Episode 269 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: the new Gillette commercial admonishing men to be better men, in part by keeping other men under control; the patriarchal undertones of the Gillette commercial; the unfortunate oversights of not including women (mothers) in their admonishment in how boys are raised and the absence of striking the root issue of violent and coercive parenting practices; the claim that voluntaryism is “exploitation pretending to be anarchism”; where left anarchists make major mistakes in their critique of voluntaryist and anarcho-capitalist theory; and more.Continue Reading
Paradoxically, at a time when #metoo started and continues, yoga pants are becoming more and more common as daily attire worn by attractive women. I am in no way complaining, quite the contrary, I welcome this evolution in fashion. It seems this trend started before #metoo, actually. I don’t know for certain, but isn’t this trend evidence that woman feel safer than they used to? Yoga pants are practically a color skin on a naked body, yet women everywhere are wearing them out and about, and quite comfortably so. This seems like progress to me. What do you think? And that’s today’s two cents.Continue Reading
In all of my many challenges and habit changes and book writing and learning, I’ve found one thing to be the most powerfully beneficial to all growth, learning and training.
I call it the Rule of the Edge.
Here’s the rule: practice at your edge most of the time.
And this rule is what will help you grow the most, over time.
What do I mean by “your edge”? I mean going just to the edge of discomfort, just to the edge of what is difficult for you, what is pushing your boundaries a bit.
If you’re practicing music, and you just practice the scales all the time, after awhile, doing the scales is too easy for you. You aren’t learning very much by only practicing musical scales. Sure, it’s still a good practice, but you have to push to something that’s more challenging for you.
If you’re exercising, easy exercise is a good thing … but you also need to push yourself. Just a bit.
But your edge isn’t pushing yourself until you’re ready to collapse. It’s not pushing to injury, pushing so that you can’t practice tomorrow. It’s not studying all day long until your brain has melted.
It’s going to the edge, not diving off it.
And when I say, “Practice at your edge most of the time,” notice the phrase “most of the time.” You shouldn’t be at your edge all the time. It’s exhausting, and can take a lot of focus. Instead, try to be there more than half the time. Don’t be lazy, but also give yourself some easy practice.
There’s a lot of value in easy practice — it cements your learning, keeps you in good shape, keeps you sharp. It locks in the easy stuff as easy. And it can be a lot of fun.
You can also experiment with pushing a little past your edge, if you have the experience to know that it’s safe. But best to do this under supervision of a teacher or trainer if you aren’t sure.
So mix it up. More than half of your practice should be at your edge, but anywhere from 20-40% of your practice should be easy stuff. A blend is best — not “all easy and then all edge” but “easy, edge, easy, edge, edge, easy easy” or something similar.
What Edge Training Looks Like in Practice
Here’s how this kind of edge practice might work in real life:
- If you’re practicing yoga, you might do an hourlong practice where about 60% of the poses (roughly) are challenging for you (but not so challenging that you’ll be injured or exhausted), and the rest are easy ones that allow you to focus on your breath and recover from the edge poses.
- If you’re running, you’ll mix up your running days — four days will be challenging but not crazy, and some with easy ones thrown in between. And a rest day or two, of course.
- If you’re learning chess or Go, you’ll do problems or drills that are hard for you, and also a bunch of easy ones. The easy one cement the patterns. The edge ones teach you new patterns.
- If you’re creating a habit, like learning to meditate, start with just short meditations (let’s say 2-5 minutes), as that will be your edge when you start. But eventually you’ll want to do longer meditations (10 minutes, 20, even more), finding the spot that’s your edge. And mixing in some shorter, easier ones will help you stay sharp at your edge.
- If you want to train yourself to get comfortable with discomfort and uncertainty, you find a way to make yourself uncomfortable each day, and practice mindfulness in the middle of that discomfort. For example, taking a cold shower might be your edge. But another day, you might just go outside when it’s a little chilly, with only a T-shirt on, for 20 minutes. You might practice at the edge of your discomfort with exercise, speaking on a stage, meditating for longer, etc.
The Way to Practice at Your Edge
When you’re at your edge, it’s one thing to just tolerate it, to grit your teeth and bear it until it’s over … and quite another thing to actually practice with the discomfort and uncertainty of being at that edge.
If you want to get the most out of practicing at your edge, here’s what I suggest:
- Go up to the edge and stay there for a little longer than you’d like. You want to collapse, you want to exit. Instead, hold the pose for a little longer. See it as your growth in action.
