Duck! and Gather: Podcast, Predictions, & Analysis

... for the money has gone too far.

About

About Duck! and Gather

What does this About page cover?

This page addresses what this blog is about, and why I blog.

But don't the Huh?, Duck?, and Gather? links at the bottom of the page already provide that information?

Yes, but only in part, and perhaps a bit obliquely, and maybe even obtusely. I'm hoping with this page to be a little more clear and direct.

Why be clear and direct?

Over the past two months (Sept-Nov of 2006), in different situations, I've caught up with good friends who I've known for decades. On the topic of this blog, two of them said they were concerned I might be going crazy. And while the other friends didn't say that explicitly, I did get the same sense from them.

That's a non sequitur. I asked why be clear and direct, not whether your friends think you're crazy. Maybe your friends are right.

Oh, right, Well, here's the thing: When people tell me I may be crazy, I say: "Thanks for the opinion; but I just don't see it." I do, however, see that the patterns I tend to notice when I look out at the world are quite different from the patterns my friends seem to notice. So my brain tells me that if they can't see the pattern that I see, then it must be that I am mumbling again. Because the pattern I see seems obvious when one takes the trouble to look at it. Obvious to me, at least. So I figure I ought to be more clear and direct.

Why don't you just email your friends with your "clear and direct" description, rather than create this new About page?

I might do both. But concerning you all, as of the end of 2006, this site was drawing over 1000 unique visitors per month. Now, considering that my friends are among the smartest people I've known, I'm figuring that many of you might also not "get" where I'm coming from. Hence this page.

So where are you coming from?

The tag-line of the site says it all: "... for the money has gone too far."

Do you mean that in the sense of "stretching a dollar" to get more value out of it?

Perhaps a little. However my dominant meaning is along the lines of: "This time you kids have really gone too far."

So where is it that you see the money having gone too far?

Almost everywhere.

That's not helpful. I can see why your friends think you're crazy. Let's try this: "too far" compared to what?

OK, OK. Fair enough observation and question. How about we try an example to illustrate what I mean by the money having gone too far?

Hey, I'm asking the questions around here. OK, what's your example?

Individual health. It's not just a random example. My own health, that of my family members and friends, and that of my nation, are of utmost interest to me.

Oh, so you're a doctor then.

No. When it comes to health, I'm just a garden-variety hacker.

I get it. You're one of those assholes who feel the need to opine on stuff about which you have no business opining.

I guess. But as of 2006, the popular Internet is over a decade old. And I claim that the Internet is the greatest teacher in the history of mankind. Used properly, I believe the Internet enables one to become functionally competent in any informational domain for which "going to school" was formerly the only or best way for any of us to become competent.

You're telling me that surfing the Internet can bring me to a level of competence on health in the ballpark of that of a person who has spent a decade or more in formal academic and clinical environments?

Yes and no. "Yes", in the sense that from what I've seen in conventional hospitals and clinics, and heard from conventional doctors, whatever these people were studying in med school, and whatever it is they are doing in practice, it wasn't and isn't about health. But "No," in the sense that merely "surfing the Internet" uncritically will just reflect our own ignorance.

Hold on. You're starting to sound crazy. Explain what you mean by "surfing the Internet critically".

Sure. Let's try an example. You've heard of "trans fats", yes? If so, then you probably know that, as of 2006, the nation is concerned about the impact of trans fats on individual health. The basic question for individual health is: Are trans fats good for us, bad for us, or something in between? Well, surfing the Internet looking for an answer to this question, one might come across at least three seemingly very different answers:

  1. At one end of the spectrum, Consumer Freedom says that "trans fats have been a part of the American diet since the early 1900s and they are hardly toxic" (my emphasis).
  2. At the other end of the spectrum, my sister's site You're the Cure lists trans fats as one among many "toxins" that "often act as obstacles to cure in the treatment of people with diseases; toxins create diseases themselves; and at the very least, toxins aggravate existing health problems" (my emphasis).
  3. In the middle, the Mayo Clinic advises us to "[f]ocus on reducing foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and select more foods made with unsaturated fats" (my emphasis).

