Thursday, June 28, 2012

Children of the Cult

Cults are those weird groups with those brainwashed people living by bizarre and often damaging rules. 

The saddest thing is, of course, the children. They're raised within the cult and often never know that any other way is possible.

A cult:

  • is a group whose beliefs or practices are abnormal or bizarre    
  • is a group that tends to manipulate, exploit, and control its members
  • recruits people who suffer from a some variety of deprivation.
  • promotes a belief system which is utopian/idealistic, and also dualistic and bi-polar in nature. Dualistic in that they see the world in terms of two opposite poles, such as good versus evil, the saved and the fallen, the enlightened and the ignorant, etc.
  • is at high risk of becoming abusive to members - in part due to members' adulation of charismatic leaders contributing to the leaders becoming corrupted by power.
  • is a group or movement exhibiting a devotion to some person, idea or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders to the actual detriment of members, their families, or the community.
Meet the most successful cult ever

This cult's idea is the pursuit of more money - the cult of capitalism. And you're probably a child of the cult.
"Unlike other cults that are considered outside the norm, it has claimed center stage, and its propaganda appears to be unquestioned reality."

Living in the cult

Mostly, people
  • hope to live in spaces with more than one room for each person. Social skills degenerate from isolation.
  • cannot afford these large spaces - they spend their entire lives working off debt to live there.
  • spend their days at tasks unrelated to anything or anyone they love
  • do not know the people living around them
  • live near so many other people they can't make meaningful connections
  • buy objects (increasing debt) trying to replace connections with people
Power in the cult

Positions of power:
  • are held by very few people
  • cost enormous amounts of money to achieve - creating bias and corruption
  • provide the illusion of democracy while real control is held by the companies providing money
Information in the cult

Most information:
  • is controlled by a few large worldwide companies
  • is propaganda to perpetuate the beliefs of the cult
  • is presented as quickly and simply as possible, even when important meaning is lost
  • avoids any positive reference to lifestyles contradicting the cult
Communication in the cult

Mostly, people communicate
  • without even seeing each other
  • using machines for very quick and short messages with little content
  • badly, generating much confusion and ill feeling
Leisure time in the cult

Most entertainment
  •  involves buying something
  •  is enjoyed alone and is physically inactive (TV, computer games...)
  •  includes propaganda for the cult
Food in the cult

Mostly, people...
  • cannot and don't know how to provide their own food
  • never eat any truly fresh food
  • do not know where their food comes from
  • do not cook much
  • eat lots of foods which have been processed so much that very little nutrition remains
  • eat lots of foods from animals who have been horribly abused their whole lives before being killed.
The cult invests in propaganda and promotes denial about food to protect profits.

Physical health in the cult

It's risky in here...
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death
  • At least half of all people are overweight
  • The next generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan
  • The healthcare industry is a huge financial presence. Healthcare spending is increasing faster than society can create value
Mental health in the cult

Cults foster mental disorders.
Cults promote a vision of an ideal 'new self', which members believe they can attain by following the cult teachings.
The capitalist ideal new self is a wealthy person. The reality is that few can become wealthy. Many who fail to become wealthy blame themselves or other people.

Depression, violent crime, and suicide are skyrocketing.

Families in the cult

Most mothers and fathers pay someone else to care for their young children while they spend their day earning money (and generating money for an employer).

Mothers and fathers who care for their own children instead of earning money are low status and often ridiculed.

Most mothers

  • although healthy mammals, give birth in hospitals and feed their babies with inferior artificial food they have to buy.
  • are told by experts that they should separate themselves from their babies for everyone's sake.
  • are isolated from their family and community
  • suffer guilt, confusion, and depression about caring for their babies
Most children
  • are in institutional care for most of their day instead of socialising with neighbours.
  • Are regularly entertained by electronic devices instead of people
  • Cannot concentrate on simpler entertainment
  • Are more ignorant about the world than the previous generation
(Add your own section here)

I could continue...but so can you.

Escaping a cult

I've seen movies of people rescued from cults. They look stunned and a bit scared, coming out to freedom and the bigger world around them.

They have lots to learn.

Are you ready?

More Reading

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yo-yo day! Updates and confessions...

Finally! Here's the next installment of Yo-yo Day, all about picking up and putting down and picking up and putting down...

We found the cloth base to the baby gym from this past yo-yo. We'd wrapped a glass lamp in it when we moved, and it was hidden in a box.

We outsmarted ourselves with multipurposing, and left that box unopened for too long.  But the base has now also been donated.

The digital camera yo-yo found new life and energy at our Explorers' Technojunk day. The kids take apart any old technical junk we can find, and they loved discovering the insides of this camera.

The dragon yo-yo is now guarding an outdoor rose plant. They can both be prickly, and they don't seem to mind.

The yo-yo power is strong in this one. 

Yes, the china cup and saucer (the inaugural yo-yo) did not leave our house until last week.

I couldn't think of a use for them.

I tried several times to sell them on TradeMe.

But at last I tucked them in with a pretty collectible plate (also worth something, probably) and I sent them all to seek their fortune in my favourite charity shop.

As a memento of my grandmother, I still have two of her hair ribbons.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gifted Families - the gift that just keeps on giving

In case my children need any more reasons to feel alienated from the mainstream, not only are they vegan, naturally weaned, and live in a house with no Barbie dolls, they are also gifted.

As I've just become the president of Explorers, our local branch of the NZ Association for Gifted Children, I welcome the opportunity to out us all for the Gifted Online's NZ Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour.
Aucklanders, don't forget the Explorers' Open Day this Saturday!
Gifted parenting secrets?

