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 The Greek God Narcissus who fell to his death by falling into the water to become closer to what he perceived was his essence. 

I read two different articles this week that are at first glance not linked, but in my own warped thought process are integral to each other.  The first was sent to me by a old friend and was about how we perceive ourselves in a mirror. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/science/22angi.html?_r=2&th&emc=th&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Essentially what it says is that what we “see” in the reflective image inside that mirror, the brain percieves as reality and that reality is shaped by our own perception of who we are.  Therefore “what” a person “sees” when they look into a mirror is not what is real, it is the perception of what the person that is seeing believes is real. To quote a pertinent paragraph:

How can we be so self-delusional when the truth stares back at us? “Although we do indeed see ourselves in the mirror every day, we don’t look exactly the same every time,” explained Dr. Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. There is the scruffy-morning you, the assembled-for-work you, the dressed-for-an-elegant-dinner you. “Which image is you?” he said. “Our research shows that people, on average, resolve that ambiguity in their favor, forming a representation of their image that is more attractive than they actually are.”

The second article was in Psychology Today and centered on the physical effect of seratonin on areas of the brain that emit “spirituality” which is not of the organized religion aspect, but the hope and connection to a metaphysical entity that exists in the mind, with no discrimination of that mind being atheist, religious, aboriginal, or ignorant of any organized faith.  http://psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-3252.html&fromMod=emailed

Here’s a quote:

Well, the researchers believe that it provides evidence that religiosity and spirituality are not defined necessarily or entirely by environmental or cultural factors, such as upbringing. Basically, those with a higher concentration of serotonin receptors will therefore most likely show a stronger inclination towards spiritual acceptance.

Now here’s where I get in trouble.  Since my own Near Death Experience, that had provided great credence to what I have always believed most of my adult life (this after being raised in a Catholic School, wanting to become a priest and then studying enough to know none of it added up by the age of 12) that the mind perceives what it wants and if we exist and therefore perceive what we want in the form that we want, then the perception is relative and has to be by the laws of nature uniquely our own and ultimately when we do not exist that perception is gone.  Believers of a common religion do not have the same perception of God, of Christ, of Allah, etc.  It must be of the mind and unique, there is no other way to perceive in the human species.  So where am I taking you to in this diatribe?  What is the answer to the age’s old question?  Do you really want to know?  Are you sure?

In the end, you have the choice to believe in the self and your ability to draw on the energy inside and that is the essence of the metaphysical and hence religion’s essence as well, it just that we externalize those wants and feelings to solidify our security factor in numbers and the manipulative power mongers and opportunists take advantage of it as they have throughout history.  Is there a God?  I think so, therefore there is.  Atheists may cringe at that thought but again, there is no absolute proof either way and to reduce the debate to the usual Spaghetti Monster tactic doesn’t prove or probe what is deep seated in our human psyche. God? In what form? The answer is the form I choose as I can only think for me.  Only I can live my life and die when the time comes. No matter what your choice, your brain decides what imagery you choose, it is the only thing you have, you are the only person that can be in your reality of life on earth to think. I have no use for man-made ditherings of belief so I believe in the energy of life (God) and myself as the two are inseparable. 

It takes conviction and the path is only for those who are strong, as it is the road not taken and it is the one path that gets the most abuse from both devout believers and atheists (believe me).  I don’t really care, my life is full and my worries few.  I’ve died and gone over and as beautiful as the experience was, it is much better to be alive than absorbed by eternity. 

Some of my favorite quotes:

The sole meaning, purpose, intention, and secret of Christ, my dears, is not to understand life, or mold it, or change it, or even to love it, but to drink of it’s undying essence.–Henry V. Miller

Dreams are the substance of reality–Henry V. Miller

“Causing the right amount of trouble is an art form.”  Judith Coche

One last question.  Does the lack of seratonin uptake biologically cause a human to gravitate to an organized religion in the place of natural spirituality?  Does depression and sadness lead to a hope outside the self? That’s an issue for another day and much more research than time allows today.