So what to do with the box of Oreo Cookies in our pantry? If Consumer Freedom is the only site we surfed to, then our answer is clear: scarf away! If my sister's site is our sole site, then we'd waste no time in taking that box of Oreos out of our pantry and throwing it in the garbage. However, if the Mayo Clinic is our guru, then maybe we'd think one or two Oreos a day can't hurt.

As the Roman governor asked in that Mel Gibson Jesus snuff film: "Quid est veritas?"

How do you answer that question?

Very carefully. In fact, I did a two-part podcast on this very question. Specifically, I discussed: "How does one decide what is true?" As you can see from the example I gave above, I think this question is among the most pressing facing us humans today. Prior to the Internet, people could remain sleepy, and simply follow the prevailing dogma of their own culture. But in the day of the Internet, on any question, we cannot help but be bombarded by conflicting answers coming from every obscure nook and cranny of humanity. Quid est veritas, indeed. Hence the need I felt to develop my own approach to answering this question.

But actually, in the example we're talking about here, which involves individual health, there is even a simpler way to answer that question. That way is self-experimentation.

That is, the two-part podcast cited above describes a general purpose approach for deciding what is true. I use this approach in any and all domains, including individual health. But in the domain of individual health, we have the additional tool of self-experimentation to aid us in our search for truth.

How do you approach self-experimentation on health?

Well, before I jump into a discussion on some tools I use, a background discussion on health seems apt. Let's draw an analogy between my body, and my chainsaw. In some ways, both are machines that do work. For example, the chainsaw takes in fuel in the form of a gas-oil mixture, lubrication in the form of bar chain oil, and oxygen through some slots in the housing. When running, the oxygen burns the fuel to enable the chainsaw to do the work of cutting logs. Meanwhile, the bar chain oil lubricates the chain to make the cutting easier; some of the oil drips off the chain. Also, the chainsaw emits CO2 and heat while it is running.

Similarly, our bodies take in fuel in the form of food, lubrication in the form of water, and oxygen through our noses and mouths. Inside our bodies, the oxygen burns the fuel to enable us to do work, like me typing this page and you reading it. Meanwhile, heat is generated and the water lubricates our body. As waste products of this work, our bodies emit CO2, poo, pee, and sweat.

Those are some similarities. But what are some differences between my chainsaw and my body? One difference is that my body is a way more interesting machine than my chainsaw. For example, my body is conscious, it is capable of learning, and amazingly enough, self-repair. Compared to my amazing living body, my chainsaw is a dumb machine.

But dumb though it is, my chainsaw came with a user manual to explain how to operate it in an optimal fashion. That user manual was provided by the manufacturer of the machine. Shame on me if I screw up the chainsaw because I didn't read the manual.

But where is the user manual for my body? Why, when I turned 13, didn't my mother (my own manufacturer) present me with the user manual for optimally operating my body?

You really are weird. Go on. My sleeping remedies aren't working that well, but your voice seems to have narcoleptic properties.

Happy to be of help. The answer to that last question is that there is no user manual for optimally operating our bodies. Instead, outside of America, what we have is cultural dogma. That is, outside of America, in most of the rest of the world, there are old cultures which dictate what food we ought to eat, what we ought to avoid, how and when and whether to fast, what sorts of remedies to try, and so on. But in America, there is no pervasive cultural dogma. Instead, there is only a cacophony of thousands of shouting voices.

Let me give you one little example concerning food. Most every year, I spend some time in Greece. In Greece, especially outside of Athens, the people pretty much eat something called "Greek food". In America, we'd call Greek food one example of a "Mediterranean diet".

Why do Greek people eat Greek food? As far as I can tell, it's because they're Greek. In other words, the typical Greek eats Greek food because his mother made it for him, and her mother made it for him because her own mother made it for her, and her own mother made it for her because... and so on.

If someone in America ate Greek food regularly, why would they do so? One reason, obviously, might be that the person is Greek. But another even more common reason is that the person has explicitly chosen to do so.

Thus we come to the essence and genius of America: freedom of choice. In America, there is no national food. There is no national music. No national heroes, no national myths, no national holidays, no national ideology, no national religion, no national health practices. No national nothing. America is a glorious void.

Well what I mean is: Show me any such domain that you claim harbors nationally pervasive ideas, and I will point to you a strong, resolute group of naysayers in this country. In America, these naysayers are neither apostates nor heretics.

