May, 2014

May 14

Do we have to believe ALL OF IT?

I’m open minded about the paranormal, so called–I happen to think some forms of telepathy are real, and some precognition is real. (I think that in the rare instances when they’re real they are a function of some unknown physical law, not the supernatural). But I want to ask why most people who believe in, for example, extraterrestrials visiting Earth seemingly have to believe ALL or nearly all alleged UFO/ET visitation stories and the ridiculous alien astronaut misinterpretations of the archaeological record?

Why can’t they accept that alien abduction stories are either hallucinatory or fraudulent–they never really honestly look at skeptical evidence–and still have room for some reasonable UFO reports about extraordinary craft (if that’s what they really are) following jets and so on?

What’s wrong with, at least, some selectivity? Why do most people who believe in psychic phenomena have to believe in ghosts AND channelers AND crooks like the “psychic medium” John Edward AND seances AND psychic healing AND levitating Tibetan monks AND Mayans predicting the end of the world AND…so on?

Why does all quartz have to be misidentified as diamonds? Is it really so impossible to have a filter to eliminate the false miraculous–so we might possibly do a better job of searching for the true miraculous?

May 14

The Ghost Tugging at My Toe

At one point I was struggling with a sleep disorder and had to use a sleeping agent (restoril, I think) and was lying in bed and felt something tugging on my big toe. I looked and saw a hand tugging on it. Then it was gone.

Then…it came back–only I couldn’t see it but could feel it. It was like an adult was teasing me (no one there with me). Then I felt presences in the room. I said, mentally, go away! I tried to emanate this idea at them. A man’s face suddenly appeared, and it was a man I’ve never seen before. He looked very annoyed as he glared at me from beside my bed. He was a middle aged guy–a complete stranger to me. I repeated my mental demand and fairly soon they were gone again. I had other strange dreams that night…

Because yes, this was all a dream, of course, a side effect of the pill I’d taken. I was in a kind of middle state between waking and dreaming, but edging more into a dreamstate, and I was seeing things. My brain was making this stuff up. I was hallucinating. And to me this is interesting to contemplate–just how a change in brain chemistry can lead to encounters with imaginary beings, physical sensations and so on. Certain electrical fields –as demonstrated by studies–will cause a person to feel as if “hands” are on them holding them down. It’s a purely cerebral effect.

To me my apparitional visitation relates to experiences people have had with “alien abductions” at night, ghosts in bedrooms and so on. I’m not saying that all paranormal experiences are hallucinatory, however. But this kind are likely to be.

May 14

The VA Scandal: Hypocrisy and The Self-Satirizing Congress

Our self-satirizing congress is currently dramatizing political hypocrisy in a way that would be called heavy handed if it were in a movie. The head of the VA has been called before congress to explain shenanigans at some VA hospitals and facilities where people may indeed have been fudging wait times for veterans. Of course the fudging should never have been happening…but all this is to Republicans is an opportunity to smear the President and Democrats in a mid-terms election year.

“Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) has proposed new legislation that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General to report to Congress on the wait times that veterans are seeing at VA health care clinics across the country.” That’s from The Blaze.

This is from the AP: “A divided Senate on Thursday derailed Democratic legislation that would have provided $21 billion for medical, education, and job-training benefits for the nation’s veterans”–the Republicans blocked the bill. So now Thune and his GOP colleagues are pretending they *care* about veterans–because the opportunity came along to make that pretense. Because during a Democratic administration some lame low-level bureaucrats tried to cover up their inefficiency.

May 14

Just Speaking Brain to Brain…

Okay so–what is it in us that feels sadness, that feels high, that feels depressed, that feels affection or fury? “Duh, Shirley, it’s the brain.” What in the brain feels that stuff? “Certain areas of the brain. If you remove them, you don’t feel it. Brain stem, insular cortex…” Okay and in those areas of the brain it’s neuronal cells, they react to stimuli…but what feels in the collection (the collectivity) of neuronal cells? “They do, Shirley, the cells, nothing else is needed.” So they’re like drum skins that vibrate when drummed on? “Well sort of…I think…” But what hears the vibration of the drums? “Nervous system, brain cells.” And that is like drum skins, reacting? What hears that? “Nervous system, ears….It’s just the cells, sharing information.” So it comes down to sharing information? It’s a transfer of information…that feels? “No it’s just the cells.” What feels in the cells? “Duh Shirley, it’s the brain?” What in the brain feels that stuff? “Certain areas…”

May 14

The Big Lies That Could Give the Country to the Right-Wingnuts This year

Some polls for the 2014 midterm elections seem to put the Republicans ahead. If it plays out that way, it’ll be a consequence of the ever handy Big Lie principle. Just keep repeating the lie over and over– “Obamacare is socialism, Obamacare is making things worse, Democrats are socialist, Democrats are making things worse, Democrats are hurting the economy, Republicans are better for small business and jobs, Democrats want to raise taxes on YOU rather than on the 1% big biz types” blah-blah and so on. Rinse, repeat. Over and over and over in a thousand venues. They cannot support these claims, they’re easily proven wrong. But who checks?

Meanwhile SCOTUS decisions make it easier for vested corporate interests to freely propagandize. A recent Congressional special election in Florida favored a Democrat–until Big Money dumped the Big Lie all over the district through high profile ads. And the GOP candidate won. . .

Democrats and Greens are failing to make their own voices heard. A good many people on the left haughtily refuse to vote for Democrats–ceding lawmaking to Republicans. Midterm elections, too, don’t generate enough excitement in voters and they don’t show up in droves. Meaning ideologically fanatical right wingers, who do show up, put their candidates in Congress. . .

A national movement to Get out the Vote for progressives and Dems is called for–get out the vote, and put out the advertising. And the endless, egregious lies told by the Tea Party types about Obamacare need to be loudly refuted: