Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Spiritual" experiences versus delusional thinking: Not the same thing!

While I've met quite a few people of atheistic and/or skeptic bent, who show enthusiasm toward transcendent experiences and even psychedelic drugs, most seem to show a casual interest if any at all.
` On the extreme other end of the spectrum, I've met those who seem to think themselves "above" subjecting themselves to such experiences for themselves.
Particularly the ones that promise a truly spectacular adventure.
One activist for skepticism and against quackery and religious dogma, outright told me that practicing meditation is a form of "brainwashing".
` I tried to tell him that it is actually an exercise that helps you to control your ability to focus and stop tripping out about so much stuff. It helps decrease stress levels, and thus seems to be good for your health.
` Though increased scientific study is beginning to scrape the surface of such altered states, he didn't want to hear about it.

The need to experience zen consciousness, egolessness, transcendence, or whatever you want to call it, is not in any way the same as the need to believe in a supernatural world. Unfortunately, I have noticed that it is common for those of skeptical leanings to confuse the two concepts.

Considering what I've been studying for the past few years, I'm convinced that so-called transcendental or 'spiritual' states are among the most important and life-impacting states of consciousness that one can achieve.
` As I hope to have shown in previous blog posts, a solid argument can be made that those who don't believe in supernatural or spiritual realms really do crave so-called "transcendence" when they say they don't; it's just that they don't understand what this term refers to.

What is this with the apparent conflation between the desire for transcendent consciousness and the desire to believe? In an email to a number of skeptical activists (none of them Geo), I included the following quotations and points of consideration:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I got the scanner working...

Not only is my scanner/printer out of storage, but I've found a way to use it with the laptop. And so, it is now possible for me to scan any number of the hundreds of drawrings from both recent years and farther in the past.
` Today, after about four hours of work, I have a whopping two scans to show for it. I'll get to why that is, but first, the images.

This is from when I first began to learn about psychedelics, around in late 2012 just before the world didn't end. Although it's in black and white, the colors seem apparent to me. What do they look like to you?

Glimpses of The Vegetable Mind, 2012
The intended colors are as follows:

Top left: Alternating red and chestnut-colored surfaces, with mother-of-pearl panels and various colored jewels.
Top right: Gold-spangled Champaign sky with weird little 'planetoids', reflected in a deep ocean of sparkliness.
Bottom: Snake-like, plant-like creatures which are mostly red and orange. They possess little 'tendrils' that shoot out of their bodies, then retreat out of sight. These tendrils, which are light in color, can be seen shooting by through holes in the sides of their bodies.
` Sometimes, they are found in cups around brightly colored pencils with pencil toppers, like the two depicted above (one of them meant to be pink and fuzzy). Why this might be is a mystery.

The second image for this post was originally going to be my second large psychedelic inspiration, which is a view inside of a dodecahedron of portals to various worlds. (A photo of it serves as my background image on Facebook.) Alas, for reasons I'll mention below, this one will have to wait.

Instead, here's a drawing I did around seventeen years ago. I left it sitting in my scanner while it was in storage, in order to remind myself to get around to scanning these old drawings. Well, that worked pretty well, didn't it?
` I present to you, this ancient drawing of three faceless women surrounded by friendly alien creatures:

Faceless Women on an Alien World, 1998
What is going on when you're spending the evening with a six-legged, four-eyed alien, watching some four-legged beasts in some kind of competition, with small creatures flittering through the air?
` I don't know, but this drawing was meant to take you there anyway.

The reason I call these figures 'faceless' is because I originally was going to put some kind of breathing apparatus on them. After all, if you're on some foreign planet, what are the chances that the air is even safe to breathe, especially with alien microbes in the air?
` I even went so far as to not draw faces on them, although I thought that looked strange, so I added just a suggestion of faces. I was also going to make their clothing look more like spacesuits, but alas never did bother.
` The result is... well... unique. I'll give it that. And after all this time, why bother completing it? So, I haven't.

In other news, what's going on with the scanner/printer? The scanning function doesn't work directly with my computer, although it does have an SD card reader.
` Here's the funny thing; I have a mini-SD card with a regular SD adapter, so I can plug it into the scanner. In order to get the scans into my laptop, I plug that adapter into a USB adapter.
` Ah, technology. Thank goodness it works.

As for the dodecahedron drawing, I was going to put two different views of it on this post (instead of the aliens drawing). It is very dense as far as detail goes, and I noticed (too late) that when I used 'Crop To Selection' in ShowFoto, it clipped off the other edges as well.
` I will not stand for this mutiny, especially after scanning this drawing three different times before it was centered well enough to get opposite edges in.

Next time, I will take care to use Windows for photo editing, because Microsoft Paint can be relied upon for simple tasks such as cropping.

Happily, I have tons of neat artwork, as well as photo prints that could use some digital archiving. Not to mention digital photos that I haven't gotten around to uploading on Flickr.
` And posts that I haven't gotten around to uploading on this blog. And podcasts, even videos. As the momentum builds, I should be churning out a lot more content soon enough!

Until next time....

Monday, October 19, 2015

Adventures and Aspirations. And more photos from my smartphone.

I'm at that long-awaited point in my life when my foreseeable future finally looks pretty good. For the past few months, I've been busy, among other things moving house yet again – for the lucky thirteenth time in my life!
` And, have been having technical difficulties getting more articles in my blog and podcast up and running. Also, there's been a huge amount of stuff going on, a bit of which I'll mention below.
` But all this has not been without having some fun and adventures in between! Not to mention, I've encountered Steven Pinker, Michael Shermer and Tony Ortega, all within in the past few weeks!
` And last month, I took a little trip to a place in Oregon where the giant sea puppies haul themselves onto a dock en masse and bark hypnotically.
Auuurt, auurt, auurt...
At The Amazing Meeting 2015, I told numerous people that I was about to publish the first episode of my skeptical podcast, Skeptophony. When I got back, I immediately began work on Episode 2 and try to figure out how to upload podcasts. And then I came down with a serious case of Con Crud and couldn't get myself to do anything until the end of July.
` Even taking a walk was too much for me at times. I discovered that if I just let myself take lots of naps for a few days, I seemed to feel much better than I had years. Which is especially dramatic considering the past few years.

