columbia Gorge, with Vista House


Saturday, September 13, 2014

DO YOU COUNT?

This is actually my younger brother's class.  

Since I’m 75, my elementary education preceded television.  My BS was library- and practicum-based.  (My degree was in speech/theatre.)  It was the last of the Fifties and we were seeing the very beginnings of the third-wave psych theories as well as the very beginnings of what turned into post-modern thought.  (Hayakawa’s semantics)  The Peace Corps was barely invented and I was ahead of the curve by taking a job teaching on the Blackfeet Reservation.

By the time I “retired” and came back here, I was out-of-step with everyone in many ways, a hybrid person.  Fifteen years after returning, I sit at my computer all day pretty much as I did before, but I’m more profoundly out of step.  Techies do not believe I exist and if they did, they wouldn’t care.  My demographic has no money.  


“Outlier,” “long tail,” are both statistical terms meaning that I’m in the part of a bell curve that’s at the far end where the numbers are very low.  Our society at present is based on commerce  and believes that profit comes from making a little money from a lot of people.  Even in the arts the newspapers don’t report the qualities of content anymore.  Instead they talk numbers of people who attended, money it cost, profit it made, scores, market shares.

Sunstein had hair in those days.

In 1981 I was a transcriber at the U of Chicago Law School while finishing up my degrees at the University of Chicago Divinity School.  The Law School was cutting edge technically -- had to be -- but the Div School was all about content.  At the Law School about the only profs who typed directly into their computers were Jim White and  Cass Sunstein.  Everyone else, including Scalia, I think, did some kind of workaround, like dictating. We were all connected to a massive mainframe somewhere, but everyone worked independently.  Still, we transcribers smiled when we heard the muted sounds of “Asteroids” coming from offices with closed doors.

For six years in the nineties I worked for the City of Portland doing data entry, sitting at the computer all day.  I still sit at my computer, a free-standing desktop with internet access.  It’s a “mini” Apple a little larger than a sandwich.  I keep a second one that is NEVER attached to the Internet.  I mean, there is NO physical connection.  My last computer (eMac), even when it was turned off, was connected to the Apple techies, who turned it on by remote control in the night and rummaged around making “improvements.”   Even on my connected mini, which is on all day so I can get email and do research, can be accessed by my provider, so I cut the power at night.  I shut off Blue Tooth when I began to see my neighbor's computer content.


Social sites do not interest me.  I’m connected to only a few and only so I can follow the people who are halfway between being friends and being co-workers.  I dumped Facebook when they cut off those people without notice, destroying a whole backlog of videos they had made.  Also, we have all begun to realize that social sites, including Wikipedia, are ways of building mailing lists and “hit” records that are valuable to marketers, the government, and covert operators.  No longer do we have to depend upon self-reporting to see what people care about -- we can call up the bell-curves and the bar charts to find out which porn they watch, what medicines they take, who they talk to and what about.  Even where they were at the time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KYugpMDXAE   This is a vid discussion.

Marketing departments love connection.  Buy one thing from Dr. Leonard and you will never get them back out of your life without some kind of confrontation.  (I ended up screaming on the phone.)  My Medicare contractor (Silverscript) is owned by a drug store chain (CVS) which began with a soft sell, a discount card, and escalated until I get regular phone calls and mailings saying that they’ve noticed that I’m not ordering my meds on time and demanding to know why not.  I write across the letter in red fibertip,  “STOP NAGGING ME!” and send it back. It does no good.  They own my butt.  Or at least my oral intake.  They assume I’m demented or I'd be compliant.


The techies of the world, the ones who grew up on game theory and have brains that know everything about systems and whatever technical terms they use, have almost no humanities background, no understanding of content or even metaphor except math.  They have no canon of shared reading, no valuing of the past.  Their morality is success-based, their empathy is for their pets.  All is innovation, more bells and whistles, more automatic spelling since they can’t do it alone.  All is templates assuming you want everyone to be your buddy so you can sell them something.  (If you don't mind piggy-backing.) I find my writing sometimes wrenched out from under my hands because it doesn’t agree with what the computer “thinks” I should do in terms of spelling or even sentence construction.  It is anti-creative with its little red and green lines.  

