Monday, August 24, 2015

Canker Sores Cured by Magnesium & Calcium

Personal health note: during our kitchen construction I got sick of eating out and opted instead for meal delivery. I chose Paleo Delivers since paleo is the closest thing I could get to the Weston A Price diet with meal delivery. I ate the Paleo Delivers meals for 3 months and definitely felt a decline in my health but was very busy and figured I would get healthier again when I got to Nicaragua--the meal delivery was just too convenient for me to give up.

Right around month 3 I noticed my teeth looking a ridged and thinner than usual and I broke out in canker sores all over my mouth--they would last around 5 days each and the minute one healed another one started somewhere else. I have never had a canker sore before so this was crazy!

I researched canker sores and because the drug-store topical cure had magnesium in it I had a sudden realization: the Paleo Diet doesn't provide the dairy vitamins and minerals. I knew better than this! I should have been supplementing the whole time!

Anyway, I made a bet that by adding homemade raw milk kefir back into my diet, it would cure my teeth and mouth issues. Since I was likely very deficient, I also bought the New Chapter Calcium and Magnesium supplement.

Canker sores and teeth ridges were gone in one day.

A Review of Kumon's Reading Program

Anders did the first 3 units (300 pages) of the Kumon reading program and I want to toss them so… here are the things I noted about the program:

1. I found it disturbing that concepts are just tossed out there in a pretty disconnected way. For example, the first 12 words introduced are: fish, cat, mouse, dog, sun, cloud, car, house, corn, tree, cake, and apple. Why not do all foods? Or start with the family--mom, dad, brother, sister, baby, dog? Or all animals? Disconnection is not how the human brain learns best.

2. I don't like it that corn and cake are in the first twelve words. Throughout the Kumon program there is quite a bit of pictures of candy, hot dogs, french fries, pizza--lots and lots of junk food. Super annoying.

3. I find it strange that the words "mom" and "dad" are not among the first 50 words the kids are introduced to. It makes me buy-in to the school-is-trying-to-destroy-the-family conspiracy.

4. I find it strange that among the first 50 words are the words "king" and "queen," depicted as black people but dressed as a European king and queen would have been dressed long ago. Again with the disconnect. If we are trying to teach our children about life… why are these concepts being introduced in this confusing false-to-life way?

5. Among the first 160 people depicted in the pictures there are 92 males and 68 females. There were 142 dark skinned people and 18 fair skinned people. There were no blond women and only one blond man and he was in the background of a picture featuring a dark skinned person. It seems like there is a social agenda going on.

*Level 3A: "I drink grape juice." Is one of the sentences they must learn. We changed it to "I don't drink grape juice." We also changed "I eat my cereal with a spoon" to "I don't eat cereal."

I don't care for the Kumon reading program at all and don't care enough to look into this more. The first thousand pages would be more significant as a mini-study--perhaps it all equals out or reflects the true distribution of people in the world? No idea. Either way, the Hooked on Phonics program is far better (Anders prefers it as well) so that is what we will use from now on!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Privilege: This Idea Has Got To Go - The Road to Peace Does Not Start with Division

I recently succumbed to a quiz on Facebook that let me know that I am "not privileged" because I was born into poverty, and I am female. But I am "privileged" to be white, heterosexual, educated, happy to be female, and to not feel ashamed of or oppressed by my (lack of) religion.

This idea has got go. Let me explain--

Privilege means "special treatment." Academia has decided that to be a "normal" member of a given society necessarily means to be "treated better" than those who are "not normal."

In one sense academia is absolutely correct: of course it is easier to be "the norm" than it is to be different. Take something as benign as height. I am a woman who is almost six feet tall. This means I was teased a lot in elementary school. It means I am taller than 75% of men in this country--I did not enjoy the "privilege" of a large dating pool when I was younger. This means I "feel oppressed" every time I go shopping because the waistline of almost all shirts and dresses hit me at my breasts. It means if I want to wear heels I will be taller than every man at the party and sometimes even mistaken for a man. It means I had to get used to be stared at. It means the first thing anyone ever says to me at a bar is something about my height. It means that feeling comfortable in any standard seat--cars, busses, trains, planes--is a hopeless dream. It means that all kitchens, bathrooms, and showers will require me to hurt my back to use them. And that the only bed long enough for me to be comfortable in costs a fortune and doesn't fit in most bedrooms.

