Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

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Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Quiet spring – with nothing in the news

In the Spring of ’08, when all the world was quietly waiting for their rulers to awaken to their own incompetence and the impossibility of continuing without vast change, and on-one would discuss this waiting from fear, ignorance or intentional oblivion, people began to prefer their cars to their TVs, knowing they weren’t going to last. There wasn’t really anything worth watching on anyway, but there hadn’t been for years, while they’d gone on watching anyway. But soon, even it there was gas to buy, there wouldn’t be a job to help pay for it. Even for business owners, credit was maxed, just the way things had been encouraged to be, and there was no real prospect for repayment. Even wars were toned down, they’d become so difficult to afford.
Clean water came in bottles, about which now we were now told to beware – the minerals we needed were gone! As were the fish, and the frogs, salamanders, bees and bananas were doing their thing elsewhere, if still around at all. The bananas hadn’t reproduced sexually for half a century; it was bamboos 70-year-itch time to flower, which would bring a plague of rats, and already there wasn’t enough rice. Or corn, where it had been grown for thousands of years – gone now due to the technological advances of Monsanto Corp.
A corporation, by law – the only law applicable to corporations, it seemed, had to make a profit, or something like that. Had to try to make a profit? Anyway, they weren’t allowed by law to be reasonable about pay, or the environment, our future or quality of life. But they could make bad decisions, could accept bail-out charity from over-taxed tax-payers (which they no longer were)… And we all kept quiet too, that they now were the masters of nations, with no known masters themselves.

Well, I kind of like quiet, but…

Almost 9 years ago, the corporate mouthpieces we call media bemoaned the Seattle anti-globalization protestors’ lack of cohesive, coherent policy complaint. They had no focus, their agenda was only disruption, they simply hadn’t thought things out.
Pot calling the kettle black, or worse, for its others who bear more culpability for not thinking things out (think-tanks they pay for notwithstanding). A little late, maybe, but here’s a top 20 list:

Problems of Globalization:
20. Bland uniformity, conformity, boring homogenization
19. wasteful over-packaging
18. increased social rigidity
17. immediate gratification orientation
16. too much potential for widespread subliminal manipulation
15. loss of small business entrepreneurship
14. too much business overhead
13. wasteful shipping costs
12. imagination and local decision-making stifling
11. lack of life-quality improvement hope for the poor
10. lack of real trade equity
9. 3rd world debt enslavement
8. dangerous technological orientation: genetic modification, product “cycles” and too much disposable, low-quality planned obsolescence
7. inherent corruptibility in a system too far removed from individual reach
6. too little local decision-making input
5. inevitably increasing income disparity
4. disruption to potential for local self-sustenance
3. excessive potential for extensive media censorship
2. corporate unaccountability except to profits
1. unarguable tendency to law – and morality – bending, something hardly mitigated by pointing to local corruption.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Psychopathy, or antisocial personality disorder, can seem enigmatic, almost beyond normal human understanding, but isn’t. Although its symptoms are easy enough to recognize, its roots remain unclear; undoubtedly, different paths cause similar forms of it.
Psychopaths commit violent, nefarious criminal acts, often predatory, premeditated and with a sadistic quality, without the slightest personal upset. Sadistic behavioral aspects often decline after about age twenty-seven, but other personality traits remain constant and decline in severity with age, little, if at all. A third of psychopaths remain criminally active throughout their lives. Mostly affecting men, individuals with this disorder seem to lack most normal emotions, and commit violent crimes without remorse or even disgust. It involves an inflexible, all pervasive, pattern of behavior which has noticeable roots in adolescence or childhood deviations from social norms. Sufferers show repeated disregard for the rights of others, plus a general recklessness, impulsivity, deceitfulness and irresponsibility. They’re usually of normal intelligence, able to manipulate others for personal gain through a superficial charm and deviousness (with a characteristic lack of remorse, regret or empathy); a trait of callous unemotionality feuls poor behavioral and emotional regulation, lack of empathy, moral poverty, propensity to manipulation and the violating of the rights of others. Their egotistic personality allows them no concern for consequences others might suffer due to them. This lack of emotion might be a temperament style of low behavioral inhibition. Generally, psychopaths fail to understand or experience the emotional significance of affective stimuli the way ordinary people do; studies involving autonomic nervous system and skin conductance show psychopaths responding less anxiously to fear-eliciting stimuli. Dysfunctions in the limbic system and frontal cortex are found when psychopaths process affective material. Damage in the cingulate cortex may be a basis for the fearlessness that makes psychopaths so impulsive and recklessness. They have deficient processing of unconditioned stimuli (such as a distress cues), which implies psychopaths have a sub-optimally functioning amygdale (a poorly functioning amygdala could also be responsible for emotive and cognitive defects). Abnormalities existing within the limbic system and prefrontal cortex could be a reason for the impulsivity and lack of morality that permeates a psychopath, or could result from a joint root, stem from the same cause.
Often psychopathy afflicts children of abusive families, or ones exposed to violence and aggression at an early age. Although some psychopaths develop out of relatively normal households of apparently loving parents, more come out of broken homes or poor living conditions. Exposure to violence, aggression and neglect could well lead to the belief that the world is neither a good nor safe place, and thus create a "survival of the fittest" attitude, with consequent lack of empathy and moral altruism. An absence of pro-social models can certainly effect the development of psychopathy. Attachment theory suggests that inconsistent parenting practices lead to poor attachment profiles in young children; these weak attachment profiles aren’t significant enough to create a mental representation for guiding future behavior. The psychopath, with no mental model for morality or interpersonal relationships, feels no significant connection to others. Inconsistent parenting, punishment and resentment may be salient factors in the development of psychopathy. Varying degrees of punishment may lead a child to assume consequences to his actions aren’t something to be concerned about, or, worse, that punishment is at best capricious and arbitrary, and may even be inappropriate, disconnected and indicative of an order-less, immoral world. There may even be a sense of revenge for not feeling accepted, included, appreciated – perhaps even for having been over-so protected and isolated as to be unable to earn intimacy. Caring can come to seem weakness, and to trust to be naïve, to feel merely to be vulnerable…
Remind you of any particular person, or group of people?