But worse, these sources have no intention of providing content.  They have convinced the public to do that for them.  “Send us your photos,” say the newspapers.  “Post your best writing here,” they direct.  “Twitter the news,” say the reporters, even though they know better than anyone else that their editors (who are from a different generation) will censor and reframe the reports anyway to make them appealing to the advertising bell curve.  To get news that isn’t mainstream vanilla, one must go to a foreign country.  I like The Guardian, but Al Jazeera is always interesting.

Demonized stuff is always interesting.

First Netflix just provided movies.  Then they began to want us to rate them.  Then they began to recommend movies they think I will like.  (I don’t find it useful since I respond to quality instead of genre.  They think the awards are indicators of quality, but remember that my original degree was earned with a bunch of theatre people -- I know better.)  Netflix and Amazon want us to write reviews.  We figured out how to game that in a hurry so all the reviews disappeared.  Now we have “author platforms.”  You can’t sell without confining yourself to something with edges.  

You can’t read some websites or join some orgs without allowing cookies.  If you clean off your cookies now and then, which I do, you lose function.  For a while we were assured that if we stored things in the Cloud, a massive computer warehouse someplace, they would be safe.  Now it turns out they can be searched, and if the website goes down -- maybe because of power loss or maybe because of a legal directive -- you’re down, too.  In spite of claimed redundancy.

Some "free" websites are demanding your VISA number "just in case."
Num num num num.

Automatic ads like those on blogspot respond to algorithms developed by people with no worldly knowledge, so that one's profound reflection on Buddhism gets followed by some crass ad for fundy Xianity.  One's careful essay on the forming of ministers is followed by an ad for instant ordination by mail.  It's all part of that religion blob.

But the providers give us metrics so we know exactly who, where, and how many people are reading us.  Just not their names.  (Do you watch the little maps in the right hand column?  I do.)  Best if they start comment “wars,” politely called discussions.  Whatever drives up traffic.  Now, after I've watched a movie, Netflix wants me to send recommendations to my friends.  I used to do that via email anyway, but they were paragraphs of analysis.  I resent being TOLD to do it.  It turns out that most of my friends don’t like the movies I like anyway.  We don’t watch the same way because I care about technical stuff far more than they do.  They want immersion; I want enlightenment.

Nurses want to be needed.

Very few of the people I know are as willing as I am to venture into the youth fascination with muck, darkness, sex, loud unintelligible noises.  Most adults prefer their SM with the romantic veneer of a movie like “Outlander” which they fancy to be true history of their own people.  They assume that if I watch XXX content, I must be a XXX person.  Because they don’t watch it, they assume it’s somehow corrupting, that there is nothing technical to think about.  There is no "real" content.

I have no laptop, no smart phone, no tablet, no iPod.  (Well, I think there's a little green iPod somewhere.) An occasional sign-up will DEMAND my cell phone number or prevent me from going farther.  There's no way to check "ain't got one."  In fact, some online mail order retailers will prevent me from going further if I don’t provide a physical address for mail delivery, though there is no home delivery here.  In the even smaller village thirty miles away, the streets have no names which REALLY upsets those Manhattan-based people.  At the moment you cannot use a Verizon-based cell phone in town -- only ATandT.  


On the highway the only places where a person can get cell reception are marked by turnouts and signs.  Not a lot of them around here.  GPS is not dependable.  The whole area is at the end of the bell curve.  We don’t even have fiber-optic service to our houses.  Our streets may not be paved.  The electricity surges and fades and sometimes is just missing.  We are invisible in many ways.  That’s why I like it here.  Sometimes.

One more thing, since this will mostly be read on a Sunday.  Religion is being forced into the same context of institutions and numbers: church as business, paying members, butts in the pews, number of self-identified believers, number of clergy -- all handy for designing bell curves.  Nothing about spirituality.  If you can’t number it, it doesn’t exist.  Cookies in the religious world will get you appeals for donations.  You don't have to pay for sunsets.

