2009


Government and Politics and Social Issues27 Dec 2009 05:54 pm

In the last two posts I discussed the fact that our society is neither oriented nor structured in a way to support a highly educated work force. In this post I want to expand upon the importance and flexibility we have regarding how we design the structure and functioning of society.

We have long been aware of the effects the structure of society has on individuals. Many books, movies and social experiments have demonstrated how a society’s values are both reflected in and created by its structure.

In the movie Trading Places this theme was played out in comic excellence. In the movie two wealthy white men attempt to settle an argument whether genetic good breeding or the opportunities offered by one’s environment are more important to success. They decide to take a black street criminal (Eddie Murphy) and give him a Wall Street job and other perks and fire an up and coming white Ivy League graduate (Dan Aykroyd) to see who will win in the long run.

The bulk of the movie focuses on how both adapt to their new positions in life.  The ex-convict becomes an extremely resourceful successful businessman, and the ex-Ivy Leaguer becomes a petty thief in his struggle to survive and in response to his anger at how society is treating him.

In stories such as Black Like Me we follow the descent of a successful educated white man when he chemically alters the color of his skin so as to appear to be a black man in pre-civil rights America. Though not really black he could not help but feel the despair and internalize the hatred and prejudice lobbed his way.

Many social experiments regarding social status and power document what the above movies and books portrayed, and that is that individuals are highly influenced by the way they are viewed and treated by a society. And that a society creates personalities and stereotypes by the way the society functions and is designed.

If people are put in a roles of master and slave they will quickly adapt to these roles both externally and internally, even if they know they are play acting. The masters will soon become aggressive, righteous and ambitious while the slaves will become submissive, conniving, self-doubting and self-hating.  Yet, once taken back out of this situation and placed back into their normal lives they generally revert back to their old ways and perceptions of self, society and life.

We know that no matter what you do to a society there will be a small percentage of people who will think, act and behave in ways contrary to the society. Yet, what this also says is that we know that a vast majority of people will adapt to and live the dominant values of the culture. This is evident not only in historical instances such as Nazi Germany, but also in the long term social structure of caste systems, tribes and relatively isolated groups such as the Amish.

The point of this discussion is that people’s actions, morals and goals are highly influenced by the structure of their society. People generally are the moral and behavioral products of the culture. The larger portion of the populace is the incarnation of the basic values of the culture. Ambitious competitive cultures create ambitious competitive people, where reflective and kind cultures create cautious and introspective individuals.

A recent study on testosterone puts an interesting spin on the above point.  The standard belief was to equate testosterone with male aggression, raise testosterone levels and you will increase aggression and violence. Yet, the results of raising testosterone levels in various organisms proved otherwise.

What was found was that in animals with simple physiologies and social structures there was the expected rise in aggression. Yet, in complex organisms in complex societies raised levels of testosterone caused raised levels in which the animal sought social status. How the animal expressed his testosterone varied according to the values and activities which resulted in social status. High levels of testosterone could result in anything from increased desire to dance, build, create, invent, parent or teach as well as win, battle or control. The deciding factor was in the status goal of the society and not indigenous to and specific personality type.

If these studies do indeed to prove true it just shows another way in which people are inherently geared towards adapting to the values of the culture they are living in. Yet, even without such biochemical validation it is easy to see how people’s character types, values and vocations are highly influenced by the culture they live in.

In many American Indian cultures men strove to be wise and always sought better ways to adapt to and show respect to nature. They desired to consensus build and live life according to the cycles of nature. Their animistic beliefs stimulated them to emulate the positive qualities of many animals, birds and even the spirits contained in mountains and trees.

A society structured in a way which rewarded and recognized health and kindness would create many healthy and kind individuals. Sure, no matter how healthy one’s diet and lifestyle, there will always be sickly people who die young. Improvements, in a culture’s diet, health care and lifestyle are customarily reflected in a rise in the average life expectancy.

The US is a competitive, economically driven empire where one attains status and success though ambition, guile and determination. Aggression, power and control are often the quickest and surest means of acquiring social status and success.

When people point to the high ideals of the US they are speaking of words and not so much of how the US behaves or functions. We may speak of the importance of honesty and tell our children to share. Yet, status and success in the US is more often accomplished through guile, spin, deception, manipulation and salesmanship than truth and honesty. Likewise hoarding, taking, bilking and exploiting are the tools of the successful rather than sharing and empathy.

It is absurd to think that our society could not be run and designed in a different manner. Anyone who thinks that industrial capitalism is the only or best social system is definitely blind to history and cultural anthropology. There were many empires before the US and most of them were not capitalistic in nature or function.

It is more accurate to say that the design of our society creates our morals and values, rather than the other way around. It is very difficult for individuals to maintain and live their morals and values which are in opposition to the society in which they live. In most cases people will either adapt their actions to the morals of the society at large, even if internally they wish otherwise. This is evident in the number of US citizens who support the war policies of our government despite the fact the majority of US citizens are opposed to war in general and our current wars in particular.

A great exercise is to try and view our society from the perspective of an anthropologist. What according to our laws, actions and daily habits are our most dominant values and mores? What do we train our children to become, and how do we treat our contemporaries? What do we reward, recognize and foster in our culture? Is this what you would foster if you had a choice?

The fact is we have great flexibility in choosing our society’s design and function? Saying otherwise, is escaping responsibility and selling ourselves short. Of course, those in power want the status quo, and want us to believe that this is the best option currently available.

Many relationships and marriages have found through therapy that small changes in the structure and habits of a relationship can have profound positive effects on the health and happiness of a family. Subtle changes in habit, attitude and structure can replace anxiety, pain and even depression with appreciation, contentment and joy.

The changes in our social structure need not be that dramatic. Subtle changes in how we do things and what we reward could result in incredible growth in personal satisfaction. Statistics indicate that our society fosters depression, anxiety, fear and apathy more than joy, personal satisfaction, and connection to others.

Many of my posts have and will deal with issues of social design and personal satisfaction.  My songs and books, which can be found by clicking onto the music and words tabs, are also geared towards these social concepts. They are offered here for free, because that is my value. Many, of course, will think their quality poor due to their being offered for free. That is their value.

