Letters, We Get Mail, CCCXXXVI

[The previous letter from Paul_K is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html#Paul_K ]

Date: Wed, December 26, 2012 12:10 am     (Answered 28 December 2012)
From: "Paul K."
Subject: when the alcoholic stops drinking

Hi Orange,

I recently received some comments on my blog (from someone I assume is probably a "12 stepper") that stated he/she was surprised there was still not some turmoil and chaos in my life as, even though I have now been sober over a year, I still have to deal with fears, dishonesty, false pride and selfishness etc.

It is only my opinion, but I believe most of the so-called "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings" problems of alcoholics are for most alcoholics largely solved simply by the stopping of drinking insane amounts of alcohol.

Also, while I think it is highly likely that many alcoholics are more likely (compared to non-alcoholics) to suffer from anxiety, depression and neurotic fears etc, I do not believe that the vast majority of alcoholics, once they get sober, are any more dishonest or selfish/ego-centric than the average non-alcoholic person.

What do you think about this?


PS A big thanks for your replies to my previous emails.

Hello Paul,

My answer is "Yes". Not only Yes, but "Hell Yes!"

That is, Bill Wilson created a really nasty stereotype of "The Alcoholic" (look here), and we are supposedly all like that: selfish, dishonest, manipulative, egotistical, full of pride and defects of character, unspiritual, evil, and In Denial about the whole thing. Rubbish. Totally untrue. That is just standard cultish guilt induction and member denigration, which is intended to weaken you, and confuse your thinking, and make it harder for you to leave the cult or criticize the cult. It's in The Cult Test.

In fact, that shows up in several standard cult characteristics:

(You can jump between the questions and the answers for A.A. by clicking on the number of the question or answer.)

People who come to A.A. are already sick and vulnerable, and shakey and cloudy-headed and unsure of themselves, and often feeling ashamed and guilty, and A.A. shoves really harmful garbage on them, and tells them that they are bad defective people. It drives some people away from recovery, and drives others to suicide. Not good.

I agree that the biggest character problem that alcoholics have is being habituated or addicted to alcohol. And the biggest problem that drug addicts have is their addiction to drugs. Lots of so-called "defects of character" disappear as soon as the addiction does.

Now that still leaves the people who have mental or psychiatric problems. They will be best treated by a competent psychiatrist, not by a cult religion that harps on "defects of character".

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
 **        The individual who clings tenaciously to unverified beliefs confuses his beliefs
**     with fact, and often inflicts this confusion on others in his struggle to resolve it
**     in his favor.  When many people are persuaded to subscribe to the same pretense,
**     of course, it can gain the aura of objectivity; as British psychoanalyst Ron Britton
**     has observed, "we can substitute concurrence for reality testing, and so shared
**     phantasy can gain the same or even greater status than knowledge." The belief
**     doesn't become a fact, but the fact of shared belief lends it the valuable
**     appearance of credibility. The belief is codified, takes hold, and rises above the
**     level where it might be questioned.
**       ==  Bush on the Couch, Justin A. Frank, M.D., page 61.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html#Space_Okie ]

Date: Wed, December 26, 2012 6:24 pm     (Answered 28 December 2012)
From: "Space_Okie"
Subject: motivation etc

Hi, Orange.

I have just whiled away the past few hours reading your website, which I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned from. My Recovery Problem started with seven months of inpatient 12 step treatment in 1990. I have hardly found anything at all to disagree with on your website and have strong feelings myself on the subject, as among other things I have lost more than one close friend who would likely still be alive had something better than AA been available. I have done a great deal of drinking in the past twenty five years and have been sober now for 113 days and haven't smoked a cigarette in about two months (smoked for over twenty years though this is not my first time to quit).

I wanted to run this bit by you and just see what you think, I have recently lucked into a very fortunate situation in which I can finally devote myself full time to a peculiar motivational problem I have been struggling with since I was about six years old that has made it almost always a difficult struggle to get any kind of homework, writing or other constructive work done (although when I'm able to do it I get every indication from others and my own observation that I do it well). I barely made it through high school and have made numerous Quixotic college attempts over the years, flunking about as many classes as I passed and getting within about twenty hours of an English degree until health and life events pulled me away from work and school several years ago, and I am getting my strength back and have all sorts of ideas, I want to write at least one book and have all this fresh ambition and wonderful, refreshing new firey visions but to make them happen I'm going to have to solve the motivational problem and I have a wide open shot at it in my life right now, I shouldn't have anything major in the way for months, so I want to attack this problem like never before (bear in mind it's a problem I've had since I was about six so I don't know how far I'm going to get but I'll be god damned if I don't get somewhere with it if there's any way to at all) and I'd like to hear what it looks like to you and if you might have any suggestions on how to approach it.