` Able to get back to my normal, more wakeful schedule, I stopped being able to sleep so well. At the place I was living at the time, a number of factors interfered with my ability to sleep, and I was starting to realize this must be causing not just psychological problems, but serious fatigue and soreness that was really slowing me down.
` My body was unable to rest and recover well enough from the previous day, which also interfered with my physical rehab routine, so it became a slow spiral downward again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stay Tuned...

Writing this from my phone, I'm on my way to The Amazing Meeting, and wanted to mention that I've finally finished the first episode of my podcast, Skeptophony.
That's what I've been working on instead of finishing more blog posts. I haven't been able to upload it, so that will have to wait until I get back.
In other news, my cat Vada has died horribly, and I'm going to have to find another place to live. Never a dull moment.
I am looking forward to my trip, however, and will have to tell you all about it when I get back. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thanks to the U.S. obsession with chopping baby penises, my blog has gone viral!

I've also had a lot of amazing feedback, including emails, a few of which I'll proudly display here.
One of my initial fears in writing an article like The Foreskin: Why is it such a secret in North America? was that I wouldn't be taken seriously -- especially in the U.S. Skeptic community.

Two years later, I'm now in the habit of stirring heretical and counter-cultural thoughts among the Skeptics, and now on my blog as well. I'm far from worried that I'll be derided as "not skeptical enough".
` I received lots of praise when I finally got the chance to finish the post, not only from skeptics, but from other people the world over! No wonder this article got 211,288 views in the week preceding April 18:

Only ten days after that, the total number of pageviews was over 600,000.
Yes, the article itself is dated May 8, 2013, but that was merely the date which I saved the first draft. I'm not above retro-publishing blog articles, especially when none of the adjacent articles had been published either, and most of the intervening time has been astonishingly insane.

Now that I have my health, my own Internet connection, and even my own space to write, blogging and getting my facts straight has been easy enough to take on this enormous task.
` After all, it is heresy in America to talk about the foreskins' sexual functions, for the man and his sexual partner. Or to say that smegma is the normal fluid coating the various folds of female genitalia, and in larger amounts than in males.

Perhaps most shocking of all is that every day in the U.S., there are medical professional who diagnose a boy's normal foreskin as a birth defect called "congenital phimosis".
` A baby's foreskin is supposed to be attached to the head of the penis, which protects it from infection and debris, and it doesn't usually retract for several years.
` Some doctors consider this normal development to be an ailment which must be 'treated' by tearing the membrane that keeps the foreskin in place, and repeatedly washing beneath it.
` This causes severe pain and further problems, which are then blamed on the foreskin instead of the doctor's incompetence.

Just like most of the other mythical "problems" with foreskins, this belief stems from moral and so-called medical claims which became popular in the late 1800s. Of course, I've explained how all this came to be in my article.
` Persistent belief in such myths is a serious issue, but one that is not likely to end unless significantly more awareness is raised. And I have already done some of the work!

Here's a screen grab of my weekly stats for today, a whole month later. It seems I've had only 19,934 views this week, along with more views and comments on other posts!
Over two hundred comments on the same post!? WHAT!?!?!!
That's another thing -- comments! I've never gotten so many! (The numbers are much inflated by one very dedicated troll, however.) So far, none of the replies I've written have shown up in the comments section. I'll no doubt address them soon enough.

Also in that graphic, you can see my next article's title, Child Circumcision: Culture-based ignorance, fetish, and pseudoscience. It delves even deeper into the insanity, from inaccurate anatomy books and ignorant doctors.
` It even contains my discovery of circumcision advocates who are motivated by a particularly sick brand of pedophilia. These are the guys behind the website "CircInfo", as well as "BoyGuard".
` It is also filled with comments from people who were raised in various cultures, which demonstrate the cross-cultural comparisons I've been making.

My next three posts essentially wound up getting deleted, and one of them was about my blog going viral. So, now I'm doing it again!

Although I "thanked Blogger" for this apparent malfunction, I thought I should take the time to mention that I am thankful that Blogger is really easy to use, hosts my blogs for free, and even tells me my stats.
` I'd also like to thank everyone for their genuine feedback (i.e., not trolling). Some people even helped me to make a few improvements past the first version of this blog post.
` First of all, some commenters were in confusion over my gender, so I added a disclaimer mentioning my girly bits. I also got many emails, and here are several that shaped the various versions of this post:

Jen B
Fascinating, well-researched article...but I have a suggestion:

It's a long piece; the graphics help "break it up" a little bit, but I think it would be easier to read/digest (more people would read it in its entirety) if it were divided into sections with headers.  

Great job, though!
So, I re-read the article, found the 'natural' divisions in subject matter, and added the various bold headings. I also decided to add more information about the efficacy of condoms in preventing HIV.
` Many more emails came into my inbox, including this one:
For all the reasons you describe, we opted not to circumcise our son. We have a great pediatrician who told us never to let anyone retract his foreskin. When he was about three years old I was giving him a bath and he was playing with his penis. He pulled the foreskin back and the head of his penis popped out. He made a cute remark like "look what I can do" and I said "neat" and that was that. There was no blood, pain, or crying. He did it one more time after that but never again. ...
Part of your blog concerns me though, because it sounds like that shouldn't have happened until he was a teenager and that he could have somehow done some damage to himself. Again, he seems fine. He hasn't had any urinary tract infections nor does he complain about pain. He does touch his penis sometimes and I ask him why and he says because it feels good, which seems normal enough to me. Do you know if him popping the head of his penis out is normal or can you refer me to someone who would know? 


I wrote back to P. and also added some more info to my blog, mainly that it's possible for a child this young to be able to fully retract his foreskin. It isn't likely, but it happens on occasion, just as it can take as long as age 18.

Then, to my surprise, I received an email from Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo. I felt a bit strange accepting his request to allow him to reproduce my article on his website of interesting claims -- but I did.
` Even more comments and emails poured in, and later I found my article re-posted on yet another website! Ji forwarded me an email message from Frank, who wrote:
I congratulate you and Ms. Quine for her fine, informative article on the human foreskin. But one point, please, that is not so insignificant as one might be tempted to think: The article states categorically that the foreskin retracts upon erection (and, incidentally, spells out the obvious: that retraction exposes the glans). Autonomous, no-hands-needed retraction indeed sometimes does happen---BUT VERY, VERY FREQUENTLY IT DOES NOT...!!! I have not been able to find any statistics whatsoever on this phenomenon---but I know for a fact, from myself and from NUMEROUS other men's experiences, that even a moderately longer foreskin will continue to cover the glans DURING and AFTER full erection. ~~ That's important for two reasons: (1) it is a physiological FACT, and (2) its misrepresentation can make some men without autonomous retraction believe that they are somehow not normal. Heaven forfend that it should impel them to circumcision..... ~~~ Thanks for your attention.
And so, I went back to spell out this fact in my article. And, just to be rigorous, I gave it a little editing once-over, such as removing excessive instances of the phrase "to point out" near the end of the article.
` Now it's better than ever, including copies that had previously been made of it! Besides adding a link to this post at the bottom, will I make any further changes? Only time will tell!

I've also gotten a few responses from people who want me to know that the HPV vaccine is evil, and I wonder if I'll get sucked into a cycle writing about such things and any of Ji's claims as well?

In the meantime, I have a lot to take care of in my life. Another post is on the way. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thanks, Blogger, for NOT SAVING my last three posts!

Now that my blog has gone viral, I've spent countless hours writing a lot of new material to keep my readers coming back.
` Unfortunately, my drafts weren't being saved when I clicked 'Save' on Blogger, so I have almost nothing to show for it. Except for some photos I edited for the purpose of making my blog look more colorful and exotic:

In March, my laptop was treated to a new Linux operating system, as well as an Internet connection via my new Android phone.
` My immediate thought was -- I must go back and finish some of my old drafts!

Partly due to a particularly asinine Facebook comment at the time, the first draft that sprang to mind was one I had left for almost two years, called The Foreskin: Why is it such a secret in North America?
` It's so secret that many doctors in America don't even know that the foreskin of infants doesn't retract (because it is fused in place), and so wind up damaging and even removing it because they believe this is abnormal.
` As for the population in general, the foreskin is popularly maligned as causing disease and hindering sex, when in fact quite the opposite is true.

People from most other parts of the globe are horrified and shocked when they hear about such ignorance:
` They would never assume that such a large swath of Westerners would think to impose such senseless brutality to their own unconsenting and screaming newborns, nor would it occur to them to believe such patently false myths.

Why do Americans chop infant penises, and what's up with all the misconceptions and misinformation about the foreskin? Why is it not represented, properly or even at all, in U.S. anatomy books?
` That's a history lesson that my article covers, along with the medical and biological facts. In great detail. Such great detail that many people report becoming upset upon learning these facts from my article. As they should!

On top of that was yet more interesting stuff that I couldn't fit in this article, such as a video showing the detailed anatomy and function of the foreskin. It is accurate, just like medical textbooks in Europe!
` There were also inaccurate portrayals I have found in American anatomy books, for contrast. I even found a video of a doctor claiming that the foreskins she tears off of screaming infants are not fused in place -- outrageous!
` Not to mention, I included pro-circumcision doctors who invented false identities and studies in order to promote circumcision of children, including for the purpose of preventing boys from masturbating. In this day and age! Really sick stuff.
` Also, I had further anecdotes and Facebook comments that show the cultural differences in people's opinions -- including the one commenter that prompted me to finish this article.
` So, I put that all into my last published post, Child circumcision: Cultural-based ignorance, fetish, and pseudoscience.

Blogger seemed to be working great at this point, so I went right into writing another article about hypnosis, an article about some cool photos I took (but never so much as posted to Facebook), and one about how my blog went viral.
` Each of these has mostly disappeared -- I say 'mostly', because only the first version was saved, whereas the almost-finished versions were not. Why? Partly because I was foolish enough to not check whether or not my laptop was plugged in, and it ran out of battery.
` When I plugged it in and turned it on, I could only recover the first draft on Blogger.

Why had it not continued saving my posts? And why had I not thought to save my progress on my laptop instead of on Blogger?
` I actually had been saving on my laptop before I had my own Internet access, and yet could not recover my files after my laptop would shut off unexpectedly. So, either way, I would lose my posts.
` Perhaps a memory stick would work better? The fact that this happened twice (once when I was working on two posts at once) should be a clear message to me that I'm the one ultimately responsible.

Even so, WTF, Blogger?

Really, I am disheartened by these losses, especially since I expected to greatly increase my blog production since getting a better operating system, my own Internet connection, and an excess of 700,000 hits!

As I've mentioned a while back, it's immensely easier to blog when I have Internet access and a place to sit that doesn't cause intense physical cramps, which themselves trigger serious emotional unplesantness.
` I not only have a chair in which I can sit without causing these problems, but I have two! I found the second one in the same yard as the first, and it's an adjustable office chair with a back support attachment!

In fact, I would like to announce that not only am I fairly well physically rehabilitated (particularly my back-side), but that thanks to these chairs as well as the rehab, the cramps take a lot longer to develop if I sit down in a chair that's too low for me.
` So, at least I've gotten my Internet and sitting situation well taken care of!

Of course, in the past three years there has been a lot of interference with blogging that really has had an enormous impact on my ability to keep up production.
` Besides the brain-destroying insanity, illness, and instability of crazy-making life for over two years, there was also the fact that the "Edit Posts" page didn't like to load up on Blogger a lot of the time.
` Until I started to be able to access it more consistently, this was a serious hindrance to my finishing anything I had started and saved online.

As of late, things have been busy and I've been having adventures, as well as moving my stuff in and out of storage. Not content with 50 square feet, I've been trying in vain to find a place where I can unpack and move into.
` I'll be back soon enough, typing more frantically than ever to keep this blog well-stocked with new material. Just as I have been.
` Except this time, I will make damn well sure that my laptop doesn't shut off before I can make sure it really has been saved.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Child Circumcision: Culture-based ignorance, fetish, and pseudoscience

I have recently been motivated to go back and finish a blog post I had started, entitled The Foreskin: Why is it such a secret in North America? [I'm glad I did -- it went viral!]
` In it, I describe my shock at age 20 when I was told of the existence of the foreskin, a piece of anatomy I had never before encountered, neither in the flesh nor depicted in any anatomy book I'd seen.
` (This is bizarre, considering that it's more well-developed in human beings than in other species.) What was it for, I wondered, and why had it been so thoroughly erased from U.S. culture?

That post goes into great detail on all that, including the brutal history of how circumcision became a 'medicalized' ritual in white, Christian, sexually suppressive late-nineteenth century America:
` It had the 'medical' goal of desensitizing the penis in order to discourage masturbation and other ejaculations outside of intercourse (a "disorder" called spermatorrhea).
` Thanks to a few cultural quirks of the early and mid-twentieth century, tearing off the perfectly good foreskins of screaming newborns became 'medicalized' practice a few other countries, although it has since been rejected in most of them as essentially a form of genital mutilation.

Strangest of all, widespread infant circumcision has continued in the U.S. for so long that there are still doctors who are ignorant of the fact that boys' foreskins don't typically separate from the glans for the first several years of life.
` That's right; possessing a perfectly average penis is not necessarily enough to stop a boy from being diagnosed with congenital phimosis, another "disorder" from late-1800s America.
` In order to "correct" it, the doctor may recommend tearing the foreskin back (a.k.a. premature forced retraction) several times a day. After much screaming, bleeding, and other complications such as infections, the ultimate "fix" may be circumcision:
` The problem is then blamed on the foreskin and not the doctor's ignorance, thus continuing the cycle of social surgery. (I'll get back to this.)

Such an outrageous level of incompetence can happen in a medical setting because in American culture -- including medical texts -- you will tend to find misconceptions about this piece of anatomy, if anything at all.
` Like any science/skeptically-oriented blogger, I packed as much information as possible into my intense account of discovery. [I have received much acclaim from not only skeptically oriented people, but some of the hundreds of thousands of others who have seen it!]

Having gotten most of the technical details out of the way, I can start a second post on this subject which includes material that wouldn't fit in the first one:
` It starts out with content from biased U.S. anatomy books and an educational video which essentially shows what was left out of them. Next, I explore some of the real and fictitious pro-circumcision "researchers":
` One of them is into circumfetish, has written an erotic novel dealing with circumcision, and even sold chastity belts for boys on a website promoting parents' control of boys' sexuality by a tight circumcision and devices to keep him from masturbating.

I can't make this stuff up.

Neither can I make up my bizarre encounter with the crazy Born-Again Christian lady, nor all the comments from Facebook which demonstrate the influence of culture on people's opinions of the matter.
` In fact, Facebook was the first place I posted this educational video about the functions of the foreskin, produced by Gavin Sisk, MFA at University of Washington Health Sciences Academic Services and Faculties, along with George C Denniston MD.

This kind of content is found in medical textbooks outside the U.S., and includes the sexual and protective functions of the male prepuce (foreskin), as well as the development of male and female prepuces.
` My aforementioned blog article covers this topic in detail, although this video is a much better visual reference, and even features pictures of dead baby and embryo genitalia. Bonus!
` It's definitely Not Safe For Work, but at the same time, anything but erotic. You may want to check it out now, or later -- it's 20 minutes of skin and info.

Important to my discussion here, the video shows a microscope image of the membrane that fuses a young child's foreskin and glans, much like the membrane that fuses your fingernail to your finger.
` Incredibly, there really are doctors who circumcise infants and claim that the foreskin of children isn't fused and that this membrane doesn't exist!

Yes, really -- and I've got evidence of this, but first, some other points from the video:

The infant foreskin usually protrudes beyond the urethra, only able to retract enough to allow urination. Sometimes, this moveable, protective bit of foreskin is "diagnosed" as redundant prepuce and cut off.
` Gradually, the membrane holding the foreskin in place dissolves, which generally happens by adolescence. When it is able to retract fully, the foreskin is ready to be used as a spring-loaded sexual organ.

As my article explicitly describes in great detail, a man's foreskin allows his penis to roll inside-out against itself, and to do many things a circumcised penis cannot do.
` In the video, there are also microscope images of the clusters of fine-touch nerve endings in the foreskin's ridges. Indeed, the foreskin contains more than a third of the nerve endings in the entire penis, and makes up about half the skin that covers it.

The video also lists many long-term effects of circumcision, such as desensitizing the penis, immobilizing the moving parts, and callusing the glans. If a man wants to do this to himself, informed consent is important!
` As for ripping off a clueless newborn's foreskin, the tearing of his most sensitive erogenous zone causes his heart rate and stress hormones skyrocket: Many boys scream long enough to turn slightly blue, while some go into shock and become quiet.
` This early trauma causes prolonged irritability, diminishes attentiveness, hinders parental bonding, as well as disrupts breastfeeding, REM sleep and sleep/wake cycles.
` It creates permanent neurological changes in pain perception, and can even create emotional problems later on. And that's not even counting the physical effects and other possible complications, which I of course covered in my article.

Helpfully, this video lists some other body parts that were once deemed redundant or defective -- the adenoids, mastoids, tonsils and appendix. In fact, my own mother and her brother were made to have their tonsils removed as kids, for no medical reason at all:
` Before tonsils' function was understood, this was believed to be beneficial, but today a tonsilectomy is only recommended in extreme cases of infection or other problems. Generally speaking, the same can be said of any other part of the body, and it is no different for the part we are focusing on here.
` I've noticed that unlike the other items on the 'once deemed defective' list, the foreskin is external and has obvious functions, which were documented by Renaissance Era anatomists.
` This knowledge was only lost, mainly in U.S. culture, in the past 150 years. With the help of modern science and media, it is returning in greater detail than ever. Unfortunately, it's not happening fast enough:

I've just found a short video where a doctor claims that the foreskins of infants are not fused to the glans. What's more, she's apparently been circumcising infants for 25 years -- and she didn't know that 'probing' the foreskin is like ripping off a fingernail!
` Her name is Claudia Fruin, and the video was taken outside of an American Academy of Pediatrics conference by protesters of child circumcision.
` She makes her unbelievable statement just after the 2:50 mark, then implies that the protesters don't know what they're talking about because they've never circumcised an infant. Really.
` Then, the protesters discuss the doctor's scramble to solve her cognitive dissonance. To avoid embedded video and picture overload in this post, here's the link: Circumciser Tries and Fails To Defend Violating Children.

Just think: Throughout human history, people generally have known not to retract the foreskin before it's ready. That knowledge has only become obscured for so many millions of people in recent times.
` That there are doctors who actually do this in a large, industrialized nation, well into the twenty-first century, is a testament to the vastness of human ignorance. Also, greed, as the amputation and selling of foreskins is a billion and a half dollar per-year industry:
` This can only happen because infant circumcision is about the most common surgery in the U.S., and it's almost always performed without therapeutic indications, or much (if any) anesthesia.
` If the decision had simply been left up to the individual himself to decide whether to be circumcised, as it is with women, it would be a fairly rare occurrence, as it is in most parts of the world.

