Sunday, February 19, 2017

Einstellung, Gender, and Sin

Please note:

This essay is NOT meant to be the definitive guide on gender and sin. These are my views as of now. I have NOT researched the topic of consciousness a great deal, and it's my fear that perhaps I may sow the worst seeds ever with this essay because perhaps I am dead wrong or worse-- partially wrong leading people to believe this is all good material but it's actually corrupted and will take a long time to figure out..

I also feel this essay is an important voice on some of the worst covered topics I know of... gender and sin.

TAKE THIS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.
BE MINDFUL OF WHO YOU GIVE THIS INFORMATION TO.
ONE OR MORE THINGS COULD BE INCORRECT

Perhaps one of the most annoying things I find about a lot of educated and self educated people here in the United States is an adherence to the metaphysics established in the Jewish traditions. Namely, the ideas that sex is bad, there is a dark force in the universe being pushed by "the devil" and other very fundamental aspects to reality and consciousness.

There isn't a very good reason to follow this line of thought for many people that do. Many times, habits are formed by old ways of thinking. A psychological "groove" can be established and concepts which were once assumptions or simply opinions of others become used fairly often in the evaluation of how to proceed with life.

My sister for example was raised in a Hindu family, but due to being brought up in the US, once I was conversing with her about gender and I noticed she had low opinions about India. I pressed the topic and she referred to dance songs in Bollywood movies (often referred to as "item numbers") as disgusting. I asked why, I didn't have that opinion at all. I thought those songs were catchy, and the dancers were bright, happy, and attractive. There was nothing morally wrong about it to me. Women are beautiful, and people like to see them dance. Men also dance in Bollywood movies but obviously people pay more attention to female dancing in the same way that most people pay more attention to the bride than the groom at a wedding. One could argue that item numbers objectify women but the truth is simply that 

1) Pretty women are great for movies
2) Consumers like dancing, and releasing an album with your movie is lucrative
3) Films (in general) don't claim to have moral authority

O snap
Watch it or don't watch it, it's a phenomena of life and the passions evoked by these songs are considered more valuable by humans than the potential for degradation of some women by some men. I think it's great that a society appreciates and celebrates the beauty of the divine feminine.

It turned out that simply by being in a culture dominated by Christian thought, my sister (despite being an atheistic liberal feminist) had very conservative views about how women should be portrayed in films. Where did the idea that sex was bad come from then? 

Simply by being in a Christian culture. Without realizing it, she had integrated a view of sexuality  that as a feminist, she supposedly hated. 

"Those objectifying anti-woman Indians like item numbers and ideally, one should not be like that."

"Women should be free to do as they please, religious patriarchy represses women"

"Christianity is bad for opposing abortion and saying women should repress sexuality"

Rinse and repeat.

In Hindu culture, pleasure is considered to be one of the 4 main duties in life. If you aren't taking pleasure seriously, you are doing Hinduism wrong but possibly also life itself.

Obviously, people pride themselves in being free-thinking and enlightened but to be caught in the spider web of assumptions of the very forces one is trying to oppose is to be wasting time. This person cannot be a free thinker-- they aren't reflective enough to challenge why they think that way and explore other more baroque possibilities.

This phenomena has been observed in the field of science many times. Thinkers who are set in their ways often can't comprehend new approaches and progress can be stalled by these people. This phenomena is referred to as einstellung, a German word which means "mindset".

Part of the problem with Christian einstellung is that one tends to view the world in good vs. evil.

"There are good people and bad people. Everything will be better when X defeat Y"

To be fair, I think morals definitely exist. There are times when one may be forced to make a trolley problem choice

"Do I pull the lever and kill one person to save four?"

These problems are definitely hazy to say the least but I'm not concerned with them in this essay, I only care about what we know.

We know that evil does happen because of scarcity sometimes. The great thing about scarcity problems is that they're easy to fix. If people are waging war over water rights, all we have to do is build a well, water tower, or provide easier access some other way. We simply focus on creating instead of criticizing.

Problems in consciousness are much more difficult. Sometimes evil could happen because of a scarcity of love or attention. If Bill Clinton were a better husband for Hillary, would she have become a pedophile? If Bill Clinton's mom were better to him, would he become a playboy? On and on it goes.

"God does not flourish where souls are starved." - Carl G Jung

It seems today like someone just has to end up with the short end of the stick.. or put another way, someone has to be dominated, or be the loser. For there to be a good guy, someone has to be the bad guy.

Think a few steps ahead then.

The good guy simply looks like the good guy. In reality, he is indulging on dominating the bad person-- who we can tell with emotional intelligence that they are probably simply a victim of circumstance.

This says nothing about self defense. Every child involved in Pizzagate has the right to kill their kidnappers. (Let's stick to discussing adult morality though... perhaps I am wrong)The point is merely that we should try to understand what happened to Hillary to keep this ordeal from happening again. As good stewards of the earth, it behooves us to understand what is happening behind the veil.

It is quite likely in my humble opinion that Hillary sees herself as a Jesus figure. She has taken on "sin" or "negativity" from others and held it in rather than pass it on-- until she couldn't and became a pedophile. Perhaps this was an acceptable price to her so that the universe could see her visions-- in which case now what was once an obvious case of evil has become a trolley problem.

But what is sin? What is negativity? Where did it come from? Can we deal with it? Can we eliminate it from being passed around compulsively? It's quite possible that the people who appear good are actually bad and the people who appear bad are actually martyrs for the grand drama!

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts..."
 - William Shakespeare

 Let's continue with the thought for a bit that perhaps Hillary was trying to be an occult Jesus. 

 - Did it work? Not really. She was roundly defeated, exposed, and now there are children everywhere traumatized, further contributing to the evil in the world. Bad karma marches forth. She is quite likely neutral to the eyes of God, like most people. 

Is there a way to escape this insubstantiality? Are we nothing but dust in the wind? Is the end of the world prewritten-- will it happen when we figure out there's no point in trying?

HA!

I will challenge you dear reader to not give in to einstellung. 

Perhaps what we need is a new paradigm or mindset?

