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Gut Reactions

Apparently Greenpeace gatecrashed a conservative dinner party in the UK. There's a video floating around of what Mark Field did to a young woman who was among the greenpeace protesters, and I'm not ashamed to say that if I had been in the room and saw it happening, my immediate reaction would have been to knock Mark Field out in as brutal a fashion as possible. Of course, I would never *be* at a conservative dinner party, nor would anyone who's anything like me.

What's most concerning about the video is the fact that nobody stands up to defuse his heavy handed approach, not one.

I read the opposing side of the argument and Mark Field's response, which goes along the lines of 'there was no security and I was afraid she was armed' but I'm not sure I believe it fully - if there's 40 greenpeace protesters at your event, they are inside the event, and you are concerned someone - or all of them - are armed, one would imagine the most prudent action would be to cancel the event and get people out of harms way.

No, this almost certainly was simply an asshole plutocrat who figured he could physically stop a protestor from making a statement, and ruining his neo-fascist dinner party. Hopefully the assault charges succeed.

As a final thought, one wonders how well armed one could be while wearing a form-fitting red dress.

$247 million for chaplains in schools, $2.8 for mental health: What’s wrong with this picture?


I never thought I'd see the day that I think a different first world country has worse priorities than the United States, but here it is.

A meme of sorts
1. Beekeeping

I know absolutely *nothing* about beekeeping. There was one beekeeper in Tidioute (he passed within the past couple years iirc) who placed a few hives in our field many years ago - I don't remember if they did well or not, but I do know he never brought the hives back in future years.

From general news exposure (and being a little more up-to-date than some on climate change and related collapse phenomena) I do know that it *appears* honey bees are not doing so well as a whole; but I have also read that 'honey bees' as we know them were not native to the United States. They're not the only pollinators, and I don't think the US is in serious danger should they disappear completely from this continent.

I think beekeeping would be a neat thing to get into; not really sure I have the proper environment to do it, but it is something I've considered in the past. One might even make a little extra money (or simply harvest some quality honey) without too much expense.

2. World War 1

The only thing I really know about World War I is that it started over the (attempted?) assassination of a very important figure (who's name and nation escapes me - edit: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria) and that it was the first war in which legitimate chemical warfare was waged. Of course no one is supposed to use chemical warfare anymore - but we still use depleted uranium ammunition even, as well as certain other borderline chemical agents, including white phosphorous.

Based on some cursory reading, the Germans surrendered in 1918, and within a little over two decades, they started World War II. Seems almost impossible to me that a nation who *surrendered* after a major world war could build itself back up in only two decades and become a force that came extremely close to conquering an entire continent (possibly the world) within a matter of years. It's impressive and terrifying - one wouldn't think it should be reasonably possible, especially for a nation that does not have immense natural resources at its disposal.

3. Japanese art

I suppose I should load up wikipedia and look at traditional Japanese art, but there is at least one form I'm familiar with, and that's anime. I've always loved it. I grew up watching Sailor Moon *on rental VHS, because we only had 5 antenna channels* and through middle school found myself consuming every season of Dragon Ball Z as well as a number of others in my late teens - Blue Gender (kinda like Starship Troopers), FLCL (AKA Furi Kuri, a fantastical coming of age story about a little boy who meets a rambunctious female alien) and more. Gundam Wing and Mobile Suit Gundam I also watched, though I never felt the character development was very good - I just had an affinity for giant, nuclear powered robots thanks to Battletech, likely. There were many others...off the top of my head, Akira (the original movie) as well as Ghost in the Shell feature highly among them.

Anime is an art form all to itself. I never really felt that the fact it was *animated* took away from it, though I think many in the western world look down on it as being meant for kids. It certainly isn't (always), but to each their own.

It bears mentioning that there's a recent western movie that did fairly well based off a Japanese manga - "Edge of Tomorrow" with Tom Cruise. Had they done that movie, frame for frame, animated, with the same voice actors, it would've been *great*. Still love the movie, don't get me wrong, but it's a shining example of the amazing ideas that come out of Japanese artists and writers. If you haven't seen it, it's a must-see.

(no subject)
When I was young there were beatniks. Hippies. Punks. Gangsters. Now you're a hacktivist. Which I would probably be if I was 20. Shuttin' down MasterCard. But there's no look to that lifestyle! Besides just wearing a bad outfit with bad posture. Has WikiLeaks caused a look? No! I'm mad about that. If your kid comes out of the bedroom and says he just shut down the government, it seems to me he should at least have an outfit for that."