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I was recently asked to be a featured blogger by The Pakistani Spectator (“I hope you are fine and carrying on the great work you have been doing for the Internet surfers. I am Ghazala Khan from The Pakistani Spectator (TPS), We at TPS throw a candid look on everything happening in and for Pakistan in the world. We are trying to contribute our humble share in the webosphere. Our aim is to foster peace, progress and harmony with passion. We at TPS are carrying out a new series of interviews with the notable passionate bloggers, writers, and webmasters. In that regard, we would like to interview you, if you
don’t mind.”)
     -and the following is a post of that interview.  The person behind this blog on the other side of the world is:

Ghazala Khan-She has been roaming the corridors of Blogistan for the last two years, and herself started blogging from March, 2007 because she wanted to let the world know her passionate views about the judiciary who started struggling to gain freedom. The movement of lawyers for judiciary carried on and so is the blogging streak of her. You can reach her at ghazala.khi@gmail.com.

The original published interview with translation errors in punctuation and grammar (hey, it’s tough tranlating languages) is at: http://www.pakspectator.com/interview-with-blogger-nick-oliva/

I am honored to be allowed access to another culture and the interest in my opinions and I thank Ghazala Khan and all others at the Pakistani Spectator for publishing them.

Here is the interview with the corrections:

Interview with Blogger Nick Oliva

By The Pakistani Spectator • Jul 18th, 2008

Nick Oliva (O-lee-va) has been a musician, composer, photographer, an audio engineer, an Entertainment Director and Technical Director for over twenty-five years and is a successful self-made money manager.  He lives in the mountains outside of Las Vegas.

Would you please tell us something about you and your site?

The site is about my book “Only Moments” that was published recently.  On the site you can look at my autobiography, the backstory to the book, and the link to my ongoing blog also called “Only Moments.”  www.onlymomentsbook.com and the blog www.onlymoments.wordpress.com

Do you feel that you continue to grow in your writing the longer you write? Why is that important to you?

The evolution of any being is continuing to do things either better or differently than in the past and as the saying goes “practice makes (near)perfect”..perfection is rare.  Self-satisfaction is a wonderful thing.

 

I’m wondering what some of your memorable experiences are with blogging?

I have met many wonderful people all over the world that think and don’t just accept the quantified norm of a outlook that “the powers that are” impose to protect their collective asses.

 

What do you do in order to keep up your communication with other bloggers?

I have personal letters that I send to keep in touch along with the blogs.

What do you think is the most exciting or most innovative use of technology in politics right now?

YouTube without a doubt is very innovative, but it is also a lazy way to skip the art of writing and reading.  I’m afraid that the instant gratification of today’s youth will allow them to grow up illiterate as part of a new online “boob tube” generation.

Do you think that these new technologies are effective in making people more responsive?

They are timely, they are effective, they are fast, but beware they may be bullshit planted for whatever motivations a commercial company or political body wants you to believe.   Look at all the internet lies about Barack Obama that people truly believe because they read it on the internet. There is much disinformation daily and it is purposely put out there to slander people without having to be tracked and found out.  Evil makes it way to every form of communication and technology cannot take the place of the human heart.  That’s one of the themes of my book “Only Moments.”

What do you think sets Your site apart from others?

Most bloggers have not written a book that ties directly into the gestalt of the blog and vice versa.  I have no commercial ads or google adsense boxes and keep the blog commercial-free so I do not have to answer to anyone, or be beholden to a sponsor.

If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success in life, what would it be?

Passion, passion, passion

What was the happiest and gloomiest moment of your life?

When my book was published and the gloomiest when my mother died.

If you could pick a travel destination, anywhere in the world, with no worries about how it’s paid for – what would your top 3 choices be?

Greece, Nepal, and The Temples of Ankgor Wat in Cambodia

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
It is a timeless story of humankind searching for the answer why and the generational suffering of the coming of age between a father and son.