"I mean, I don’t know, uh, how Buddhism handles this, my- I, I, um, I grant you all a strong possibility of existing, but I’m not nearly as sure about you as I am about me. [audience laughs] And, I don’t think any of you should be any sure- more sure of the rest of us than yourself. I mean, the world could be anything, you know? It could be a solid state matrix of some sort. It could be an illusion. It could be a dream. I mean, it really could be a dream …"
- Terence Mckenna, 
The World Could Be Anything 

Terence Mckenna strikes again!
Perhaps if we're tired of William Shakespeare's paradigm of the divine play, we could try a new one. No harm in it.. it's just that insubstantiality can get tiresome, like building sand castles can eventually.

Here is one I thought of-- it's a blend of Hinduism and Christianity.

- The devil is not actually evil. He's simply another in God's realm, who happens to disagree with God.
- God favors mind and discipline, the devil favors heart and mercy. In between the two lies the golden mean. (Have you ever wondered with the conservatives call liberals hedonists?)
- What we refer to as the will to dominate or sin is actually masculinity. Virtue and life supporting desires are femininity.
How God feels sometimes
- There is nothing wrong with masculinity, it's the spice that keeps us from becoming deterministic female robots building the tower of Babel for no reason.
- When you desire to sin, you simply disagree and want to assert your authenticity. You know others won't like it. That's why they call it sin.
- It's OK to not be liked or disagree with everyone. When you come to agreement on your own free will, that will provide others with meaning-- the holy grail of life. There is no life with no purpose.
- Everyone is somewhat masculine and somewhat feminine.

The warning at the top of my page was mostly because of the point that negativity is masculinity. I am open to the possibility that I could be dead wrong and I've set people on a path of spiritual defeat or perhaps something even worse. That wasn't my intention. My one goal is to get you out of einstellung (even as it relates to occult matters) and set you on your way with free will.

In the paradigm I have as of now, this means that men quite frankly need to get tough and handle shit from others. In modern times (especially because of the establishment views in the field of psychology), we are told not to hit kids, men should cry it out frequently and talk about their feelings, and people should always be authentic about how they really feel.

No.

Men need to get tough. Sometimes, a woman may just kick you in the chest for no reason. A boy cries, but a man thanks that woman for choosing someone tough for her anger rather than a weaker innocent. The negativity she gave him helps him become a better man. He endures her outburst and doesn't retaliate-- verbally or in any other way. He tells himself "I'm tough", dusts himself and asks what's wrong.

This doesn't mean men should be the world's new occult Jesus figures, now that Hillary is used up. Everyone has limits and outbursts or impulsive behavior become more and more likely as more negativity comes in. This means that a man should keep his masculinity to himself as long as he can, and that opportune moments come (practically inevitably in our world...) to stand up for himself and others. A man may even be greedy for masculinity and appease corrupt figures but a confrontation will be necessary when someone knowingly is causing destruction to the objective development of humanity. A controlled confrontation in which only issues are discussed and negativity is thrown back if it feels like too much is ideal. The wrong must submit to truth. Obviously women can do the same as well, however appropriate they judge for themselves. Many people may be going through their whole lives never realizing negativity is the answer to their problems of focus and determination. Obviously, the role of feminine love, care and guidance can't be understated for a highly masculine person.

In this paradigm, we don't have a need for any occult Jesus figure-- we simply have people creating within a system of liberty and harmony. We can go as far as we like with meaning and love, and we are not living in an insubstantial play. Try it out! Ask an angry person to slap you or take their anger out on you instead of some innocent person if that's their only choice (We do love sweet justice, so we have to use negativity wisely in this paradigm). 

I personally did this within my family. I took their negativity, they were grateful for it, and now I use this masculinity for my advantages.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Benefits of Charity



In a society increasingly faced with scarcity due mostly to over-taxation to fund overseas conflicts, charity is becoming less and less popular. People are understandably terrified of the future and feel compelled to penny-pinch. In these dark times for the west, we don't know if tomorrow we'll be robbed by a masked gun man or by a police officer and so we hold onto whatever we can out of fear. This reaction to fear leads us to missing out on a lot of benefits from charity though, and forgetting these benefits can keep us from feeling a sense of satisfaction most humans have enjoyed over the millennia. This satisfaction is our birthright as much as wealth, and if the ruling class robs us of it we become easier to control. This isn't meant to imply that "we are our brother's keeper". If we accept self-regulation and individual responsibilities as virtues, we can't also say that we're meant to be perpetual parents and eternally in debt to others. True charity is completely voluntary with no expectation of return or guilt. Charity is done simply for the sake of giving someone a break that we'd enjoy ourselves, and because we recognize benevolence as a virtue.

Here are the top 10 reasons people enjoy charity.

1. It improves self-esteem.

There are so many benefits to self-esteem, whole books have been written on this topic alone. Many intellectuals such as Nathaniel Branden have proposed that there is a crisis of self-esteem in the west-- people are forgetting why they matter and why they're important. In a job, romantic relationship or in a casual social situation, people find others with low self esteem to be repulsive. Someone who thinks lowly of themselves typically thinks lowly of others or has other dysfunctional tendencies which a person with a great deal of confidence and self assurance doesn't.

Charity is a great way to improve your self esteem. Helping someone when they're down makes us appreciate our reflection when we look in the mirror. It gives us a sense of pride and belonging, and we remember we're an important asset to the global community's fight against tyranny and enslavement.

2. It forces virtues out of us that excess would conceal.

This one is quite obvious for anyone that engages in a good deal of charity. Charity forces us to be smarter about how we spend our time and money. If you give a good deal to charity, expect to drink less, eat less junk food, and spend less time at the TV. A benevolent person is reminded that they can't do these things because everyone has a finite amount of resources, and they have to allocate these resources wisely and gain or improve skills to make up for the reduced income security that being charitable brings about. Even times of pleasure have to be of a higher caliber for most charitable people. Being around people we consider to be excellent and virtuous is a lot better for us than watching cat videos.

3. Benevolence is a virtue.

Benevolence is everywhere, and is the hallmark of a healthy society. Free wifi, free air pressure checks for your car tires, and free emotional support on the internet are all forms of benevolence. If we as a society had to stop and negotiate for every last one of these things we often take for granted, we'd likely grind to a halt and everyone would collectively jump out of their windows. We all benefit from benevolence in countless ways, many times without even realizing someone else was looking out for us. We love benevolence because it's win-win, but without the negotiation! Benevolence is not done out of a sense of guilt or obligation. It's a genuine freebie.

