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Published by Pondered Publishers 2018


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Littered Thoughts
By: tm oleary

Newer System

Newer System

We would start by rebuilding what is broken. We would start by setting up a completely new
Capitol in a city not called Washington D.C. Somewhere in the Midwest; far from vulnerable
coastlines. I would propose St Louis, Missouri. If there is a more symbolic place to start, as
Lindbergh did with his aerial trip across the world, or Luis & Clark did with their exploration of
the West — I would like to hear it. Location aside, let’s look at the blueprint.
So who is good at organizing? When the Capitalist system of inequality, tax preferences,
cronyism, and Rand-ideology fails, like it absolutely will, because it has failure built right into
it’s DNA; who will take the reigns? Who elects who? Would there be a party system at all?
Would there even be elections???

These are very serious questions we have to start asking ourselves right Now! Rolling back the
clock, or electing someone with a “Liberal” or “Independent” or “Socialist” title with their name
is nothing more than a band-aid on a powerhouse, back-door, elitist juggernaut that we have
come to know as The American Empire. A simple affiliation with existing parties, no matter the
sincere intent behind it/them, is nowhere near enough. Nowhere near sufficient. Nowhere near
practical.
So what is the “un-norm”? What replaces a Democracy? Well, DEMOCRACY! But a Direct-
Democracy. Read any textbook in any university and it will inform you, the reader, that the
Electoral College was created in an attempt to prevent “mob rule”. It essentially makes it so, no
matter what The People, everyone, wants in their country and communities, can be “overruled”
by the lawmakers at the top of the political food chain. Never before has a Direct-Democracy
occurred in an advanced civilization and I would add that never before has one ever been so
desperately needed.

Proposing that every letter written in a bill, written by community activists, that would go to a
political body that is nothing more than a “congress” (group of people) who would pass said bill,
with the only role of those congresspeople being the assurance that the bill introduced by those
community activists was, in fact, the majority opinion of the participants in that community, is an
idea so far-fetched that it could not possibly be accomplished. But that is precisely what would
have to happen to create a community-driven system of equality, diversity, prosperity and overall
peace.

The will, resources, & “spark” that would initiate such a movement/revolution is something to be
discussed/theorized in another arena. I am not addressing possible specifics here. Who, where,
why and how this process comes into being, materializes, motivates change, is not the issue we
need focus on. The fact that it can happen, will happen, and must happen is what’s relevant.
The debt, the joblessness, the hunger, the homelessness, the destitution would be squashed by the
action of the participants in the movement who wish (and most do) to end such suffrage. An
emphasis would be put on participation, mutual discussion, and collaboration. No one would
hold a title. No one would have the authority to overrule the other and the participants in each
community would bring about a negotiated agreement on who their representative would be to
propose their mutually agreed upon bill to law-makers (who, again, have no other purpose than
to confirm that the bill being proposed by a specific community is, in fact, the will of said
community), and once confirmation is established by the law-maker, and it (the bill) is found to
be within the boundaries of moral law, it will become law.

The law-makers themselves are not elected. They will hold no title. They would have no party. It
wouldn’t even be a paid job! Their role (a place in society) would be to voluntarily meet and
discuss initiatives put forward by communities for the integrity-based intent to better the
community which they (the law-makers) are a part of and must live in.

Newer Money

Currency is not money. Currency is not valuable. Currency is not sustainable. And currency has
zero logic behind it. In the 21st Century global economy, our “money” that we use (no matter the
country or denomination) is not money at all, but “fiat currency”. Fiat means, roughly, backed by
nothing. The #1 thing that got me interested in economics in 2012 was when I read that the U.S.
dollar was not backed by gold. I thought it was it was a mistake on behalf of the author. But it is
very true. The U.S. dollar, in fact, is backed by nothing. There is no rhyme or reason for it to be
used in exchange for tangible goods.

Money, always has been and always will be, precious metals. Let me give an example of what
gives precious metals like gold, silver, or platinum value:

Say 100 individuals mine for, sift for, or set out in exploration of gold. Per individual, only 1 in
100 will be lucky. That is because gold is rare and hard to find. But the rarity in-and-of itself is
not what makes gold valuable. What makes it valuable is because of the 100 individuals, you
have the cost of their equipment, transportation, food, time and labor they invested in/sacrificed,
in an attempt to discover said gold. Gold is simply a unit of measurement for these
investments/sacrifices that, in this case, 100 individuals put forward. That simple.
Currency, on the other hand, is “backed by trust”. For example; you cannot pay your government
taxes in precious metals. You usually cannot buy goods from a retailer in precious metals. And
you cannot pay for services of any kind in precious metals. The only way you can pay for these
things is (in America’s case) a U.S. dollar. So what is a U.S. dollar? It is a bank note. What is a
bank note? An IOU (with nothing back it) distributed by the U.S. Treasury. So the IOU’s (bank
notes) are currency created by the government, to be paid back TO the government to keep the
economy running/government in “business”. Right? WRONG! The U.S. Treasury, itself, owes
this money to the Federal Reserve. What does the Federal Reserve get? Government bonds.
What will a government bond do? Ensure to the Fed that it, The Fed, will be paid back the
money it created, plus interest. Where does the extra 5%, 2%, 1% or even 0.0001% interest come
from? If The Fed created the money in the first place, how can it be paid back any interest within
the system with which it is creating the money? Simple, ensure that the U.S Treasury KEEPS
borrowing currency to pay the interest on the old loan. Time and time again. This is a textbook
definition of a Ponzi Scheme. Nothing can be paid back with currency. In fact, logically, with
currency there is not an actual “thing” to be paid back. Currency, is, in fact, DEBT!