What about Steven Jones, that BYU professor who has cast his lot with those 9/11 conspiracy whackos? BYU sent him packing, and he seems persona non grata in academia. There's your heretic for you.

Thanks for making my point. If there is anything resembling a current national religion circa 2006, it is the received story on 9/11. Both political parties, all of major media, and all of conventional academia have lined up behind this story. Along comes Mr. Jones to buck the dominant religion. Out the door he goes. "We don't need your kind in this town, Mr. Jones. Best be gone by sundown."

So where does Mr. Jones go? Does he go to Russia? Cuba? Venezuela? Iran?

Hell no. He stays right here in America and co-edits the Journal of 9/11 Studies . America is a BIG tent.

OK, but what does any of this have to do with individual health, let alone "the money having gone too far"?

In America, all is choice. That is, even if we don't think that we have chosen what we eat, what we wear, how we approach our health, and so on, we have. If that's not obvious to you, then I'll suggest that you simply have never considered the question.

Well, I have considered the question and here are a few words on my some of my choices here. I've experimented eating different kinds of foods, and have settled on a certain pattern of eating and drinking, exercise and rest, supplementation and toxin elimination. I won't bore you here with what my protocol is in this regard. In fact, it's quite possible that my protocol may be optimal for me, but not for you.

Instead, what I think is more relevant here is to discuss how I came around to my protocol, and how I check whether it is working. For this, I avoided conventional doctors. Instead, I have my own heart rate monitor watch, body fat scale, a tape measure for measuring my waist, a blood pressure monitor, a blood glucose meter, and a cholesterol reader, to name a few. Using these tools, I can see directly what effects the various foods, drinks, and physical practices have on these scales for measuring my health.

Beyond these scales, I'm also conscious of how I am feeling throughout the day. That is, how my mental and physical energy seem to be doing at different points of the day.

Finally, I undergo annual tests that reveal a broader picture of my health status. Examples of these tests include blood panel tests for measuring dozens of health-related attributes, and physical tests like Dr. Shallenberger's bio-energy testing.

So, what do these tests tell you about your health?

They tell me that, as of late 2006, I may the healthiest 43-year-old that you know.

Well if that's true, then bully for you. But still, what does any of that have to do with "the money having gone too far"?

The health protocol I have stumbled upon is mostly free to follow. Where money is needed, often it is of the one-time form, rather than the on-going cost form. Where on-going costs are needed, I'm finding that free alternatives are available that further aid my health.

An example of a free aspect of my health protocol is chopping wood in the noonday sun. An example of a one-time cost is the cost of my blood pressure monitor. Rather than pay a doctor office visit each time I want my blood pressure checked, doing so is free for me now that I've bought my own meter.

An example of a recurring cost item that I am converting to free is fruits and vegetables. These comprise the bulk of my diet in terms of mass (not calories). Through this year, my family has bought these items in grocery stores and farmer's markets and CSAs. But next year, we plan to get these things through our gardens and orchards, and have them last through the winter using our dehydrator. Building our garden this year, and obtaining our dehydrator, represented one-time costs. But from here on out, it's all free. And gardening in the sun will provide me with Vitamin D, plus a little exercise. Not to mention the wonderful feeling of self-reliance.

Bottom line is: I've found that the most effective way to be healthy is to follow protocols that are largely or effectively free of charge.

Again, bully for you. But even if you've found free ways to be healthy, why should that imply the money has gone too far in healthcare?

Here I am, 43, having cobbled together a health protocol that seems to have me in a state approaching stripling health. But I didn't get that protocol from any doctor nor anything on the television or in newspapers. Instead, I got some of it from my sister, other of it from books, and much of it from the Internet. In fact, at this point, all of it can be found on the Internet.

So I asked myself: Why is that? Why haven't my doctors told me these things? Why did learning these things require me making my own body a research project, and making the Internet my professor for teaching me about the dynamics underlying what this personal research was revealing?

Well, to answer that question, I looked at what conventional medicine comprises. Clinics and hospitals are divided into wards organized by body parts and/or disease states. In other words, conventional medicine seems to think my body is a dumb chainsaw.