4. It reminds us we're on the same side.

When we find someone racked with guilt about situation (economic or not), it can help them tremendously to remind them that the years since 9/11 haven't been easy for anyone. Political corruption is widespread, aggression is being applauded as virtuous, and people are turning on each other instead of their proper enemies. Charity is a great way to remind a victimized person not to self-abuse and that our honor and humanity dictate we stick together in tough times when they're being tested most.

5. It begins a ripple of kindness and passion.

 Elon Musk has said many times that he explicitly tells shareholders that profit isn't his main concern (despite his huge profits). He believes in a vision and pursues that, and these visions are about doing what the future needs (space colonization, solar power, electric transportation, etc.). In other words, he is motivated by an ideal that he finds is worth getting up early for in the morning. He expounds on this in this interview at 3:23.

Interviewer: Do we suffer from generally a kind of low level of ambition, should we think bigger than HS2 and think about something like this?

Elon Musk: I think so, I mean uh, for reasons beyond the objective 'oh we'll get there faster', it's like you want to do projects that are inspiring and that make people excited about the future. Uhm, life's gotta be about more than just solving problems, so when I get up in the morning and say 'yes, I look forward to that thing happening', uhm, and I guess that was my essential disappointment with the California so-called High Speed Rail...

Elon Musk knows about the positive externality his projects have in beginning ripples of ambition and hope for young scientists. This is also a form of charity, just on a much larger scale than most people conceive of.

6. You never know how far someone can take your kindness.

Many times a donation can be life-saving, and there are many examples of this. So many, in fact that no one can hope to keep track of them. A blood donation, $20 in cash to a homeless person, or a toy for a child in poverty can have untold and vast benefits. No one really ever knows how far a person can stretch a single act of charity, but we do know that charity will always beat playing the lottery. The emotional payoff to the donator is certain and the lottery player gambles on feeling luck for winning and guilt for feeding a horrible cash cow that plays on false hope. If people are still playing the lottery or gambling, then it makes sense to take a chance on charity.

7. Charity doesn't have to be money, it can also just be advice or guidance.

Charity isn't just for those with those with wealth. Some argue wealth (which doesn't have to be in money) is the result of virtues, virtues are the result of character, and character is the result of experience. If that is the case, the most impoverished are always the young. If by a single sentence we can send someone into a far superior direction that they would want, we feel a great deal of happiness for them.

8. It reminds you where to aim your intention.

Charity in all forms reminds us of the big picture. While it's great to self develop and pursue our self interest from the perspective of our immediate surroundings, it's easy to get tunnel vision sometimes and forget that there's a much bigger picture we're all a part of. Giving or receiving charity reminds us where to focus on our intention. While I can't say I know what your bigger picture entails, I know that everyone has a bigger picture. Will humanity become a multi-planet species? Will we spread life around the universe? Will we focus on the important things and not get caught up in the petty conflicts?

Charity reminds us that there are much bigger things at play and that it's not worth sweating the small stuff. When our intention is aligned properly and our worldview is accurate, we know what to do next.

9. Mentoring someone or rendering a service can reveal your own weaknesses.

Anyone who has ever tutored a younger sibling or peer at a school knows how valuable it is to tutor others. When we provide someone with guidance, it's often profitable for us as well because the receiver asks questions that test the integrity of the guidance. Giving advice, services, or anything to anyone else out of charity is a great time to test ourselves with no threats of negative consequences.

10. It helps us all enjoy life, and is a potent medication for nihilism.

Charity helps both the needy and benevolent feel psychologically seen. It can be argued that this is what all of communication is ever trying to do as its end goal-- to make people feel psychologically seen. Charity is a form of communication as well, which comes in the form of body language. Charity therefore helps us feel empathetic and that each party loves the fact that the other party exists, and doesn't want them to die away. Charity is an important component of our fight against nihilism, which everyone must face.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Return of Nihilism

"The artist's task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns." - Terence Mckenna

Machiavellian television shows like "House of Cards" and "Game of Thrones" are becoming wildly popular in the west. War and political corruption are on the rise, leading to a migrant crisis that has left thousands dying at sea and forced to choose between living as illegal humans or living under ISIS. Donald Trump is rising in the polls with the message "Make America great" which implies two things: that Americans have accepted unconsciously that their country isn't great and that Americans aren't interested mutual benefit with other nations or people-- America must save itself now.
Overall, we can notice a few patterns in the increasingly severe problems within the global community. Most people can feel the signs are all around us of a timeless and nameless encroaching evil, everyday bringing humanity closer to apocalypse.
  1. Machiavellian politicians leading to corruption in leadership
  2. Corrupt leadership leading to corrupt policy
  3. Corrupt policy leading to a criminal population
  4. Increased crime leading to poor psychological health
  5. Poor psychological health leading to reduced authenticity
  6. Reduced authenticity leading to the numbing of the senses
  7. The numbing of the senses leading to the discarding of reason
  8. The discarding of reason leading to a stupid population
  9. A stupid population leading to no checks on the government
  10. No checks on the government leading to Machiavellian politicians
These are the basic patters in the thought loops that are commonly blamed for the corruption in civilization. If we were to distill these patterns further, what do we see?
  1. Win-lose relationships between groups of people that are theoretically supposed to be winning together. This means one party must win and the other party must feel as if it has lost from the interaction. The problems between leadership and the common people are prime examples of this.
  2. The seeking of emotional avoidance. This refers to conditions becoming worse and worse for people, and the people resorting to entertainment, addictions, and irrationality to meet short term needs at the expense of long term happiness.
  3. Reason becoming unpopular. This trend has been happening for some time now, but has become obvious thanks to Donald Trump's campaign. People no longer believe it's their place to have checks on what the leadership is doing, or to sound alarms. Whistle-blowers are persecuted and forced to flee the country, and as things get worse the people are turning to "strong men" like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders to save them. "They will handle the reasoning and thinking for us. I wouldn't want to offend anyone."
If any of these three planks of destruction are undone within an individual or population, the other two are not far from being undone either. It's difficult to know where to begin with a person who still doesn't feel a need to begin questioning these planks though, which is unfortunately a great percentage of our population. To make matters worse, these planks aren't an exhaustive explanation of all negative behaviors humans are committing today. There are also more scattered problems which exist in society that are still acting as a ball and chain on human progress, diverting attention and energy from positive directions. The very idea that American soldiers can go to the Middle East and rape boys in front of their mothers is horrifying to realize, police still shoot dogs and completely innocent people for no reason, Islamic State fighters capture and sell sex slaves, animal cruelty still exists (whether or not you choose to be vegetarian, we can agree the sadistic harming of animals is deplorable).