So how do we get back to real money? That is, precious metals? Wouldn’t this be a burden on
United States (or any country’s) citizens? I mean there is a massive eCommerce system in place
where people can, and do, pay for goods and services online with digital forms of electronic
currency. So how would one pay for such a good or service with a physical gold bar, coin, etc?
Easy, create a community-owned and operated “bank” to hold a precious metal/metals and in
exchange for these metals, you are given, not a bank note, not an IOU, or receipt to go retrieve
your precious metals at your disposal, but rather an encrypted, debit-like card which holds, in
digital form, the exact amount of gold you deposited at that “bank”. At any time you can go to
that bank with your card and retrieve your gold, but there would be no reason to do so because
the encrypted card would pay for, and be accepted, at literally every point of purchase where
money would be exchanged for goods/services/tax payments. The community-owned and
operated “bank” would take a very small percent of the gold deposited, with the depositors
consent, of course, in order to make a profit on this service. A portion of these profits would then
be re-invested into the community which the “bank” resides. So, if say, a mom and pop online
retailer resided in Springfield, Missouri, they would collect the digital payments in the form of
gold-backed electronic money and then deposit it (per day, per week, bi-weekly, what have you)
at. their. local. community-owned. and. operated. “bank”. Which then invests into THAT
community after a reasonable profit has been made at said “bank”. Cut, dry, profitable,
prosperous, the circle of life.

Newer Desires

What happens after a movement occurs? What do we want after we have “fixed the wrongs”,
improved the flawed, strengthened the capable? What do we wish to pursue next? Where do
these new systems take us? How do we further improve our quality of life? What do we desire?
The preceding sections of 1) Newer System, and 2) Newer Money are to lay a groundwork, a
base, a foundation of what things could look like. Not building on top of, not streamlined success
processes, not abundant fantasy fulfillment. The things that can be, and will be done to further
human life on Earth will occur organically. And likewise, we must put back what got us to where
we will have arrived. We must promote a culture of sustainability. A culture of renewal. An
organic, cause/effect, debit/credit, circular system of conscious regeneration and live within the
means of our lives, our resources and our opportunities.

These are the basics. And like our arrival of prosperity, we will go after our wants/dreams/desires
organically. No one knows what the other person wants, for sure. What someone wants one day
could change dramatically the day after. It always has been and always will be, up to the
individual. To give concrete advice on what a “perfect world” or “Shangri-La” type of society
would or should look like would be foolish. There are philosophy books for such theorizing and
you, me, anyone really, can and should study such literature and profess to others what
can/should be done to move to the next step of a yet better society than the ones written about
here.

We live in a fascinating world. We know so much about our surroundings, our universe, our way
of life and ourselves. A core level of grounded functionality and life-enhancing reliability is what
we must achieve to move in a prosperous direction for the next 100 years, the next 1,000 years,
forever. It’s only yourself and the people around you. Nothing is between you and change other
than air and opportunity. Seize the opportunity!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Think About This...

We are being spied on. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a
dubious user of the internet: you are being spied on. You, the person reading this, are being spied
on, right now. When we are on our laptops, when we are on our tablets, when we are near our
Alexa home devices, when we are in front of our TV’s, when we are on our phones….when we
are away from our phones.

We have become the target. Every citizen in the developed world has become a “person of
interest”. Regardless of history or criminal record, people of power have taken an interest in
YOU.
Why is this? How does this make you feel? Violated? Outraged? Scared? Indifferent?
To answer the first question: you, me, We are being spied on because we are the threat. We are
the threat to a global power, of old families, of money-interests, of shady lawmakers, & of
people who chose to rather not be in the public eye. We are the 99%, those who wish to live
peaceful, private, joyful lives. We don’t create war. We don’t indebt nations. We don’t ignore
morality or consequence. The corrupt figures at the top want to know everything about us,
because if We ever had too big of an influence on the happenings in this country, Our world, that
would quite destabilize not the system ITSELF, you see, but simply the people who are in power,
have been in power, & want to stay there as long as humanly possible.

Your reaction says a lot about you. It says a lot about humanity. It says a lot about the future. It
says a lot about who We are.
Do We have a choice? Is there another way?
Aside from near Luddite-ism (that is, rejecting technology), there is hardly another way to
approach it right now. Many measures can be taken to remain private & secure on the Internet,
but when We let our guard down, they will be there. Waiting for the curtains to be opened once
again.

I am not saying all of this to scare you but to merely make a point: THEY are there. THIS is true.
Willful ignorance to the contrary is nothing than that; ignorance!
Be careful. Be safe. Protect yourself. And if you get the chance to, or can do so comfortably, take
a break from the Internet. Experience real freedom for once in a long while. And have the peace
of mind that no one, right now, is watching
………………………………………………………………………………………………………