I've been talking to professionals about it for years of varying quality and hardly anyone has been able to really help me with it but it seems to me that in the situation I'm in now I can once again try to do what has been so difficult and elusive for me which is to choose a set of goals, make a plan to reach them and hold myself to it until I get there. I have had a lifelong chronic problem sticking to any kind of resolution although there have been a few exceptions (once in awhile I would excel in a class for example, or produce some good writing). A number of times I've been in a class I had perfect attendance in and took copious notes and then suddenly froze up and literally could not make myself write a paper or do some other assignment that cost me the class; this is particularly demoralizing when everyone else in the class is about ten years younger than you and you find out that everyone else has an A whereas you're struggling to maintain a D. The drinking wasn't the main obstacle, either; some of my "good" work was done in heavy drinking periods.

After years of different kinds of struggle I've found myself free to devote lots of time to endeavors of my choosing but wind up doing very little most of the time; I pace a lot and talk to myself and rarely engage too heavily with anything. I spend a lot of time alone, healing. Emotionally I've been in good shape lately, I'm optimistic and feel blessed with health, friends and freedom, I just want to do something constructive for a change, I may be stuck in the chronic habits of a layabout (or maybe a shellshocked survivor, there's a hell of a lot that's happened over the years, even recently) but I know I don't have to stay that way and I want to do what it takes to transition from that into a self cultivated scholar, writer and activist and make up for the dizzying mess that was act 1 of my life with a sane, productive and creative act 2. I have already written a lot more than I meant to so I will close by saying that I found your metaphysical comments intriguing and would like to hear more about your spiritual beliefs. Not that I think you would, but please don't use my name or email if you publish this letter.

space okie

Date: Wed, December 26, 2012 6:26 pm     (Answered 29 December 2012)
From: "Space Okie"
Subject: p.s.

If you answer me could you send me your reply to this email address?
I'm not sure how to find the latest mail exchanges on your website.


Space Okie

Date: Wed, December 26, 2012 6:54 pm     (Answered 29 December 2012)
From: "Space Okie"
Subject: kaufmann etc

I live all of about one city block from the most corn fed AA meeting hall in town. Reading your site makes me want to pull some Andy Kaufmann type prank on them, just start going three times a day and sharing first 'normal,' then subly a little weird, then weirder and weirder stuff until they are finally driven to tell me to leave in a fit of outraged exhasperation. I enjoy your pictures of geese by the way.

Space Okie

Hello Space Okie,

Thanks for the letters and the question. And congratulations on your sobriety and your quitting smoking. That is great.

My immediate reaction to your story is, "Anxiety Disorder". It sure sounds like really severe, crippling anxiety is stopping you from succeeding. Like how you couldn't successfully finish a course where you were doing well because anxiety kept you from writing one simple final paper — you just "froze up". And you pace, rather than get something accomplished. And some of your best work was done while heavily relaxing yourself with alcohol. The alcohol just reduced your anxiety to a level where you could function.

That just doesn't sound like "alcoholism" at all, it sounds like Anxiety Disorder.

You repeatedly mentioned that you have had the problem since you were six years old. You also described yourself as a "shell-shocked survivor". Is there any chance that you were an abused child? (Either sexual or mental or physical — they are all abuse.) Perhaps you are also suffering from a bit of PTSD? (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Now let me add the disclaimer that I'm not a competent psychiatrist, so please do see a real one. I think you might be really pleasantly surprised if you can get a good psychiatrist and he can prescribe the right anxiety-reducing medications. You might also then discover that your desire to get drunk to reduce your anxiety was nil.

Your outlook on life is good and positive, and you want to get great things done, and all that you need is to bat down that anxiety, so that you can concentrate and get a job done, and it sounds like you will have a whole new life. You have already quit drinking and smoking, so your health will improve immensely.

By the way, relaxation exercises, perhaps some Yoga or meditation, or both, might also help. Adding some some non-medication anxiety-reducing tools to your toolbox would be a good thing.

As far as my metaphysical ideas go, wow is that a big subject. I guess I'd have to recommend Baba Ram Dass's book "Be Here Now" as a place to start.

Have a good day now, and a good life. And a happy New Year.

== Orange

P.S.: The latest mail exchanges are simply in the last file of letters, or the last two or three files. Also, you will notice that the letter you receive in the email has a link at the top that goes to the letter on the web site.

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Tricycle's Daily Dharma
**     February 26, 2007
**     Completely Missing the Moment
**     It is often the case that whatever we are doing, be it sitting,
**     walking, standing, or lying, the mind is frequently disengaged from
**     the immediate reality and is instead absorbed in compulsive
**     conceptualization about the future or past. While we are walking, we
**     think about arriving, and when we arrive, we think about leaving. When
**     we are eating, we think about the dishes and as we do the dishes, we
**     think about watching television. This is a weird way to run a mind. We
**     are not connected with the present situation, but we are always
**     thinking about something else. Too often we are consumed with anxiety
**     and cravings, regrets about the past and anticipation for the future,
**     completely missing the crisp simplicity of the moment.
**       —  B. Alan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up
**       http://www.tricycle.com/issues/2_285/dailydharma/3303-1.html

[The next letter from Space_Okie is here.]