These issues, along with the planks of destruction mentioned above have a common essence, and that is nihilism. Nihilism is the doctrine that denies any objective ground of truths and especially of moral truths. Each of the planks of destruction above have some root within nihilism. Nihilism asserts that values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless. In short, nihilism is "the belief that nothing is worth believing in". Nihilism is also summarized very well by the Joker from the movie "The Dark Knight".

Batman: You're garbage who kills for money.

The Joker: Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.

Nihilism affects everyone at certain points in life, but it affects some people more than others. Most of the time, true nihilists never admit they have stopped valuing ideas and feel nothing about anyone or anything (doing so often alarms friends and family). Many nihilists know they feel this way, but have accepted it as normal or don't know that this is a unusual for people. This makes helping a nihilist very difficult, as oftentimes they're defensive about viewing the world this way and defend nihilism by pointing to the Carl Sagan's "Pale blue dot" description of earth (which exists to show how small planet Earth is in the vastness of the cosmos-- this illustrates how absurd fighting a war on Earth is when the thing being fought over is a speck of dust in comparison to how big the knowable universe is, but this is the opposite perspective of the nihilist because it encourages love and positive effort) in some way or another and proclaim nothing matters in the grand scheme of things.

The philosopher can give a logical case for why a moral principle exists, but instead of refuting the moral principle the nihilist evades it entirely with the following thought process. If confronted by a thug or corrupt police officer, morals or being correct mean nothing. Moral systems as a whole do not exist in any concrete sense, they are artificially created cultural artifacts with as much objectivity to them as stone-age pottery designs from remote Pacific Islands. All that truly exists are blind emotional whims within a whirlwind of swirling atoms. Lies and brute force are acceptable ways to meet the desires of these emotional whims regardless of how irrational, impractical, or painful for others. A vicious cycle begins of the nihilist forgetting that the meaning of life is to support life and happiness, and the true nihilist finds actions that don't conform to this as permissible (but not desirable, as desire would give meaning and purpose to an action). As the nihilist plunges into a world without true happiness or peace of mind, happiness becomes a more and more distant fairy-tale, thereby making nihilism seem more correct. One does not undertake an action when the reward seems impossible. Temporary intense pleasures are typically taken by nihilists and seen as desirable and purposeful, but the contradiction involved with nihilism often goes unnoticed. This is how we can see that nihilism is really just a withdrawal from thinking in general and that the philosophical rationalizations nihilists give are ex-post facto justifications for their withdrawal from thinking and feeling. Bursts of motivation to chase after temporary pleasures can be seen as gasps of consciousness, logic and purpose for a drowning mind.

The idea that "no moral truths exist" is refuted within the minds of most unconsciously. If no moral truths exist, then this truth about moral truths is itself a moral truth that shouldn't exist. Nihilism is a withdrawal from awareness, feeling and thinking because the underlying premise is that people are directionless and emotionally chaotic (like the nihilist often is), and therefore happiness isn't worth trying for. Nihilists can therefore be helped immensely by activities and substances that increase awareness and neurological activity, and by refraining from activities or time spent in places that cause withdrawal. Exercise, yoga, socialization, intellectual pursuits and self exploration through therapy and stable, intimate relationships can assist a nihilist in coming out of their shell.
Thankfully, most people don't subscribe to nihilism and feel no need to dismiss logical systems that underpin civilization anymore than dismissing healthy eating principles in a diet. In medicine, right and wrong come from what supports health. In ethics, right and wrong comes from what supports life and happiness. Most people give certain moral principles the title of "objective" where it is deemed that humans can only profit from following them (the first and most objective moral principle of all is to willingly reject nihilism) where we find that everyone should adopt these moral principles. An example would be property rights. If a thief decides to violate the property rights of another person, the thief has accepted contradictory values within his or her mind. Thieves prefer property rights be upheld (for themselves, after they have stolen) and prefer not to uphold property rights of others. The thief knows that society can't function if stealing was considered good or acceptable, for that would result in everyone stealing from everyone all the time with people spending their time hiding their property and stealing from others rather than working and creating to meet their needs. The only way to justify stealing is to create a "special class" of morality reserved exclusively for the thief alone. This is an ethical rule which has no philosophical basis (the basis is nihilism), meaning, or purpose. It is contradictory and harms both the thief (by contributing to the thief's addiction of withdrawal from reality-based wealth creation) and true owner of the stolen property and therefore irrational. The rule of stealing is therefore not a life supporting value for anyone and therefore also immoral. If a theft really did support life and happiness, someone else that also holds life and happiness as goals could be voluntarily convinced to be benevolent for the would-be thief and thus theft would be unnecessary. There are many other moral principles which are objective and have similar proofs but that discussion is outside the scope of this article. Further evidence that nihilism is a psychological phenomena is that nihilism is also often accompanied by lethargy, depression and addictive behaviors. This means that a nihilist can almost never restore strong feelings of value for life or the pursuit of happiness simply by an intellectual proof.

In psychology it's generally accepted that when a person gets a signal from their senses that's too strong or repetitive to be of any value, the person begins to "tune it out" or numb themselves to it. For example, if someone walks into a restaurant cooking Indian food, one senses the strong odor of the spices and ingredients being used. However, the workers may not notice it anymore. Children who are neglected also slowly begin to tune out the pain of living with parents that make them feel abandoned. Ordinarily, the minds of children give off strong warning signals when they feel abandoned or at risk in any way. If the signal isn't serving its purpose and puts the child in unnecessary discomfort which only further hinders their odds of survival, the child's mind begins to tune out this pain. It also goes without saying that the absence of pain the child feels is not the joy that comes from being in a healthy family.