I invite you to decide for yourself. I would love to hear your reactions.

United in Compassion

Jim Guido

Education and Government21 Dec 2009 09:39 am

In the previous post I discussed how statistics show that American’s are not as educated as we are led to believe. In the US less than 70% of students who enter elementary school end up with a high school diploma. In this post we will try to see how a practical, logical analysis of the role of education in modern society contradicts what we are being told regarding its importance and benefits.

American’s are being told that today’s competitive marketplace demands that citizens who want to “get ahead in the world” need at minimum a college degree and most likely an advanced degree. We are bombarded with the message that American workers are the most skilled in the world and the fast pace of American commerce and technological advancement demand higher education.

Let’s take a s look at how honest this sentiment and appraisal of the role and benefit of education is for the general public. First we’ll look at the economic and practical benefits of advanced degrees for the professional career traditional college track and then will look at the economic and practical benefits of higher education for the vocational trade workers.

The problem with the advanced degree equals financial wealth and security promise is that it contradicts both historical economic trends and the laws of supply and demand so dear to our system of capitalism. Our society shows no signs of wanting or becoming a society able to financially support a highly educated populace.

During the last two economic downturns the term over qualified was used to explain the reason why many highly credentialed potential workers were unemployed or having to accept low paying jobs outside of their field. Though this problem is less talked about it is more prevalent than ever.  The structure and composition of our work force shows no indication or ability to become a professional career dominated  system.

We currently do not have millions or even tens of thousands of jobs sitting fallow waiting for advanced degree applicants to fill those positions. Likewise we are not waiting for more Phd’s and masters level graduates to hit the work force before we create such positions. The reality of the situation is advanced degree graduates are finding it increasingly difficult  to find jobs fitting their educational status at all, let alone in their field of interest.

Since the early 60’s there has been a steady trend of a higher concentration of wealth going to a smaller and smaller percentage of people. This trend shows no signs of abating and in fact is gaining momentum. The prospects for wealth and job security for those of us acquiring an advanced educational degree is on the wane even if the percentage of people receiving advanced degrees were not to increase.

Advances in technology and informational technology will continue to erode the importance and need for a number of advanced degree professionals. I’ll just give two quick examples to support the point.

One is the number of medical procedures that will be best or only performed or executed by robotics and machines is only going to expand. The demands regarding accuracy and sensitivity for most recent and projected medical procedures far exceed the capabilities of human surgeons and medical practitioners.

Second, computers and information systems are far more capable of researching and organizing information. Researchers in all fields of the professional world including CPA’s and lawyers are becoming increasingly dependent on information technology to do the bulk of their work for them. The technology if not a direct threat to make their jobs totally obsolete at least will drastically decrease the number of professionals needed in each field.

A constant complaint I’ve heard these last 30 years from students functioning at all levels of educational competency is that education has nothing to do with the real world, that they will never use the majority of what they are being taught. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a student ask, “why should I learn this?”, or “When am I ever going to use this when I’m working?”

In many ways students are correct in assuming that their jobs will never require their knowing how solve a quadratic equation, know the periodic table,  or be able to identify the structure of the judicial system of Maori Indians.  Likewise understanding the various forms of poetic meter, or the major river systems of South America will seldom get them a job or make them available for a job promotion.

Yet, what is gained through our general education system is more abstract and logic based. The information is not important in itself but it is helping a student develop important practical skills and abilities. Some of which include problem solving, logic, critical thinking, pattern recognition, empathy and understanding, perspective and analysis just to name a few.

Much of the benefits of a well rounded education has to do with providing students with tools, skills and abilities that will help them be successful in all levels of life. Not   just at the work place, but interpersonal relations, parenting, and dealing with the increasing complexity of life in the modern world.

This shows a general benefit of education, but does not directly negate the students concern that most of their education does not directly apply to the career of job they will spend the majority of their adult life doing.

This brings us to the core of the push for advanced degrees, and its accompanying rational that many do not succeed in today’s work world because they are undereducated and unsatisfactorily credentialed. The solution as always whether you’re a computer technician or a health care professional is that your job security and pay scale are dependent on advanced degrees.

Let’s take a look at one of the central messages of education proponents who state that the sophistication and complexity of the high tech world makes a college education imperative, and once you get a degree in technology your career path is secure.

No one can argue that technological disciplines of all kinds are in a perpetual state of rapid growth. Yet, this fact both supports the need for a degree and limits the benefits of a technology based education.

First of all, no general technological education of any type, will rarely prepare you for a specific job in the field of technology. The skills and specific processes needed for each job is changing so rapidly that any education you receive will be outdated in a very short time. Since so many jobs involve skills and knowledge that are so specific to that job alone, learning on the job is far more beneficial than learning in a general classroom.

Advances in automation, robotics, information technology, and artificial intelligence are occurring at a mind numbing speed. Many technologies are claiming a new generation level of advancement as quick as every few months. In such an environment how much staying power or relevance does a degree have?

Most advances in automation, robotics, information technology, and artificial intelligence reduce the need for human workers. These technologies often reduce the need for workers and a job force and therefore a degree in these fields will not necessarily improve job security or result in a lucrative career.

The fact of the matter is that more and more jobs are becoming unnecessary and unprofitable. Machines work for free and never need to sleep or have off time. The competitive nature of capitalism always goes towards maximizing profits and lowering overhead.  In the modern world of technology and information, human labor is seldom the means to maximizing profit.

Robots and machines do tasks, learn new processes and work at optimum levels far better than humans.

Professionals such as doctors and lawyers have been keeping up with advances in their field by reading journals and getting additional training for decades.  Now any technologically based worker must do the same. There is no degree which will end education, and most education has to occur on the job because of the specialty of information and skills indigenous solely to that task.

Yet, no amount of education is going to allow humans to perform many jobs at the quality of robots and automation. Robots will become increasingly superior to human workers in doing precision work, repetitive work demanding identical duplication, and the ability to quickly identify and solve problems.

Robots, likewise will be unparalleled in their ability to identify flaws and variances of quality in materials, their ability to monitor and fix other machines, and not get bored with tedious work or vigilance.