June 10, 2012, Sunday: The Fernhill Wetlands

Bald Eagle
That Bald Eagle, roosting in his favorite dead tree

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

The speckles that you see in those pictures are typical Olympus sensor noise. The Olympus "Four-Thirds" sensor is the noisiest DSLR sensor in the industry. Don't buy Olympus.

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[The previous letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html#Meatbag ]

Date: Sat, December 22, 2012 10:01 pm     (Answered 29 December 2012)
From: "Meatbag"
Subject: Re: Another Bullshit Comment from the Peanut Gallery

(Hmph, I still can't send anything from Claws. Did Google change something recently?)

Hi again, Meatbag,

Poor Claws. No email.

"Attraction, not promotion" has got to be one of AA's biggest lies. It seems like I see commercials for some rehab all the damn time. That, and I have to wonder about the sort of person who can look at a bunch of bright-eyed college grads and think, "Oh, these must be alcoholics I can save."

Yes. The word "vampire" comes to mind.

I'm giving Midori a shot. It shaves off about 100 MB of RAM, and it doesn't appear to have any issues with memory leaks. But the damn thing won't detect Flash in usr/lib/mozilla/plugins, even though it detects Java in the same directory just fine. Might have to go back to Icecat. I was planning on keeping it around anyway, because it has Zotero.

I'll have to check those out.

I have 8 GB of swap space. The moment Icecat has a memory leak bad enough to use all that is the moment I banish the damn thing from my machine and use Chromium, forced Google branding or no. I already removed Firefox from my gaming rig because it had a memory leak simultaneously with another application. I couldn't even kill the process. My gaming rig has 8 GB of RAM (and no swap because Windows).

Wow. 8 GB of swap space is a lot. My laptop has only 2 GB of RAM, and the only thing that uses much swap space is Firefox. GIMP image manipulation program, and various music players, and even video players are all happy with 2 GB of RAM and don't seem to swap at all.

Man, don't I feel silly now! When you mentioned function keys, I took a look at my own. And lo and behold! Fn-F10 disables the touchpad. I guess it pays to actually take a look at your function keys. Try using the touchpad now, Titania!

Ah yes.

As for the ermine, understandable. That thing is killing your friends, after all. And I threaten to send Alley to some poor family in rural China every time she does something I don't like. Now that I think about it, those feral cats can feed a lot of poor families in rural China.

Oh yes. Remember the puppet character "Alf" on TV? "I like cats. They are great with katsup."

The "cats are an invasive species" argument is probably the most compelling reason I've heard for not letting cats outside. Although at least you can put a collar with a bell on pet cats. Alley does have a talent for "losing" collars, though. The next time she racks up a bunch of kills, I'll put a harness and the loudest bell I can find on her. But that probably won't happen, since she's over the hill. I don't think she's just not showing the things she kills, either, considering she comes in to eat several times per day.

Yes, probably just getting fat and lazy. Putting bells on cats is a very good idea.

I swear I've actually seen more birds in the yard when it was rainy the other day. Probably because the feral cats stayed in that day.

My birthday's not until May 30, but I only see my psychiatrist once every few months, so it's something I'm keeping in mind. I guess I could call him if I forget, but I don't like phones. It's a pain in the ass for me to hold a conversation on one. I handle face-to-face conversations by lip-reading.

Lip-reading? Interesting.

Sadly, I don't think suburban Georgia tends to attract ancient wise men and women. So, I had to settle for a middle-aged woman with book smarts. I don't actually know much about her other than that she's a licensed social worker from California, and she has kids my age who like video games. But she knows a lot about me. I don't have to see her regularly now, since I'm pretty stable. I'll probably give her a call so I can brag about my life plans, though.

As for what those plans are, after I'm done with Warm Springs and get placed in a job, I'm gonna go back to school and study Entomology. I was really into that stuff in high school, so that's probably my calling. I'll also see if I can get a bug collecting kit for my birthday, since June is a great month to pick up bug collecting. If Mom doesn't like the idea, I'll just take pictures of bugs, instead. I used to have a picture of this beauty, but that was on an old cellphone that didn't have a good way to transfer pictures:

Ah yes, entomology. One of my own loves. Although lately it appears that I'm more interested on infant ornithology.
Wait until you hear about my pet bodyguard spiders. Those pictures are coming up.
Getting good photographs of insects is really difficult. You need a good macro lens with lots of magnification, and some way to light the bugs without the camera casting a shadow.

As for Michael, wow. I'd hate to receive treatment from him. At least I'm apparently immune to the 12-step cult, being someone with a "severe psychological illness". Though I would argue he's even crazier than I am. At least I don't go around convincing people to worship The Shadow Man. Or forcing The Shadow Man on sick people in my care (that would be really cruel, considering what The Shadow Man is like). And the guy is using somebody else's delusions instead of coming up with his own. That's not very creative.