Nihilism is very similar only far more serious. For nihilists, the thing being numbed out is value itself, often because valuing things has been shown to cause more harm than good. This means the will to live is not far from also being left behind because life is a choice we must make at every moment we are alive. A drug addict often attempts to get high to "return to normal" at the exact moments the drug addict needs to be using his reasoning faculties to make reality-based decisions to achieve happiness most (because these moments often tend to trigger anxiety), and similarly the nihilist abandons reason in an effort to avoid being hurt again at the exact moment he or she needs to most. This often results in a downward spiral towards suicide as each choice made with the premise of "it doesn't matter anyway" leads the nihilist to need to numb signals from reality and the natural life-supporting desire to have achieve great understanding even more. Without happiness, pride or things to cherish (even if it's just ourselves), there is no reason to live. For this reason, preference of life over death is both a moral choice and an imperative that is objectively necessary to continue living. The nihilist runs from this imperative's implications, and the motivated person clings to it along with others that that cling to this basic reality.

As is often the case, psychological issues tend to be very personal and tangled, and it is up to the individual experiencing the issue to look deeper into themselves and seek help about it. Oftentimes people get nihilistic feelings after moments of great sadness. Examples include the loss of someone important to them, a great setback or when they realize that they've been very wrong about how they've conducted their life. People are mirrors of their outside world, and it's easy to see that if someone has been around people that don't care for giving the nihilist justice, acknowledgement or love, the nihilist will believe these moral concepts are arbitrary whims like choosing an ice cream flavor, even though they're as subjective to moral truth as drinking water is to health.

Philosophers such as Nietzsche have pointed out that periods of great levels of nihilism in societies are often the omens of incoming horrid wars. Nietzsche prophetically pointed out this was happening in Europe before the world wars happened. If this premise is accepted that people are more likely to go to war or commit atrocity following feelings of nihilism, these great wars are thankfully followed by a deep reverence for life and peacetime.  Near-death experiences are known to cause similar feelings of "awakening" in people. Although we can't give someone a near-death experience, we can help them by showing that the community around them cares about life. Babies, pets, and acts of charity can help with creating an "osmosis effect" for the nihilist's internal culture. The nihilist can't be made to force themselves into loving life, a nihilist has have their older experiences that destroyed the value of life refuted, and the experiences required to do this are very personal and often requires the nihilist remove themselves from the environment that caused these feelings. The earlier these negative experiences began in life though, the more difficult it is to refute them as misleading to the nihilist. Once life becomes something deserving of value though, everything follows. The ex-nihilist sees that certain objectives support life and happiness; and for this he or she needs logic and has a purpose. Overtime virtues develop which assist us in our life supporting values. The highest reward is self actualization, or becoming our true self which shapes the world according to the visions we received as children. We can know that our desires as children were positive because we must have received care and affection at some point. Babies die without proper affection, and a nihilistic baby wouldn't last long alive.

Friday, September 4, 2015

When Window Shopping is a Crime

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

- 14th Amendment, US Constitution

As an anarchist, it's often frustrating when dealing with contradictions within the law which justify the state. The above quote is the text from the 1st section of the 14th amendment of the United States.

When one reads the text (particularly about equal protection of the laws), one senses a great deal of hope for a country that adopts such thoroughly fair policies. The 14th amendment was one of the reconstruction amendments which was passed in an effort to stop the disenfranchisement of the newly freed blacks after the civil war. It was bitterly opposed by the south, and the president Andrew Johnson, but Congress passed it anyway. No anarchist I know of would say this section of the 14th amendment wouldn't help a country thrive and create trust when it is put into practice. But is it? Literal meanings of laws can often lead to unforeseen consequences, but what negative unforeseen consequences could possibly result from equality under the law?

It depends on who you are. The negative consequences from universally applied law is anarchy.

Anarchy simply means no rulers. In a country where no one is above the law and all must submit to all the laws, that would imply that no one would have unfair treatment from the laws. But this happens everyday.

“But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.”

- Lysander Spooner, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority

Assuming the intent of the Constitution of the United States was pure and never meant to authorize the government we have today, we can point to thousands of examples today in which the Constitution is failing to prevent more government growth and more aggression upon innocents. 

Here is one such example, the following is an excerpt from the The Mountain Press:


Sevier County Sheriff Ron Seals told the Sevier County Tea Party last week that some of his officers, working in an off-duty capacity as private security, contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after seeing troubling behavior at Tanger Outlet Center in Sevierville.
Prompted by an audience member’s statement about women in burqas spending long periods of time in shops without making purchases, the sheriff indicated officers had seen similar behaviors.
“We have some officers up there … they’re officers, but they hire them, off-duty police officers, primarily to work traffic, and they’ve noticed the same lady running around up there … taking pictures with a camera,” Seals said. “We got the information. We passed it on to Homeland Security. They’ve addressed it, and I don’t think anything else actually came of it.
“We thought maybe they’re doing that to maybe see what days there’s a big crowd up there.”
Angela Harness, the general manager at Tanger, said she was aware of no complaints of loitering customers.
“Our international traffic has picked up, so we’ve seen a lot more diversity in our shoppers,” Harness said. “But as far as customers, I haven’t heard anything about customers going in and basically loitering.”
The discussion was part of a larger talk the sheriff gave about duties of the department and concerns he had for the county. He made his remarks Tuesday at the Sevier County Courthouse.
The speech, and questions from the audience, frequently returned to Muslim residents or visitors to the county.
“(Have) you have ever read the first page of the Koran?” Mary Willocks, a Blount County Tea Party member, asked from the back of the crowd. “I’m going to paraphrase, but I did a five-week study on this at our church. First page of the Koran says, ‘You cannot be a Muslim unless you believe in Islam, and you will believe in Islam, either voluntarily or by force, or we’re going to kill you.’ There is no such thing as a modern, good Muslim.”
Willocks told of a Christian church in Dayton, Ohio, that she claimed had been visited by people in burqas acting aggressively toward the congregation. The activity, she said, resulted in an FBI presence at the church.
“The FBI came with several cars,” Willocks said. “They went through the security cameras, and one of them was on their most-wanted terrorist list. … The FBI has been at the church every service since.
“Here’s the important part that I wanted to make you aware of … you won’t see this on the Internet. The FBI said this is happening all over the country. They’re going into churches, they’re being aggressive, they’re being controversial, and the government is not allowing this to be reported anywhere. They’re squashing it because they’re Muslims and they’re Islamic terrorists, is what they are.”
“Obama’s relatives,” someone in the crowd said.
“The FBI told them, ‘You are no longer safe in your church,’” Willocks said. “Don’t be caught unaware in your church service.”
Seals said Sevier County churches would be protected.
“A lot of the churches here … most churches in Sevier County … they’ve got people that’s in there that’s armed,” Seals said. “As you all know, our president is Muslim. I don’t care what he says. He belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t care what he says. I’m a firm believer of that.”
Steve Osborn, former president of the Sevier County Tea Party, asked the sheriff if police monitor local Muslims.
“We do know that we have a growing Muslim influence in Gatlinburg,” Osborn said, saying Muslim adherents gather at a location on the Parkway in Gatlinburg.
“(They) use their upper room for their Friday prayers. The Muslims have been reported to be aggressive in the local restaurants, etc.”
Osborn asked what Seals was doing to monitor the groups.
“Are you, in law enforcement, aggressively or actively looking into this group for potential terrorist activities?” Osborn asked.
“This is the first that I have received any information,” Seals said. “I didn’t know that they were up there. What we have to do is, identify who they are and then pass it along.”