Anatomy Book Errors and Biases

So, how can people become so ignorant of a piece of external anatomy with a clear purpose? For reasons I explained in my article, it was made rare in the wake of WWII, when almost every infant in the U.S. was circumcised.
` With no frame of reference, even the guys themselves who were circumcised were unlikely to ever learn the truth about what was done to them. This extends to anatomy books, which are still often seen to leave out the foreskin or contain inaccurate information or illustrations.
` For example, although the foreskin typically pulls back from the glans during an erection, there are anatomy text illustrations showing the foreskin covering the glans during an erection as though it is an immobile structure.
` This, as I explained in my article, is a common misconception, leading to myths that the foreskin impedes sexual function and cleanliness. It's only possible for people to believe this when they don't have contradictory evidence from the real thing!

Just to take some random examples, I happen to know someone who has a variety of anatomy books, so I decided to take pictures of their partly-dissected male naughty bits.
` I managed to find most of these books, and have posted photos from them, obviously for education about anatomy books rather than genitalia. (Plus, they enlarge readily when clicked upon!)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Skeptical Fallout from "Secular Heresy"

Who here disagrees with the following statements?:

Just because someone can kill you for disobedience does not mean that their authority over you is somehow "valid": Does the mugger have authority over you because he's got a gun and wants your wallet? What if he donates the money to a school? Does that make it okay to steal from you?
` Just because someone has been coerced into doing something, it doesn't mean that anyone has had the "right" to coerce them. It simply means that they were coerced. Is that simple to understand?

A relevant example of the logical fallacy called Argument from Force would be: "We're right because we will revoke your privileges if you disagree." Another one is, "Our god's laws apply to you because we force everyone to comply."
` A different logical fallacy, called Argument from Consequences, goes, "I know that Santa Claus has been here because there's presents under the tree." Or, in keeping with my theme here, "we have already punished people for breaking our rule; therefore this rule applies to you."
` Note: The morality of these actions is another issue, which is why punishment for violence or theft (mala in se) is a different matter than punishment for drug possession or parking violation (mala prohibita).

That was essentially my point in a previous article Anatomy of a Secular Heresy. In it, I argued that laws cannot apply, period, because governmental authority is not based on facts and evidence. Instead, it is based on violent coercion, the opinions of dead lawyers, and propaganda.
` Rather than voluntary reciprocity and win-win outcomes, the violence at its core creates an abusive relationship between the government and the governed.

When so-called government authorities are asked for evidence that laws apply to people living on the land, they don't even attempt to provide any. Instead, they either stay silent, issue threats, or spew logical fallacies, distortions, and platitudes on par with such famed shysters as Duane Gish, the young earth creationist for which the Gish Gallop is named.
` Marc Stevens, which I mentioned in my article, has won this kind of debate in front of courts, because no one could provide evidence that the law applies to him. The burden of proof is on the lawyers, judges, etc. to provide evidence that the laws apply -- and even they fail at this.

Rules are a good thing, in my book -- the problem is that people are initiating force in the name of the state, an assumption that's not valid. The state is an abstraction that does not correspond to anything that exists outside of people's imaginations and beliefs -- it is fictional. Even if it did exist, that would not in itself be evidence that laws apply.
` Acting as though it is real does not make it real any more than acting as though gods exist mean that they do exist, much less have authority over people's lives. And so, just saying that laws apply to people because they believe in it, or because they live within the imaginary borders of a fictitious state, is not evidence that the laws apply.

Atheists of course understand that one cannot break the laws of a deity (fictional entity) if that deity does not exist. They also understand that if nutball church leaders, Scientologists, ISIS, etc. turn on them for heresy, that does not in any way validate any presumed religious authority.
` Besides Antarctica, there is no land one can escape to in order to avoid people with guns imposing laws upon them. So, it isn't a matter of 'just move somewhere else' -- it can't be done, unless you can somehow support yourself in a frozen wasteland.

My point was that the world's governmental "authorities" have no evidence to back up their position of power. Because of this, they must use the initiation of force and beguiling legalese to confuse dissenters. Therefore, the relationship between the rulers and the ruled is based on abuse and parasitism, not evidence, much less respect or cooperation.
` I did not propose a solution to this problem, other than to mention that it is possible to use private companies for emergency services and to build roads, schools, etc., without coercing people to pay for them. After all, who builds the roads? People do.
` Saying that the state builds roads is like saying that God builds churches. The difference is where the money comes from: At the point of a gun, or a voluntary agreement?

For the purposes of my argument, however, it is not important whether it is possible to be governed voluntarily, based on agreement rather than coercion. My argument was that government authority is grounded in abuse rather than evidence, and it is invalid because it is unproven by those who assert its validity.
` Importantly, there is no possible way to vote for someone who can end this abuse, since by definition, the system is based on it. You can only vote for rulers who aren't as abusive as the ones before, rather than voting for leaders who will end this abuse altogether.

I suppose I should have made these points more explicit before inviting Skeptic-type people to try to poke holes in my reasoning via Facebook. I can at least say Luc Vande CasteeleVince Lynch and Robert von Schryvers 'liked' my article on Facebook, and others told me they agreed with it.
` I posted this article on Facebook in order to get feedback, but was not prepared for the sheer amount of logical fallacies which came with it. I found it to be quite instructive as far as what distortions to address before inviting people to critique the argument. Here are the comments in all their glory, plus additional commentary from me:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Anatomy of a Secular Heresy

This post started as an email to a prominent skeptic about the most shocking heresy in all of skepticdom. Though I never got a response, I am nevertheless eager to plaster it all over my blog.

Back in the days of Borders Books, I remember finding a book there on critical thinking and scanning the introduction. It concerned posing a simple question about the separation of church and state to an online forum of college students; should the words "under God" be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance?
` If you didn't already know, the original pledge was written in 1892, and these two words were added in 1954 in order to distinguish the U.S. from the godless commie countries (along with the slogan 'In God We Trust' on U.S. currency).
` Even so, many of the students responded with something along the lines of, "No, because we should honor what our founding fathers wanted." Thus it was revealed that these students had evidently never thought to ask who wrote the pledge or when.