Then, whenever I have gone to a conventional doctor, upwards of 90% of the time, the doctor has recommended either pills (pharmaceuticals) or cuttin' (surgery) to remedy my complaint. Of course, pharmaceuticals involve recurring costs, often non-trivial ones, and surgeries are always expensive.

I asked myself: Why would doctors recommend pills and cuttin', and say nothing about this nearly free health protocol I stumbled across? The answer I came up with was "money".

Are you saying that doctors know about your free protocol, but recommend only pills and cuttin' so that they can make money?

No. I doubt that most doctors are aware of this free protocol. I don't think doctors are taught much if anything about it in med school. For example, many of the doctors that I know are fat. Imagine if you went to a car repair shop, and the car repairman pulled up in his car which was spewing blue smoke out of the hood, and backfiring. And if he said nothing about his defective car, and seemed to act as if he thought nothing was wrong with his own car, how comfortable would you feel about having him work on your car?

So what the hell are you doing taking health advice from a fat doctor?

My pont here is that doctors are people who went to med school where they learned about using pills and cuttin' for treating disease. That's it. Plain and simple. They weren't taught about self-reliant health practices.

If the doctors aren't responsible for this situation in healthcare, then who is?

I don't know the answer to that, but my deep suspicion is the med schools and NIH, and behind both of those, the pharmaceutical industry.

Med schools need financing. I went to law school, not med school. Unlike med schools, law schools don't conduct research that attract research grants from the government or industry. In contrast, med schools do. They get financing from both the NIH and Big Pharma.

The NIH is just a branch of the federal government. I think, as of November 2006, it's a common understanding in this country that politicians are whores to whoever gives them big money. In the domain of healthcare, the johns would be Big Pharma (there is obviously much more to the story here).

Let me get this straight. You think there is a giant conspiracy in healthcare among academia, government, and industry, designed to force expensive medical protocols down our throats, and keep us from adopting free and more effective health protocols like the one you follow?

Sort of, but not exactly. The problem is that word "conspiracy" suggests an explicit agreement. It suggests a dark and mysterious Illuminati that controls the direction of academia, government, and industry in healthcare.

I don't buy that story. I think the situation is much more subtle and pervasive. In other words, if there is a "conspiracy", it's an implicit or subconscious one, and its members include each and every one of us who still trusts conventional medicine for anything but acute emergencies.

Please explain.

Two subconscious dynamics seem to be at play here:

  1. Unstated social assumptions about the role of money.
  2. The imperceptibility of subtle change.

On the role of money, consider the following aphorisms: "You get what you pay for." "There is no free lunch." In America at least, these represent a foundational belief that money is equated with value. No money, no value. This belief is not explicitly taught in schools. Instead, it is an assumption that seems to pervade most all domains of dialogue in the nation. At least, as of 2006.

On the imperceptibility of subtle change, consider the following story I heard at one of those web conferences a few years ago. The story runs that, early on, EBay had a yellow background for their pages. One day, they decided to switch to a white background. But the users freaked and demanded that EBay switch back to the original yellow.

So EBay did so. But then what they did was to move from yellow to white over the course of 30 days, rather than a single day. Every day during those 30 days, the page would get imperceptibly whiter. From one day to the next, the change was not noticeable. But by the end of 30 days, the page was white. EBay heard virtually nothing from its users.

The lessons here? We are sheep. Each and every one of us. We go around ascribing talismanic and false meaning to money just because everybody seems to be and always has. And we don't notice any changes, so long as they are sufficiently slow and gradual. Baaaa.

Hmm, interesting. How do these subconscious dynamics apply to healthcare?

The 1950s saw the explosion of pharmaceutical "magic pills" into public consciousness. Penicillin was the first such "magic pill." Up until the 1950s, people regularly died from viral and bacterial infectious diseases. But these early magic pills saved us from that ancient, eternal fate. In the 1950s, the pharmaceutical companies who provided these "magic pills" were seen not merely as good, but as Jesus Christian saviors.

From that explosive beginning, over 50 years have passed. Those 50 years have witnessed imperceptible changes in health care. The magic pill pharmaceutical market gradually grew in scope, size, ubiquity, and wealth. This growth was slow enough that no one seemed to notice.

Of course, the pharmaceutical industry was industry not charity. So this industry naturally patented its magic pills, and discredited non-patentable, free remedies. It, like all industries, rode and helped drive the "money = value" national assumption.