Light a candle?





Friday, September 12, 2014

SATURDAY ON FRIDAY

This is sort of like "breakfast for supper" in that I write posts mostly on the day before you see them.  I put them on line at 10PM every day.  They are supposed to be composed essays a little more than a thousand words long and I mostly stick to that.  There are a lot of little rules in this house or I would slump into cartoon old-age ruled by cats and never get anything done.  Bad enough as it is.

But when a major atypical storm comes through, all my rules are off.  I just hunker down and wait.  It's a good time to question what I'm doing anyway.  This morning we're back to more familiar patterns.  The yards are full of snow rubble and fallen branches,  but the limber new growth has sprung back to upright.  They say a lot of the ripe wheat is flattened.


The mother cat returned for breakfast, which pleased Smudge very much.  The little gray rubs back and forth along the sides of her mother but all it gets her is a bop on the head.  At least they are fed.  I have no idea what the fates of the others might be.


A quick circumambulation of the town reveals cats basking in sunshine all over town, but I don't recognize any of them.  The mountains are white again.  All through the storm I could hear the big planes roar above the clouds, I assume making practice runs from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.  Today contrails streak the sky.


Not so many limbs came down as might have been expected.  There was no wind -- just slow, heavy snow so what fell was young leafy weighted branches rather than the high bare snags the birds like.



All yesterday morning I spent at a town council meeting where the contract for the winter-proofing plan for the sewage lagoon was being finalized.  It was six pages long with many adjunct forms and agreements for various purposes.  Sub-contractors and a complex of funding, time lines, who does what, access roads, materials storage, and so on.  They exchanged cell phone numbers, vital for men working in outdoors, even though Verizon cells don't work here yet.  ATandT does. They did not exchange email addresses -- too bad there's no directory.  Since access to the lagoon is through the trash roll-off, some new keys will need to be cut .

The project manager is Craig Nowak, a handsome vigorous engineer with a mustache, and the main funding administrator is Rebecca Beard, a slim tall woman with a pale heavy braid, wearing a blue-striped shirt worthy of Glenn Close.  Both from Central Casting for  leaders.  The four other money-minders were small, alert, pretty women with good smiles.  The sub-contractors were big bear-like guys.  Two participants were Skyping through Nowak's laptop so there was no way to tell what they looked like.  

The mayor of Valier and two board members were in attendance, taking careful notes.  During WWI or WWII (I forget which) there was a design problem in one kind of aircraft.  If the plane were shot down, the escape hatch through which the crew were expected to drop with their parachute packs was too small for a man wearing a parachute to squeeze through.  Since the parachutes could not be put on in mid-air, men died.  

We have discovered that the two-foot by two-foot hatch that gives access to the ascending power and water lines for the new water tower is not big enough for a bear-shaped maintenance person to get through conveniently.  Access becomes necessary in winter because the insulation was not adequate so someone has to climb in with a heater.  If that someone were to be shocked or otherwise hurt, getting the person out would be very difficult.

The hatch is close to the ground, which is a mercy, but it is involved in the structural support of the tank so enlarging it is more complex than just making the hole bigger.  The price tag of a fix is $15,000.  The whole approval protocol had been completed -- no one caught it, everyone signed off.  This present expensive lagoon project is also due to the previous work not taking into account the very cold weather typical here.  A high proportion of the cost of these projects is fees for the engineers -- assumed to be experts.  Call the lawyers.

On the national level, all these additional costs count as Gross National Product, as do insurance claims.  According to the crop insurers, the weather changes in the past few years -- no matter whether they count as global warming -- have shifted the hail storms slightly north of Pondera County so that Glacier has been under siege but Pondera -- once it has figured the cost of this snow storm -- seems to have gotten off lightly. Thunderstorms in general haven't hit Valier so often, but neither has there been the stretch of hot weather I was waiting for in order to do some outdoor things.  The potted flowers seem to have survived all around town, maybe because they are up against buildings that hold heat.  Dave's tomatoes and zucchinis were covered, but they're done-for.  The temp was 23ยบ this morning.