Yes, registered nurses who are true believers in a cult religion, and want to convert everybody to it in order to "cure" them, are downright spooky. Can you say, "Mad Scientist"?

Say, what are your theological ideas, anyway?

Oh wow, that's a big one. The previous letter just asked the same question, and I recommended Baba Ram Dass's book "Be Here Now" as a place to start.

Also, I guess I'd add, "I start with awareness." When you think about it for a while, isn't it a bit odd that we are aware? I mean, if you just take some buckets of coal, and water, and air, and some dirt, and mix well in a 55-gallon drum, does the mix suddenly become self-aware and say, "I think, therefore I am"?

Now I understand how systems respond to stimuli. You can wire together a battery, a push-button, and a doorbell, and it will respond to a stimulus (finger push) with a reaction (making noise). But is it aware of what it is doing? Not likely.

Similarly, computers are great at responding to stimuli, but I don't see many people who seriously maintain that they are self-aware. Not even aware, like HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey. At least not yet.

Nevertheless, we have this awareness, even self-awareness, and there is no evidence that it comes from carbon molecules. Our brains filter and shape the pictures that we see and the sounds that we hear, but where does the awareness of the pictures and sounds come from?

Lots of people assume that the brain creates awareness. I don't think so. It's like you can take a 35mm slide, and a slide projector, and shine a picture on a white screen on the wall. So you have a picture there. But what if nobody is in the room to see the picture?

Personally, I find animism appealing, since I have actually seen things come to life. Sure it's not reality, but it's my reality. The thing about my delusions wasn't so much that they were occurring at all, but that they were almost always threatening. If I had more like that time things in the Chinese restaurant just simply came to life without threatening to kill me, I wouldn't mind. But nobody likes death threats.

That doesn't sound like any fun.

Anyhow, good night, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Yes, you too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     During the height of the Cold War, the spiritual teacher
**     Ram Dass was asked whether the world was facing a nuclear
**     Armageddon or, as some were prophesying, a "new age"
**     of peace and love and deeper awareness.
**     Ram Dass said,
**     "I used to think I should have an opinion on this. But
**     as I examined it, I saw that if it's going to be Armegeddon
**     and we're going to die, the best thing to do to prepare for
**     it is to quiet my mind, open my heart, and deal with the
**     suffering in front of me. And if it's going to be the new age,
**     the best thing to do is quiet my mind, open my heart, and
**     deal with the suffering in front of me."
**     Is the moral calculus any different today?'
**       ==  From Sy's notebook, 'The Sun' magazine, October 2009

[The next letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html#BullMikus ]

Date: Sat, December 29, 2012 2:58 am     (Answered 30 December 2012)
From: "BullMikus"

You fail to provide any substantial evidence as to why these 'points' you make are lies.

Hello BullMikus,

I can only assume that you must be referring to the file The 12 Biggest Lies of A.A.. There is plenty of evidence there. What you do is click on any lie where you want to see the evidence, and the link will take you right to it.

Perhaps I should add a note at the start of the file that explains that.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     You can't lie your way into Paradise.

June 10, 2012, Sunday: The Fernhill Wetlands

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
That eagle is really glaring at me. They do that. All of those old expressions are true, like "watching you like a hawk", or "giving you the eagle-eye". The eagle is pretty far away — I had to use my most powerful telephoto lens and then do a full-size crop, and that's why the picture looks fuzzy and foggy and speckly. Nevertheless, the eagle is just sitting up there and watching me and glaring at me. They have eyesight that is several times sharper than human eyesight, and they really do sit up in the top of the tallest, most remote, dead tree, and just watch and glare at people who are far away. They are really outrageously arrogant birds.

Next spring, I'm taking an astronomical telescope, with a camera mount adapter, out there to really get some pictures of him.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

NOTE, 2012.12.31:

Have fun tonight y'all, and please keep it sober and safe and sane.

Happy New Year.

[The previous letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html#Meatbag2 ]

Date: Sun, December 30, 2012 1:34 am     (Answered 31 December 2012)
From: "Meatbag"
Subject: Re: Another Bullshit Comment from the Peanut Gallery

I think I managed to fix Claws. Just had to change some ports. No idea why the old ports stopped working, though.

Hi again, Meatbag,

Ah so. I just realized that Claws is a computer, rather than a cat who is typing on your computer.

I ended up switching back to Firefox. With Icecat, a lot of applications wouldn't open it for links. Either nothing would happen at all, or in one case, the application opened Lynx. Icecat gets points for the security features and kitty mascot, but Firefox is more convenient.

Yes. That's the kicker: Firefox is more convenient. I also use Google Chrome, but it is certainly not convenient. It's awkward and hard to use, and you can't even set the preferences to immediately go to new tabs that you open. The guys who redesigned the user interface thought that they were brilliantly reinventing the wheel with a more logical organization of things, but no such luck. It's a shame because Chrome is much faster and better engineered, and not so much bloatware. But the user interface sucks.