365 Days Of Being A Vegetarian

This is not an article as in “It is January 1st & for the next year, I am going vegetarian! I can do
it! Work! Sweat!”. No. On August 6, 2014 I decided I was going to do again what I had done on
May 12, 2012, go vegetarian for a month. Nothing was healthy about that month. I ate like crap
just not meat-based crap. I decided this time around I was going to eat right. So I bought lots of
fruit & veggies & had smoothies everyday & ate salad & rice/hummus/bean/salsa wraps. I drank
green tea & not soda, got in at least half a mile of walking a day. And to my surprise, I stepped
on the scale after the month was up & I had gone from 212 pounds to 202! I had no intentions of
staying on this diet though I knew it was a good idea. I was getting ready to move to the city
when the month was up (September 6) so I said “fuck it” & stayed on the diet. When I got to the
city, I dug in DEEP into the vegan YouTube videos & raw foods videos & decided that eggs &
dairy probably are not the best things to be putting into my body, on a regular basis anyway, &
went about 90% vegan. I walked every day & then 10 more pounds came off, then 20, then 30 &
now I have lost over 50 pounds & weighing in at 158! There are some terrible body shamers out
there who always love to make you feel like garbage for simply loving yourself but I feel
immensly sad for these people. I look in the mirror & fall in love every time. I do hundreds of
crunches a night & post pics of my progress on Tumblr. It is a terrific time! As the year
progressed I started looking even further into raw foods & realizing that it is probably (actualy it
is) the only thing humans need to put into their bodies. I have the status quo “fruit shelf” in my
apartment (which is a wire rack that is billowing with fruit that for some reason raw foodists
think is a staple in their home) & right now it is filled with bananas & oranges & a mini fridge in
my micro/minimalist home filled with green tea. Some say it is “tough” to be a vegetarian. It is
hard to wrap their head around it. I agree. It took me several years of “mostly” vegetarianism &
thinking, training, education & discipline to actually get to where I wanted to be. Wether you do
it in a year or overnight, it truly is a rewarding lifestyle that fits everyone if you decide to own it.
Your health benefits, you are not killing animals, you lose weight but most of all, what I have
noticed in this year, is the karma you get from this lifestyle. The knowledge & acceptance you
have for yourself & other things improves greatly when you don’t have this subconscious,
nagging, voice in your head saying “God, did I really have to eat that?” & though “meat is
murder” may be a thing you think you would hear from a bloodthrowing extremist at a fur rally,
you really do have a natural, healthy intuition to not eat animals. When you get rid of the karma
& self defeating thoughts of having consumed meat, you become much happier & that alone is
reason enough to no longer eat it. As vegetarianism progressed, I ate more vegan. Now that I am
mostly vegan with very, VERY little dairy & eggs (sometimes it is in the weekly sweet & I
partake, I admit). As the veganism is progressing, I am eating more raw. How did I get here?
When I was four years old, I went into the kitchen & my mother had come home from the
grocery store & this time she had NEW food to put in the fridge. She loaded up fruits & veggies
& I asked, one at a time, “what is that? what is that?” She told me what they were & then when
turning back to the counter she said “some people eat ONLY fruits & vegetables. They are
vegetarian. They are very healthy.” Woah I thought. I looked down at the bottom shelf of the
fridge that had birthday cake from a couple days before & then at my hand that held a Reese’s
cup & thought, could I eat only fruits & vegetables? It was a highminded goal for a four year old
& at the time I didn’t think of it as “vegetarian”. To me, a vegetarian would eat ONLY fruits &
vegetables & NEVER eat anything cooked or animal based. The Raw food diet is what came into
my mind. I made a decision there, not today (at 4) but when I get older, one day I would be
“vegetarian”. Here I am at 31 & I am glad I got into this lifestyle at a young age. I will continue
to educate myself with raw foods, healthy living & meaningful experience. And will I continue
with vegetarianism after 365 (really 400) days of it? You’re damn right!

...............................................................................................................…………………………….

The Act Of Not Having Anything

I don’t have much. Never really did. I recall sitting on the green carpet of my childhood home &
listening to my sister as she professed to my father that she was going to marry someone “rich &
famous” & have a household full of things & a big screen TV & a big house with two cars, on &
on & on. When my dad looked at me & asked “what are you gonna have when you grow up?”,
smirking from Carrie’s excessive checklist, I said; “I am going to be a minimalist!” This caused a
big uproar of laughter in the room because rarely does a 5-year-old use such a big word!
But I meant it, & that memory stuck with me.

After getting into backpacking in 2010, I started to look at minimalist pack loads to try to lighten
my gear & that is when I started to find forum after forum of people who practiced minimalism
as a way of life, not just a backpacking strategy. I wanted to try the lifestyle out, but not dare say
the word aloud for fear of people thinking I was too “different” or “extreme”. Then my friend
Tom came over after a multi-mile walk up to my apartment from the place he was staying down
the road & when I started to talk to him about the things I had been reading he said, “Oh, I’ve
BEEN a minimalist!” This both shocked & comforted me because I had not heard anyone claim
minimalist status before.

Now, it is 2016 & I have decluttered essentially everything I own except what fits into a 26L
backpack & have already gone on one “digital nomad” journey before, & may set out on another
one. I am getting more efficient, more educated, more open-minded & self-assured of this
lifestyle & I would hope that others partake, if they like, & see what can be learned (or, at times,
unlearned) from decluttering their life.

....................................................................................................................…………………………

Rejecting Notifications: Hopping Off The Societal Distraction Bandwagon


New things are happening. The world as we know it, those in the developed world and first
world countries, is changing from a technological standpoint. Things seem to be getting better.
Transport information gets better with location data, Google Now On Tap and Siri advancements
know more about you, (which looks bad from a Luddite standpoint but quite nice for those who
do not suffer from paranoia), chipsets are getting cheaper, and more and more information is
populating the internet to fulfill any question one would have about a particular subject, right
there, when they need it.

Things occurring in Silicon Valley, who are on the bleeding edge of technology, are leaning
towards a new type of device. A new UI. A new stepping stone for what will become the societal
norm. Wearables. For those who do not know: wearables are any type of technology (usually
connecting to the internet) that you would wear on your body. It could be Google Glass, a fitness
tracker or any number of smart watches. These things will be a big deal. Google, Apple, Pebble
and a few other small companies all have smart watches. The primary use for these watches is to
send you notifications. With data plans that have better and better coverage for an affordable
price, and more people being internet native, it seems like a logical invention for the constant
user of social websites. As of now, they don’t even have to pull out their phone to see who is
mentioning, liking, hearting, acknowledging them. Some of these watches can’t even tell you the
time without being within range of your smart phone or on Wi-Fi.

Roughly a decade ago, I remember when BlackBerry’s were first becoming a thing. For many
people, at first office professionals and then internet enthusiasts, having a CrackBerry in your
hand at any given moment seemed like a good way to kill time. To be stimulated. The discussion
amongst many of those around me were “look at you!” “what is so important that you can’t wait
to check when you get to a computer?” “hello? We’re eating“. The idea that someone had to be
on the internet other than a compartmentalized part of the day seemed ludacris. There was the
digital world, and the meat space world, the difference was obvious and that was the way it was.
Now: it is completely normal to see someone on their phone constantly. Some people out in
public never look up from their phone. People have noticed this. Some people see no problem
with it, some people think it is the worst thing ever. Mashable and Wired and Mother Nature
Network will all offer articles on “digital detox” or “unplugging” or an “internet hiatus”. Some
people have developed neurological problems, behavior disorders and for some, a full blown
internet addiction that, when compared to the habits of a cocaine addict or food addict, mimic the
same characteristics.