Seals said he would discuss the matter with the FBI and other law enforcement leaders in the community.
The equal protection under the law is being blatantly violated here of the Muslims in the Knoxville area. Allegations of a "takeover" with the ring-leader being the president of the United States himself aside, it comes as no surprise that the sheriff and every law enforcement officer involved including those from the FBI involved are no constitutional scholars. Where is the equal protection of the 4th Amendment rights of Muslims who aren't under any suspicion? Does the FBI and sheriff Seals mean to imply that actually, no one has 4th amendment rights?
This also isn't an isolated incident from Sheriff Seals either. There is a video here of an incident in which Sheriff Seals assaulted his political opponent (after making allegations about abuse by jailers, but this appears to be a different topic The Conscious Resistance doesn't have sources on), and at the end of the video the reporter comments that the man assaulted also scheduled a meeting with District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn to discuss the prosecution of Seals but Dunn declined to comment.
There is yet another incident of corruption involving Seals. An article was written by local media of corruption charges in which Seals interfered with a DUI arrest made by a deputy within his apartment. Amazingly, the SAME District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn declined to comment about any investigation against Sheriff Seals. Seals has been sheriff since 2007, and this story has been "developing" since 2009. 
Most people are rightly baffled at how such obvious corruption can exist at the local level. Most people know of federal level corruption such as the War on Drugs and the bailouts, but rarely do people mention how common and rife local level corruption can be. In 1868, the 14th amendment was bitterly opposed by the Southern states and those who thought equal treatment under the law was a threat to the culture of the United States.
Today, we can see living examples of violations of the amendments which children in public schools are brainwashed into believing don't exists. If the state and their agents can oppose anarchy- producing amendments at the local level, anarchists can do the same in reverse. 
Insist on the elimination of the monopoly on force, insist on voluntaryism, insist on a culture that sees people as individuals with choices and responsibility. Everything anyone needs to know about the state can be see on Seals' face in the photo above. For taking on the monopoly of force without resorting to violence at present, it takes monumental amounts of energy, collaboration, and mobilization of vast resources. They're protected by a gang that doesn't believe in equality under the law and civilians that believe these people should keep all the guns and capacity for force.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Who are the 'Real Anarchists'?

In my previous articles such as 'Your Ideology is Trivial', 'The Argument for Panarchism', and 'Defeating the Alpha Male', I've refuted the need for meaningless division based on ideology, ego, and strategy while maintaining that concrete steps to destroying hierarchy and the dominators of society are objective and require no initiation, passwords or dues from any individual. In this article, I'll be explaining further need for the 'perfect anarchist' and how to be closer to becoming one. Not everyone may agree with the points given in this article and it is by no means an attempt to 'finger wag' at anarchists, obviously. This article also not meant to encourage self-abuse for an impossible goal of 'perfection', but given that anarchists and other idealists are able to see the world clearly and without the propaganda of the dominator's institutions clouding their vision, it's possibly the biggest tragedy of modern times that the people most able to see what's wrong with the world aren't steering institutions in a peaceful direction, liberating slaves (yes, slavery still exists), being heroes for their microcosms, or joining the counter-economy on a massive scale.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that there are some self-declared anarchists that are more anarchist than others. Some anarchists are such in name only, and discuss strategy and politics online (not that there is anything necessarily wrong with this, everyone has a unique situation). Some anarchists are 100% anarchist with their mind, body, and soul. They burn the American flag, never pay taxes, and confront cops with video cameras about liberty any time they're harassed by them. These are merely indicators which make a person psychologically visible to others, though. An American- libertarian burning the American flag shows that he or she is fed up with the idea of the constitution and the idea of a central government, but it doesn't show how effective they are in their strategies or objectives. These are just words and symbols, and they have no power unless they are backed by concrete actions.

The perfect anarchist is one who plans, speaks, acts, and chooses with objectives in mind. This means taking care of oneself physically, spiritually, emotionally, and recognizing that there is never truly a need to compromise with evil or weakness. In any compromise, it is only evil that can benefit. The perfect anarchist also does not seek any power over others. As Ayn Rand eloquently put it, "Power lust is a weed that grows only in the vacant lots of an abandoned mind". The anarchists don't abandon their minds or bodies, but seek to further their own skills (mental and physical) each day to integrate themselves into the living organism of human society and planet earth. Change comes from repeatable win-win interactions that set the example for others. The perfect anarchist shows within every thought and movement that happiness comes from less control and dictating, not centralization or power. The perfect anarchist creates leaders and helps his partners, not dictate to underlings.