Over the years, I've heard the "under God" discussion ad nauseum in Skeptic and atheist media, but it had never even occurred to me to ask why children were supposed to recite the pledge in the first place.
` To me, it was just "something that you do in school," something that seemed so inconsequential that it never occurred to me to think of how this practice got started. Of course, the first place I would look for information on this particular topic is... Wikipedia:
The original "Pledge of Allegiance" was published in the September 8 issue of the popular children's magazine The Youth's Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas. The event was conceived and promoted by James B. Upham, a marketer for the magazine, as a campaign to instill the idea of American nationalism in students and sell flags to public schools.[7] According to author Margarette S. Miller this was in line with Upham's vision which he "would often say to his wife: 'Mary, if I can instill into the minds of our American youth a love for their country and the principles on which it was founded, and create in them an ambition to carry on with the ideals which the early founders wrote into The Constitution, I shall not have lived in vain.'"[8]
This may seem innocuous at a glance, but first, imagine a flock of birds flying over the border between two countries. For a moment, you naively think to yourself, "I wonder if they know that they are flying into a different country," and then you realize that these birds are not in any countries.

There are no countries, only areas of land. I should note here that the belief that the state is real is an example of the Reification Fallacy. One of the most important things I've ever learned is that the map is not the territory -- we eat the food, not the menu.

And now that I can see that the state is just an abstraction, largely enforced by lying sociopaths with weapons, I can ask what is the virtue of making children essentially worship a complete fiction?
` Let's start with the fact that the government claims a monopoly on the initiation of force. In other words, they get to push people around and say who can do what, in the name of the state, and any interference with this can be legally met with violence. How has this been determined?

If there's one thing I've been learning about more over the past couple of years, it's the fact that we're all caught up in a giant fallacious belief system and are made to at least pretend to take it seriously -- or else we're heretics! Here's what I mean:

Atheists of course concede that the idea of God didn't exist until humans made it up. There are real buildings called churches, there are real people who play the role of church authority, there's a real book purported to be the law of God, but these consequences do not mean that God exists.

Similarly, the idea of states/countries didn't exist until humans made them up. There are real government buildings, real people who play the role of authority and law enforcement, there are real documents purported to be the law of the state, but these consequences do not mean that the state exists.
` Under the threat of lethal force, people pay this nonexistent entity, and are allowed to vote in the hopes that their tax money is spent in a particular way.

Most importantly, this system is based on violence, because it trains people to put you in prison for not paying taxes, and to shoot you if you try to resist. Over money. And the person who shot you doesn't get in trouble because they were 'upholding the law'.
` Of course, this also happens for people who have the wrong bit of plant material in their pockets. How can this punishment possibly be justified? I cannot help but think of how this is like the idea of God sending people to infinite burning in hell for something they did within a finite lifespan.
` When you go to court for such victimless crimes, there is of course no victim to oppose you, so instead you go up against The State. The same State that The Judge works for. If the judge works for the same fictional entity that you are going up against in court, then how can it be a fair trial?

I hope to have inspired at least a few people into considering these matters just now, before the entire can of worms is writhing on the floor:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A real-life death-defying tale... and some unrelated cool photos!

In my cathartic deluge last post, I left out the part about something else that happened on January 30, (the day Michael Shermer came to Town Hall). It concerns a woman around my age, who used to seem rather straight-laced, worked at a bank, and who briefly knew Dr. Hypno before a bizarre downward spiral took her to life on the streets.
` Because of his problem-solving and reframing brilliance, and his blunt honesty, she prefers to consult DH for advice when she is in a serious jam. Though she doesn't always take this advice, partly due to poor impulse control and planning ability, she did take to heart what to do if her psycho ex-boyfriend ever tried to come back and kill her:
` Puncture an artery/lung by stabbing him under the arm with a screwdriver.

Cloudy solar eclipse Oct 23, 2014 through a filter from a welding mask.
Not related, but ominous-looking nonetheless!

As I was thinking about what I'd do at Town Hall with some friends that evening, her homicidal ex found her campsite and attacked her with a ball peen hammer. She held her hands up in self-defense and slashed his face with a razor knife, while he swung the hammer at her arms, breaking both of them.
` He then cracked her skull with the hammer, causing her to lose her balance. He pulled off her pants and raped her, all the while choking her and beating her face in.
` Luckily, her screwdriver was just within reach of her broken arm, and by sheer force of will she was able to stab him under the arm. With the screwdriver jammed to the hilt in his chest cavity, he ran off, spluttering and gurgling. On the unlikelihood of his survival, the police told her, "Good."

Although she needed some intensive medical care, including a hole drilled into her skull, she is now recovering -- on the streets. (She did return to Dr. Hypno for some thanks, company, advice, and hospitality.) She continues to be ebullient, talkative, and optimistic as ever, and now knows the power of her own survival drive.

I had taken a photo of her last winter, on my previous phone, which was stolen. I remember becoming overwhelmed by her personality and high energy -- and that was after she had walked miles in the cold with her knee bandaged from a necrotic insect bite.
` I figured I'd try getting a photo on my new phone, and when she came by briefly on January 16, I got a candid shot of both of us, having a laugh -- alas it didn't come out so well.
` I include it anyway because it could well have been the last time I would have a chance to see her. Thank goodness she's a regular Indestructible Bastardess -- this is not even the first time she's had to fight for her life, nor the first time I thought she might be dead. And she's still finding more to laugh about.

Though she may not seem like someone to look up to, I do find her determination and strength to be inspirational. On top of that, any time that I think my life is bad, and that my ex is psycho... well, I have to ask myself, compared to what?
` Honestly, I have nothing to whine about. I'm fine. Stop worrying about me so much.

Now, before I go, I'd like to point out that there are some more photos up on Flickr, and I shall continue uploading more. Next up will be the photos that I was able to back up from my previous phone, which got stolen last July.
` But first... here are a few I've taken after The Amazing Meeting last year:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Grateful to still be alive and thinking -- and skepticalof 'gaslighting' abuse!

If it weren't for my interest in science and the skeptical movement, plus a need for recovering from so many traumas, I wouldn't have also gotten into psychology, cognitive reframing, denominalization, hypnosis, meditation, psychedelic research, or gaslighting, nor would I have discovered my role as a narcissistic source.
` Without my taste for critical thinking and unlocking the mind, I wouldn't have been able to overcome most of my trauma-related impairments, see my way out of a trap I didn't even know I was in, as well as discover more delusions of the world that aren't even talked about in the skeptical community.