Obviously, these stories are all about cycles, including the people.  I've got enough material for my book about Valier.  Here's the tentative outline.  My idea of how to begin at the REAL beginning is to start with tectonic plates.  This means that the basic message of the whole manuscript will be the deep and ancient forces under more superficial recent history, revealed by what happens.

Table of Contents (first cut)

CH. 1:  The formation of North America
CH. 2:   Buffalo people
CH. 3:   Cattle on the prairie: the Conrads
CH. 4:   Belgian grain farmers: Swift Dam, Lake Francis, Pondera Canal Co., Railroad, Ocean ships, world markets
CH. 5:   Cargill
CH. 6:   Small town infrastructure
a.  Piped water
b.  Piped sewer
c.  Electricity, gas, telephone
d.  Electronics
e.  Service area versus city limits
CH. 7:  Social structure
a.  organizations
b.  demographics
CH.8:  Industrialism on the prairie: wind, oil, dams

In the end the message is not necessarily optimistic.  As I write, some grain farmers are spraying their wheat fields with Roundup herbicide in order to force early ripening.  Oil companies are still injecting poisonous water into the underground aquifers.  Chemical fallow fields -- using poison instead of harrowing to get rid of weeds -- are obvious this time of year because the dead fields are gray instead of the burnished gold of wheat stubble.  We may be in a space too small to get out of.








Thursday, September 11, 2014

A CRUCIAL DISTINCTION (3rd part of a 3 part sequence on pedophilia)


Somehow computers have made it legitimate to deal with forbidden topics so long as they are in terms of statistics, like “one in six men will be sexually molested in their lifetime”.  Or lab research produces charts like the one above by putting a pleismograph on a number of men’s penises to see what images they physically respond to.  (Which might not be what they think they desire.)  But also, more quietly, men have been openly testifying about what happened to them and the consequences of abuse.  Even the children are telling their stories.


This chart separates out people who are sexually aroused by different age groups.  Also, the scientists were looking for differences between the desires of “heterosexuals” versus “homosexuals,” though the two categories are becoming pretty blurry.  



(Are two ninety-year-old women who are married sitting in their wheelchairs, wearing pink, and after forty years of sharing a household, really like an Act-Up parade of randy naked young men?)   “Gay” begins to seem more and more about specific kinds of activities and locations than about the nature of desire, which seems less and less binary.  But the researchers were hoping to break down the association of homosexuality and pedophilia as society understands them, and in that they probably succeeded.

But the most marked and significant difference I hear when I read the stories of children who have been used to satisfy sexual desire is never even noted.  That’s between those who mix sex with something like nurturing and those who mix sex with violence (possibly deadly).  Street boys doing survival sex for pay report that they will be paid extra if they forego safety measures like condoms (barebacking), but also that they will sometimes be paid even more if they will allow themselves to be beaten up or even tortured.  Some clients don’t ask or pay -- they just do it.  Some seem to replace coitus with violence and others mix the two, one fueling the other.  (The boys cope by using drugs.)


Similar reports come from those abused by family members, esp. step-fathers but even biological fathers.  Why isn’t the difference between inappropriate but non-damaging sexual use and violent, emergency-room level sexual abuse (often fueled by drugs) more discussed and studied?

It seems to me that pedophiles who actually love the children they desire and even try to please them, to “turn them on,” establish an empathic connection with the child that keeps them from physically harming the child.  But they don’t have enough awareness to know they may be mentally and psychologically confusing and crippling a developing child.