The promises of wealth and job security being heralded by the media is true for a few industries. These industries include banking and education.

The watering down of public education has made a high school diploma almost no better than being a drop out, and therefore, made a college diploma almost mandatory to get any job above minimum wage.  This means that our free public education is worthless and forces those with economic ambition to have to pay for the education they need to make a well paying job even a possibility.

College and private educations have become these expensive and necessary toll booths giving a potential worker hope for a decent future on the road of life. Those who are yet employed or underemployed often have to borrow money to pay for their education.

Over the last few decades it has been the educational and lending institutions and not students which have benefitted most by the perceived need for higher education. The costs of higher education have skyrocket as well as the net worth of colleges and universities during this time period. Likewise the percentage of students graduating with significant amounts of debt has exploded.

The only real obstacle to expanding wealth for lending and private and higher education institutions has been bad investing. Isn’t it ironic that the standard advertising tag line for most higher educational institutions is something along the lines of “investing in your future”. It probably would be more accurate to say “investing in our future”.

As is the case in many aspects of our society, deception and sales techniques dominate the messages we receive. Honesty and integrity, like human labor, are not the best means of maximizing one’s profit potential. Therefore, in a profit based system of economic competition honesty and integrity will have little value.

In general deception sells more than truth. So what do you expect from a society whose primary goal is economic expansion through the maximizing of profit?

Now remembering that my friend might be a real education.

Jim Guido

Education13 Dec 2009 12:18 pm

Last week I was talking to a clinician friend of mine who is the director of a local alternative school. During the conversation I mentioned how high our local drop out rate was. She felt I was exaggerating and doubted my numbers. So, we googled it and saw that my numbers were correct.

Most statistics out there are in agreement. In the US less than two thirds of its children get a high school diploma. This means that over three in ten kids in the US do not graduate high school. Think about that a minute. Three of ten kids in your, or who were in your child’s kindergarten class will/did not get a diploma.

The media generally reports the yearly drop out rate which has stayed between 4 and 6 percent. So, the average person is led to believe that only 5 or 6% of students drop out and conclude that 90% or so of students graduate.

Yet, the reality is that 5% are dropping out per year. The accumulative result of which is that somewhere between 30 and 40% of students will be lost before high school graduation.
Below is the significant numbers posted by the Alliance for Excellent Education for the State of North Carolina.

Graduation Gaps and Inequities
Graduates
Graduates 63%

There are significant graduation gaps among student subgroups. To help close these harmful achievment gaps and raise graduation rates for all students, graduation rates must be disaggregated for both reporting and accountability purposes.
North Carolina’s Graduation Gap

All Students 63%
Asian          74%
White        70%
Hispanic   50%
African American   45%
Native American     44%

Estimated 4-year Graduation Rate
*Figures calculated prior to rounding. All graduation rates are for the school year 2005–06. For access to sources and notes please visit http://www.all4ed.org/publication_materi…. © July 2009 by the Alliance for Excellent Education

If you go to the web site below you will see an interesting national map of graduation rates for all states.

 http://www.higheredinfo.org/dbrowser/ind…

When you read the history of the public school system and the writing’s of many of its founders you find that public education was designed to be more often about indoctrination into the political/economic world of US society than about maximizing the intellectual possibilities and skill base of each citizen.

Many early social psychologists sympathized with governmental architects concerns that a truly democratic system could breed social instability. Public education was seen as a means to mold public opinion and create civic pride in the status quo while making future voters more dependent on the state.

In the early years the American public education system was able to attract and cultivate the best minds while fostering a strong sense of patriotism and national pride. These were the heady years of industrialization, empire building and invention.

Yet, the more successful the US became at becoming the reigning superpower the less the need for finding the best minds amongst the rabble. Instead they could reserve the quality aspect of American education system for the privileged few. This allowed the main focus of US public schools to become indoctrination and public control and less on unfolding the intellectual capabilities of the majority of children.

I have witnessed first hand the dilution of the American education system. The slow ingress of increasing chaos of the classrooms and the lowering of standards of academic performance.

In the late seventies and early eighties I worked in special education class rooms for both day programs and residential treatment facilities. Many of these kids came to us illiterate and with below average IQ’s. Despite these hurdles our children flourished in our school. We averaged 9 months of academic growth for every 3 to 4 months of class time.

A sizable portion of the students I worked with during that same time were average to above average students who came to us because of emotional psychological issues and not due to poor academic performance.

In the late nineties I returned to public schools for awhile and have spent the bulk of this decade back in special ed. dominated classrooms.

Though I have taught all subjects, math is my forte. I can assert with no doubt the skill level of kids I worked with in special ed. in the 70’s is higher than the average student in today’s standard level classroom.

The computational and reading skills of a child being promoted to the fourth grade now is inferior to the skills of the kids who were promoted in the 70’s. Pretty much the same can be said for each grade level.

The basic skills of our children are eroding as are the expectations. This can not be an accident or be explained away by changes in our society. For ever reason I can find that society makes learning more difficult, I can find five or six that could make learning easier and more productive.

The watered down American public education system now takes sixteen years to accomplish what it used to in twelve. The skills demanded of a student to get their high school diploma in today’s public school system is roughly equivalent to about a freshman level of the 1980’s.

The GED tests which students can now use as a high school education equivalency test is not even at the eighth grade level that I was familiar with in the late 70’s.

We are being told the truth by our educational system and government when they say that our child’s high school diploma does not open them up to the same jobs and opportunities that a high school diploma did for us when we graduated. They go on to say that today’s college diploma carries the same impact as yesterday’s high school diploma. It now takes a post graduate degree to avail yourself to the opportunities that were previously available to a college graduate. These are all true statements. In fact, they are understatements.

Today’s college graduate is probably available for less than a high school graduate of the 70’s. And even a post graduate degree does not assure you that you will get a job and pay of a standard similar to a basic college degree  in decades past.

Yet, what is deceptive about these statements is the reason why they are true. We are told that today’s workers need more skills and intellectual ability and knowledge than previous generations.