 What’s the first thing you notice about a person (whether you know them or not)?

Their aura of being.  The eyes are the windows to the soul.

 Is there anyone from your past that once told you you couldn’t write?

No, but I never thought this would be what I would be doing when I was very young. I’m 54 and still wondering what I will be doing when I grow up.

How bloggers can benefit from blogs financially?

I’m not the person to answer that one.

Is it true that who has a successful blog has an awful lot of time on their hands?

No, the successful blog or blogger has passion and the writing skills to create universes that implant the ideas that they wish to trigger emotional responses in other human beings whether to ponder, motivate, emote sympathy, excitement, or sadness.

What role can bloggers of the world play to make this world more friendlier and less hostile?

One can only affect those with whom they have touched, and that is why writing is so important.  The Guttenberg press changed the world and brought enlightenment and the Romantic Age into being. Unfortunately we may be living in the dark ages if our youth does not carry on and take the baton to keep this important human tool alive despite technology that makes video so accessible.

What is your perception about Pakistan and its people?

People in general are not like the government that they are subject to follow.  I see the youth of the world coming together electronically to overcome the tyranny of censorship and that’s the first step to freedom, as there are degrees to freedom, it does come slowly as those in power die out. The outlander tribes must be educated, and not supplied with weapons to stop the age-old fighting amongst themselves.

Have you ever become stunned by the uniqueness of any blogger?

I really admire Charles Eisenstein and this one blog in particular as I have studied worldwide religions.  http://www.realitysandwich.com/original_religion

What is the most striking difference between a developed country and a developing country?

Education, awareness of the diversity of people, the realization of not just different ethnic but moral and ethical standards as well, and the acceptance and appreciation of those that provide not just diversity but controversy.

What is the future of blogging?

I don’t have a clue, but I’ll still keep doing it.

You have also got a blogging life, how has it directly affected both your personal and professional life?

It keeps me sharp and on point in my verbal skills.

What are your future plans?

I will be writing another book on my near death experience along with stories of celebrities that I have dealt with in my life as an Entertainment professional

Any Message you want to give to the readers of The Pakistani Spectator?
Keep positive and true to yourself.  Follow your bliss and if you are young and looking for direction, any road will take you there, so just do something instead of looking for the perfect path.  All roads lead to self-enlightenment if you let them.

We live in America, fostered by the ideals of fairplay, honesty, and all things good, wholesome, apple-pied with a dollop of fresh white cream on the top.  At least that’s the spin put on our country by politicians looking for your votes so they can stuff their pockets full of fancy little deals that enrich their families at the expense of yours.  Let’s start with one subject, American Business-the Small Businessman.

When one thinks of a family business one usually envisions a mother and father slaving away trying to make ends meet with their children at their side learning the business as they grow, hopefully to take it over and prosper.  The reality is that most “small businesses” are not really that small (exempting the restaurant business) and are capitalized by very wealthy people.  Most do not provide benefits to their employees, many violate state and federal labor laws every day.  How do I know this?  Let’s just say I have “friends” as the commercial for tax preparation drones about, as if your “friends” have an illegal inside track to save you money underreporting your income-just like the big boys do-nudge nudge, know what I mean?

Take a look at a local harbor to see who owns those lovely yachts.  There written off as an entertainment expense by “small” businesses.  The automobile write-off was capped a few years back so anything over $50,000 can’t be taken as an expense for a car, but a million dollar Prevost luxury motorhome can still be amortized over 5 years in the companies’ name for entertaining.  These are but a few of the ways the tax structure has brought this country down to its knees for the little guy.  There are many more but let me move on to tackle the other side of this drama and get to my point without listing 50 ways to screw your country.