So 50 years after the popular emergence of the pharmaceutical industry, health care, med school, and government all have "drunk the Koolaid" of pills and cuttin'. So have all of we. And only a growing quiet minority seems to know it and be alarmed by it.

You explained the imperceptibility of subtle change as a human dynamic. But what about the role of money?

Right. I think the imperceptibility of subtle change thing is about how the normal human brain is hard-wired. Nothing uniquely American about that.

But the money=value assumption is, I think, American. I think this assumption crept into our culture -- thin though that culture may be -- via an imperceptibility of subtle change dynamic. You can see this by looking at Maslow's first level of human development. This level concerns basic physical survival. This level of survival depends on things like food, water, health care, and warmth.

Prior to WWII, many, if not most Americans, lived in small towns or the countryside. The 50 years since WWII witnessed the movement of most Americans to the major cities and immediate suburbs. This period witnessed something else with respect to Maslow's first hierarchy. Prior to WWII, many if not most of those basic physical needs were provided by the person's local community. That is food, water, health care, and warmth, among other necessities, originated mostly from the local environment of the citizenry. Indeed, much of these necessities came from self, or other citizens. This was in contrast with these necessities coming from big business or government.

Over the past 50-60 years, via imperceptible subtle change, the various necessities of life came to be provided by big businesses having little or no presence in the locality where provided.

So people moved from being reliant on self and local community for the necessities of life, to becoming wholly reliant on impersonal big business for these things. But this movement was so slow that few, if any, seemed to have noticed it. And among those who have noticed it, few if any see the pathology in this movement.

But one effect I'll suggest that has come from this movement is this money=value assumption. That is, since our necessities of life all or mostly come from for-profit corporations, it makes sense that these corporations have promoted this money=value assumption. This assumption keeps us people from imagining life without these corporations. This ignorance is good for these corporations because life without them would mean their own death.

So with the necessities of life being provided by corporations, and the channels of information (TV, newspapers, etc.) and entertainment (movies, TV, etc.) also being provided by corporations, it takes little imagination to wonder why it is that Americans seem to blindly assume that money=value.

So, for the last time, how do you think the money has gone too far in health care?

I think the money has gone so far that most people -- patients and doctors included -- can't seem to see beyond pills and cuttin' as the only approach to health. I say "most people" because here I am, 43 years old, with the body of a 20-something (except for these 60-year-old knees). I wouldn't touch a pharmaceutical "magic pill" with a 10-foot pole (unless in an acute crisis), and I wouldn't submit to surgery unless in acute crisis or until all non-surgical roads have been explored first (e.g. I had my deviated septum repaired a few years ago).

I am surrounded by friends and loved ones who take pharmaceuticals and undergo surgery as a first or "fast-follower" second health option. These people look at me fasting for 3 days around each solstice and figure I must be about to keel over.

I say to myself, if the people in my own circle, presented with a living, breathing example of a middle-aged person in superior health, are not even curious enough to ask how I got here, I'm thinking the rest of this great nation is royally f*&ked when it comes to health.

The money has gone so far that this nation has become the unqualified fattest nation in the history of mankind, and the sickest developed nation (with childhood epidemics of degenerative disease). Welcome to America!

Aha, so you're anti-American.

Wrong. Quite the opposite, my friend. I am a true American-o-phile. I love this country. I love this country for the very reason we are the most f&*ked people the world has known, and for the very reason that will bring us out of these dark times. That single reason is liberty, liberty, liberty.

The Greek eats Greek food because he is Greek and that's what Greeks do. The American eats Greek food because he thinks it's a good idea and so chose to.

The fundamentalist Muslim woman wears a veil and stays home to raise the kids because she is a fundamentalist Muslim woman and that's what such women do. The post-feminist American woman stays home to raise the kids because she thinks it's a good idea and so chose to.

If you are fat in America, you are fat because you chose to be. If you are sick in America, you are sick because you chose to be. If you are in debt up to your eyeballs in America, you are in debt up to your eyeballs because you chose to be.