We are led to believe that the fast pace of technological progress and the increasing speed and complexity of the work place is demanding similar growth in our educational knowledge and performance.

Yet, for the most part this is just all out fictitious propaganda.

In my next post I’ll explore the fallacies of the above view and the possible reasons we are being asked to believe in the false hood of the need and benefits of a post graduate degree. I will also shed some light on the likely goals of the architects of the modern public education system, at least according to their actions.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Relationships and sexuality03 Dec 2009 06:19 pm

The following are some excerpts from the chapter entitled Sex and Intimacy from my book Exploring Intimacy. You can read the entire chapter and book by clicking on the words tab above.

Marriage continues to exist because it represents the ideal of two people living together who mutually support, share and love each other. A marriage is not just a contract, but a vehicle for intimacy.

The most private possession a person owns is their body.

Our bodies are the closest thing to us, because in them is the origination of all our experience. All we feel, think and perceive takes place in our minds and through our skin and senses. Sharing our bodies with another is sharing our experience at the exact moment it happens.

Sex is not just a symbolic way of demonstrating how open we are to each other, it is letting someone into our most private world and letting them have an impact on our every sensation.

Our bodies harbor our individuality and there is no more intimate thing to share with another than what makes us unique.

Making love is not just stimulating our bodies, it is activating and fulfilling our drive towards intimacy.

Maintaining a rewarding and fulfilling sexual relationship is dependent on a couple’s ability to stay intimate with each other.

Anger in relationships is often caused when our desire for union is denied, and the feeling of love is attained when our desire for intimacy and union is successful met.

A desire for and commitment to day-to-day intimacy is the most sure way insuring a life partnership stays fresh and fulfilling. People grow and change and unless both members of a relationship express their needs and take an interest in their partners evolving needs any union can weaken or stagnate.

Instead of just following our heart or marrying the first person we fall in love with we are asked to  ot only recognize but form and maintain intimate relationships.

Intimacy is a skill developed and refined like any other, through practice and constant evaluation.

Only through open communication and intimate knowledge of another can we be reasonably assured that the relationship will endure.

Finding a life partner is a matter of selection and not preordained from the heavens. The success of a relationship depends on the amount and the way we invest ourselves into the relationship, and not on whether we violated some universal law by marrying the wrong partner.

A life partnership which is aware and sensitive to the power of affection and sexual fulfillment is more likely to flourish throughout the years than one that ignores or takes sex for granted.

The trick of sustaining a lifelong relationship is not based on goals such as marrying the most attractive or compatible person you will ever meet, but rather finding a partner with whom you can be intimate for the rest of your life.

Beauty is only skin deep in a relationship not devoted to intimacy. In a relationship built on intimacy attractiveness involves every aspect of the person’s personality and character. Their body not just  a visual object but a vehicle for joy and intimacy.

Whatever the reason for our partner’s decrease in appeal, it is through intimacy that it must be restored.

Sexual confidence is probably the most important quality for an enduring lover to possess. A person who thrives on sexual intimacy is bound to be attractive to their partner, for such a person yearns to please and be pleased by their partner.

All couples need to find their own individual mix of sex and affection which fulfills their needs.

Only through physical exploration and intimate conversation can one ascertain the sexual differences of a couple and how these differences impact their view of love and intimacy.

Knowing your mate’s sexuality before marriage is very important, for even though many sexual preferences can be negotiated or a mutually satisfying compromise can be found, major differences in sexual appetites are almost impossible to overcome. If you like to make love every day and your partner desires to make love once a week, it will be difficult for this gap to be successfully bridged while leaving both people sexually content and emotionally united.

Sometimes the differences in sexual appetites are bridged when the couple reveals and expresses what sex means to them. Often the greater understanding and appreciation gained thorugh such a discussion is enough to get the couple’s appetites more in line with each other.

Each time we make love we have an opportunity to explore and unfold all of our senses, to push the boundaries of physical pleasure and sensual unity a step further. The amount of care and attention we can give to every single sensation and feeling is amplified during love making. Our imagination can be used to assist us in feeling an expressing the intensity of the moment. We can create moods, accent body stimulations, and transform the most simple sensation into a spiritual moment through imagination.

Our imagination is a key participant in intimate love making. Through our imagination we arouse our emotions and desires by acknowledging the importance our partner plays in our life, and in its enjoyment. Our imagination allows us to empathize and even anticipate what our partner is feeling, allowing us an opportunity to maximize the intensity of their pleasure.

One can use their imagination during love making to enhance or create a mood whose goal is increased pleasure and intimacy, or one can use their imagination to deceive, alter or even replace the event taking place.

Sharing of any type is vacant in the romantic hero. The pristine world of the heroine is left intact, she need not grow, of change, or even truly live and share a world with a man. She is spared the tragic life of the real and allowed to live in the unrealistic world of romance.

Intimacy should not have to conform to romance, but romance should conform to intimacy. Romance not tethered to intimacy can become harmful and delusionary.

Both romance and imagination can be effective tools to avoid the reality of a relationship, and therefore, instead of fostering intimacy can actually be used to prevent or weaken intimacy.

I hope these excerpts inspire to read the entire chapter and book. Enjoy.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Relationships28 Nov 2009 11:01 am

The following are excerpts from my book Exploring Intimacy which you can read by clicking on the words tab above.

From the chapter Defining Intimacy

Becoming intimate with something means to gain a familiarity with a desired object, to become more at home with it.

Any object or activity which gives us joy or attracts our attention provides our life with a basic amount of intimacy.

Though it is true that intimacy can be gleaned from even the most mundane experiences, this does not imply that all forms of intimacy have the same value. Many activities and things we become closer to, and more intimate with, provide us with greater satisfaction than others.

In regards to our own skills and talents we are often unappreciative of what we have accomplished and instead focus  on what we are currently incapable of achieving or attaining.

The drive for intimacy is in itself a need, but very often in our lives it is a need overshadowed by social responsibilities, expectations and obligations.

A certain amount of selfishness is needed for a person to get their needs met and a person meeting their needs will generally be a happier one.

Only through honest reflection on one’s wants and needs can an individual accurately assess if a perceived lack in their life is authentic or imagined.