Last week, I went to Michael Shermer's lecture at Town Hall concerning the subject of his latest book, The Moral Arc. It got me thinking about the information I was processing from the night before, a realization about my ex -- who I'll call "X" from now on.
` Basically, I had just realized that X's acting as though nothing was wrong was all part of his trying to make me doubt my grasp of reality, and that's why I can't stand him when he's being really nice.
` After telling me that I was crazy, "killing" him slowly, and that I had been hypnotized into being some sort of 'attack robot', and that I shouldn't talk to other people about it because they don't know what's "really going on", etc. he has continued pretending as though everything is fine.
` Wait -- what!?

It's not just that he won't acknowledge the extreme damage he's done to my sanity and health, but that he acts as though it never happened. I haven't been the same since the significance of this fact hit me so hard that I was physically recoiling as though I was being beaten.
` In those moments, when I told a friend about what was going through my head, my voice came from so close to my spleen that I could barely even spit out words over the grunts of involuntary rhythmic recoiling.
` My voice was so guttural that I imagine I sounded like one of the hypnotized victims in Bob Larson's exorcism games. "What kind of sick person does this to someone?" I kept growling. "Oh my GOD!! OH my GOD!!! WHAT!??!!"

As Shermer was going on about how reason has helped us to overcome senseless brutality, slavery, ignorance, fear, prejudice, superstition, etc., I thought about how it could be that people started out that way to begin with. I realized it was because everyone acted as though it was normal.
` That is the most insidious part, yet finally I can appreciate it. When no one bats an eye, it seems as though everything is being done the right way, and that you're crazy for saying otherwise. Of course, people today are not generally near the pinnacle of morality -- there is probably quite a ways to go. And how is it that this goes so unnoticed?
` Because we act as though nothing is wrong. To take an extreme example, how is it that parents can allow a tumor on their daughter's head to grow to the size of a soccer ball until she dies in agonizing pain? Because, to that family, it's just normal to believe this is all part of God's plan.
` It's not just abuse and neglect that is the problem, but the mentality that this is the way things should be. And to someone who has been severely damaged by this, acting as though they have not been harmed only hurts them on a deeper level -- or kills them in some cases.

This is why so many false beliefs are dangerous. Even if you don't believe the BS that supports some sort of abuse, but are are surrounded by people who do, and who act like it's normal, that alone is damaging to you:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Controversy and yet more adventures in Hypno-Land

Though I've written many more emails to people (besides poor Geo), they don't have much to do with mad science, warping minds, or pictures of my back side, and thus would be out of place on this blog. Facebook, on the other hand, has some material I could use, although being a social media spot, it comes in bits and pieces.
` That can only mean one thing -- I must put some time into editing posts for this blog. Not only that, but getting onto the internet so that I can do research and check facts. I did none of that for my last post, Adventures in Hypno-Land which was an email I wrote almost a year ago.
` Though I've learned a lot since then, I'm still going to need to learn more in order to continue writing about hypnosis, and pretty much anything else that interests me.

As for this post, this is actually late in coming because my first draft got deleted. So, I shall do what I can to put forth even less effort than my last attempt -- by using Facebook material that I saved on WordPad from the last time I connected my computer to the internet.

I have noticed that hypnosis is one of those little-understood topics on which people in the skeptical community have a wide range of opinions, and occasionally I wind up with pieces of this on Facebook.
` Some skeptics are stage hypnotists while others have told me that stage hypnotism is nothing but fakery. Some are hypnotherapists, and some, like the California Skeptics, kicked a hypnotherapist off their Facebook page for not "admitting" that he's a fraud.

As for me, I have an unusual angle on hypnosis in that I've experienced a lot of it, have been dramatically changed by some of it, although have studied a lot more practical methodology than the actual science involved.
` At the bare minimum, hypnosis involves establishing contact with someone, a first suggestion, penetrating through the critical faculties, and producing phenomena that the subject commonly feels are involuntarily.
` It could involve what is informally called "trance", or could be done during what looks like a normal conversation.

Case in point, my podcasting co-host "Dr. Hypno" was once at a bar where he met someone who thought that hypnotherapy was interesting. This guy wanted to quit smoking but didn't think that he could be hypnotized.
` After a hypnotic conversation that started with "I don't think I can hypnotize you, so lets just talk about it", the guy went out for a smoke and couldn't even get the cigarette to his face. He started laughing and said "no way, what the f!"
` He was so shocked that he was afraid to talk to Dr. Hypno ever again. Such is the curse of that level of effectiveness.

Indeed, Dr. Hypno is one of those people who can walk up to a complete stranger on the sidewalk and hypnotize them in seconds without using the word 'hypnosis' or 'trance'. Just as quickly, he can stick a person's hand to a table using conversational hypnosis.
` Unsettlingly, he has even installed an instant induction shortcut on me, and then hypnotized me to forget what this shortcut is. As far as I know, he didn't use it until six months later, and when he did, I could only see multi-colored stars when he activated it.
` It still worked last summer at a workshop by Rintu Basu, before Dr. Hypno handed me off to another hypnotist for further phenomena, some of which worked and some which did not.

You may think it's tremendously creepazoidal to know that some mysterious hypnotic 'induction switch' has been installed in your own psyche. I agree, and would add that my mind contains several other post-hypnotic suggestions, just waiting to be unleashed at the right time. All I can do is to warn others not to trigger them.

Even more creepazoidally, I used to know a hypnotist who would orgasm in response to anyone snapping their fingers. Why she chose such a non-specific cue for a bedroom-related suggestion, I'll never know, but I've seen what it does to her first hand, in public, and found it to be hilarious.

Let's just say, after this incident, she was sent a YouTube link to the Addams Family theme song in appreciation.

This same hypnotist has also been to a lot of hypnosis seminars that were recorded, and thus appears on many training DVDs. One of them is a stage hypnosis course, and when the teacher snaps his fingers and makes an off-color joke, you can hear a burst of laughter from her.
` Later, in a segment when she is sitting up on stage, he snaps his fingers several times and you can see the look of terror on her face as she squirms in her chair and tries to play it cool. I rolled with laughter at this, thinking about how nobody else there had a clue about what was happening.

I am no expert in hypnosis, but I am acquainted with hypnotists who test whether the books match the street. It's an evolving art form and every year they discard more obsolete models, such as the trance model, and the conscious/unconscious model.
` And, I would argue, that although psychology-oriented academics who are not specialized in hypnosis may know a lot about it, they are also not experts. So, imagine my surprise when I ran into two of these on Facebook, both of which are prominent in Skepticdom.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Adventures in Hypno-Land

I actually began this piece last winter, when my ex was still claiming that I had been hypnotized to physically attack him and then forget afterward. That, he said, would explain why I had no idea what he was talking about.
` I asked several people, including hypnotists, and even Jamy Ian Swiss, whether or not this made any sense. They helped me to trust my own judgment and see that he was just trying to make me think that I was crazy. (See: gaslighting.)