Conversely, if you shed the fat and become skinny in America, you are such because you have chosen to. Similarly, if you are so healthy that, like me, you have chosen "catastrophic health insurance" not because you can't afford normal coverage, but because you don't need no stinkin' conventional medicine to tell you how to wipe your own ass, you have chosen to. And if you have resisted the siren call of the American retail industry and thus kept your personal finances in order, you have chosen to.

America is the land of freedom of choice. In America we are free to fall down and free to get back up. Free to hold on and free to let go. Free to believe and free to disbelieve.

Eric Burdon sang this about San Francisco, but I'll broaden it to America: "I wasn't born here, but perhaps I'll die here."

So you've just about put me to sleep on health care. But you said that the money has gone too far "almost everywhere". Where else?

Like I said, almost everywhere. Here's a "Has the money gone too far?" approach for you:

  1. Pick any industry. Say, for example sports.
  2. Look for anomalies in that domain. Say, for example, the anomalous officiating in Superbowl XL* and the 2006 NBA Finals.
  3. Consider the dynamics of money flow in that domain. Say, for example, the promotion of individual stars to attract fan interest.
  4. Finally, consider whether those anomalies are consistent with the money flow. Yes, and yes, in the above examples.
  5. If consistent, make a note of it.
  6. Pick another domain, and go back to Step 1.

I've followed this approach for industries beyond health care -- e.g. sports, advertising, food, energy, warfare, software, and Internet.

What did you find?

Generally speaking, I found that the older the industry, the more obvious the appearance of anomalies and the more likely the consistency of those anomalies with the money-making dynamics of that industry. In other words, the older the industry, the more likely that the money has gone so far that the industry conflicts with the interests of us humans. Conversely, the younger the industry, the less likely that the money has gone too far.

So, for example, I can't see, circa 2006, how Google, Yahoo!, EBay or Amazon, or any of the small Internet companies, exhibit this "money having gone too far" property. In contrast, in the software industry, dominated by Microsoft, I can see some examples of how the money may have gone too far. But, however far the money has gone in the wrong direction in that industry, nobody is dying over it. In other words, if Microsoft is abusing its money position, and creating anomalies in the software market, I say: "Big deal. Nobody's dying. Get over it." Similarly with the sports and advertising industries.

But the same cannot be said of the industries of health, food, energy, or warfare. All of these industries are at least 50 years old. And for each, there is a story that describes how money anomalies are going so far as to kill some of us, while threatening the rest of us.

Now, I realize that merely finding "consistentcy" between anomalies and money interests does not prove that the money interests caused the anomalies. However, when one finds such consistency uniformly across just about every old industry at which one cares to look, one's spider sense begins to tingle ever louder. My own is now deafening.

Why do you think the older industries tend to be dangerous while the newer ones tend to be benign?

I suspect that the dynamic here concerns the death and demise of corporate founders. That is, every corporation is founded by someone or some people. Usually, when a corporation is founded, it seeks to solve a current problem facing the public. In general, the most successful ones accurately identify the problems, and most effectively remedy those problems. So early on, it often seems hard to see why or how fledgling corporations are detrimental to people.

However, as time passes, the successful corporations grow, while social dynamics change. This corporate growth places ever increasing demands for revenue on the corporation, while the changing social dynamics sometimes cut against the business model of the corporation. This creates tension in the corporation, and sometimes, anomalous behavior. (See, e.g., Microsoft's response to open source.)

Eventually, sufficient time passes, and the founders have long since died and been replaced by professional money managers. Now the corporation is being run by people who have little or none of their personal identity wrapped up in the corporation.

For example, if Google is suddenly seen to be "doing evil", how will Sergey Brin feel? I say he'll feel pretty badly since such a public perception will make him seem like a hypocrite.

Fast forward 50 years. If still alive, Sergey will be either dead or 82. Most likely, it will be many years since Sergey left the company. And if Google is seen as evil then, then it will be no skin off of Sergey's back.

So if a persistent minority like me sees the industries of food, health, energy, and warfare as being presently "evil", who in those industries would give a rip? The founders have all been dead for years. The corporations in these industries are being run by people who are neither legally responsible nor who feel morally responsible for the actions of the corporation. Moreover, no one at all is legally responsible for the corporation. Not the board, nor the management, nor the employees, nor the shareholders.