Those who strive for and demand perfection are ruling out growth and feelings of intimacy to arise in their life. Expecting life to be perfect is not only unrealistic, but contrary to one’s experience of intimacy and happiness.

Without a proper sense of priorities in our life, it is impossible to maximize the amount of intimacy we derive from our life experiences.

When choosing which things to focus on and cultivate in our lives we should look for those things which provide us with the deepest sense of satisfaction.

Intimacy, like love, can become sterile or distorted. The difference is that also incorporates the ability to rectify itself.

Meaning comes from understanding, to “stand under” something, while ignorance comes from ignoring something.

And from the chapter Intimate Relationships

The desire to get more familiar with, to get closer to, is at the heart of almost every relationship we pursue and sustain in our lives.

Love and intimacy are very similar desires in both motivation and structure. Love is mainly an emotional response and state where intimacy encompasses the entire human spirit.

The aspects of love which intimacy shares is its desire to feel close and connected to the object of desire. Where they part company is that love is often blind or unconditional, while intimacy is always moving with its eyes wide open.

The desire to be love or be intimate with people is not enough, we also need to be selective. A person unaware of his real needs will often choose the wrong person to woo or love.

Initial attractions,  no matter how strong, are not enough to sustain a life long relationship without further growth and development.

One should not marry in the hope of finding fulfillment, but should consider marriage after they are actively engaged in a fulfilling and intimate relationship.

When an individual chooses a life partner without knowing themselves and their needs.or their partners needs, they are leaving the success of their relationship totally up to chance.

The flourishing of a long term relationship is greatly assisted when a firm common ground exists between a couple. When two people see the world through similar eyes, speak the same language, share like interests, and their basic needs make sense to each other, they are in a good position to maintain a fulfilling relationship.

The quality of what one communicates is more important than the quantity.

An intimate human being shares and expresses the very desires and needs which make up their existence. Though they often verbalize their thoughts and feelings creating a mutual history, they also take time to reflect on themselves and their friends. An intimate person takes as much joy in quietly learning about life as they do in revealing themselves to their partner.

Friendship is a very important aspect of intimacy. Friends give us the common language and vision it takes to feel close, to feel satisfied and fulfilled. Friends validate all the meaning we find in life, and give us the impetus to dig deeper.

Additional friendships are not inherently a danger to an intimate relationship but rather a source of stimulation providing more things for the life long partnership to share.

In an intimate relationship, both the quality and quantity of time spent together is important. No matter how intensely you share, an intimate relationship will have trouble surviving if each week you only have a few moments alone together.

Ideally, having children should be an expression of the love you feel for your spouse, and the intimacy you share. The tragedy is that all too often people have children as an attempt to find intimacy or save a marriage.

When our needs are not being met through our spouse we should not look to begin a family as a solution. A baby born to bring a couple together is a dangerous experiment. Seldom does the birth of a child create intimacy in a previously troubled relationship. More often than not only makes a troubled relationship more strained and intolerable.

For more on these topics I encourage you to read Exploring Intimacy.

Jim Guido

Stock Market16 Nov 2009 02:02 pm

If the economy stays bad and the dollar continues to erode yet not collapse the stock market will likely reach new all time highs before a major correction ensues. If the economy rebounds any time soon the stock market will plummet.

This may sound counter-intuitive or ironic but it probably isn’t. The Nasdaq 100 is up near 80% since March. All the major indexes are enjoying the strongest and swiftest rallies in the history of the market. When one looks at why the market is skyrocketing the answers are not for the reasons touted by most of the market analysts and the media.

The first part of the rally was purely a relief rally based on the fact that a financial tragedy did not occur in the spring. The first two months and 20 to 30% rise was somewhat typical of bear market rallies.

Our solution to the overwhelming debt and tumbling real estate market was to stimulate the economy through massive bailouts flooding the market with low interest loans and cash.

Those struggling financial institutions and businesses receiving bailout money did not put the money to work in the real economy. Instead, they took money from the loans and used it to borrow more money and bonds with higher interest rates than the loans they got from the government. This allows them to make a sizable profit on the money they received thereby allowing them to claim substantial profits for their businesses.

Getting loans at 0 to .25% and than buying financial instruments yielding 3 to 4% or even more is a simple way of making money.

The loan money was also used to buy stocks which had been hammered in the stock market decline of last fall and this spring. As long as interest rates stay low and the market continues to climb banks and corporations using these techniques will reap in huge profits for corporate heads and the top shelf of business officers.

This party of using stimulus money and continued use of financial debt instruments will continue as long as the dollar stays soft and interest rates stay low.

The Fed has led these individuals to believe that they will keep interest rates low as long as the economy flounders and needs assistance. This is why the market rallies almost every time the economic news shows a struggling economy with a stalled “recovery”.

If the economy truly began to recover then businesses would invest their money in business expansion and hiring new workers rather than stock, cheap loans and financial instruments. A growing economy would cause interest rates to rise. Any rise of interest rates would stop the current game and the current stock market bubble would pop.

If the stock market were to correct, the dollar would rebound due to the fact that people would be taking their money out of the market and going to cash. People going to cash seldom borrow more and these two facts put together would cause the the dollar to rebound.

The current stock market rally is not about a rebounding economy. but rather a product of low interest rates and a falling dollar. The current rally could end rather abruptly if any of the following happen:

1) interest rates rise
2) the dollar strengthens
3) the stock market corrects
4) the dollar decline quickens into a collapse

I do believe this bubble is about to pop and the game is about to end badly. Yet, I must admit I’ve always underestimated the durability of these bubbles. I was a year or so early with the popping of the housing bubble and a good two or three years early regarding the last top of the stock market.

One thing I can say with a high degree of certainty is that the real economy will not rebound or grow in a legitimate manner until this financial game and market bubble pop and let themselves truly unwind.