Just after finishing this piece in early May, I witnessed my very own podcasting co-host, "Dr. Hypno" actually hypnotize one of his clients on our way out of the grocery store. She told me that she had been smoking since age 11 and had stopped after one session with him.
` Since the tar was finally leaving her lungs, she had developed bronchitis. Although she was recovering, she said she had wanted a suggestion to help her breathe freely again. Once we were in the parking lot, he did a handshake induction and made the appropriate suggestions as her husband and I watched in awe.
` She was astonished and elated at how she could suddenly breathe better -- apparently, even your lung functioning has a great deal to do with suggestible involuntary responses, as with asthma.

I confess that pieces of this article started out as a blog post last winter, yet I had neither the brain functioning or internet access to make into a proper article with lots of info and references aside from my own notes, knowledge, and personal experiences.
` So, I decided it would be best to adapt into an email for the edification of, yes, Mr. George Hrab -- a process which I have mentioned in this post.

As it would take a great deal of work to adapt it into a blog post, I'm going to leave it fairly much as-is. So, now you get to see the 'missing link' between my occasional (and relatively short) "normal" fan emails to Geo and the others I've already posted on this blog:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Here's to a better year, and better neural and muscular hypertrophy!

If you've been reading my posts about the past few years of my life, you'll know that things have turned unbelievably bad after I thought I was in the clear. Though it's been rough without such things as internet access and a central place to put all my belongings, I'm sure I can make things better in 2015.
` I haven't written about hypnosis as I said I would because I've decided to devote my computer time to edit and upload all my photos from my camera since The Amazing Meeting 2014 in July -- just to get it off my mind and onto the internet for all to see!

And speaking of photos, I would like to mention that I've been highly annoyed by the preview frame on the YouTube video of Brian Dunning's talk at TAM 2012, called Your Brain Sucks -- it's me turned around! Here's a photo that my friend Greg Dorais took of this moment:
` Not only was my hair unflatteringly damaged and frizzy, but my ass was completely flat, thanks to an untreated injury from sixteen years previously. I didn't know it at the time, but my glutes were the size of a lemon and a lime, thus impeding my ability to walk properly and sit up straight.
` Thanks to Dr. Hypno, who was a personal trainer for 15 years, I've been doing physical rehab for about two years now. At TAM 2014, I wanted to get an 'after' photo, wearing the same clothes, but forgot to in all the brain-draining excitement.
` So, I took one shortly after returning from TAM, upon moving some of my belongings into a temporary home. Not only were my glutes almost normal-sized (they're even bigger now!), but my hair was laying flat against my head like it's supposed to!

As for Brian Dunning, he may not look so great since he's been in prison. Although he's done a heck of a lot of good to help people be aware of scams and tricks of the mind, he was recently found guilty of wire fraud from before his Skeptoid days.
` While this development doesn't exactly impress me, I'll bet the True BelieversTM have been having a field day. I could Google that, since I'm connected to the internet, but would rather write about how I uploaded my photos:

In order to get them up on Flickr, I had to put them into proper sequential order by checking my camera, and then edit the ones I hadn't gotten to yet -- mostly shrinking the size 50% so they aren't blurry. (Taking smaller photos results in smaller blurry pictures, so that idea is out.)
` Why hadn't I done this before? Besides the insanity of my life, this has been difficult because my photo editing computer stopped working and I couldn't figure out how to quickly edit photos without Microsoft Photo Editor.

That's a really big deal because if the new way to edit takes 6x the amount of time as the old way, then one hour of photo editing becomes an unacceptable six hours. I managed to speed up my method with Microsoft Paint, although cropping photos was more time-consuming, so I mostly didn't bother.
` As for adjusting the color, I either skipped it or used GIMP, so there are some photos on Flickr that are too dark. Nevertheless, I managed to complete the task within three days. Happily, although I discovered that my payment to Flickr Pro didn't go through, I now have a terabyte of space with just a free Flickr account anyway. Hooray! It even takes videos longer than 90 seconds!

Getting through the editing process should also be easier now that I've stopped taking one photo for every day that it's sunny outside. Originally, this was to show people that it doesn't rain "all the time" as is stereotypical around Seattle -- on the contrary, we have a 'dry season' every summer, and all the grass dies at least by August.
` Since proving that it's sunny a lot around here is not my job, I stopped that practice in September, and have barely taken any photos since then -- at least with my camera. As for my iPhone, I cannot download my photos and videos onto my laptop, so I'm still puzzling over what to do with them besides upload them all to Facebook -- that is the next step!
` Whatever the solution, I'd better not dawdle -- I lost my chance with my last iPhone when it was stolen by a crackhead! Who I have a photo of. On my new iPhone. Sigh.

While I don't have my iPhone photos from TAM up on Flickr, at least my camera ones are -- check it out! I even got a video in the Monkey Room with Penn and Teller!

Now that I can finally stop stressing about my camera photos, it's easier to focus on writing and podcasting, which I'll probably be doing more of now that I can escape the ridiculous abuse I've been going through.
` Can you imagine? The Spoony Show? For real? Me!?! A podcast host? Believe it!!

For now, I'm still letting Dr. Hypno borrow my car, as his own vehicle is still not starting for whatever mysterious reason: He recently paid a mechanic $200 to fix it, but the guy had an aneurysm before he could start, and his chances of fully recovering are not good.

I can't make this stuff up, it just keeps coming.

Whatever this flip of the calendar throws at me, I shall work hard to write and podcast amazingly, and yes, continue to gain muscle mass and reprogram the firing of my motor neurons until I can walk at least 99% correctly.
` What's more, I'm even planning to go back to college to study neuroscience, because BRAAAINS! It should be much easier to do homework without crazy roommates to antagonize me daily, steal food from me, and keep me awake all night.
` Now that the life of a narcissistic abuser no longer depends on me, I can finally think about what I want in life, and I've decided that I want to do my own neuroscience research on perception, consciousness, and voluntary versus involuntary impulses. I've decided it really is that fascinating.

Wish me luck!