Author Archives: Rigby

About Rigby

I live with my partner in a forest in the tropics, sharing the place with raucous parrots and dozens of other birds, bandicoots, opossums, kangaroos, echidnas, monitor lizards and other indigenous animals, insects and other bugs. Unfortunately, most Australian native animals and birds have been forced to the brink of extinction by urbanisation and farming, so our place is a haven. We grow most of our own fruit and vegetables and are contented and delighted with our life, despite the existence of other people and government stupidity. My e-Book Autobiography, 'Dancing Bare', lays bare the sins of my youth in 1960s Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The changes that have occurred since then, when the world population was but a third of what it is today, might be of interest. I've also written seven thrillers with gay heroes - real stories, not erotica - plus an anthology of short stories. All are available as free eBooks from booksellers such as Barnes and Noble, iTunes etc...as well as from Smashwords & FeedBooks. Paperbacks are available from Amazon. Contact: rigbyte@gmail.com

Pleasure vs Happiness

Pleasure vs. Happiness

The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains. [From the work of Dr. Robert Lustig.]

[Reposted from the January 30, 2018 “Information Clearing House” Newslettter.]

Dr. Robert Lustig is a professor of endocrinology at UCSF, where he specializes in neuroendocrinology and childhood obesity. He’s the author of The Hacking of the American Mind, in which he reveals a massive conflation that exists in American ideology (and in the American consumerist ideals that have propagated throughout the planet) between pleasure and happiness, which Lustig explains are completely different:

“Pleasure is short-lived, happiness is long-lived; pleasure is visceral, happiness is ethereal; pleasure is taking, happiness is giving; pleasure can be achieved with substances; happiness cannot be achieved with substances; pleasure is experienced alone; happiness is experienced in social groups. The extremes of pleasure all lead to addiction, whether they be substances or behaviors, yet there’s no such thing as being addicted to too much happiness.

“Finally and most importantly: pleasure is dopamine and happiness is serotonin.

“These are two neurochemicals that the brain makes and uses to communicate between one brain cell and another. It turns out dopamine excites the next neuron and when they’re excited too much, too frequently, they tend to die, so the neuron has a defense mechanism against that. What it does is it reduces the number of receptors that are available to be stimulated, in an attempt to try to mitigate the damage…that process is called down-regulation and a lot of different chemicals in the body do that. You get a hit, you get a rush. The receptors [get down-regulated].

Next time, you need a bigger hit to get the same rush because there are fewer receptors to occupy – and then you need a bigger hit and a bigger hit and a bigger hit – until finally, taking a huge hit to get nothing is called ‘tolerance’. Then, the neurons start to die. That’s called ‘addiction’.

“Serotonin, however is inhibitory. It’s not excitatory. It inhibits its receptor to provide contentment, to Zen-out, if you will. You can’t overdose the serotonin neuron…it binds and doesn’t activate the process beyond the receptor. It basically slows down those neurons instead of causing them to fire up and in so doing, you end up with the process of contentment, that feeling of oneness with the world, if you will, that thing we call ‘happiness’.

“But there’s one thing that down-regulates serotonin: Dopamine.

“So, the more pleasure you seek, the more unhappy you get – and Las Vegas, Madison Avenue, Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Washington DC have very specifically and in a coordinated fashion confused and conflated the term ‘happiness’ with the term ‘pleasure’, so that you can ‘buy happiness’, so that they can sell you their junk. It’s called the American economy and it’s based on hedonic substances, substances that drive pleasure, rather than happiness. In the process, we have become most decidedly unhappy and the problem is, you can’t fix a problem unless you identify what the problem is.”

Dr. Lustig prescribes simple things which support serotonin: sleep, mindfulness and exercise, all of which work to reduce cortisol (which acts against serotonin) and a diet low in fructose (which depletes serotonin), high in L-tryptophan (a serotonin precursor) and high in omega-3 to support serotonin transmission, aka “real food.”

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Do I trust Politicians?

Do I trust politicians?

No!