The other kind of pedophiles need a different name:  they seem not to realize that a child is a human being, so their desire is not for the child but for the opportunity to torture and oppress, to get a reaction.  It's a cruelty-philia.  The fact that the victim is a child is only about the inability of the child to escape, like a small animal or a weak woman.  It's not about sexual desire at all, but about rage, invasion, power.  And the scariest kind are the ones who sit idle and bored on the sofa, watching tv alongside a child and a dog, when suddenly they have an impulse to make something happen and reach over to press the burning end of the cigarette into either the child or the dog.  Is there any sexual component to that?

rough sex

I started thinking about the opposite: "maternal men," who will feed, comfort, reassure, guide and love children WITHOUT sexual elements -- innocently.  Even if they are desirous.  I think of Walt Whitman at the bedside of young suffering and dying soldiers, treating them as a mother would.  One would hope pediatricians were like this.  But at another point I was googling for images of “grabbed by the back of the neck”  (cats and rabbits do this to hold the female in place) and kept coming across the little motto above that had been repeated in different fonts and backgrounds.  It’s a celebration of rough sex, a frank inability to feel anything that isn’t violent.  If a person has conflated sex with violence, then they likely would be looking for someone whom they could treat violently.  

That still doesn't account for the man who leaves his wife sleeping in their bed in order to cross the hall to rape his small son -- though he created that child by fucking the woman he now deserts.  What kind of displacement is that?

Why is this cute?

Pedophile priests seem to desire transgression per se.  Not the kind of zombie-producing transgression where jungle maniacs force children to have intercourse with their parents and then kill the parents before their eyes and cut off the hands of the child.  But just indecent liberties -- fumbling, inviting sucking, pushing aside clothing.  This is NOT sexual desire for a child's body so much as wanting the knowledge of doing what is forbidden and knowing they can do it with impunity, that they will be protected in order to save the reputation of the church.  

Maybe it makes them seem to themselves more important or effective.  Maybe they feel they are being diddled by God.  The world of ministry, like the world of social work or teaching, is always frustrating.  One is constantly hitting limits of what one can do and constantly having to respond to trivialities that people could resolve for themselves if they tried.  Priests work alone far more than teachers or social workers.  It's not just a matter of not having sex with a wife, but also the comforting domestic life and ego support provided by a wife.

Ashes.

Researchers claim that one in six men is sexually abused over a lifetime.  I suppose mostly as children, but also as adults.  I wonder why EVERYONE is not abused?  What keeps the other five-sixths from being abused?  Is there some marker on the ones who are molested?   They say there is -- esp. after the first incident.  A stigma.  Maybe cringing or resentment.  Maybe false bravado.  Or maybe they felt it was a compliment, a privilege.  Maybe they just look confused, paralyzed like a bird in front of a snake.  Researching such markers is too close to blaming the victim.  But bruises, broken bones, STD’s, personality changes, are certainly markers that the victim neither plans nor enjoys.  Even if the predator takes care not to mark a face, behavior patterns can be giveaways.

In fact, it could be argued that the emotional confusion is the real damage. The distorted brain matrixes that keep people from intimacy, trust, joy, are harder to treat and heal than even broken bones or burst organs.  Yet emotional cruelty -- belittling, berating, bullying, mocking -- is so accepted and pervasive that it’s hard to convince people that it’s not normal and not harmless.  It is an effective way to control others, esp. children and dependents.

I read and think more about male victims partly because it gives me a bit of distance but also because I just like boys.  I have two brothers.  It’s not harder to think more about male than female perpetrators because most of them are male.  That’s who is more likely to mix violence with coition, indeed require violence in order to be aroused.  If they are grown men, equals, and in the SM context, they may share a universe of sensation that the rest of us would just as soon ignore.  The biochemical parameters and components of that have been investigated to some degree.  It’s pretty clear that transgression is a component -- doing socially forbidden things -- but within the intimacy.  

"Last Tango in Paris"

Probably there are accounts of sexual violence against children somewhere.  The most compelling accounts of NON-violent but physical desire for a child might be “Lolita” or “Death in Venice.”  Two films show men tenderly bathing “daughters” they are using sexually:  “Last Tango in Paris” and “Butterfly.”  The women are technically adult but have hebephilic personas.  At no point are they beaten up, there is no blood-letting, and they are not confined.  (Terrifying case histories in daily newspapers tell of girls being shut into boxes, tied into chairs for YEARS, raped and forced to give birth without medical help.)

These heads are made of cake and frosting for a joke wedding cake.