This is a problem. And it is not going away. This isn’t a vague prediction what could happen in
the future. It is something occurring all around us. So how do we respond? As a civilization, as a
society, as a species. Essentially, what is happening, and we are at the very beginning of it, is we
have sort of decided that since we have no immediate solution to the problem, the only step to be
taken is to do more of it. Or just try harder to accept things as “the way it is”. That means, in
twenty years, when I am 50 and my nieces are my age, there we’ll be. Still…doing it. Ripping us
out of the moment, taking our precious and finite time and reacting to something that couldn’t be
anything but superficial.

It is mid 2015. The Apple Watch sales have gone through the roof, Android Wear is coming on
more and more devices, and Pebble just released the Pebble Time. Like the days of the
BlackBerry, people will look down, at their wrist (which always has been and always will be the
the flagship body movement to indicate rudeness or dissociation) and people will be offended.
More so than when people stared eagle-eyed into their three inch screen and furiously typed
away with their thumbs. Back then, it was a joke, an inconvenience. Now, it is an epidemic. And
the smart watch revolution that is obviously occurring will exacerbate the problem and make
things that are irrelevant, and always have been irrelevant (Instagram Likes, a new follower, a
Tumblr comment) something we take time to react to. That we take time away from something
else to respond to. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I was perusing the internet the other day when a Verge video caught my eye. It was “How to be
Happier and Use Your Phone Less”. It gave tips on how to migrate off your device. How to make
it a habit to put it down for an extended period of time every hour. Use airplane mode more often
and, at times, leave your phone at home. This sounds like a good idea, but…wait, we are being
bombarded with news of the Apple Watch and all the terrific notifications it can send us. There is
a dichotomy, a clear fork in the road that we, as consumers, as people, as earthlings must choose
to acknowledge and respond to. That decision can be made for us. In the form of ads, trends,
fashion, peer pressure or, a new term being thrown around, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). This
would be good for some. For those that like to be “in” and for another party, the corporations.
They are on the other end of the consumer dynamic, they make the consumables. Like many
things that have happened in the past, it is a question of consciousness. Will you be conscious,
will you be aware, will you enforce your will on whether or not you keep yourself in the meat
space or tether your eyes to a one inch device telling you the internet is happening?

This is up to you. When I saw that video, I did something I wanted to do for a long time. I turned
off every push notification on my phone and on my iPad. They are there. When I decide I want to
look at the app and see what is on it, surely, the notifications will be there for me to check. And
they are the same notifications that would have been there had I reacted to it when I was making
dinner, or talking to my sister, or writing my book. If you decide to do this, and you begin to
twitch, or sweat, or panic, or become distraught, this is surely the early onset of internet
addiction that has been documented in countless scholarly journals across America. It is time to
relax. It is time to stop responding. These actions are your own and should you decide to stop the
neurological notification race, things are still ok. Nothing bad actually happens.

Years ago, when books like 1984 were being written and brilliant science fiction was being
published in magazines, some optimistic, some dystopian, no one predicted push notifications. A
future where we took magnet trains to another continent in an hour wearing body temperature
regulating suits, or a world of cyberpunk-esque decay and impoverishment where the only
positive attribute of life was our possession of technology. Neither scenario took into account or
predicted a life where humans got yanked from reality to take notice or react to an interaction
happening on a social network that for all intents and purposes derives no improvement on their
life. It wasn’t predicted, it happened. And now we have to deal with it.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Minimalism And Economic Disparity

Minimalism has been around for as long as humans have existed. Starting in 2009(-ish) people
began to realize, after the economic crash, that effected the entire world but particularly the
United States, people needed to make a wholesale change in the way they led their lives,
approached their spending, habits, and future goals. They needed to adopt a form of frugality or
“refresh” of their financial situation as many lost their jobs, or at least their position at such job,
flow of income, and since this crash pertained to the housing market, even a place to live.
“Minimalism” (be it simply a design aesthetic, clear-headedness, or spiritual beliefs) took the
backseat to what amounted, in American culture, as a method of survival among the classes who
were now unemployed, underemployed, or for the younger generations, had never been
employed at all. If I were to tell you that I became a minimalist through an “enlightenment” or
simply an “interest” in the subject, I would be lying. Though the backseat approaches did appeal
to me, I became a minimalist for the sake of frugality, practicality & survival.

The United States, prior to 2009, what sort of an Oo-ra, spend as much as you like, waste as
much as you like, excess is best, keep up with the jones', capitalism is king, type of attitude when
it came to personal finances. Very few in America still celebrate/live this lifestyle today. It is, for
the most part, extinct. Now we have people who borrow WAY too much money via student loans
at the University for educations which they will then be underemployed with (that is, over-
qualified for the work they are doing as well as being below the income expectancy of that same
degree of education when compared to years passed), people who do “pound the pavement”
looking for brick-and-mortar work in their communities – only to be turned away due to the lack
of availability of the job they are applying for, and people who do venture into the
entrepreneurial realm of small business – only to find themselves with a larger debt burden and
being worse off economically than before they started such venture. Granted, these are
pessemistic ways of looking at the current situation in the United States, but I am not saying
anything that isn't true and looking at this dilemma is certainly worth anyone and everyone's time
and what we can do about it.

Enter: minimalism. A well-rounded, and psychologically healthy approach to dealing with


financial shortcomings can be approached from the angle of “less is more”, “less but better”, etc.
language, but wouldn't it be better to form your own phrasing, mindset, or even inner-dialogue to
a new (or old) economic position? I would propose that this is a very positive way to look at a
frugal lifestyle!