Before undergoing a surgical procedure, it is wise to check the credentials and success rate of the surgeon. Before letting a mechanic loose on your car it is wise to check they have the qualifications to repair it. But what qualifications do we demand from politicians? Only that they look reasonably attractive and can blow their own trumpets.

Why should I trust a politician to decide on gambling laws if he/she has not studied the problem and is unaware of the ramifications? Why should I trust a politician to decide on issues such as voluntary euthanasia, abortion, gay rights… if they are religious or are influenced by the power of the religious vote?

With the present system there’s no guarantee of common sense, rationality, logic or the ability to think. If there ever was a time for allowing amateur demagogues to rule countries, that time has long gone. The problems that afflict humanity and all life on earth today are far too dire and urgent to be left to nonprofessionals who will sell their principles [if they have any] in order to win the next election.

Political decisions should be made by elderly men and women who know what they’re talking about, have a proven record of clear thinking and wise action, and no vested interests whatever in their decisions apart from the desire to hand on to their descendants a pleasantly habitable and biologically self-sustaining plan

Gods and Heroes

Gods and Heroes.

Contemporary Australian culture is purportedly secular, yet we have our gods, and they are elite sportsmen; especially Rugby League and Australian Football League players. They are astonishingly fit, powerful, perform amazing feats of athleticism, and are constantly in the public eye. What people don’t realise is that people like these are not ‘normal’ in the sense that a bank clerk is normal. You can’t have abnormal talents in one sphere without abnormal characters. And yet ‘the public’ expects these men to behave like nervous shop assistants when it comes to their relationships. They are hounded by young women desperate to have a piece of them, who follow them to their rooms, and flirt. But if she suddenly changes her mind, then the hyped up player is supposed to say, ‘OK dear, off you go.’ And when he doesn’t, he’s branded a monster.

Just as he who sups with the devil needs a long spoon, so females who flirt with the gods should not be surprised if they get burnt.

Is it Fear or Stupidity?

A stream runs through my property and then into the neighbour’s few acres. I value all the natural plants and animals that have evolved here, and do my best to support them on the few acres I have by encouraging a forest of native plants. This is the stream as is passes through my place:

 

Above is the same stream as it leaves my property. All trees have been felled. All life except for mown grass is destroyed. All shelter and food for living creatures is removed and the banks of the stream are poisoned.

The man who did this is a schoolteacher. What hope for the planet is there when this is considered the norm and my values are contemptuously considered insane?

Queensland Youth Justice Amendment Bill

Despite falling crime rates among Queensland Youth, the Queensland Attorney General introduced the Youth Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 into parliament on 11 February 2014.  These mark a return to ineffective and oppressive treatment of children who, for the most part are victims of intellectually and culturally poor, as well as often violent family and social backgrounds.

 
The Bill makes amendments to key components of the Youth Justice Act 1992 to specifically target repeat offenders.  The changes proposed in the Bill:

  • Allow repeat young offenders to be publically named throughout proceedings.  This will not apply to first time offenders;
  • Open the Children’s Court to the public, this is to create transparency in the youth justice system;
  • Create a new offence for committing an offence while on bail for another offence.  This proposal will target repeat offenders and seeks to hold them accountable in relation to their legal undertaking not to re-offend while on bail;
  • Make juvenile criminal histories admissible during sentencing of adult offenders.  This will allow childhood findings of guilt for which no conviction was recorded, to be admissible to courts upon sentencing adults and will allow courts to have a complete understanding of defendant’s offending history;
  • Automatically transfer young people from youth detention to adult prison when they turn 17 if they have six or more months remaining to serve; and
  • Remove the principle of detention as a last resort in order to strengthen the sentencing framework and by providing Courts with the full range of sentencing options for consideration.  This principle will also be removed from the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 which means it will be removed for adults also.

 Dozens of submission have been made by respected authorities on the treatment of minors, to the Research Director of the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, all of which are profoundly critical. They can be viewed here.