As a true anarchist, there is only one way to convince others to join the cause for liberty-- and that is being successful. Courageous or brilliant actions are the only way to provide substance to words and symbols. Many anarchists fall prey to emotional problems which bring symptoms such as lethargy, depression, substance abuse and other behaviors that don't contribute to anyone's life. This isn't surprising, though. Anarchists are often people who've seen the worst damage that hierarchy can do to societies and loved ones. A therapist once told me that everyone has to avoid reality at some point. This can happen through religion, internet memes, substances, frivolous materialism, sex or any other escape people use. To think about the horrifying abuses and trauma being inflicted daily on the planet for extended periods of time can lead to feelings of paralysis and helplessness, particularly if the anarchist has been a victim of trauma himself. However, many people fail to see this as an extremely hopeful sign. Anarchists feel this way because part of them rigidly refuses to ignore truth, and people who seem well-adjusted and happy are often simply distorting ethics or avoiding reality on a regular basis to feel this way (think of the American that accepts 'might makes right' to avoid feeling bad for Iraqis or having to confront members of the military). Addiction is a sign that the individual is still experiencing pain from evil, and that this individual hasn't given up on the fight. The only way to numb this pain without solving the real-world problems is to accept that things are hopeless and become one of the abusers in the world. This can only happen from a distortion of ethics and the suppression of empathy. Only the anarchist can experience true happiness, which comes not from pleasure, but from seeing the world change and paving a way for their genes to thrive when they're passed on. The perfect anarchist's conscience is pure, and allows the contempt he or she feels against evil to inspire cunning and courage. The perfect anarchist does not even have to think before doing the right thing.

To unleash an anarchist from their mental prison of pain that comes from perceiving reality correctly and without filter, many emotional blocks have to be overcome. There are many models for 'unleashing the true self' such as Maslow's hierarchy or the Vedic chakra system. Oftentimes, this involves introspection with the use of tools like psychedelics (which are not necessarily for everyone), therapy, and asking for advice from people more experienced with the problems the individual is facing. Many times, the best people qualified to help on a psychological problem are those who have had the problem themselves and have overcome it already. Not all therapists agree with this sentiment, because it conflicts with their bottom line. The perfect anarchist understands that other people come from very different backgrounds and therefore have developed different parts of themselves. While some people may be more very mature in one area and lacking in most of the other areas, others are balanced but could still use fine-tuning. The perfect anarchist readily trades his or her knowledge and has a strong support structure comprised of unyielding bonds. These bonds and trusted people are necessary to point out deficiencies and blind spots that the individual may be completely unaware of. A perfect anarchist allows all truth in regardless of whether it comes from a friend or enemy, and understands that there should be no secrets between their most trusted friends. The only secrets a perfect anarchist is interested in are the secrets nature has not yet revealed or the ones which the anarchist is as-of-yet unable to articulate. A true anarchist understands knowledge is provisional and no one has any reason to silence the truth from being spoken, especially when it's being said to contribute to the well being of everyone.

A fully realized anarchist is an unstoppable force. The fully realized anarchist is not crippled by any psychological wounds nor misled by lies. All empires and evil institutions rely on these two factors in order to continue. Psychological trauma, Stockholm syndrome, and mob mentality keep the soldier from questioning, or lazy thinking and the passive acceptance of lies can mislead someone into serving a crown, but this too comes with a cost. It is therefore that no soldier (figuratively speaking) for an empire can fight for a crown with the same intelligence, sophistication or zeal with which an anarchist fights for planet earth. A perfect anarchist continually judges and updates plans and expectations to meet the objectives, and evaluates each situation without any script. An anarchist makes plans, but does not adhere mindlessly to any pattern laid out by judgements of anyone else. Against an opponent that adheres to logic and knows their beliefs are self-evident, there can be no victory. The perfect anarchist has seen the end of history and is really just filling in the gaps, and understands that even in the highly unlikely event that they fail, history will still inevitably play out in the way they imagine it to, even if it ends up being hundreds or thousands of years later. This is what it means to have ideals that are objectively correct. The perfect anarchist haunts the dreams of liars and cheats. The perfect liar or perfect cheat knows better than anyone else that the perfect anarchist already knows what's going to happen, will never surrender, and most importantly, expects to win.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A New Kind of Market

Imagine a man named Bob. Bob is honest, hardworking, and not an idiot. Bob wants to start his off-grid homestead. He knows how to build everything he needs, but he lacks funding. Since he's already thinking of starting an off-grid farm, he thinks he could go ahead and try making it large enough to be profitable. He could hire people that love working outdoors for a decent wage + meals, and he could even create a farmer's market. But if he creates a farmer's market, Bob knows he's going to have demand year-round so he should probably keep a green house or two so that he can produce his amazing food all winter.

Dreams are free, but implementation is not. Bob goes to the bank, and he is turned away. The bank thinks Bob is a hippie and may not care to pay them back if Bob doesn't like living in an off-grid home. The bank prefers a safe bet-- which means a regular house with a wife and kids, and with Bob having a 9-5 job. Bob is a high school graduate and never had money for college but he knows quite a bit about building already.

Bob then tries the venture capitalist market. They laugh and turn him away.

Bob then tries the stock market and creating a publicly traded company. They laugh more and turn him away.

Bob becomes sad and he has no great network of friends with lots of capital. People in his town know of him, but he's not exactly famous. Bob then tries his last option-- a new company called Proudsource.

On Proudsource, Bob creates a profile and lists his idea. Surprisingly, Bob finds an old high school teacher (let's call him Tim) has an organization for entrepreneurs. Bob messages Tim and Tim remembers Bob. Bob explains his situation and says that this is his last option and that he's willing to do anything to make his dream a reality. Tim invites Bob into his organization and now Bob can benefit from the reputation of Tim.

Tim announces to his investor contacts what Bob is up to, and many well-capitalized contacts of Tim start to look at Bob's idea. They love his plans, his location, and find there is already intense interest for a competing farmer's market. The locals in Bob's town hate Walmart, and also know if anyone could be a successful farmer, it's Bob.

Suddenly Bob finds himself with $20,000 in bitcoin from strangers he's never met. Tim tells him that Bob has to deliver on his promises with $20,000 and that after that, he will be able to receive more. Excited, Bob buys his plot of land and Tim oversees this process.

Documents are uploaded, news stories are published, and photos are taken of Bob and his progress. Bob runs out of capital and then announces to Proudsource he's completed all of his obligations so far. More investors observe Bob and Bob finds himself with $80,000.