- Now drop mindfully into the discomfort & uncertainty. Drop into your body, noticing the sensations of the discomfort. Standing on stage in front of hundreds of people? Notice the sensations of anxiety or nervousness (or excitement, whatever you’d like to call it). Running a hard mile? Notice the sensations in your legs and torso.
- Practice opening in that uncertainty & discomfort. See what you can do to relax into this feeling of being at your edge. Can you bring a sense of curiosity? Explore the bodily feeling for a bit, noticing what it’s like. Relax your muscles around these sensations. Bring a sense of gentleness to it. A sense of compassion. A sense of humor. Open your mind to all sensations in the present moment, including the sense of discomfort but also all of your surroundings. Open up to a vast skylike mind.
With practice, your edge can even be a place where you find comfort. A sense of easy. A sense of joy at the deliciousness of the groundlessness.
Some Rules About the Rule of the Edge
The Rule of the Edge comes with a few sub-rules:
- Don’t always be at your edge. Ease off. Do some easy stuff too.
- Sometimes it’s OK to go past your edge, if you keep yourself safe. It’s a sense of exploration, finding new edges.
- Your edge will change over time. Notice how it shifts. Keep pushing a little further into your edge, if you sense the shift.
- Practice mindfully at your edge, don’t just try to get through it.
I just returned from my Panama Canal cruise. Reflections:
1. As I’ve mentioned before, cruises are in one sense a great test case for open borders. Workers from all over the world come together to run one some of the world’s most sophisticated technology and please some of the world’s most demanding customers. Most of the workers’ lives are harsh by First World standards but great by Third World standards. And wherever they’re from, the staff work together like Prussian officers. It’s a marvel of multinational management.
2. As I’ve also mentioned, though, the entire cruise industry also depends on immigration restrictions. Cruising is affordable because labor costs are very low by First World standards. Under open borders, these well-trained, highly motivated maritime workers would take advantage of the far better job opportunities available on dry land, drastically raising the price of cruising.
3. If you’ve ever wondered if capitalism is turning human beings into machines, taking a cruise will feed your fears. The cabin stewards, for example, spend 10-12 hours a day making every room on their watch spotless. Then they disappear into the lightness belly of the ship, re-emerging the next day to begin their duties again. An occasional shore leave aside, they work seven days a week.
4. If you’ve ever wondered if cosmopolitanism can really function, taking a cruise will feed your hope. Filipinos, Mexicans, Ukrainians, Romanians, Jamaicans, Chinese, Brazilians, and dozens of other nationalities don’t just “get along.” They show more team spirit than any American workforce I’ve seen.
5. Modern American politics vanish on a cruise ship. There’s zero social justice rhetoric or attitude to be found; passengers and crew all take severe inequality for granted. You might think that’s because the customers are demographically Republican, but there’s also zero nativist rhetoric or attitude to be found. Elderly American Republican guests interact amicably with foreigners of every description. There’s no sign that they’re “making an effort” to overcome their xenophobia; they just apolitically accept the cosmopolitan world that surrounds them. The cruise culture runs on good manners and shared humanity, not identity politics. And yes, you really can turn the identity volume dial close to zero – which is where it belongs.
6. What does the crew think about global development in general, or immigration restrictions in particular? I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable, so I didn’t ask… but their actions speak louder than words. I’d guess that 90% of the workers originate from the Third World. The fact that they’ve left their home countries behind to serve spoiled First Worlders is a deafening vote of no confidence in their societies of birth. And when I see the this massive ship running like clockwork, it’s easy to see the wisdom of their decision. Business isn’t perfect, but it far more deserving of their admiration and loyalty than the demagogic governments they’ve left behind.Continue Reading
When I think about “women’s rights” and what that means, it isn’t much different than what I think about human rights. The right to life. The right to health, vitality and the opportunity to thrive. The right to happiness, freedom and personal autonomy and sovereignty. The right to resources and information and truth. The right to embodiment and a deeper connection to the universe and self.
Sure, some of that might seem idealistic and super meta, but I don’t aim low. If you know me, you aren’t surprised.
The 2019 Women’s March is coming up in three days and I am seeing women everywhere gearing up to, once again, march and “fight” for their rights (of which I am still confused about those they claim we supposedly don’t have. I am also in disagreement about what constitutes as a “right,” but I digress….).