Thus, decades after the founding of a corporation, what we have is a potential massive wealthy and powerful entity, shielded by the doctrine of limited liability, and untethered from the tenuous thread of founders feeling that their human identity is wrapped up with the corporation. What is left is an in-human machine, comprising humans, with the sole purpose of making money.

Hence the "anomalies" I mention above concerning the gap between the interests of money, and the interest of us people.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Your tag-line used to be "People vs. Corporations, blah, blah, blah." You're one of those anti-corporate people aren't you?

Yes and no. "No", in the sense that I'm entirely non-violent, non-extreme, non-anarchist, and do not get emotionally aroused about the harm-generating old corporations. But "Yes", in the sense that I believe the old corporations are probably the single greatest threat, circa 2006, to the security of us Americans. Greater than the threat posed by the "islamofascist terrorists". Greater than the threat posed by the "illegal immigrants". Greater than the allleged threat posed by, pick one, the neo-conservatives or liberals. Greater than the threats posed by China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba combined.

Some day in the distant future, I envision an America in which old corporations are subject to dissolution effected through the vote of citizens. The corporation is just one form of doing business. Partnerships and sole proprietorships are two others. What makes the corporate form so appealing is the doctrine of "limited liability". This doctrine promotes risk-taking by the corporation. Through risk-taking, cultural advances are enabled.

However, these benefits come with a cost. That cost is social irresponsibility. "Limited liability" is just a euphemism for "irresponsibility".

I'm not classically anti-corporate or anarchist because I'm a believer in limited liability. As I've said, limited liability is necessary to enable fledgling corporations to take risks and thus advance the culture.

What I am against is perpetual limited liability. I believe that it is in the perpetual nature of limited liability that almost all current corporate harm is realized. Thus I would like to see some "cost" imposed on older corporations. The best one I can think of is a public vote to dissolve corporations that no longer serve the best interests of us people.

If that makes me anti-corporate, so be it.

That sounds all well and good and benign. But then why use a charged phrase like "People vs. Corporations"?

As mentioned in my Huh? page, I read a book called An American Prophecy: The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny. The book struck me as true. It describes a series of crises spanning 500 years during which the survival of "America" was at stake. In every one of those crises, there were at least two combatants facing each other.

That is, when America undergoes a nation-defining crisis, history shows that it always seems to entail a pitched battle between two opposing forces. America doesn't just get depressed for awhile, then comes out of it. Nor does America simply go "walkabout" for a few years before returning back to normalcy. Instead, during its crises, America seems always to fight a life-or-death battle.

I'm not happy about that prospect. Nor am I happy that the authors of The Fourth Turning predict that the next such nation-defining crisis will begin in America right around now, give or take a few years.

But with history forcing me to pick two imminent combatants, the two seemed obvious to me: people and corporations. I have written up the analysis here.

Let me reiterate. I'm not happy that some others on the Internet who "get" the dangers of corporations seem to harbor deepset anger. If people and corporations are to go to "war" in his nation, my hope and my actions will be toward making this a Ghandian "war" of love, not of belligerence. I see clearly that both salvation for us people, as well as kyptonite for the superhuman corporations, are found in the very same place. That is place is human self-reliance.

Hence, I've created (but haven't much worked on as of late 2006), the Self Reliance Wiki .

Well, this About page is just about the longest such page I have ever seen. Yet you still haven't told me much of anything about you. Who are you and why do you blog?

On the "Who and I?" question, I'll say two things. First, for conventional information about me you can just Google me. But to me, at least, that information seems boring. This About page, however, tells you what I think, and how I think. While "I think, therefore I am" may be over-stating the case, a litle cogito seems more informative than the standard fare.

On why I blog, I'll refer to you my other site: Personality and the Brain. This is a partially finished book in which I propose to link the Enneagram theory of personality with the early 2000s findings of neuroscience.

I believe that my own personality bent causes me to want to be heard. Since, as I mentioned in this page, my friends and loved ones don't tend to share these views of mine, I get little opportunity to discuss these ideas live with other humans. Ergo I blog. Simple as that.

About - Huh? - Duck? - Gather? - Email Me: duck.n.gather "at" gmail.com

"There's something happening here, What it is ain't is exactly clear ... Stop, children, what's that sound, Everybody look what's going down" v2.0

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