It is these same “small” businesses that force employees to work overtime without compensation, by use of fear or pressure tactics and enact pay periods that allow them to be paid only 48 weeks out of 52 by illegally setting the first and fifteenth of each month as paydays instead of floating the pay period to coincide with the real calendar where 4.2 weeks are equivalent to a month not 28 days.  Larger corporations know that can’t get away with that, so they stay on the side of the law.  The small-minded business owner and larger corporations do however browbeat and squeeze every nickel of labor they can and stand behind a corporate structure so that their front line employees have to deal with an underserviced, unsatisfied customer or client that is not being treated fairly because the money being raked in by the corporate owner is never enough, so he buys the cheapest parts, doesn’t pay contractors, lets his bills pile up until he is threatened with litigation, doesn’t trust anyone because he or she themselves are not trustworthy, and then hides behind any legal interpretation they can screw their employees and their customers.  (I’m sure there are good people and great companies to work for here in America, but they are far and few between) Now that sounds harsh doesn’t it?  Now multiply the intensity of that with a large corporation.

Guess what?  It’s normal, and if it is normal here, imagine what it is like in China and India.  We buy billions of dollars of all this crap-clothing so shoddy that colors streak completely after being washed once, mechanical things that fall apart after one use, and all of the stuff is probably is loaded with lead if not anything more dangerous (wait until they start making medicines)-and all while they are polluting the shit out of their land and air-just like we did from 1870-1976.  Not that we don’t still do it, but it has been addressed to a large extent by those dreadful liberal environmentalists who do at times go way too far, but at this point without them we would be the world’s biggest polluter….ahh….wait, I think we still are!

My point is that we talk the talk but can’t walk the walk and if we, American people had done the right thing in the 70’s and demanded to become self-sufficient, taken solar and alternative energy production seriously before Reagan came in and made everybody feel good about “our national right to excess in all things,” then these international bankers and our Federal Reserve couldn’t have hijacked the economy and promoted productivity, which is essentially more work done by less people- and encouraged national corporations to expand overseas with our manufacturing jobs for huge profits.  They were there to help them by funding the banks that have loaned them the money for that expansion.  Then the investment banks started gaming the system with arbitrage and fast computers while the SEC watched and let it happen.  Then the era of securitized mortgages, the fact that the uptick rule was banished for people who sold stock short, and then commodities became an asset allocation for as little as 5% margin; no delivery requirements, and wound into Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) like a stock-and not just a hedge for businesses, and bingo….the bubble breaks.  Who is to blame? We let it happen; we’re going to pay for it.  It has yet to really surface just how much of a loss we will sustain in determining our own future and that of our children.  We are just beginning to see the effects of our capital being spread too thin around the world while our sworn enemies laugh at us, counting the billions we have to send them like a junkie in a dark alley.  Global is good?  For who?  The international banks that’s who and don’t let anyone fool you, the big money is in a fixed game and the question is not who will profit and who will suffer, it is when. 

The expansion of globalization and reallocation of capital reminds me of grading on a curve or “no child left behind” that are attempts at socialistic concepts by the current administration to promote those countries that rank near the bottom to rise up further at the expense of those who are economically sound by using the tried and true method of cheap labor to make millionaires from racketeers with the power and money in these former “third world” areas. This Non-Darwinian methodology cannot succeed without someone getting the short end of the stick.

Fairplay, honesty, and all things good….Where have you gone “Common Principles” the nation turns it’s lonely eyes to you?  

    I posted this Associated Press picture along with the following header and sent it off to most people I correspond through email:

WE OWE THEM EVERYTHING AND YET OUR GOVERNMENT, US, WE THE PEOPLE, GIVE SO LITTLE BACK TO THEM IN RETURN.  BRING THEM BACK HOME TO LIVE THE LIVES THEY SO DESERVE.  THEY SUFFER AND DIE FOR BLOODY OIL MONEY!

I received many positive responses but one came from an old friend and he totally disagreed with my point of view and we went at it.  Here’s some excepts that are printable and suitable for public publishing from this debate.  Read them and please comment as to what you think on the issue.