Of course, it isn't “cut back and chill”, so to speak. We should be using all of our efforts and
resources to maximize financial, cultural, and economic well-being in this country, and feel
better about yourself and your environment while you are at it! Many will tell you that a healthy
mindset + a motivated approach to dealing with life's challenges can benefit not just yourself but
everyone around you. We are told these days that prosperity usually comes in the form of what
college degree you have, what resources you have access to, what city you live in, or even what
family you were born into. This is nonsense. Yes, some people have it easier than others. It has
always been that way, and it will always be that way. But a positive and forward-thinking
mindset about a temporary financial disposition as well as an “all-in” approach to the minimalist
lifestyle may just be the ticket INTO the life of fulfillment, joy, and prosperity we all desire.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Three Levels Of Intelligence

I see three levels of intellectual hierarchy in the United States today in regards to education.
Particularly higher education. They are:

Level 1 (lowest level) - people who do not consider going to college and never tried to go to
college or don't have faith that they will do well in college, so they do not attempt it.

Level 2- people who feel they CAN go to college and they hear all the hype and hearsay about
how "you'll move up statistically in the economic ladder, have a safe job, get paid more" etc., and
take the bait and attend.

Level 3- people who are aware of the hype and the hearsay, believe they can do well in college,
have a high amount of original thought & discipline, and still decide to *not* go to college
because they see the debt undergraduates (& for that matter, graduates) are incurring and decide
that they can be (& are) as smart as, & in most cases smarter THAN, the majority of the people
who attend college.

These are, in my opinion, the three intellectual hierarchical levels of intelligence in American
society in regards to higher education. There are hardly any exceptions in this system as I have
seen these three levels and classes of people come and go constantly in my day-to-day life.
----------------------------------------------
Where does this leave us? What can change, and must that change occur?
The answer to the above questions really depends on what amount of people fall into each
category (level). For instance: if everyone fell into Level 1, we would have a nation of non-
thinkers, non-dreamers, non-starters. If everyone fell into Level 2, we would have a completely
indebted and subservient nation of obedient borrowers who could never be a part of nor create
economic prosperity because they would be in the poor house and never improving because their
student loan payments would always take up the majority of their disposable income. If everyone
fell into Level 3, colleges would have to change curriculum and therefore abandon the old
model, and be an authentic arena for original thought and debate.

At the moment, we have, say, a three-way-split. As long as there are people who choose not to
challenge themselves intellectually; Level 1 will exist. As long as the American neurosis and
propaganda of higher education to allegedly be "a great equalizer" exists, Level 2 will exist. As
long as humans are humans and have natural intellectual reasoning and original ideas and
challenge the status quo, Level 3 will exist.

The answer to the latter question is: Yes. Change *must* occur in society and the only way that
change *can* occur is to A) lift up those who have low faith in their intellectual capabilities and
ensure them that *anyone* can do *anything* if they put their mind to it. And B) inform and
persuade others who are about to jump off a debt cliff into the higher education world that they
can do *MUCH* greater things in life if they use their intellectual capabilities to the benefit of
themselves, mankind, and foster within themselves a discipline for self-education.
Who brings about this change?

Those who belong to the Level 3 camp, of course. People who love independent thought, are
highly intellectual, have confidence, are good at lifting up the spirits of others, and those who
can sway the thoughts of those around them. It is their duty to do these things for the immediate
and the greater social good.

...................................................................................................................………………………….

Traditional Education Isn’t Worth It

But that doesn't mean to just drop out! Teenagers are all too quick to just sit at home and eat Hot
Pockets and play video games if they get a free pass to not do anything. Instead, parents (or, at
least if I were a parent) should/would show their kids that learning is the most necessary thing in
the world. Creativity, integrity, self-discipline, and curiosity are the things that will project them
to a better future but only after they know these four FUNDAMENTAL things that you
could/should let them choose what they want to do w/ their lives (after the age of 16 when they
can legally drop-out, should they choose to).

Don't get me wrong, in America the economic system is broken from the top down, in fact; it is
purposely designed to be this way. Because the people at the top need wage-earners. Slaves,
essentially. They need to keep the “base” of the economy running and if you can do the job w/o
an education, GREAT! But the employer already has a team (or teams) of ppl w/ college degrees,
so....why take a chance on someone w/ just a HSD? That's where the person quits on the
economic system and goes back to college to get a debt certificate so they can lay concrete or flip
burgers. They just want a job! Not a guaranteed, “welcome to adulthood” debt burden in the
form of a BA or BS just so their employer knows they have a worker who will do his/her job
without “stepping out of line” bc their student loans cannot be discharged.

Show me a system less corrupted and I will describe a different scenario w/ less cynicism.

As for those who are looking for something beyond just paid-work, and realize that knowledge is
power and have enough marbles knocking around upstairs to think big thoughts and take big
chances, then that is where the four fundamentals come in. Keep them by your side and
EXERCISE them when you are undoubtedly compelled to learn more about the world, and you
will go far. Regardless of what degree you have at your side.

One more thing I want to include in this blog post: when someone says “I went to college
because I had to” or if you ask them what their plans are after high school and they say “I am
definitely going to college to get a good job”, just walk away. Determination to go to college bc
they “had” to (though determination in and of itself is admirable) is not a rational explanation of
taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt just to say they did it. And if they say
they are going to college to “get a good job”, then they aren't really in it for learning, are they?
They might not even know how to learn. The might just be sitting in the back of some massive
lecture hall everyday over the course of four years, barely passing their classes and somehow
getting a Uni degree. These are not the toxic people you want in your life. They are what keeps
the broken system broke and they will never amount to anything noteworthy. Just a heads up

…………………………………..........................................………………………………………..

The Politics Of Division Is Eating Us Alive

Voting. Should you do it? Most people would say "yes". It is the way the United States system of
governance works. We, The People, would choose a congressperson who holds "our same
values" and check the little box next to their name on the voting ballot. But that doesn't ensure
that *everything*, or even most things, or even *anything* that that congressperson said he or
she was going to do will actually get done when they are acting as your representative. In fact, 9
times out of ten, the congressperson will do things that *hurt* your quality of life. When people
get elected into a corrupt system, things change for them. Because they are making the same
claims that the citizens they "represent" are making, and that argument is: "that's just the way it
is". Why should they be expected to act any differently when the People who elect them respond
in the same way *WHEN* they get screwed over by that same congressperson? Another
approach would be to vote in a manner that reflects that they want someone representing they,
The People, in a manner which is perhaps not very "status quo" of the way things are done in
Washington D.C. or their state capitol. This approach has been tried many times before and it
usually results in a "weak" congressperson taking office and getting "overwhelmed" and really,
"overrun" by the current runaway capitalist system we have operating in the United States today.