Our culture in general is so violent that I was surprised anyone was shocked by vids of public beheadings of journalists.  The movies show heads rolling around as freely as billiard balls on a pool table.  The technical ability to show recognizable heads on pikes means there must be prototypes on many storage shelves in Hollywood.  Kid gamers commonly watch beheading with great gouts of blood, and spectacular immolations that leave shriveled black remains.  We see people raped on television every evening, often represented as deserved punishment.  Blaming the victim.

What the kids themselves, esp. the ones with enough self-awareness to market their own bodies (NOT their desire) describe is nothing so spectacular.  What they say is that they feel invisible, non-existent, shadowy, immersed in depression, alien.  They long for love, the kind of intimacy that makes marionettes and velveteen rabbits come to life.  Why not real boys?


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

HEBE, THE BEST LITTLE PARLOR MAID ON OLYMPUS

Hebe, the Cup Bearer

Hebe was the cup-bearer of the Greek gods, daughter of the Lord and Lady of the Manor (Zeus and Hera), and all-around helpful little girl representing youth -- useful youth.  She’s a little older than the “straight-sided” androgynous children -- when with the right haircut and trousers you can’t tell girls from boys -- and a little younger than a voluptuous child-bearing mother-figure.  Think junior high.  (11 to 14) The sexual desire for children who are at this stage is called “hebephilia.” 

Ganymede:  The homophilic version of Leda and the swan?

Boys might be represented by Hebe’s successor cup-bearer, Ganymede, but no one talks of ganymedophilia, which is too hard to pronounce even for the Latin word-inventors.  Nevertheless, there can be sexual desire for the gangly boy with the tender mouth and big feet.  The shared characteristic of the age-group might be their transitional physical and emotional state, moving from vulnerable child to sultry adolescent, from gender-specific gangs to pair-bonds.

Recently one of the constant DSM battles was whether to include hebephilia.  Finally it was left out.  Part of the argument was that it’s natural to desire a budding person and part of it was that by this age, some of the children are themselves predators of younger children -- sexual desire is no longer a one-way street.  So therefore it may be useful to think about this age group separately.

Because so many children molested by priests fall into the category of the hebephilia, there have been people wondering whether there is something about celibacy or homosexuality that predicts or causes a priest to be hebephiliac.  Dr. Cantor is of the opinion that it’s mostly a matter of altar boys and schools:  persons with that predeliction would find they had opportunity, authority, and privacy -- as well as exposure to the charms of kids.  In short, kids that age are molested by priests because they are there and because the priests can.  It’s possible -- maybe likely -- that persons with that dynamic in their makeup would seek those roles.  Athletic coaching in schools is another platform, quite parallel.  The unstable emotional storms of an early adolescent find expression in competition, winning, belonging.

Laocoon entwinde.

Several concepts impinge on hebephilia:  care-giving, celibacy, homosexuality, spiritual formation, authoritarianism, and media concept-mongering.  We have a Laocoonian tangle of serpents here, always remembering that the healing rod of Asclepius has a serpent twined around it (not the staff of Hermes, the caduceus which has two snakes),  Those are sorted snakes.  Leaving classic mythology, we have a can of worms, including step-fathers and families that throw out atypical kids at about this age.

There’s enough material here for a book, but basically the problems of Hebe and Ganymede are due to them trying their powers, unfolding into the world, searching to find their place, accepting leaders and role-model adults, and so on.  If you have investigated their songs, movies, assumptions about life, video games, willingness to risk the streets despite drugs, violence, starvation and disease, you will know that it is one satanic dark world.  The main trouble with trying to “save” them is that you’ll have to enter their world to do it.  That means a certain experience and willingness to walk on the dark side.  Some priests enjoy their Luciferean capes.  Do-gooders prefer haloes.

The Crow

When I was in the seventh grade, our teacher was Mr. Jones, a young man who caused a certain restlessness among us.  He sponsored a photography club which was less about going out into the neighborhood to take photos and more about using the cold, damp, dark projection booth of the auditorium to learn to develop photos.  The club didn’t persist.  Nothing happened in that red-light setting of that dark room, at least not to me, but I still find the vinegar smells of the developing trays rather erotic and I don’t think I’m alone.  Maybe it’s the constantly splashing water for rinsing prints.