Yet no one wants to hear about how hard it is to be tall, so back to my point:

I went to Scandinavia once, and it was Heaven. I was finally the norm. I actually didn't even realize how uncomfortable (physically) the short-norm is here in Los Angeles until I went there. It sucks being a tall person living in a world designed for short people. Short people don't know how lucky they are! Not because it's inherently better to be short, but simply because in this society at this time it's more comfortable to be short because that is the average, norm, standard, etc.

Should short people feel guilty about this? Should they try to make it up to me? And: would it be accurate to describe them as "privileged?"

I think this would be a misuse of the word "privileged." I think "normal for our society" or "standard" or "average" or "mainstream" would be more clear. Academia uses "privileged" instead to" evoke awareness." But by "evoking awareness" they actually mean "You Should Feel Guilt."

The problem with inflicting guilt on those who are normal in some way is obvious: Who gets to decide which areas of normal are a privilege and which areas are not? Today, it is a "privilege" to be wealthy, white, heterosexual, and Christian. But it is not considered a "privilege" to be short, to eat the Standard American Diet, to follow Standard American Medical Dogma, to be a member of a Dominant Political Party, to feel seen and understood when watching Mainstream Television, to follow Mainstream Parenting Practices,  or to communicate in Standard American Judgement-Speak.

Why not?

I have never felt as oppressed for being female as I have for being super tall. Yet being female is what I get to complain about. Being from a poor background made my life a lot harder, but not nearly as hard as eating the WAPF diet. It's legal for me to work super hard to try to change social classes. It's not legal for me to eat how I want to. And despite my high quality education, people think of parents like me (who unschool their children and don't vaccinate them) as abusive. Because of my political views (Libertarian) I have FBI agents show up at my meetups and follow my social media. It is definitely scary to be openly homosexual in some places in this country. But it is also quite scary to be openly Libertarian.

And you know what--I know quite a few wealthy, white, heterosexual, Christian men who are not be able to eat what they want to because it is illegal, who suffer intense oppression for their political views, who feel physically uncomfortable all the time because of their size, who are shamed and despised by society for not raising their children in a mainstream way, who live in fear of CPS showing up at their door, who are considered weird for not wanting to sleep with 100 women, who feel angry, oppressed, and unfairly treated by their society. Is it possible that the "privilege" invented by academia is based on a subjective experience that no one gets to fully escape?

Is there really a guy so average that he has never felt judged or oppressed by his society in his entire life? Because I've never met that guy. Everyone I have ever gotten to know, once I know him well enough, turns out to have a freak flag of some kind.

I would like to suggest the following:

1. In any human group there will always be an infinite number of ways people can be categorized.
2. In every category there will be a bell curve--a norm.
3. Norms are always in flux, always changing.
4. The current Norms--and those people who represent them--are not the enemy. 
4. The enemy is and always will be: the oppression of those who are not the norm, the minority of any given bell curve.
5. Everyone is a minority in some way.
6. The smallest minority, the minority everyone should fight for, is not the categorization of the day, but the individual. The oppression we should all fight is the oppression of the individual. The respect we should all demand is the respect for the individual. Not a given category.
7. Focusing on the category du jour doesn't unite, it divides. It doesn't lead to peace, it leads to war. Regulation, force, condemnation, guilt--these all lead to war.
8. The road to peace is changing our focus, from the "who is the bigger victim" contest, to a discussion of what we are needing in this moment--which is usually the freedom to be ourselves.
9. The road to peace is clarity, honestly, and vulnerability. When I am feeling angry about some perceived oppression, the way for me to connect with my oppressor is not self-righteous indignation, but the truth of my experience, which is usually: "I feel so lonely." When I see a movie with not a single intelligent female in it. When no one in my social class understands me. When I wander the aisles of grocery stores starving and there is literally nothing I want to buy. When I see condemnation or disgust on your face--I feel so sad, so lonely, and so scared. At first I think I want to fight my oppressors, to hit them, to make them suffer as I have suffered … but the truth is I just want them to have compassion for me, for how hard it has been, how hard it will be to be different. The great news is that feeling different and lonely are universal human emotions that everyone can empathize with. 
10. Individualism is the answer. Not compassion for my gender, but compassion for the person in front of you, not compassion for my economic class, but compassion for person in front of you, not compassion for "what it must be like to be x," but compassion for the individual in front of you.