Yeah, 8 GB is a little much. I went with the physical RAM * 2 rule. I considered going with much less or even no swap, but it's probably nice to have if something goes wrong. And I really don't find a few GB much of a loss, since I have a 500 GB hard drive, and it seems I'm currently using ~30 GB including the swap. About the only stuff I can see demanding much space is the Windows XP VM and maybe some video files.

Yes, it certainly is nice to have that extra swap space when you need it. But I find that except for Firefox, I never need it.

Alf was before my time, but that does sound funny. I wonder what cat legs dipped in blue cheese tastes like.

Maybe you can catch Alf on one of those reruns channels some time. Alf was an alien creature who moved in with a human family. He had an amusing obnoxious personality.

Yeah, Alley definitely has gotten fat and lazy. She tends to plop down on the floor during her walk from the door to the food bowl. I had no idea a few meters was such a trek. I think these days, she would rather be a hunter than actually hunt.

The cocktail party effect doesn't seem to work on me. So, I have trouble distinguishing between background noise and conversation. To compensate, I read lips. That doesn't work with phones. And phones always have some static in the background.

Ah, interesting. That is often caused by loss of high-pitched hearing. I had that problem when I quit drinking. I was forever saying, "What? Pardon? What did you say?" Fortunately, some of that hearing has come back in the following years. It's really incredible how many things alcohol can damage.

Infant ornithology is fun, too. It's hard to resist cute baby animals. And I'd love to hear about the pet bodyguard spiders.

Yes, those cute little goslings are just so beautiful that they are irresistable.

I'll write up that spider story before I forget it.

Say, are there any entry-level cameras you would recommend? Ideally one that's not too pricey. I'm guessing something used would suit me best.

The first question is, what kind of photography do you want to do?

There are two broad classes of cameras now: the point and shoots, and the DSLRs. The point-and-shoots have fixed lenses, meaning that you cannot exchange the lens. You get one lens that is built into the camera, and that's it forever. Still, they serve the purpose for most people, most of the time. They are sort of for the "average" people, and the mass market.

The DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras have removeable lenses. They are more professional (and hence more expensive), and you can do more things, like get a macro lens and photograph insects, or mount a telephoto lens and get photos of wildlife that is far away, or get good close-ups of baby goslings that will be frightened if you get too close. Or you can even use an astronomical telescope as your lens, which is what I'm going to do next to get some better shots of those Bald Eagles.

Oh, and you can also actually save a lot of money by getting old used film SLR lenses and doing manual photography. I really like that. (The manufacturers really hate it when you do that, because they don't make any money off of it, and both Olympus and Nikon have gone out of their way to sabotage their own cameras so that they won't work right with legacy lenses. Now, I just refuse to buy any more such sabotaged cameras. Canon and Pentax are cool.)

Now just to confuse things, there is a new inbetween class of cameras called ILC cameras — Interchangeable Lens Compacts. They have small bodies with no mirror and no viewfinder, and you have to use the LCD screen on the back of the camera as your viewfinder. Some people really like them. I don't, because manual photography is out of the question, and the use of old legacy lenses is also out. You have to pay just as much for the new lenses, but you have a camera body with limited functionality. I much prefer a larger full-featured camera body.

I really like the new little point-and-shoot cameras for some things. They are amazingly good for what they are, and are very small and convenient and fit in any pocket. I have several, Canon and Nikon and Fujifilm and Olympus, ranging from 3 to 12 megapixels, and have gotten some great photographs from them. I almost always have a few in my pockets or backpack. But they are severely limited in what they can do. Like no extremes: no extreme close-ups for photographing insects, and no telephoto, and no very low light photography. For that you need bigger and better lenses.

So you have to decide which route you are going to take. Will you be happy with average, middle-of-the-road photography, or do you want to go to extremes?

Then, you can certainly save money by getting a used camera. That's where you get the most bang for your buck. The first camera I got was an Olympus E-510, which I bought new. Later, I learned that I could have gotten a much better camera used for the same money, and that's what I did for the next camera: a Canon 5D that was almost $3000 new, but I got it used and in very good condition for $1000. One of the nice things that is happening is that digital photography is progressing so rapidly that all new cameras are either obsolete or at least second-best in three years. The camera I got still worked great, but the owner wanted to sell it to help finance getting the next new model of the same camera — a 5D Mark II. (And now the Mark III is out, so the Mark II is obsolete. So it goes.) Still, those "obsolete" cameras take pictures as good as when they were new. And my "Mark 1" camera with 12 megapixels and a full-frame sensor is nothing to snear at. ("Full frame" means that the silicon sensor in the body is as large as a 35mm piece of film. Yes, that is a really big silicon sensor, and it's good for things like low-light photography.)

Don't let those numbers scare you. Used, less professional, DSLR cameras can be had in the $200 to $600 range. It's just a matter of what you want, and how high-quality, and how new.