Yet, this market could indeed set new highs before the bubble pops. For the sake of well over 98% of the people in this country lets hope the bubble doesn’t inflate much further.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Relationships and sexuality07 Nov 2009 01:27 pm

When attending recent wedding ceremonies I’ve been struck with how daunting, if not realistic, it is to commit to being with someone for the rest of your life. Being married for 26 years I’m far better equipped now to vow “till death do you part” than I was back then. Any marriage that flourishes even during the hormonal throes of menopause appears quite hale and hearty and able to go the distance.

Given the fact that committing to someone for life is so difficult, it would appear that it would be wise to maximize any factors which propel people towards bonding with each other. When you look at nature nothing propels individuals towards each other than the sex drive. The male sex drive in particular seems to be the impetus towards union.

Though it be true that in any particular pairing a woman’s sex drive may be stronger than their mate, by and large the male sex drive is one of the strongest forces in nature. When watching a nature show it is common to see two male beasts hurdling towards each other at full speed only to butt heads in the most violent of fashions with the sole purpose of winning the right to mate with a female.

While watching from the comfort of a couch women are often shocked and horrified by the spectacle while most men either think “been there, done that”, or at least feel a genuine sense of sympathy for the plight of the participants. Anyone doubting the fact that the male sex drive is stronger than the average female can just ponder how often woman pay for sex as opposed to men.

It is through sexual passion, pleasure and ecstasy that the average person desires to consume or fuse with their mate. It is through sexual passion that one yearns to know every inch of their beloved’s body and being.

Yet, in our society we have a tendency to demonize the male sex drive and demand that men overcome, master or sublimate their sex drive. Men who are open to trying to satiate their sex drive are accused of reducing their mates “to sex objects” or being shallow regarding love and intimacy.

Now I’m not saying that sex is the only important ingredient to a life long union, or that sex cannot be pathological or even a way to avoid intimacy. What I am saying is that sex is a powerful and natural force towards union, and that repressing or demonizing it is counter productive when your goal is life long partnership and union.

Every relationship is going to have difficult lean times when our lives are full of stress and hardship. During such times it if often the pleasure and closeness forged through sexual intimacy which allows the matrimonial bond to survive.

Woman who complain about the pervasiveness of their mates sexual energy are often cutting off the very blood supply that is allowing the marriage to succeed. Differences in sexual appetites is almost a certainty in every relationship, but bridging those differences through understanding and adaptation is very important.

Ridiculing a partner over their elevated desire for passion or demanding that they deny their sex drive is not a strategy leading towards forming a mutually rewarding relationship. Sexual repression, rejection and deprivation are often factors leading towards sexual addiction, promiscuity, infidelity and perversion.

Desiring frequent sex is no more a sign of pathology than enjoying food and yearning to eat is a sign of an eating disorder.

Many complain that the importance of sex in a relationship is exaggerated and over rated, and that true intimacy functions on a higher plain. Yet, most of these same people would leave or divorce their spouse if they found out they “had been unfaithful” or “ had an affair” with someone else. If they really believed that sex is unimportant than they wouldn’t feel betrayed or the relationship destroyed by meaningless sex. If sex wasn’t important than why would almost every culture on earth make fidelity the central component of the marriage vow.

Pleasurable and rewarding sex is probably the single most powerful tool we can use in creating and maintaining a life long intimate relationship. The desire to love every inch of body and being is the best foundation I can think of for building a life long relationship, and sexual intimacy is the most natural and universal drive propelling that desire.

To paraphrase the bard, “I come not to bury Eros (the erotic), but to praise him”.

Sex is not the answer to every problem in a relationship, not even close. But denying, or even ignoring its importance seems fool hearty. I guess one could fell a tree without a saw, but to purposely avoid a saw when your goal is to cut down a tree seems like an awfully silly thing to do.

Jim Guido

PS I have written many posts on the male sex drive and gender issues particularly from August 2007 to March 2008. Also many of my posts have dealt with what I feel is the modern tendency to deny, avoid and demean our humanity.

Economics and Stock Market29 Oct 2009 04:08 pm

I have heard that one can cook some forms of sea life such as frogs and lobsters without their even noticing that they are in danger. The theory goes that if you heat the water slowly enough they will adapt and not recognize that the water is getting warmer and they will eventually die without ever putting up a fight.

I think this is the perfect analogy for what is happening in the American and European economies. Slowly, the standard of living is falling for the majority of citizens. While there does to be some slight recognition of times being more difficult, there is plenty of propaganda producing an astounding amount of short term memory which makes the water seem only a little warmer and the kettle remains the best place to be.

The housing market and economy were in complete denial that they were in a boom to be followed by a bust. We went almost instantly from saying such concerns were misplaced fear tactics by doom and gloomers to coming out of the worst recession since the 30’s. We went from no real sign of a housing slowdown to a bounce off a four year decline in housing.

In a matter of a couple of months we went from a denial of an economic downturn to the bottom being in from a financial free fall. Because of this news spin we never truly experienced the recession. Sure we individually felt the recession but we did not have this feeling validated by the media and its statistics.

Currently our experience once again does not match up with what we are being told. To most it sure feels like a recession, but the statistics are saying the economy is rebounding at a strong pace. Today’s GDP number is being touted as being the best in a few years with one article I read stating that housing added to our GDP for the first time in four years. Come on how can that be? It was less than two years ago that people were laughing at me when I said that the housing bubble was going to pop, now it was in ndecline for four years.

The stock market has skyrocket since March. The Nasdaq 100 has led the way with a near 75% rise in seven months. This is the steepest incline since the Great Depression. If the Wall Street Bull market is back than how can we be in a recession?

Well, according to market experts the market always rises before the economy and unemployment is always the last thing to rebound. Therefore, according to Wall Street the economic caution you display due to your pain and unemployment will cause you to miss out on the beginning portion of the great new bull market. As the old saying goes, “all we have to fear is fear itself”.

Yet, the reality of the situation is that the standard of living of most Americans has been on the decline for the last few decades. A greater portion of wealth has been going to fewer and fewer hands and wages of the majority of citizens has fallen way behind inflation.

The kettle has been getting warmer for three decades and we are as complacent as ever in our little melting pot. Each recession only happens in the past tense and each recovery is a jobless recovery. People seem to forger this fact as the media heralds each recovery as the first jobless recovery. And each boom is hailed as being a stronger boom as the previous one.