- John Waters on the sorry style of today's rebels (Wall Street Journal)

apparently harassment, vulgar language, insults and general vileness is not something exclusive to all-male workplaces; nor is it exclusive to the working class.


this is vexing to me, for a couple reasons - for one, I had always (hoped) that, maybe, white collar work was different - that the toxic environments I've experienced in factories was not normal, that maybe it was something exclusive to my neck of the woods, or simply male-dominant spaces. but it seems that this is not the case - that it is more or less a systemic problem, maybe even a human problem in general.

and, based on some of the wording in the article, my guess would be it has something to do with competition over wages, raises, promotions and generally punching down at those who are in a place you previously were - because you can; because *if you give authority over you to another human, you should never expect that authority to be wielded justly* - and if you are in competition with another human for something you both want, you can't expect fairness or good sportsmanship.

this brings up an important aspect of my own feelings about the working world - that i disagree completely with being in a top-down hierarchical structure. i fundamentally disagree with it...i think it is a morally bankrupt practice, about as ethical as having a tyrant for a king.

the problem is that i have extremely limited options for escaping that sort of structure, outside of being in business for myself.

GM Dexos, API-SN, GF-5 and Your Motor Oil
So back in 2011 GM did something a little unprecedented by creating its own specifications and review board for lubricating oil that was separate from API (American Petroleum Institute - a review board on which a GM member already sits.) The certification an oil receives from that new board gets the label 'dexos1' or 'dexos2' (the manufacturer of the oil also has to pay GM for the test, and provide a royalty on every sale.)

This in itself was mostly harmless, except the fine print in some of the manuals (including my vehicle in 2014.) In these vehicle manuals, GM took it upon itself to inform its customers that if they didn't use dexos oil, it 'may result in engine component damage that will not be covered under warranty.'

That statement ran afoul of FTC laws, and the FTC put a bulletin out informing customers of GM vehicles that their warranties can not be voided UNLESS GM can prove that the owner did not utilize dexos oil, *or an equivalent*, and that said oil specifically caused the damage. Pretty tall order to prove that, as a non-dexos oil that meet or exceeds dexos1 qualifications (API-SN, GF-5 both come close and in some oils do exceed dexos specs) is basically the same damn thing. Not only that, but you could always flush your oil and put dexos in before you rolled it into a GM shop.

Furthermore, now that GM moved to dexos1 gen-2 (last year), to the best of my knowledge, there is no longer any 'synthetic blend' type dexos oils being manufactured. Synthetic blend is what was recommended for my car, and it is what I've used since I bought it. Of Advance Auto, Walmart and Autozone locally, none of them are carrying synthetic blend dexos1 oil. (Seems like I can still order them online - but I've never ordered oil online, and am not sure why I would be put in the position of needing to do so?)

General online research tells me that there's little to no difference between dexos and GF-5/API-S.

What do I make of all of this? I think GM found a way to increase revenue and put oil manufacturers in a position where, if they wanted access to something like 24% of the auto market in the United States, they had to pay to have their oil tested, and then pay royalty to GM for the dexos label. They then proceeded to use fear on their car owners by telling them if they use anything other than dexos-marked oil, they could ruin their 100k/10 year powertrain warranty.

Dehumanization in Organizational Contexts

"Such dehumanizing maltreatments are likely to have a detrimental effect on psychological wellbeing. According to self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci, 2000), psychological wellbeing requires that the basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are met. Dehumanizing maltreatments, however subtle, lead to impaired ability to satisfy these needs and may therefore directly contribute to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders. In short, the scientific evidence does not support the view of everyday dehumanization as an innocent and inconsequential phenomenon; on the contrary, the evidence clearly demonstrates a range of significant negative consequences."

"A distinction between social and physical problem solving has been suggested at the neural level. Social reasoning about the mental states of others [empathy] is associated with increased recruitment of the brain’s “default” network and reduced recruitment of the so called “task-positive” network; conversely, “mechanistic” reasoning about physical objects appears to be associated with increased recruitment of the “task-positive” network and reduced recruitment of the “default” network (Jack et al., 2012). Although these two networks are involved in multiple processes and the specificity of their function is still under much debate, they appear to be frequently anti-correlated during conditions of “rest” (Fox et al., 2005) and during many standard cognitive tasks (Shulman et al., 1997)."

Of particular note:
"psychological wellbeing requires that the basic psychological needs of *autonomy, competence, and relatedness* are met."