Or, you can *not* vote. You can adopt your own set of values and your own way of living
because the minute the voter-turnout dwindles to a certain degree, the representatives realize that
they have much, Much, MUCH less power over the citizenry than they expected. It is power that
these elected officials are after. Money plays a role in it, too. But power is the real goal of those
who run for office.

Doesn't that mean someone of lesser moral standards would take office? Well, no. Because that
individual would not have votes, either. Instead of voting between two awful, corrupt,
establishment candidates (or a weak, non-establishment candidate), exercise your *right* to not
vote at all. The People of the United States deserve better than the system we are currently (and
foolishly) supporting in Washington D.C. We are, in fact, better *ourselves* than the folks who
participate in such a flawed system. It isn't up to The People to place blame on what went wrong.
The past is the past. And it isn't up to The People to hold those accountable for gross acts of
misconduct in our current government. The new(er) system would have a legal way of dealing
with wrong-doers of the old establishment. It is up to The People, however, to stop being
mindlessly complacent on what is occurring in our croney system. It is up to us to simply
exercise out *RIGHT* to *NOT* vote. The only interaction the candidates have with The People
of the United States, is when they are kissing our ass and making false promises on what will be
done when they hold office. By not exercising your right to *not* vote, and by therefore voting
for "the lesser of two evils", you are putting yourself down. You are *letting* yourself down.
And all of the citizens around you. You didn't break the system, but your are responsible for your
complacency in electing the individuals who broke it. Stop.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Journalistic Responsibilities Regarding Messages of Discrimination On Social Media

I know it is crass to talk about Twitter itself on social media (or rather, very meta), but when
people are RT’ing & quote Tweeting pictures of swastikas & hate crimes occurring across the
United States in the name of “objective journalism” (which the Fourth Estate propaganda
publications never do otherwise), isn’t that, in itself, the “spreading of hate”? No one can justify
such horrid acts of bigotry or vandalism which a segment (a large one, I’m sure) of Trump
supporters are committing across this country, & no one should stand for it but when a journo
RT’s/quote Tweets such things; are they not proliferating such messages of discrimination &
hatred? I understand a somewhat objective story in the print media, & the story *must* be told,
but in an age where virality is so dominant in our culture & the majority of U.S. citizens spend
the majority of time on their phones, shouldn’t people think twice before plastering pictures of
swastikas & KKK defamation on their profile? Many (if not all) mainstream journalists are guilty
this.

I recognize that media contributors (be they actual journalists or bloggers) are posting on behalf
of their own social media accounts (many acknowledge “views are my own & not my
employers”), but as contributors to publications such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, The
Huffington Post, etc., do they not bear responsibility on behalf of what people see (&
consequently share) on “new media”?

A responsibility is on the shoulders of who many call “professionals” & to be recognized with
such a title, they should act/Tweet/share accordingly. A conscious effort should be undertaken by
them to really *think* about what it is they are showing the world before hitting the little button
that has the potential to spread a message that could incite fear, anxiety, or even terror.

.....................................................................................................................………………………

Metro

by: T.M. O’Leary

It began at around 4 pm. It was just like any other day. A ride on the Metrolink, a coffee from
Starbucks, an illegal smoke on the steps of the station. The air was crisp. It was January…
something. Thomas couldn’t remember. He wanted to finish the Marlboro before he boarded the
Shrewsbury train. However, he was disturbed when an icy wind started blowing harshly against
his right cheek. He snuffed the butt half through the smoke and started walking up the stairs.

Two young people, a couple, passed him on the way up. The sky was glowing brightly though no
sun was showing through the clouds. A day where sunglasses were necessary, but still gloomy
enough to expect snow. He sat in the Northernmost unit so he was facing the way the train was
moving. The unit doors still open, an icy chill swept through it. The Securitas security boys
checked his ticket. An all day pass. He half expected to get a nod of appreciation from the guard
for the pricey purchase, but instead just moved on to the next ticket holder.

Not a lot of people on board that afternoon. Maybe a dozen people combined throughout the
entirety of the cabs. A girl boarded. Very pretty. Maybe 21.She was wearing a brown and heather
trench coat which looked to be made of 100% wool. On that chilly day, it was buttoned to the
very top. A small pink scarf peeked out where the collars met. Blue jeans underneath, and brown
moccasins. Beautiful brown hair and a book beneath her right hand. He could barely see the title.
“Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim”.

The doors closed and the Metrolink operator asked the passengers to take their seats and that the
train would be moving soon. The brown-haired girl didn’t sit. She stood with her left hand
hooked around the bar and swayed when the Metro finally started to pick up speed. As much as
he would have liked to stare at her all day, she had already flashed Thomas a couple of
apprehensive looks and he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. He felt rather timid himself.
He looked away. He diverted his eyes to the abandoned buildings and factories along the
Metrolink route, covered in graffiti with their windows smashed out.

They reached their next stop and a large group of people boarded. Over a dozen people huddled
onto the unit, their arms folded, their shoulders up around their neck from the chill. He briefly
wondered where they were headed, what they did for a living, what was on their bucket list?
He knew Forest Park was his first destination. The operator’s voice cracked over the intercom
instructing the passengers to exit from the left. Thomas stepped off the unit and an arctic blast of
wind hit his face. From there, he would catch a connecting Metro to the Delmar Loop or U City
Loop as the Washington University students called it. It was one of his favorite places in the
world. He gazed down the track as the Metro approached, his eyes slowly glazing over with wind
chill. This unit, more crowded than the last one as it is one of the few connection points on the
St. Louis Metrolink.