When I think of many of the tenants of modern feminism, I don’t always hear, “fight for your rights,” so much as I hear, “fight for your right to pick your poison.”
On the Women’s March website under “Unity Principles,” it says the following on reproductive rights:
“We believe in Reproductive Freedom. We do not accept any federal, state or local rollbacks, cuts or restrictions on our ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education. This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education. We understand that we can only have reproductive justice when reproductive health care is accessible to all people regardless of income, location or education.”
If the women’s march and Planned Parenthood (one of their main sponsors) platform cared about reproductive freedom, then why do they not include anything about the daily occurrence of obstetrical abuse and violence? Or the reality that obstetrics is inherently violent and rooted in slavery at its core?
What about all the women who are harassed and invaded by CPS for choosing to birth their babies freely in the comfort of their own home without being overseen by a figure with a stamp of authority? No mention of birth freedom. Life freedom.
How come it isn’t mentioned that there are still states that midwifery care is illegal, and mostly unaffordable where it is legal? So being for women means we make “care” affordable and accessible to women who don’t want children (contraceptives and abortions), but we don’t include making care affordable and accessible to women who do?
Or even worse, how it is illegal to call oneself a midwife unless the government has granted you the title, meaning government owns the conditions of birth, and if women do not abide by these conditions then they are at risk for being tormented, interrogated and persecuted. Modern day witch hunts, in essence.
What about advocating for women to rest for 2-3 days when they bleed?
It’s because the women’s march, their platform and sponsors don’t actually care about women’s freedom in regard to their health and life giving abilities. They only care about furthering the modern feminist and Planned Parenthood agenda which includes the erasure of fertility, an abandonment of our hormonal matrix that distinguishes us as women, and sterilization. These components are what helps us further advance in joining the ranks of men and a world dominated by men. Modern feminism, AKA be more like men. The workforce and Planned Parenthood don’t really benefit when women stay home from work and opt out of medical care in order to take their care into their own hands.
For what it is worth, I love men and the roles they offer and provide. I just don’t want to be one. I am different, and offer value in other ways as a woman.
The thing is, and what I want women to know is…..
Women already have all the rights they are fighting for. They have them by virtue of their womanhood. They were given the power by nature to control birth or to terminate it if need be (and abortion is often caused by living in a society run by masculine ideals and values, not a solution to it, but I digress again). What I want women to know is that they don’t need to be wasting energy fighting men to feel autonomous over their bodies. We already are, and we have a vast well of resources and knowledge that is available to us that we have been robbed from by growing up in an industrialized, modern society. We don’t need to be marching on Capitol Hill. We need to march on over to the living rooms of our community sisters and relearn the art of DIY healthcare. It’s really not that hard, trust me, I do it. Not only do I do my own healthcare, but I train second year medical students (I know, how ironic. Another post.) how to perform the well-women’s exam and I’ll let you in on a little secret….
If you’re reading this, you could do the damn thing yourself…..
As much as I see myself as a woman who radically cares for the health and well-being and rights of women, I just can’t get behind the modern, liberal feminist movement that feels so rampant today, precisely because I don’t see that it carries similar values as I do. It touts that it does, but I see it all as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The amount of disconnect between women, their bodies and the foundations of true health in the feminist movement is astonishing. I can’t support women demanding their “rights” for pills (that were invented and created by men) that screw up our hormonal health, (which is inextricably connected to everything else), and is responsible for many deaths.
I can’t cry for free access to a healthcare system that is dominated by the ideas of men and predicated on abuse and the perpetuation of chronic disease. A system that persuades women to part with their breasts and womb in the name of profit. I can’t hoot and holler when they make toxic feminine hygiene products “tax free” that wreak havoc on our bodies.
Like I said, the Women’s March platform mentions access to birth control and abortion, but says nothing (zero!) about a woman’s right to a healthy, physiological, sovereign birth and support around that (with the exception of maternal leave). I only see the erasure of fertility within feminism everywhere I look. Plug it up, take a pill, kill it.
I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. How is it not painfully obvious that (wo)man’s abandonment from nature, and now destruction of nature is what got us where we are today? And in a hierarchy where hu(man) thinks he can dominate that which sustains him (nature), it has translated over to women’s bodies, and feminists have taken the bait, and are now demanding free and total access to a world that was never created in support of their biology. I simply don’t resonate with anything that separates women from what makes them women, or attempts to make our unique, biological functions and gifts a burden that we need to abandon ourselves from.