How long can this go on? Well you tell me.

In many of my previous posts I’ve talked at length of the inherent weaknesses of modern Capitalism and the push for a global world order. Yet, we have been encouraged to be a society of believers, and that our society is good and morally superior to all other lands. This training of patriotism and fear of others makes it difficult for us to look at our society as being capable of purposely acting in ways not in our best interests.

I, for one, am very conscious of the fact that the water in the kettle is becoming increasingly hot. Our economy and our government for that matter have become one huge Ponzi scheme.

I don’t know about you but I can smell the lemon butter sauce on the stove next to us.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships19 Oct 2009 01:25 pm

I have stated on numerous occasions on this website my theory that man has a basic drive towards intimacy. The definition of intimacy I am using isn’t strictly sexual, but rather our desire to become closer to, more familiar with or connected to others, ourself and the world around us.

Our ability to be intimate isn’t restricted to people and objects but also includes things such as activities and areas of knowledge. One can become more intimate with others, oneself, nature, religion, spirituality, trivia, history and sports. The list of things which we can become intimate with is as endless as the number of things which interest us or attract our attention.

One of the benefits of recognizing intimacy as a basic drive is its potential of being a positive definition of human existence and our humanity. Most views of man and his goals have a tendency to be negative or based on negative perspectives.

The current and historical views of human nature and his goals are to be found in religion and the sciences. In these arenas the basic definition of man and his existence are generally lacking in fundamental optimism.

Man is viewed as being sinful and his life and sense of self are viewed as being illusions. More often than not human existence and our humanity is viewed as a problem or as something to overcome.

From Christianity to Buddhism the basis of life is pain and suffering and life itself is an illusion. Enlightenment and Salvation come to him who overcomes life and becomes detached from it. Whether one achieves this through preparing for the afterlife or through transcending the wheel of life (pain and suffering) the negative message of human existence is impossible to ignore.

At every turn were told to flee and overcome our humanity. All worthy goals are placed outside the realm of natural finite human experience. We are beckoned to look outside of ourselves into a universe of absolutes. Whether that absolute be god, spirit, the eternal, consciousness, the afterlife, the infinite, or the unconscious the goal to overcome life stays the same.

In Psychology and the sciences, as in religion, our humanity is a problem to be overcome. In Freudian psychology we are at best neurotics with repressed sexuality, or thwarted drives and unmet basic needs. Our only hope for some measure of joy is to sublimate our needs, not directly get them met, and minimize the damage caused by life’s traumas by getting in touch with the unconscious.

Intimacy neither denies nor reinforces these viewpoints or perspectives. Yet it does allow for the possibility of our not only accepting but also embracing of our humanity. Intimacy has no need to demonize our humanity or our experiences. Sure as one becomes more intimate with themselves or their world they may encounter past damage incurred through trauma or repressed desires. Yet, there is a huge difference between identifying pathology and basing one’s existence on it.

Psychology, Science, Religion and Spirituality all have a tendency to bewail the limitations of human experience and seek to overcome these limitations through the creation of eternal Truth, infinity, God, etc. My theory of intimacy, being based on real human experience, has a more balanced view of limitation.

Without limits there would be no human experience. All of my senses are senses because of their limitations. I can see something, because I don’t see everything. My finite existence is full of limitations, and is only possible because of these limitations. For a full exploration of the role and function of limitation on our experience of Intimacy read Chapter 7 of my book Exploring Intimacy in the Words section of this site.

The theory of an Intimacy Drive allows us to appreciate and understand our humanity and our day-to-day experience of life. Viewing our life from the perspective of a drive for intimacy allows to look at our life on its own terms while not having a need to overcome or idealize human life and experience.

Our drive to become more familiar with, at home and closer to life and its experiences is finite yet never ending. One will seldom if ever exhaust the knowledge and experience offered us through any area of interest. We can always gain a new perspective or add to our feelings of connection or closeness through an additional if not novel experience.

I could learn a lot about trees by gaining closer and closer inspections of its bark. Some experiences and knowledge would just be impossible from a distance (like small variations in bark, or the smell of the tree at different levels and during different seasons). Likewise I would become even more knowledgeable and familiar with the tree if I looked at slides of the tree cells under a microscope.

Ironically enough, one often becomes more intimate with something by gaining a more removed perspective of that which you are intimate with. Seeing the aforementioned tree from a neighboring hillside or from a hot air balloon would allow me increased intimacy of the tree. Without such a perspective one might not be able “to see the forest from the trees” as the old saying goes.

I do not feel that intimacy is our only drive, but it is a fundamental drive which propels into our lives. It is a drive which can provide a life with much meaning and satisfaction. And it is a drive which allows us to celebrate our humanity.

Like intimacy itself, discussions on intimacy are difficult to exhaust. I will donate the next few posts to expand on a few ideas presented today.

I once again invite you to read Exploring Intimacy on this site for free.

Enjoy.

Jim Guido

General08 Oct 2009 12:21 pm

The following is the remainder of an essay I wrote some 30 years ago which I recently found while getting rid of old notebooks.

Studies of human infants appear to replicate in the individual what has happened in primitive societies. The infant, like primitive cultures, starts from chaos and slowly forges a sense of having a world, a cosmos.

At first it appears that a newborn is a float in a sea of undifferentiated sensations. Bombarded with sights, smells, sounds and sensations all without a distinct form or meaning. Eventually patterns emerge and a child is able to isolate and identify objects and sensations. At some point in time he becomes aware that he is separate from the world of sensorial objects which stimulate his perceptions.

The ability to isolate sensations and identify and focus on specific objects creates a world out of the formless sea of earliest life. Once the baby begins to overcome chaos with order, he begins to take pride in his ability to make associations amongst objects. Quickly he jumps from identifying his specific dog and stuffed bear, to understand the concept of dog and stuffed toy. The lamp becomes a lamp and the entire world of generalized objects opens up to his awareness.

Since the word often makes a thing spring into life for a child, often young children have difficulty separating the object from its name or the word used to identify it. This is the stage of word magic when the very naming of the object seems to create its existence. Until the word was learned, the object eluded his perception, but once the sound (word) found its association the object sprang to life.