I would like our elected lawmakers to consider the following:

  • The threat of punishment, no matter how severe, does not deter people from committing crimes. Juveniles in particular are convinced they won’t get caught.
  • Prisons are schools of crime and creators of resentment and anger against society. Everyone who enters comes out with the ability to be an even worse criminal as well as socially inept, and increasingly violent against family. The only inmates who don’t become recidivists, are those whose backgrounds were not too bad to start with.
  • A socially aware and concerned government would seek to improve the social circumstances of everyone at risk, so that their children do not become criminals. Surely they are alarmed that 60% of the juvenile prison population comes from the most disadvantaged 6% of the population—Indigenous people! These kids haven’t a chance! What we should be doing is taking them away from their social setting and placing them in a secure, organised, safe environment, teaching them social skills, reading and writing, preparing them for a trade, then finding employment for them when they are released…meantime treating them with gentle firmness, kindness, consideration, thoughtfulness and even love, using positive reinforcement—never cruelty, threats, punishment. If they have never been treated decently, how can they learn to become decent? They will never learn it in a prison—there they will only learn to become worse…or is that what the government wants? Create employment for prison guards and social workers?
  • If you name and shame juvenile offenders, you are making it impossible for them to ever rehabilitate themselves. Their sole survival means will then be to develop a hard, ‘don’t care’ attitude that will make them even more likely to offend again—after all, what will they have to lose? You’ve destroyed their hopes of living a normal life in society!
  • Seventeen year old kids are still children. They may act tough, do adult crimes, but they’re still able to be turned onto the ‘right’ path.  Put them with adults and you are making their lives hell. Everyone knows they will probably be sodomised, terrorised, turned into calloused adults incapable of anything except sharing their sense of injustice, misery and brutality.
  • Offences by juveniles are usually innocent of malice. To bring these up years later when they have done something wrong as adults, is vicious.

When we have reached the point that indigenous juveniles represent only 6% of the prison population, then let the Attorney consider harsher penalties, but while there is enormous evidence of basic inequality and disadvantage among members of that social group, to compound this by punishing the people who are already being punished because of their birth is vile indeed. Like the U.S.A., it seems the Queensland Government prefers to violently punish wrongdoers rather than attempt rehabilitation, despite reams of studies that tell us clearly that what this bill is proposing will have the opposite effect to what the Attorney General reckons he wants. It will create more criminals who are not merely thoughtless of others, but also violently resentful of society, and will further disrupt and alienate the very people in desperate need of assistance, the indigenous population whose just grievances, and the injustices they have received from successive state governments, have never been addressed.  
We should take heed of the U.S.A., which has more of its citizens in jail than any other country on earth, and one of the highest violent crime rates. We do not want to go down that road.

Is there a Formula for Success?

Recently I was asked if there was a formula for a successful life. I decided there wasn’t because a formula provides but one method, whereas there are as many ways of being successful as there are people seeking success. What we need are guidelines that are useful to everyone, regardless of gender, race, aim or social station.
What is a “successful life”? That definition is up to the individual, and depends on his age, abilities and circumstances, so a formula would have to be so vague it would be worthless.
I seldom use the word happiness in the context of success, as it is an ephemeral emotion, whereas contentment is a fairly constant, vague, background feeling that you’re in the right place, doing the right thing, with people you like to be with. It’s akin to cosiness and when it’s absent one has the desire to get it back.
I define a successful life as one in which the person feels more or less contented most of the time.
Fortunately, wise men and women over the centuries have provided us with a plethora of guidelines that, if followed, could lead to a contented life. Interestingly,  despite the philosophers’ differences in time, place and culture, their ideas on how to life are similar.
Seven precepts have guided me to what I consider to have been a successful life.

  1. Be aware of your mental and physical limitations and abilities.
  2. Understand the difference between wants and needs, and after satisfying your needs, want only what is possible.
  3. Everything in moderation – nothing to excess.
  4. Treat others as you want to be treated.
  5. Keep healthy in both mind and body.
  6. The man who has one real friend in his life, is most fortunate.
  7. Waste not; want not.