UPDATE: 2013.05.21: The prices on used cameras are dropping so fast that I have recently seen used Canon 5D cameras with the BG-E4 battery grip accessory selling on eBay for just over $600 now.

So back to, the first question is, are you going to do the kind of photography that requires a DSLR, or will you be happy with the kind of photography that you can do with a point-and-shoot? Everything else hinges on the answer to that first question.

(Hint: If you want to get really good photographs of insects, you will need a DSLR with a macro lens. "Macro" just means that you can focus extremely closely, like getting right in the face of an insect.)

I think I prefer the fictional mad scientists who create monsters over the real mad scientists who recruit for their favorite cult. Mostly because they're fictional.

Yes. Dracula isn't really as scary as a crazy 12-Step counselor who has the courts forcing people to be his victims, and he holds their fate in his hands, and they are at his mercy. Now that's a scary ghoul.

I'll definitely check that book out. There's even a Kindle version of it on Amazon, apparently. Although it's slightly more expensive than the hard version. Damn publishers. But I'll buy the Kindle version, anyway.

I just lucked out and found a copy used in Goodwill. But that is highly unusual. It's the only copy I've seen there in like 5 years of looking.

I find awareness rather tricky. It's easy enough to prove you yourself are aware, but harder to prove others are aware. Do other humans have self-awareness? How about cats? Geese? Spiders? Flatworms? Jellyfish? I know there is the mirror test, but that backfires with creatures that don't rely on sight. And some creatures just aren't very interested in what the researcher wants them to do.

Oh yes, that's another old philosophical quandry. Can you prove that any other being than yourself is really self-aware? Or even aware at all? You can't. They might just be faking it. They might just be mindlessly reacting to stimuli. They might just be a hallucination. This might all just be a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago.

As for the delusions, there's this schizophrenic person on a forum I frequent. He was a messenger for a benevolent god for a couple of years. He reported feeling very happy and enlightened during that time. Then, his god left him. I get that being abandoned by gods is rough, but at the same time, I would like that sort of enlightenment for even a short period of time.

Yes, it sounds like an interesting experience. Still, that must make the crash worse when you come down. Ah, the agony and the ecstacy.

As for Space Okie, you're probably right about the anxiety. There could possibly be depression in the mix. Anxiety and depression go together like peanut butter and jelly. There's probably some element of perfectionism, too. But I'm not a doctor, just a patient. And there's a good chance I'm projecting.

Still, that sounds like a good guess, based on experience.

Anyhow, it's way past my bedtime. Good night.

Good night. And have a happy 2013.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The moment one gives close attention to anything,
**       even a blade of grass,
**     it becomes a mysterious, awesome,
**       indescribably magnificent world in itself.
**          ==  Henry Miller

[The next letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html#Taylor_W ]

Date: Sun, December 30, 2012 1:47 am     (Answered 1 Jan 2013)
From: "Taylor W."
Subject: Hey Dude


Writing in response to Paul's letter, here:

I would be one of those folks he mentioned who's problems didn't necessarily "go away" when I stopped using drugs or drinking. That said, the alcohol was exacerbating my problems, as well as making it more difficult for me to deal with them in a constructive way. It'd be sorta like building a house while I was drunk compared to sober.

It's also one less problem to deal with in its own right. Unquestionably, alcohol was causing a lot of strain in my life that didn't need to exist.

I am indeed a selfish person, but I say this without shame, and I am still selfish, and will be for the foreseeable future. That's why I don't have children, I'd quite honestly rather spend my time and money on myself, or my partner. I've never seen this as a "defect of character". I also think people make selfishness far too simple. For example, I wouldn't be so keen to do anything that might hurt somebody I love: this would make me feel bad, so it's not in my own best interest for that reason, and I may well avoid doing it for that reason alone. The motivation may be selfish, but everybody is happier as a result.

Hello Taylor,

Thanks for the letter.

I don't see what you are describing as the kind of selfishness that A.A. denounces, or that anybody else denounces either. When people talk about bad selfishness, I think about the banana republic Generalissimo who kills the peasants to steal their land. Or vulture capitalists who destroy entire towns by shutting down the factory and selling it to China, and making millions of dollars doing it, while the little people are reduced to poverty and lose their homes and their way of life. Or the Republican politicians who want to take away health care from the poor so that the rich don't have to pay taxes. Now that's selfishness.

Just arranging your life the way that you wish it isn't in the same ballpark.

The world is overpopulated as it is. I don't think we really need everybody "unselfishly" having five children. In fact, having too many kids is a terrible selfishness now. I think it's immoral for some churches to demand that their followers have all of the children that they can possibly have.