The very possibility of having a world seems to be structured in language and the ability to have perceptions settle into differentiated objects. Like primitive societies the individual and his world come into existence out of initial chaos. Slowly we see snapshots of the world about us. Out of these snapshots we construct an organized world and universe. We seldom see an entire object, or a room and definitely not the entire planet or universe, yet our mind quickly learns how to fill out large pictures such as our room or house piecing together and filling out the voids left by separate and incomplete perceptions. This is how we sense, structure and live in the world.

The primitive felt meaning and the world very fragile things. The power of the Word was something revered by many cultures. Not only children, but early societies had a hard time separating a word from the thing named. The name of an object was not arbitrary but essential and in many cases the object came into being the moment it was named. People believed if you knew the correct name of an object you could call it into existence.

In ancient societies the object and its name were one. The naming of a child after a father or grandparent was not just a sign of respect and honor, but a way of insuring the continued existence of the name (person). This explains the fact that many cultures cite people living hundreds of years in their earliest history. As long as the name lived on so did the spirit of that person. A person only died when the chain of the name handed down from generation to generation got broken.

I mentioned these things to emphasize how central the quest for cosmos and the fear of chaos has been in the functional history of man. Man created the sacred as a way of giving life meaning and significance. Each increase in the realm of the sacred was an increase in the ordered world of meaning and a victory over chaos.

The desire and need to fabricate meaning through expanding the realm of the sacred continues in modern man. For modern man life can not be left on the level it is experienced. It cannot remain temporal, transitory and fragile. Life for most has to be grounded in purpose and meaning.

Ironically the more life was experienced and defined as a historical existence situated in real time and space, the more man relied on placing the essence of life beyond temporality. Both science and religion portrayed the same basic view of life. Even though life was experienced as temporal and finite, its essence is eternal.

Religion had Truth, God, the absolute, eternity and other trans-temporal superlatives. Science had law, Truth, infinity and its similar superlatives. In fact, the possibility of making a scientific or religious statement demanded both certainty and dogmatic truth. Neither science nor religion would view any temporal functional reality as worthy of credibility.

Rationalizing Pain

The struggle for survival has been a constant companion of human history since its earliest memories. His fight to survive his battles with the elements, drought, plague, animals, other tribes, ice ages, fires, etc. have caused man to suffer and left him puzzled and hungry to find explanations for life’s cruelty.

Man used to spend the bulk of his existence barely meeting his basic needs of food and shelter. Often the life of the average person was painful and fragile.

Man had to rationalize his pain, to find reason for existing. Without such reason man would find it hard to continue. Much of mythology and religion is focused on giving man hope and having him deal with pain and suffering. God and Truth are two ways of rationalizing pain and giving life meaning.

For ages pain and suffering have been prominent realities of human life. The search for meaning has likewise been a way for man to deal with his pain and suffering. In a world of incessant change it makes sense that man sought something constant to ground his life in.
This desire to find a non-changing basis for life gave birth to Truth and God. These ultimate and eternal truth’s gave man comfort and provided his life with meaning. Since the early mythic ages of man life’s purpose and meaning have been predicated on the eternal laws of God and Nature.

Life, Then and Now

Not many would argue with the belief that an individual goes through many stages of development. Actions, thoughts and activities deemed appropriate and beneficial at one age may be detrimental or restrictive in another. Mankind, like an individual, develops and grows through time. Where is mankind now in his development, and do his thoughts and actions match his stage of development? Are our lives filled with suffering and do we need absolutes to provide life with meaning?

I personally do not spend the bulk of my existence fighting to survive and do not experience my life as being predicated on suffering and pain. My life is not free of pain, but it certainly is not dominated by pain. I do not feel meaning fragile, but rather meaning is something almost impossible to remove from my experience.

In fact life is so saturated with meaning that I can look at a single event from a host of perspectives which all endow my life with meaning. I am free to see events from a biological, chemical, psychological, historical, economic, mystical, systemic, spiritual or anthropological perspective (just to name a few).

For millennia the possible arbitrariness of life was a source of vexation and despair for man. He looked to Truth and God to help him through the night. Yet, now I find then concepts of infinity, eternity and Truth to be sources of imprisonment and not comfort.

The very ideals that many found necessary to lesson the pain of man’s tenuous if not futile existence now feel suffocating. I find life to be a challenge and not a struggle or fight. I enjoy being temporal and find great pleasure in the finitude of experience. I like . being able to have choices and to see life from a host of perspectives. I find so much meaning in human experience that the arbitrary is no longer a demon. The fact that I a finite and will one day die gives my life meaning and significance. The thought of living forever or having an afterlife seems to make my time alive here seems to strip each moment of its importance and significance.

Castles in the Air

When we adopt a perspective we are giving meaning to our experience. If I take a ball and thrown it at a metal hoop extended 10 feet inn the air supported by a backboard little meaning is achieved. Yet, if I construct an entire game involving a complexity of rules, objectives and priorities I give the activity meaning and significance. If I give the activity which allows for success, improvement, creativity, and expansion I will have a better chance of funding this stimulating and rewarding.

I yearn to the the world from a host of perspectives. I want to experience the world, chemically, biologically, poetically and mathematically. I’d like to view and feel the world from the perspective of 16th and 17th century cosmologists and well as that of the 20th century astronauts.

I also want to build my own sand castles and have my children and grandchildren feel the world from my new forms of meaning. I want to give them the gift of enjoying and basking in our humanity and yearn to see and feel the world from their eyes.

Lived meaning is neither absolute or arbitrary. It is what it says it is, lived. Human life does not need absolutes or gods to become fulfilling and amazing. Every moment is both magical and real, full of meaning and capable of personal poignancy.

I enjoy a life of building castles in the air. No experience is fully captured by one truth or one reality. Absolutes and ideals cannot exist in our world, for our world is sensual and finite. This is not to say that one cannot use or be motivated by absolutes. Yet, being dependent on them seems to be such a waste of human potential and a restriction to the richness and quality of human experience.

Jim Guido

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