Thomas stepped off at his destination and discreetly slipped his wallet from his back pocket to
his front. Having his wallet stolen was not an odd occurrence in St Louis so he always took extra
precaution. Upon looking around his surroundings, he saw a group of teenagers hanging off the
hand railings on the other side of the tracks. He would have to walk straight through them to
reach the street. Walking through groups of people, particularly those already associating with
each other caused nervousness for him. He was what some would call “anti-social”.

One of the kids jumped off the railing and stopped him. “Hey” the young man said. Thomas
didn’t respond, he simply looked him in the eye. “I saw you put your wallet in your front pocket
when you got off. Worried you might get robbed?” He was spot on. “It has happened to people
before in this area” Thomas replied. There was a certain aggressive energy in the air that Thomas
could feel. The small group of friends who were just a second ago, about 5 of them, hanging off
the railings were now positioned around Thomas. They didn’t look like an immediate threat but
their body language was intimidating.

“Listen here chief, I have something I want you to hold for me. I have to go up the street and talk
to my boy. See that officer?” The boy pointed at the direction of a cop standing on the top of the
Delmar stairs. The officer was staring downwards on the track and was slowly turning his head
towards them. “Don’t look. Chill chill.” The boy said. Thomas didn’t quite know what to make
of the situation and wasn’t sure what the boy was asking but panic was starting to creep up his
throat.

“Like I said I just need to holler at my boy right quick and my boy Jeff here…” “Sup” says the
friend. “… he’s gonna wait right here on this side of the tracks. If I pass by this cop, he is going
to stop me and ask me to empty my pockets because he busted me doin’ shit I wasn’t supposed to
be doin’ on these tracks before.” Instantly Thomas thought why the hell doesn’t he have one of
his friends hold whatever the hell it is?

The boy pulled back the bottom edge of his shirt and Thomas could see a pistol tucked into the
front of the boy’s pants. Immediately his heart started racing. It became very clear to Thomas
that no matter what he said at that exact moment would mean dire consequences regardless of
what actually came out of his mouth. “Hold this, it will be 15 minutes and I will give you $20 for
your time.” The boy said, and slapped a $20 bill in Thomas’ hand and then after a careful look
back and forth handed him the gun and said, “ hurry up! Put it in your pocket!” Not knowing
what to do, Thomas complied. Finally the pressing question came to the surface. “Why can’t one
of your boys hold this while you go up the street?” Thomas asked. The boy seemed like he had
fully expected Thomas to ask just that question. “ My boy here is already on parole and these
other four dudes are comin’ with me.” The boy said. The guy who the boy was talking about who
was apparently on parole looked to be not even 17 years old. But this was St.Louis, Thomas
knew of people not even 15 who had been incarcerated for well over a year.

Thomas was petrified of the situation he found himself in. “Like I said, 15 minutes and I will be
right back. No sweat.” The boy said. As the boy said the word “sweat” Thomas instantly started
feeling little ice drops of perspiration run down his neck and down his spine. Before Thomas
could tell the boy why he was the last person for this detail , the boy and the other 5 members of
his crew jogged off towards the officer and up the stairs, disappearing across the street.
Thomas didn’t know what to make of this situation at all. Manic thoughts ran through his head:
Do I stand here? Do I take a seat? Do I head over the the trash can and just dump the pistol and
go on my merry way? He sure as hell wouldn’t dare board the metro again with a concealed
firearm on his person. If he got caught, that is a two year stint in the Thunderdome: The St Louis
City Jail where inmates fight so violently that they make the floor shake and the roof vibrate. He
decided to try to play it cool: Cross the tracks and mind my own p’s and q’s. Just another day.
This was the first time he had been seriously hassled at a Metrolink stop and for his inauguration,
it had to be the worst situation possible. Panic was not a familiar sensation in Thomas. Nothing
that had escalated to a full fledged panic attack. He was thankful he never had one. But he felt he
would soon find out exactly what one felt like. Finally, after looking around, salvation. He saw a
trashcan to the far left of the stop but as soon as he got up out of his seat, a bicycle cop wheels up
to the trashcan and parks against it. He was devastated.

Snow began to fall. Thomas slowly took his seat again. It was coming down quickly and in wide
range but the chunks of snow themselves were not very thick. He tried an old mantra he heard
while observing a yoga class one time: Think of your finest day. Remember the good things that
are going on in your life. Remember your center. He immediately began day dreaming about the
day he lost his virginity. The first time he saw the ocean. His first airline flight as a child.
Anything and everything that was not there, in that present moment.

