Some of What I Think

12/24/2005: Therapist/songwriter Matthew Bush takes an interesting approach to treatment of anxiety. His site, "Music Therapy: The Power of Music" (http://www.enterthefreudianslip.com), examines the power of using popular music, something people already listen to, in therapy. The site includes examples of therapeutic messages in popular music as well as original music by Freudian Slip, his therapeutic rock band.

Topic-of-the-Day, 12/16/2001: I think Bush saved the free world by not lashing out at Afghanistan in an all-out carpet-bombing or nuclear assault immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Detractors aside, he's no dummy, and while he may be control-freak right-wing political scum, I think he is a patriot (though for my money he can roll up the USA-PATRIOT Act and stick it). And no, I don't think the tape is doctored. It would be a unique form of terrorism if it were, because the US's credibility would be shredded.

6/4/2000: think Elian belongs with his father, I think he and his family should stay in the United States, I think the administration has proven itself a bunch of jackbooted thugs and hypocrites, and I can see that the lawyers still have a lot of money to make on appeals, so on to the rest of life.

Many, if not most, of the problems in this country are caused by undiagnosed and/or untreated psychological problems of some kind. The three most widespread (according to the 1/17/2000 AP wire) are depression (http://www.depression.org), drug or alcohol abuse (many listings under Yahoo's Addiction and Recovery category), and Social Anxiety Disorder (http://www.degnanco.com/anxiety/ or http://www.anxietynetwork.com/sphome.html). One of the disorders that really worries me is schizophrenia (from the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders, http://www.world-schizophrenia.org/, "Schizophrenia is a very common illness affecting one person in one hundred around the world.... all schizophrenic patients have one thing in common: they are out of touch with reality, at least some of the time, to a serious degree.". Another good site is http://www.schizophrenia.org/, the American Schizophrenia Association.

According to health-center.com (http://site.health-center.com/brain/personality/schizotypal.htm), about 3% of the population is schizotypal. Diagnostic criteria are given at http://www.mentalhealth.com/dis1/p21-pe03.html.

With this in mind, I live by Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.", which I extend with "... or ignorance, or tiredness, or mental illness, or a bad day, or...". The short form is "Cut people a break.".

One important thing that I don't think most people consider is that politicians, police officers, religious leaders, teachers, parents, and other authority figures are not immune to any of these disorders.

Sometimes I quip that most of America's problems are drug problems: too many drugs, not enough drugs, or the wrong drugs. You may have experienced too many drugs when you drank too much, not enough drugs when you took one Tylenol and needed two or when you were around cats and couldn't find your antihistamines, and/or the wrong drugs when you discovered you were allergic to a prescription. Some common drugs in each category are nicotine, alcohol, and cocaine (too much), antidepressants and antipsychotics (not enough), and antibiotics for colds and flu (wrong).

I can't help but think that if the government got out of the feed-the-hungry business (and a lot of other businesses, so people could spend their money on what they thought was important instead of what the government thinks they should think is important), the hungry would be better fed. I would much sooner give my money to a local charitable organization than to the government, but since the government takes so much in taxes, I get an "I gave at the office" feeling and wonder what they're doing with the money that we still have these problems.

The public schools supposedly teach the three R's (it's a bad sign when Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are called the three R's). I think that the supremely important skill that they miss, even when they manage those three, is Critical Thinking. Most people don't know the first thing about logic, much less about logical fallacy. No wonder they are so easily duped by marketeers and politicians. I believe in separation of school and state. Parents should have the right to decide what kind of education their children will receive, and attendance at school should not be mandatory; teachers have it hard enough without trying to control children who don't want to be there.

Hey -- here's an idea! Since the public schools mostly don't educate kids anyway, why don't we turn them into giant video arcades? That way we could generate money instead of spending it. The kids would be kept entertained, and maybe we could sneak in an educational game or two.

One of my more atypical ideas (but one whose time I hope is coming) is that grades, in both senses, should be abolished. This was the norm back in one-room schoolhouse days, and would work well in these high-tech days. Every child is unique; it is ridiculous to assume that, for example, every eight-year-old is at the same level of proficiency in reading, math, science, social studies, and music appreciation. So a given eight-year-old, rather than being forced to struggle through or endure the boredom of various classes, could study each subject at a level that was challenging but not daunting. Grading would be unnecessary, since one would progress to each new level when proficiency was demonstrated in the last, and the same for each module within a level.