Mr. G says- “The way that I see it is this….They enlist. They get a bonus of $20,000 for 30 months…$30,000 for 36 months & $40,000 for 48 months Plus an extra $20,000 if they join the National Guard after that time period. More than one family member in the service pays off the family house, in addition to a full tuition reimbursement for any college courses. They are in it for the money only, unless, of course,  they are foolish enough to believe that they are also protecting our freedom by being in Iraq or Afghanistan. If they get injured or lose their life in the process then that’s the price to pay for their foolishness. Hero’s?   Bullshit.” (My font bolding)

…and another excerpt……… “You like many others seem to miss the real point. Defense of our country with recruits is one matter that is timeless. It should be.
     There will never be enough of die-hard enlistees to fill the ranks that are needed in those perilous times. There will always be so called Heroes to defend the motherland. Most of today’s children of American adults NEED a kick in the ass. Most of them have been pampered so much that they have never even been in a car with the window rolled down… Candy-Ass pampered kids in this “new age” way of raising them. If this country was ever invaded we would not have many people, untrained, to defend it.
     When I was drafted for the Viet Nam “Conflict” I went against my will, but you know what, growing up on the streets of South Philadelphia, without much discipline & being drafted right out of high school & THEN going straight into Basic Training at Fort Bragg 100th Airborne Division & Special Forces along with AFRTS Broadcasting did me a world of good & something that I never knew that I needed. I learned discipline, respect & a strong desire to defend the United States so that others can enjoy the freedoms & liberty’s that we have here like no other place on earth. When I spent my time in Viet Nam I didn’t ask to be there. I was told to be there to protect the South Vietnamese from Communist invasion from the North. Now that’s a really good reason to die for, isn’t it? 
I learned to feel that, even though the North Vietnamese or the Russians or the Chinese were not a threat to our country. In Vietnam, politically, it was to defend the rubber plantations that France failed to defend & in Iraq, the oil fields . What the hell is the difference. War IS hell. It always was & will always be.
Loss of limb & life will always be the end result for some & others will always walk away unharmed…. 
      The military kids of today are there for what? Other than the money. Most enlistees come from families that have very little income. They are, in many situations, the breadwinners. With the weapons systems of today there are very little land battles that will take place. Not many Hum-Vees to drive around in  & get blown up in. Those enlistees CHOOSE that way of life & danger just as others that choose to be employed in enforcement jobs like Police, FBI, Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement, etc. They all play under the same game rules.”  (my font bolding here not his)

One of my replies that is printable- “No, you just don’t get it….a life is a life that is unique and cannot be replaced and has emotional ties to others and apparently you don’t value anybody’s life or their emotional connections and it is the main point of the act of giving one’s life for a reason besides the fucking money.  That’s the issue you skirt around with a very cold hard nihilist intransigent view.  The money is the money and that’s all you harp on.  The next time you need assistance from one of these “well-paid” parasites perhaps if they leave you to die in a car accident instead of helping you out of your car you might get it, but I doubt it.”
….and another
“I don’t care about being right, I care about doing the right thing and if honoring two soldiers in a picture drives you to this type of fierce insanity-(even Oliver North wouldn’t deny that the 9/11 deaths of fireman and police made them heros)-then all the articles in the world will not support your harsh opinion that people in all sorts of uniformed duty (do not) perform heroic acts.  By your spin, the Japanese were justified to bomb Pearl because we cut their oil off, so let’s see you stand up in front of a vet’s group this Veteran’s Day and tell them all that none of those who died performing acts to save one another (that day) are heroes.  You are using the old cliche’ that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.  One must take a stand at some point.”

So what do you think?  Are they in it for the money?  Are other uniformed positions in it for the money and therefore do not deserve “heroic” status if they save a life, if they run in a burning building?”  Am I so off base that “I just don’t get it?”  You tell me by commenting with your opinion.

While we sit in a rising pool of unknowns, pundits wondering if we are coming to recession, are in recession, or going into a calamity of proportions yet unknown, we still debate what got us here in the first place. Globalization is blamed for much of our ills and indeed the loss of jobs and industry has brought us to the last stage of an economic empire-that of a service industry. This has been going on for decades as while we sleep soundly, the other side of the world wants what we have already received-a high standard of living. Our parents and grandparents sacrificed for us and did without, so that we could have a better future.