To my mind, things like top-down, big medicine, hormonal contraceptives (or any pharmaceutical drug), and medicated/technocratic abortions are not components that can help “liberate” women, but rather, they only further exploit women. By no means do I see these as solutions to our problems, but rather, some inevitable outcomes to our deeper distresses.
Last year, I discovered a term called Ecofeminism. I can’t believe I had never heard of this before. It’s. So. Me. Sure, it’s just a label, and why the need to label myself? It’s less about the label and more that I know there are women who see the correlation between the oppression of nature and how that has translated into the oppression of women. Women who get that we are nature and trying to ignore and override it is the true “patriarchy.”
Some tenants and ideas of Ecofeminism are:
- Ecofeminism uses the parallels between the oppression of nature and the oppression of women as a way to highlight the idea that both must be understood in order to properly recognize how they are connected. These parallels include but are not limited to seeing women and nature as property, seeing men as the curators of culture and women as the curators of nature, and how men dominate women and humans dominate nature.
- One ecofeminist theory is that capitalist values reflect paternalistic and gendered values. In this interpretation effects of capitalism has led to a harmful split between nature and culture. In the 1970s, early ecofeminists discussed that the split can only be healed by the feminine instinct for nurture and holistic knowledge of nature’s processes.
- Vandana Shiva says that women have a special connection to the environment through their daily interactions and this connection has been ignored. She says that women in subsistence economies who produce “wealth in partnership with nature, have been experts in their own right of holistic and ecological knowledge of nature’s processes”. She makes the point that “these alternative modes of knowing, which are oriented to the social benefits and sustenance needs are not recognized by the capitalist reductionist paradigm, because it fails to perceive the interconnectedness of nature, or the connection of women’s lives, work and knowledge with the creation of wealth (23)”. Shiva blames this failure on the West’s patriarchy, and the patriarchal idea of what development is. According to Shiva, patriarchy has labeled women, nature, and other groups not growing the economy as “unproductive”.
- In Ecofeminism (1993) authors Vandana Shiva, Maria Mies and Evan Bondi ponder modern science and its acceptance as a universal and value-free system. Instead, they view the dominant stream of modern science as a projection of Western men’s values. The privilege of determining what is considered scientific knowledge has been controlled by men, and for the most part of history restricted to men. Bondi and Miles list examples including the medicalization of childbirth and the industrialization of plant reproduction.
There are many philosophies within ecofeminism, some are even conflicting just as they are within Christianity or modern feminism. I don’t agree with them all, but ecofeminism is the closest thing I have found that can articulate my personal views of feminism and what true health and empowerment for women is.
If being a feminist means I must support women in their choices no matter what, then I am not a feminist. Often times, supporting women “no matter what,” means watching women fall prey to toxic patriarchal exploitation cloaked in “women’s liberation,” and I can’t (and won’t) sit back and swallow one iota of toleration for something I view as doing so much harm. Which doesn’t mean I’ll jump down your throat about it, either, or even bring it up if we don’t have a relationship built on a lot of love and trust.
If being a feminist mean I think women deserve equal treatment, respect, and pay for the same work (they do) as men or any other human being, then of course, I am a feminist, and quite frankly, who isn’t (with the exception of some assholes)?Continue Reading
Nobody asked but …
A few days ago, I wrote a blog criticising, by the way, the so-called founding fathers. When I shared that post elsewhere, a treasured colleague took exception to my generalization, and he informed me that I need to read more Thomas Jefferson.
My reaction touched on the following:
- Thomas Jefferson may be the last founding father that I would critique.
- When has one read enough Thomas Jefferson?
- I pointed out that the founding fathers were not a monolithic group.
- For example, I cited a compare-and-contrast exercise covering Thomas Jefferson against Alexander Hamilton.
- Even though I was accused of overlooking that there had been no conscription among the colonials, that turns out not to be the case, per the Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History.
- Soldiers have been exploited by politicians since long before the North American colonies.
- War is war, and it is hell.
- The self-serving politicians who promulgated the American Revolution made sure to deport Jefferson while they were selling the US citizens on the scam known as the Constitution.
- Jefferson drafted, along with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, the Declaration of Independence, which was an escape from monarchical statism.
- The upshot of the Revolutionary War was the establishment of a state modeled on the European Royals’ version.
- The primary beneficiaries were the same landed gentry who thrived under King George III of England.
— Kilgore ForelleContinue Reading