It's been a rare thing among jobs I've held that autonomy is something that is respected. Only in the most menial of tasks (material moving, custodial) did I experience it (and this is something that is informing my current job search - I'm of the opinion at this point that the lower the pay and lower the demands, the better it's going to be for my well-being.) In any other case, micromanagement was generally the rule of law.

I don't think I'm alone in this experience, either - and part of the rise in anxiety and depression could very well be directly correlated to trends in our interpersonal (hierarchical) relationships, especially in the workplace.

As another thought, related to the second block quote...if your goal was to produce a society that was *as physically/materially productive as possible* and you believed that achieving that involved maximizing their 'task positive' neural network, you might be inclined to try and *reduce or eliminate their empathy* as much as humanly possible.

The moment a price is to be had for a luxury, it acquires exchange value, and labor is employed to produce it. A New York lady, for instance, having a nature of exquisite sensibility, orders an elegant rosewood and silver coffin, upholstered in pink satin, for
her dead dog. It is made; and meanwhile a live child is prowling barefooted and hunger-stunted in the frozen gutter outside. The exchange-value of the coffin is counted as part of the national wealth; but a nation which cannot afford food and clothing for its children cannot be allowed to pass as wealthy because it has provided a pretty coffin for a dead dog.

Shaw, p. 22 (1889)

People have been thinking about how immensely screwed up our economy is for a long time.

pretty sure this week i reached my recovery limit. I failed my 3 sets of 190x5 on the bench Monday (I did 190x4/190x4/185x4) and then proceeded to fail my 115 seated strict press on wednesday, and have now failed a 185 bench today.

wednesday I had some really weird cramping in my left shoulder on both sets of 115 press (i didn't fail the reps, the cramping stopped me from doing a third set, though.) haven't had any pain or discomfort since, so no injury apparently.

so i guess my plan of attack is to drop the weight by 20lbs on all of my lifts and switch to a 4x6-8 set and rep range, with shorter rest periods. I'll increase the lifts 5 lbs every session until I get back to my current sticking point. This should give me some active recovery, and the extra volume should help with form issues and make the 5 rep max lifts easier when I get back to them.

going to do some assistance work (rotator cuff PT exercises and my hamstring exercises) and stretching on off days as well. Hopefully in a few weeks I'm back to pushing for new records, at least for a little while.

PRs and other stuff
Right now my lifts are at:

Bench Press: 180lbs 3 sets of 5 reps
Seated Overhead Press (strict, no back support): 110lbs 3 sets of 5 reps.
Low Bar Back Squat: 200-205lbs 3 sets of 5 reps
Deadlift: 210lbs 1 set of 5 reps

My body weight is right around 190lbs. Only +10lbs from around 3-4 months ago. I am back to overeating again, so I expect to hit 200lbs sometime in the next two months. Not really sure where I want to end up - but I don't really like dealing with a waist size that makes my pants uncomfortable, so about that time is when I'll start cutting again (and stop progression on lifts for awhile.)

Very close to a body weight bench press which makes me happy. But the real goal would be a body weight overhead press (and around a 300 1RM bench) and I'm sure those are at least a year or two away. Squats continue to be something I feel like I should be much stronger at than I am - 205lbs isn't as nearly as respectable at my bodyweight for a squat as a 180lb bench is. Have always been bad at them, for whatever reason.

I don't struggle with deadlifts at all. I feel like I could pull much more weight than I am (especially fresh) but with the program it's difficult. The lumbar feels like it's about to fail by the time I get to deads, and that one set is enough to finish me off. Do wonder what my 1RM would truly be if I tried it fresh, though.

On music:
Has been some more activity here, I may have mentioned it in a previous post. The person who commissioned me for his game finally received word from the label he wanted to get sync rights from for a few songs, and apparently dropped them my soundcloud and email. He thinks really highly of my work - I think the label would probably just laugh it off. I find it so hard to believe anyone thinks highly of what I do. But, I guess, some do - or they're really good at faking it, anyway.

I did a really dark, industrial piece at the end of last week for a friend who sent me cover vocals. That's almost up to 200 plays now on soundcloud, and without any advertising to speak of. In my view, that's actually pretty good, given I don't exactly have a lot of people following me and getting updates on new uploads. Those people are coming organically from word of mouth or by accident.

Still haven't sold anything though, and that's a bummer. Taking a little week hiatus from music right now - maybe by the weekend I'll feel more inspired, or maybe I won't. I should probably take this time where I'm *not* being asked to do work for others (and am refusing to *be inspired* because I wrote non-stop 12+hrs a day for about two weeks) to learn another song or two.