Bob has collected a total of $100,000, but Bob doesn't need to start making payments right away. Instead, he told his investors that he would be doing a progressive return on capital contract (PROC). This means that Bob doesn't have to start making payments on the first month of receiving the loan, which makes no sense to him for a project this long-term. Bob has to start making payments 1 year after he gets his loan, and he'll have plenty of time to get everything set up before then. If he doesn't, Tim will seize his assets by taking him to court and Bob could end up in jail or having to work for Tim to pay his debts. Bob is an honest man though.

Bob builds his farm, green houses, and market within 10 months and exhausts his capital. Bob planned to start his payments in the summer, which means he'll have time for a first harvest and to build a market. By the time Bob has to start making payments, he has saved up a little money to be able to repay, and his market is strong.

His PROC contract says that for 5 years, Bob has to pay his investors 20% of his profits each month, regardless of the amount. For five years, Bob pays handsome returns to his investors which ends up being far more than the $100,000 they invested. Thanks to Bitpay, the investors don't worry about Bob cheating them. Tim oversees the blockchain payment system setup so that each transaction is verifiable, and also hangs a sign at Bob's market saying that if Bob's employee doesn't give a reciept with a purchase, the purchase is free. Naturally every customer hopes Bob's employee makes a mistake but he never does. Every transaction goes through the system and Bob's investors have a live view of every transaction that goes through his business.

Bob is thrilled to have a new life, Bob's investors made far more than they would have at the stock market or being loan sharks, and the community loves Bob's bitcoin farmer's market.

Welcome to the crash-proof future of finance.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Your Idealogy is Trivial

Are you skeptical of establishments in general and eager to improve the world? You have millions of comrades around the world, but this is a very broad umbrella. Some of your comrades are capitalists, some are conservatives, some are communists, and some are even working for people and institutions you think must be destroyed. They are all still your comrades, and you can still love them. They are simply reacting to the world based on the reality tunnel they're going through. Your ignorance separates you from them and their ignorance separates them from you, but paying attention to the division is completely unnecessary. There is no reason for you to oppose a doctor or fireman simply because you aren't one of those and their way of helping the world is different from what you've chosen, and neither is the case for anyone we disagree with on ideological grounds. 

Unknown to most, one's perspective on how the universe operates makes a huge deal of difference towards one's happiness. Children that experience horrible parenting commonly become adults that are somehow 'chronically unhappy' because of unknown reasons. These children as adults are frequently addicted or pursuing relationships that are destroying their lives, not contributing to it because of escapes hedonistic choices offer from the pain of everyday life. To a large extent, these people are in a reality tunnel in which people are uncaring, dull, cruel or unpredictable. Such adults as children may also develop problems in self esteem ("If my own mother feels this way about me, it must be true") and struggle to take pleasure in the upkeep and progress of their own lives. A person who doesn't realize how many people they can truly count as allies and friends is also living in a dark reality tunnel of delusion, and their happiness suffers for it. 
 
Philosophy may be very complicated and possibly even a completely subjective field, but value systems and reality are not. All of us have value systems-- or a mental ranking of things which are important to us. For example, your value system may look something like this:

1. My own safety
2. My immediate family and their needs
3. My girlfriend and her needs
4. My life savings within my bitcoin wallet
5. My pet hamster and his needs
6. The project I've been working on for the last 10 years
7. Etc.

It's impossible to know a person's value system, but we can know that things that contribute or benefits their values are evaluated as good, and things which take them away are evaluated as evil.
Many things can influence these value systems, such as past experiences, emotional investment, and loyalty (in ranking people). However, one thing that rational people have in common is that they pursue directions and goals to contribute to these values in ways that don't harm the values of others (except in self defense). It's easy to think of scenarios in which this can be a complicated issue, but in our reality these scenarios don't happen often. Most of the time, we don't end up in a situation  from a horror movie in which our values horribly conflict, and we have to decide between killing our dog or a random stranger. Individuals new to philosophy are also commonly experts at drawing meaningless divisions between people by imagining artificial scenarios. For example, disagreements about what property is, whether land can be owned, or whether people should be forced to help others don't ever really need to become issues if the individuals involved just remember what their value systems are. In the end those needs need to be met, and there is often an objective and easy-to-understand path that leads to everyone's needs being met. In the age of the informational revolution, this is easier than ever. We can choose to live in a world where any discomfort is way to serve someone else and therefore an opportunity for accomplishing together and taking joy in our connected fates.

For this reason it makes no sense to consider idealistic government bureaucrats, intelligent stars from Hollywood, or even awakened soldiers as our enemies. As long as the individual being judged is psychologically "awake", logical, empathetic and an idealist at heart, there is never any reason to consider them enemy by default. People that are "asleep" and continue to mindlessly follow scripts from corrupt institutions or turn the other way when they see something wrong happening are rightfully feared.

When our interests align through reason and we have clear conscience, labels cease to matter. Liberal, anarchist, nudist, Buddhist or Christian can all find support for each other. On a darker note though, the notion that labels don't matter also means that people with labels that we may have positive reactions to can be toxic. In the real world, all that matters is how their actions align with supporting rational ethics. This means being a hopeful and uplifting influence, contributing in real ways to the community (or trying to) and every other virtue we expect from great countrymen. 

It's highly unlikely that every member of any ideology never steals, back stabs or lies, whether or not they practice the tenets consistently. Hitler was a vegetarian and loved by the world (he was allowed to host the 1936 Olympics in Berlin), which shows how little bearing public opinion, public image, or professed commitment have in the real world. Even within ideologies such as Islam or Jainism, which have daily requirements anyone not fully committed would be unlikely to complete, even tight networks of trusted individuals often fall prey to betrayal. People are subject to change, and when communities have let their guard down, sometimes it becomes easier for people to change.

There are many techniques people use to know and judge who their real allies are, and many of them are learned through experience or deep connections that make successful betrayal more difficult. When evaluating whether or not a stranger could be a friend or ally, it makes sense to remember our objectives, and not cast aside a potentially life changing connection because ideology or stereotypes dictate otherwise. If an Indian Hindu is trying to build a tree house, and someone else offers to help although they're a Pakistani Muslim, it makes no sense to turn them away. Reason, authentic connection, and reality-based goals are enough to warrant hand shakes and friendship.