“Feeling okay?” Oh shit. It was the bicycle cop. Sitting on the bench with Thomas’ head tilted
back trying to remember the best days of his must’ve looked like he was about to nod out on
heroin. “Um, yea, I was just daydreaming.” Thomas said. She shifted her belt. “ There has got to
be a warmer place to do that.” She said. Thomas half-smiled. Her radio crackled. She spoke
some police talk gibberish into the speaker and released the button. “You have any id on you
sir?” She asked Thomas. “Of course.” He replied. He pulled out his wallet from his front pocket.
A rush of blood and adrenaline shot up his throat. He had put the gun in the same pocket as his
wallet and if the bicycle cop wanted him to empty out his pockets on the spot, all she had to do
was ask. Trying to retrieve his wallet now would instantly throw Thomas under the bus. Just
then, loud horn went off in the distance. The Metro must have spotted someone on the tracks and
sounded the horn to signal for them to get out of the way. The bicycle cop looked over her
shoulder at the Metrolink cab. This bought Thomas just enough time to make the maneuver he
had to make. As she looked, Thomas maneuvered the gun’s barrel away from where his wallet
was stuck and he got his I.D. out just before she looked back at him. Thomas’ hands shook
profusely. “ I have it right here. Ha.” Thomas could feel the sweat build up on his forehead. “Mr.
Robinson. From Crystal City? Far away from home today aren’t you? What brings you to
Delmar?” Oh shit. What am I gonna say. Originally my plan for coming to the loop was to go to
Blueberry Hill and grab dinner and maybe shoot some pool at Fitz’s but now I have to explain to
the cop what I was doing there perched like a dumbass on the Metro stop. “ I am just on my way
to the airport. I had lunch at Blueberry Hill and now I am going to meet my sister at the airport.”
It was a reasonable explanation, he thought, but he could tell he gave away something in his
voice and he could see her eyebrows shift beneath her sunglasses to indicate she was puzzled.
“Well you just missed your train.” She said. The comment threw him through a loop. What train?
Is she talking about the Metrolink? Just then it dawned on him. “Oh yes. Well there will be
another one on its way shortly.” He showed extra teeth when he smiled. “Well stay out of trouble
Mr. Robinson.” She said as she handed back his I.D. back. As she picked up her bike to walk up
the stairs, he managed to get his I.D. back into his wallet and then put his wallet…shit! There’s
hardly any room in my pocket! Between the wallet and the firearm it looks like I am concealing a
small midget in my pants! He tucked the wallet in half way through so the other half was poking
out from his jeans. OK, OK, five or six minutes have gone by and no hang ups besides the
officer. This asshole better show up soon before shit really goes down. The officer Thomas was
warned about was making his way towards him as the bicycle cop pedaled away. The cop was
coming in Thomas’ direction.Thomas tried not to look directly at him, but he could see the cop
was trying to make eye contact.
He walked directly in front of Thomas.“Sir?” He said standing stiffly. “Yes officer?” Thomas
said, as nervous as could be. “Where are you heading today sir?” The cop asked
“Um, to the airport, to see my sister.” Thomas replied. This didn’t put a dent in the cop’s
inquisitiveness. “I just got done talking to the Officer Maley.” Said the cop. “She says you were
coming from Blueberry Hill and were on your way to the airport. Like you said, but…” good,
this honorable officer was vouching for me and was confirming what I was doing at the Metro
stop. “I just saw you get off the stop two stops ago and you haven’t left this stop yet.” Thomas’
head spun like crazy. Passing out sounded like a great idea at that point. A million excuses ran
through his head. I hadn’t had to lie in any way since he was in high school. What the fuck am I
going to say to this random cop? “Paul! PAUL!” Screams came from the top of the stairs. The
cop finally broke eye contact with him and jerked his head over to the street where there was a
lot of commotion. The cop ran off like a lightning bolt where Thomas could see two of the six
bastards who were left him there to be harassed by police while he had a (presumably loaded)
handgun the size of Arkansas in the front pocket of his Levi’s.. Hopefully the fucker who handed
off the pistol to Thomas was in the group who both cops now barreled down on, their clubs
drawn. Thomas immediately power walked over to the trash can where the bicycle cop was
before. Without looking left or right; he dumped the gun through the lid and walked back the
way he had come from.

Just then, he heard a roar coming down the tracks of the Metrolink that led back to Forest Park,
then Shewsbury. He quickly boarded and felt the weight of fifty boulders lift off his chest. A
spiked chill ran down his spine with the warmth of the cart hitting his body. Almost
hyperventilating, almost crying, he sat in the back row, facing traffic, and watched as the police
knocked the boy who handed Thomas the gun what felt like a lifetime ago to the ground and
applied their handcuffs. The doors closed. The unit began to move.
Feeling back to his old self, he took a gander around the car. Graffiti. Buildings.
Cruising on tracks above the street traffic. Bright skies and snow lightly falling. Away from that
awful, awful situation. Then, there she was again. Hanging on to the bar at the front of the unit
like she was when he boarded at Shewsbury. But how? Why? He had only been off the tracks for
20 minutes and she couldn’t possibly have done what she had to do in that short period of time.
She looked at Thomas. He realized he was staring again. He looked out the window.
As he watched traffic, he saw her approaching him and with a slight smile across her face. When
she got in front of him, they locked eyes and a big smile spread across her face. He smiled
sheepishly back at her. She sat down. “I’m Amanda,” she said putting her book evenly on her
lap. “Thomas”, he said. She smelled of dandelions, or some potent pollen. Her hair flowed down
well past her shoulder blades. Her eyes as dark brown as freshly brewed espresso. He didn’t
think of what happened at Delmar.

……………………………………................................................…………………………………
I’m Getting There

That is what i said to myself when I looked in the mirror just now. I had just finished a black tea
and a session of listening to Paramore's “Caught In The Middle” on repeat when the thought
crossed my mind, “you're getting old. You are only getting older. You will probably live to be 80
if you keep this up!”. To which I self-replied “I'm getting there”.

Circle back to two days ago when I was sitting on the screened-in balcony at my parent's house
where my dad sat in a wheelchair with one leg amputated and scars and bruises up and down his
arm from injections, and blood tests and kidney dialysis, and he said, “I'm too old to be out here
without a heater”, which got me to stand up and turn the heater on. I sat back down and he said
“are you feeling old yet?” I confirmed that even though I am only 33-years-old, that I did feel a
bit old at times. I feel that I am somewhat in a “neutral”, or “even”, or “neither-here-nor-there”
sort of space. I told him that I always considered 40 to be old, and that I surely planned on
reaching that age and well beyond.

Ever since I was very young, I knew that getting old was going to be the highlight of existence
for me. Some people hold onto their youth and cannot let go and feel mourning and nostalgia for
a thing that will never come back. I am not of this mindset. I knew that my younger years would
be a tumultuous time (and they were), and that simply by surviving some of the toughest stuff
anyone would ever have to go through, that somehow, I would live a better life in my senior
years.

Right now, I am “in the middle”. Neither here, nor there. Of course the balance will surely not
give way to a second coming of youth. Whatever “youthful” vigor or philosophies I tried to
maintain in my life I am constantly aware of, 24/7. I didn't want kids, or a mortgage, or debt, or
pets to weigh me down, so: I don't have those things. If a mid-life crisis were to sneak up on me,
I would certainly be interested in how it would present itself. But that is for another time.

With old age down the road, I see myself going to the absolute limit. The longest road. The
hardest path. So I can have the most interesting tales to tell along the way. Life is good. Cherish
it.

............................................................................................…………………………………………

END