Paul said "I do not believe that the vast majority of alcoholics, once they get sober, are any more dishonest or selfish/ego-centric than the average non-alcoholic person"

I would go one step further than that. I was more honest than most people even three sheets to the wind. I am and have been many things, but I've never been much for deceit, partially because I'm not particularly good at it, but all the same. The sole exceptions to this would be the times I was so out of it that I did make outrageous, untrue statements, but I may also have just been rattling off meaningless numbers too. I was always quick to clear up those misunderstandings when they came up, although I never remembered them. Sort of like "Wait, I said what? I'm really sorry, but that has no basis in reality at all".

Yes. You don't have to be dishonest to drink alcohol.

Also, I'd written you on the 18th of October and never got a reply. That's fine, but I just wanted to make sure you had in fact gotten the e-mail. I've copied and pasted it here in case you did not receive it:

Good thing that you resent it, because I don't recall ever having gotten it before. It may have been lost in transit, or more likely, it got lost in the flood of spam. Because I publish my email address where robots can find it, and I leave my mailbox wide open so that strangers can email me, I get a lot of spam.


I know it's very slightly premature, but congrats on another year sober. I believe that's 12 years now? The 21st will be 2 years sober for me. How arrogant I am, trying to play god, and assuming that neither you nor I will drink in the next 2-3 days, what AM I thinking?

No big plans for my "birthday", just work, a workout, the usual. I'm productive and relatively happy and have been for the past 23 sober, cult free months (I did go to AA for the first month), that's enough of a party for me. I don't really have anyone to take revenge on that I can think of off hand, but you know, a life well lived and all that jazz.

Keep on rockin in the (sorta) free world, Big T, may you continue to live well, and let the truth prevail.


Thanks, Taylor, yes, it's 12, and congratulations on your 2 years. Neat. The first year is the hardest, and then it gets easier and easier. But I'm sure you've already noticed that.

And it is funny how bent out of shape that they get when you confidently say that you aren't going to drink. They really don't like to see self-confidence and self-reliance, do they? Isn't that odd? So much for it being a "self-help" group.

Speaking of which, since it is now past midnight, I have successfully gotten through New Years without drinking (again). And I knew that I was going to do that. It wasn't a question. I wasn't in fear of relapsing. I wasn't in any great danger. I didn't have to go to a meeting and have somebody hold my hand until midnight.   :-)

And I don't feel like I missed anything. Tomorrow morning I'll wake up without a hangover, and that's its own reward.

So have a good day, and a good 2013 now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A.A. is not a "self-help group", it's an
**     "elf-help group". You are supposed to pray
**     and beg for an invisible "Higher Power",
**     like a leprechaun, or Cinderella's Fairy
**     Godmother, to solve all of your problems
**     for you and grant all of your wishes.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html#Bill_R ]

Date: Sun, December 30, 2012 3:07 pm     (Answered 1 January 2013)
From: Bill R.
Subject: Research help

Hi Orange,

I am doing some research and I'm trying to get some info. on Bill Wilson's drug use post the belladonna and sedative induced hallucinations in 1934. I know he was in psycho-therapy in the 1940's. I have plenty of references on the LSD experiments but I can't find anything concrete on his drug use when he was in therapy or at other times after 1934. Aside from nicotine, caffeine, and women, do you know of any confirmed use of sedatives or other drugs by him from 1934 to his death?


Bill R.

PS: great website!

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the compliment. And I have a few items:

  1. Aldous Huxley wrote about Bill Wilson taking leuco-adrenochrome.

  2. There is much more about Bill Wilson taking LSD here, with references:

Good luck on your project.

And have a good day, and a good new year now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**        We are not cured of alcoholism. What we have is a daily reprieve contingent
**        on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we
**        must carry the vision of God's will into all of our daily activities.
**       ==  The Big Book, 3rd & 4th editions, William G. Wilson, Into Action, page 85.
**     Just where did that "vision" come from?
**     Prayer, meditation, belladonna, delirium tremens, LSD, or
**     delusions of grandeur?

June 10, 2012, Sunday: The Fernhill Wetlands

Northern Pintail Duck
Northern Pintail Duck
This is that tame female Northern Pintail Duck who is now so trusting that she doesn't even panic and freak out when I walk up to her when she is sleeping. But I don't think she is really so unaware. The truth is, they can open one eye just a crack to see what's going on, and who is coming, and when there is no problem, close the eye and go back to sleep.

Northern Pintail Duck
Northern Pintail Duck
Now she's looking at me, and getting the idea that it's time for lunch.

Canada Goose goslings
A new Family of 3, coming to me for munchies

Canada Goose gosling
A Gosling, resting after munching a bunch of oats.
You can see from those drooping eyelids that he is about to doze off. A full stomach means that it's time to take a nap.

Canada Goose gosling
A Gosling, a sibling of the previous one
This one looks like a little girl. I think this is a girl, and the previous one is a guy. How can I tell? Well, after you have looked at them for enough years, they just start to look like boys and girls. The truth is, they have the same hormones as we do, the testosterone and progesterone and estrogen, and those hormones do the same things. So as they grow, the little boys start looking like boys, and the little girls start looking like girls. In the case of these two, the boy has a larger head and body, and his features are more masculine and angular, and his neck is thicker. The girl's head is smaller and more delicate, and rounder, and her body is smaller, and her neck is thinner.