The fear and greed scenario has always been there, it is the prime motivator for the present strategy of the Greenspan era-productivity growth-or less labor and more output in our country’s case as it stands. We have cut labor and boosted productivity to the point of excess in this country and we now pay for that, as there is no free lunch, with less jobs available as the “global” economy heats up and allows us some stability for our exports. This is a temporary situation, one that bodes badly for us in the decades to come. With the lack of industry to “make” things, and the productivity push of the “greed” factor, we become a nation of intellectual providers and no longer a provider of “things.” This is the first sign of an empire’s collapse. We cannot maintain the standard of living for the present, regardless of those who have not reached it yet, and if we do not participate in the foreign markets in the way of stock, ADR’s, or direct investment, we will see our money come back to us in the form of asset sales to those who take our dollars and need to reinvest them, such as Dubai or China-who has a huge investment in our bond market.  They also use those funds against us when it is to their advantage with the falling dollar. 

The real story of business is cut-throat, inhumane, and cares less about people-it is about banks, money, and the rate of return. Ignore that, and indeed it will be a bumpy ride. Economics in general are not social endeavors and for all the screaming of free trade, there really is no such thing. It is, and always has been a “fixed game” and the little guy gets stuck with all the risk in the end.  The banks always cause the problems and the Central Bank, The Federal Reserve usually makes things worse by flooding the market with liquidity and then taking it back after everyone becomes addicted to the availability of those funds.

We are looking down the barrel of a real calamity if we don’t support the rise of the dollar.  Suppose your home was worth $400,000 three years ago and now it’s worth $300,000.  Well thanks to rising inflation it will be worth $400,000 soon-the catch is that $400,000 will be worth only $300,000 now due to inflation.  Banks never lose, they just merge and are refunded by the Central Bank.  You get to see your purchasing power shrink like a magician-Presto!  It’s now worth what it was three years ago.  Don’t you feel better now?

This was originally written in October 2007 when gas was $2.75 a gallon.

It has been decried long before the first Earth Day in the seventies and over thirty years later, we still allow our politicians, oil conglomerates, and irrational perspectives to rule our absurd interconnected world. As the price per barrel rises, we “barrel” into what could be the worst economic recession the world has seen while allowing our dollar to sink to the lowest price relative to other currencies in our history. There are many reasons for slower growth but none so permeating as oil. We feed terrorist countries with huge amounts of cash that they use to purchase weapons from our “allies” to use against us. We allow our economy to be tied to the purchase of that oil and therefore like a heroin addict we can’t break away from the injection.

We use more energy per person than any other country on the planet. Don’t you think it is time for a national coherent plan of action to stop this madness? We need an equivalent of a “moon landing” program, or a war bond campaign of conservation, while the private sector such nuclear (we pay for all waste and cleanup and limit damages in an accident), oil (drilling and lease subsidies, tax breaks),  is given subsidies that have been taken away for alternatives such as solar, wind, and geothermal power to start and then get our automobiles off the track of using gasoline to new technologies of hydrogen, hybrid, natural gas alternatives.

This is your country, you need to become active and demand our government stop this addictive behavior to allow large corporate entities to rule this land by political special interests. This should be an political election platform for our potential leaders, because as I look at the past we are still sitting on our collective butts and wait for government and oil companies to come forth with an answer that is not in their best interest to solve in any form. Now is the time to demand action, or we may be paying in many more ways than at the pump my fellow citizens. You don’t want the extreme ramifications of supply and demand of this “world economy” to destroy what we have built.

We need an Energy Independence Declaration to begin the work to give the private sector the tax breaks they need to innovate and come up with viable alternatives so we can breathe clean air, keep our economy humming, and keep the dollars out of the hands of those who would use them against us given the chance. Your children’s children need a fair shot at a good life.