This is how our brains work. A category of people is abstract. Compassion felt for an abstraction is not real compassion but abstract compassion, hypothetical compassion. Real compassion, felt compassion caused by our mirror neurons, the compassion that leads to peace can only happen when humans perceive the person in front of them--and we can only perceive, focus on, and get mirror neurons for one person at a time--one REAL person.

We were all raised in school to feel compassion hypothetically. I would like to suggest that this is not the way.

The other day I had to listen to my friend tell me that the government needs to "nudge" me to make the "right" decisions. I had two choices, I could say: "I feel so scared when I hear you say that you want to force me to do what you think is good for me instead of letting me decide for myself. I feel so scared." Or I could say, "I will fight you to the death for my right to make 'bad' decisions, you evil oppressive scum!"

Which one of these roads will lead to connection, mirror neurons, compassion, respect, and peace?


-My brother, who is 6'8" spent many years being angry that the first thing anyone ever said to him was about his height. I took a different approach, choosing instead to see the constant comments about my height as an attempt to connect with me. My height is not the norm. It would be silly for me to pretend otherwise and sad for me to get angry at people who don't know just how many people comment on my height every day. I read an article on Facebook recently in which a black girl expresses a similar wish, that she could get through a week without someone commenting on her race. I imagine redheads are equally bored with comments about their hair. But anger at everyone who accidentally points out that you are not the norm in some way is not the solution. 

-I can hear the academically brainwashed (who I have just alienated with that judgement:) saying, but some norms lead to unfair social advantages?!! Those born to wealth do have an unfair advantage! Tall people have an unfair social advantage even if they suffer physically! First of all, tall men maybe, but at least in my experience--there are plenty of potential male employers out there who have no desire to hire a woman taller than they are. 

-Again: stop categorizing. Focus on the individual. If you focus on the individual as a whole, we all have our advantages and our disadvantages. It is only when you name a category that one of us can be a winner and the other a loser. Look at whole people. If you look at a whole person you will find that no one has it that easy. We all have our struggles. We have all experienced pain.

-I am not suggesting that "Life is fair." Nor am I suggesting that "Life is not fair." Any abstract statement should only be made in a certain context, so I could say, "Life is fair in death. We all die." Or I could say, "Life is unfair in its very nature. Humans tend to value fairness. Mother Nature doesn't."

-Humans are so obsessed with this abstract idea of fairness that many cultures invented an afterlife that would finally make things fair! Common sense: There is no way to make life fair (please YouTube Harrison Bergeron). Like I have argued before--if wealthy people should pay a penalty for the advantages wealth provides, pretty people should have to pay a penalty for their faces and strong people should have to pay a penalty for their athleticism. Where does it stop? This obsession with fairness? And who gets to decide what is the best advantage to have and what advantage is not important? You cannot decide for me. This has to be an individual decision based on individual experiences and values. Wealth is an advantage for some children; it is a disadvantage for others. Abstractions should not be made outside of a context.

-When we communicate honestly about envying someone who we think got lucky in some way, we find that all people are … people. Imperfect. Struggling. When we say, "Man, you are so lucky you were born to wealth. You should feel really guilty." They cannot reply honestly. They are not allowed to complain. They are not allowed to feel what they feel, to be real, honest, and human. They cannot connect with us. If we were really in touch with what was really going on, we might say, "Oh man I envy you for being born into such wealth!" He can connect with that, he knows what envy feels like, and he can say honestly, "Well ... I had a lot of money, but a miserable childhood. In fact, I'm still miserable. I've been envying you this whole time because you of your close relationship with your family and how happy you seem!"

-We cannot make life fair. I wrote a blog post about this before--

-Though I disagree with Kohlberg, I do agree that Level 7 moral thinkers (the highest level of morality) give up on fairness and focus on compassion. Read NonViolent Communication!

-What should we do about how unfairly mother nature confers her advantages? Nothing. Because to "fix" it requires playing God, punishing some for their so-called advantages and rewarding others for their so-called disadvantages. This creates a society of people who all want to be disadvantaged. It creates a society of people who feel punished for what was not their fault--and for what is good about them. It creates a victim mentality and a war mentality instead of a connecting and compassionate mentality. 

-But that is a utilitarian argument. What should we do about unfairness? We should never act on an abstraction that isn't contextualized. Once there is an actual context--which means individuals--we can decide the best way to get our needs met. But in the abstract, we deal with hypothetical people. This doesn't work.