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

[The previous letter from Space_Okie is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html#Space_Okie2 ]

Date: Mon, December 31, 2012 12:46 am     (Answered 1 January 2013)
From: "Space Okie"
Subject: Here, Game, Social, Change

I love Be Here Now! It's been years since I read it though. Have you ever read anything by Robert S DeRopp (namely The Master Game, possibly my favorite book ever) or Gurdjieff?

To answer your questions, I was molested from age 4-9 by a family friend, had an emotionally abusive home life and was badly bullied through eighth grade. I have a psychiatrist and although he has helped me with some things in the past I have been thinking about finding another one although it seems I've already had many (I'm not sure how many at the moment in fact) and been thoroughly disappointed in almost all of them, always a different diagnosis, always incorrect and always expensive drugs that might as well be sugar pills so far as I can tell (except for Depakote, which made me sick and is nasty poisonous shit anyway).

I have a lifelong habit of pacing, sometimes for hours, and though it's actually often quite relaxing and pleasant (and I suppose marginally good minimal exercise, at least I'm not a couch potato) it is really hard to stop sometimes, in fact you could probably call it an addiction or a chronic self soothing habit, there have been more than a few nights when I was supposed to finish some important assignment and I couldn't because I couldn't stop pacing. I became psychotic for about 15 months in 2005-6 and my family put me on SSDI at my doctor's urging while I was in the hospital and I've been kind of a low energy shut-in ever since.

I've been working on a graphic novel about the psychosis with a friend of mine who does art for a local magazine but it's been very slow as he is really busy so I might just wind up writing something about it and going ahead with it on whatever level and just catching up with the graphic part later.

I make glacial progress on things for now though as it is very hard to get myself to do anything consistently for any length of time. I wrote the graphic novel on a combination of drugs and alcohol about a year ago and it's usable but I want to write sober. I professed atheism for a long time but have had some strange experiences that don't square with any conventional atheist model I know and that atheists typically say can't happen so now if I call myself anything it's usually an open-minded skeptic (I use the qualifier to distinguish my skepticism from what usually gets called that but seems to carry prejudices I don't have).

So anyway what seems to be taking form is that I want to design myself a boot camp for the rest of Winter Season to transition myself from low wattage neurotic shut-in to inspired scholar, social critic and strident anti-corporate gadfly. I have all the materials I need to do this, I'm just still a slow moving person who often seems to just be shifting from one comfortable position to another all day (pacing, computer, couch, bed). I don't beat myself up for it too much, I'm not hurting anyone and feel okay about relaxing for now but I want to change it, not necessarily overnight which is probably impossible anyway but soon. Got any ideas for the boot camp? After reading your writing I feel a lot more comfortable asking your opinion about something like that than some underqualified therapist (of which I've had many, of little consequence although I saw a good one for awhile at OU).

Hello again, Space Okie,

Oh yes, I have some ideas for a boot camp. First, please dump the term "boot camp". How about just "camp"? The problem with boot camps is that they turned into abusive concentration camps where sadistic "sergeants" ordered the prisoners around and tortured them. There are many stories of that in the file Boot Camps: Children's Gulags.

I like the idea of a camp in the forest where people are nice to each other. I described a better rehab camp in the forest in this letter.

Your projects sound good.

Sorry to hear about the childhood abuse. But that explains a lot.

The pacing sounds like obsessive-compulsive behavior, the result of the abuse. Now I wouldn't worry about it too much — don't obsess over it — you have bigger fish to fry.

I certainly hope you can get a better psychiatrist, or at least better medications. Obviously, you are taking the wrong things. If they are giving you anti-depressants, I can see why. A while ago, I read the book The Emperor's New Drugs; Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, by Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., which explained how many anti-depressants are a fraud and a hoax. What happened is, the pharmaceutical companies got one bad, ineffective, anti-depressant approved by the FDA through fraud, error, and bureaucratic slight-of-hand. Then they got many other non-working anti-depressants approved by the FDA by merely showing that they work just as well as the first anti-depressant (that doesn't work). The pharmaceutical companies never actually proved that the new anti-depressants really worked on patients. So now we have a lot of bad drugs on the market that don't really work right at all. You may have been getting some of them. I'd keep complaining, and seeking something that works properly.

No, I never read Robert S. DeRopp or Gurdjieff. Those are a couple of holes in my experience. I'll have to check them out.

About the atheism, or not, I understand. I am also skeptical of a lot of Biblical stories, but don't call myself anything like an atheist or agnostic because I've seen too much. I've experienced too much to ever say that there is nothing more to this universe than meets the eye.

Have a good day now, and a good new year.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Ring the bells that can still ring
**     Forget your perfect offering
**     There is a crack, a crack in everything
**     That's how the light gets in
**       ==  Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"

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Last updated 21 May 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters336.html