Anyway, Mr. Jones promoted the diagramming of sentences and I was good at it, so in my dumpling Hebe state, I was oblivious.  Other girls were not.  They complained that he looked down their bodices, which in those days were quite modest.  Then once a girl was trying to get something from a high shelf and he lifted her by her waist, but his hands slipped upwards.  Pretty soon Mr. Jones lost his job, married the kindergarten teacher, and went through dental college on her dime.  All of this was sort of “sub-social” if that can be used as a parallel concept to “sub-conscious.”  One felt the vibes, but it was discussed secretly -- which is more intense than privately.

In that same time period the local Presbyterian minister was intent on getting us into religious conformity.  Since this was an issue in my family (Presbyterian mother, atheist father), I recognized the limbless reptile and resisted.  There WAS something sexual about his insistence that he control us, forcing us into his system of virtue, though there was never anything physical.  That I knew of.


There are other factors, some of them addressed by our computer ability to investigate things statistically.  Dr. Ray Blanchard is at the University of Toronto with Cantor, but he's more controversial.  He wanted to put hebephilia in the DSM on grounds that same-sex hebephilia is a different subset of pedophilia.  “ Using an extraordinary compilation of data from thousands of men, Blanchard has convincingly shown that hebephiles consist of a sort of "missing link" between pedophiles (those attracted to pre-pubescent children) and teleiophiles (those of us attracted to sexually mature people). Blanchard's data clearly indicate that the sexual orientation of males (at least) isn't just composed of the sex of their partners, it's also composed of the age of their partners.”  But he did NOT want homosexuality to go back into the DSM though the church tries to link hebephilia with homosexuality, esp. male.  These kinds of distinctions are pretty tough for the public to follow. 

http://individual.utoronto.ca/ray_blanchard/index_files/fert_hebeph.pdf  

A Russian man

It's tough to know how to interpret even plain facts.  Among the fact-findings of the incessant surveyors is the startling conclusion that the average penis size of males (presumably world-wide, but I doubt that any Sub-Saharan or Amazonian tribes were included) is several centimeters shorter (no specifics about erectile state) than it used to be and that females are becoming fertile earlier and earlier.  Russia is depopulating, they say, with the raw numbers declining, the rate of abortions rising, and the lifetimes of males shorter by 7 years on average.  Much of this is speculation since Russia doesn’t like criticism and prevents it by not knowing.  But one suggestion is that processed foods, insecticides, antiseptics, and even cleaning formulas contain estrogens that are distorting male sexuality.  Another Twinkie defense.  Mr. Clean made me do it.
In the US we want to know stuff; particularly we want to know what will make people buy things.  This penetrates (sorry) into sexual concepts.  Evidently, as Valier and Kalispell recently discovered, men will pay for hebephilic opportunities of the female kind.  The entrappers didn’t use any Ganymedian bait.  They don’t seem to have the same ferocious ownership issues with boys that they have with girls.
Dr. Ray Blanchard, a little farther out than the angels.

Blanchard also emphasized only female hebephilia, suggesting that sex with young girls (which is an accepted part of some cultures, especially the male-dominated ones) is evolutionarily adaptive, which is how he links fertility to the issue.  But he doesn’t consider the medical danger of pregnancy and birth for girls who are not grown, esp. in places with no medical support.  Still, fertility as an issue is interesting in same-sex relations because the latter removes the obligation and burden of caring for the ensuing children, doing the work of maintaining family.  The church has accepted this responsibility for family maintenance only with great reluctance, except for a few popes who secretly sent child support to their bastards.
At this point in the research it’s clear that all is still beginning and that the answers, in particular those involving institutions that allow access to early adolescent children and those that ENCOURAGE the sexualizing of young people or offer opportunities to act on the impulse, need to be considered alongside one-on-one sexual events.  Much more is involved than morality. 
Donatello's David