I can read great stuff all day about parenting gifted kids. But just like many of you doing your research, as well as being a parent of gifted kids, I was a gifted kid.  Sure, I got taller and overcame my social handicaps and overthinking long enough to find a partner (also gifted) and reproduce. But be honest, how grownup do any of us really feel?

So here we are, gifted adults and also parents. Along with the genius superpowers that everybody thinks we gifted enjoy, we also get our share of some gifted traits:
  • Perfectionism
  • Impatience
  • Emotional and physical sensitivity
  • Overexcitability
  • Introversion and/or extroversion
  • Strong sense of fairness, morals, and ethics
  • Skeptical, critical, and evaluative tendencies
and just taking things too darn seriously.

Not many of these on the list of Top 10 Traits for Great Parents. Parenting is the most stressful experience I've ever known, and my worst traits come out under stress.

So I'm still dealing with my own gifted stuff while I pretend to be dealing so much more intelligently than average with our kids.

All in the family

Just for fun, both my husband and I have gifted siblings (with gifted children) and gifted parents, and they had gifted parents... Love those stats. People ask, "How did you know they were gifted?" Well, I sorta assumed they might be and went from there.

And I wonder whether I would manage an average or slower child with grace. (With my first child born in emergency conditions weighing only 1.7kgs, this was something I had to consider.) It's hard enough with the children I have, who own a similar toolbox for the world.

Reading about methods of parenting gifted children may be our first experience thinking about better and worse ways of experiencing giftedness. So our gifted children get a mixed bag of:
  • our version of today's research
  • suggestions from peers that sound good
  • avoiding what we hated about how we were raised
  • expanding on what we enjoyed as children
All of this under the razor-sharp scrutiny of gifted and opinionated relatives who know exactly what we are up to because, after all, they went through "rejection-rebellion-I can do better for my kids than my parents did" before us.

We're all too used to thinking we know better than anyone else in the room, and we're also too used to disagreeing on most topics with just about everybody we meet.  And too many of us come from families where being right wins over being happy (if happy even gets in the game).

My gift to my gifted children

With all my love and all due apologies: when you find (as I did) that you struggle to fit in with the crowd, just remember:
  1. Don't fit in. The world needs your busy crazy minds, new ideas, and boundless energy, because business as usual is not going to save us now.
  2. There are people who will value you precisely for what you are. Since you're so smart, don't give up until you find them.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Outsmart that food package

cereal_aisle.jpgJeff Novick has it absolutely right. Never, ever, believe anything on the front of the package. Because they can say anything.

But even when they tell the truth, watch out. Learn a few packaging tricks on your way to better health.

Fortified with...

If a product is bragging about how much extra nutritional power it's been fortified with, ask yourself this...

Do we fortify broccoli?

Real foods come with real nutrition. What has been stripped from the product in your hand so it now needs supplements?

  • Is it a refined grain starch, stripped of its fibre and germ?
  • Is it a fake fruit, made of artificial flavours and sweeteners?
You owe it to your health to figure it out.

Low fat

Hooray! Low fat foods are harder to find. But is it really?

Fat content is officially defined by weight, not calories. So your low fat "2% milk" is in fact 31% fat by the calorie value it supplies.

And even when low fat really is low fat - in a packaged food, that usually means high in sugar, salt, or both.

Low sugar, low GI, or sugarfree

With diabetes skyrocketing, sugar is a popular food demon. And the glycemic index (GI) factor is another hot ticket to consumer acceptance.

You don't want lots of sugar in your food, and some low-GI foods are very healthy. But one low-GI food is ice cream - which has lots of sugar, but also so much fat that it slows the glycemic impact.

Check any food you like for its GI rating.  But don't let that magic number override your common sense. Here are some real ways to reduce refined sugar.

And if sugarfree seems to good to be true, it probably is. Sugarfree products, aimed at diabetics and the overweight, depend on artificial sweeteners which are laboratory products of dubious origin.

Generally, the processed food industry depends on fat, sugar, and salt to sell product. If a product claims to be low in any one of those, check what you're trading up in.

No artificial flavours

Great! Who wants artificial flavours? But don't be distracted yet. Keep reading.

Does it say "No artificial colours"? How about "No artificial sweeteners"?

The foods that brag about this sort of stuff will brag about all of it - if they can.

Great new taste (or extra delicious flavour) 

"Hey look, we just added more sugar, salt, and/or fat!"

OK, so you know you need to go read the ingredients. Looking, looking, where are those pesky ingredients?

Can't see ingredients list

It's already unforgivable that the ingredients list is in 7 point type, all in one runon sentence. (See what a real food label should look like.)

But if it's also printed underneath a package seam so you can't see what might be there even if your eyes were good enough? They really really aren't into letting you know what's in that product.

I highly recommend you put it down and walk away. You'll be better off.

No ingredients list 

Meat and milk packages are not required to have ingredients lists.

Only very recently have some ground meat products been required to have nutrition labels. Of course, nutrition labels do not report additive information.  And it's still guesswork what dose of cholesterol you're getting with a simple cut of meat.

But the ingredient is milk or meat, right? That's what the rules say - these are called "single-ingredient" products. But in the real world, let's look at two big complications:

  1. Food technologists - heard of meat glue and pink slime?  Ha, caught! I bet we know all their secrets now...
  2. So a farmer feeds GMO corn or antibiotics to the animals, and hey, presto, where'd it go? Now it's just "meat."  Or "milk." Magic.

    Antibiotic resistance is real. Why don't you need to know whether you're getting a dose in meat and milk?
Your only protection is knowing the source of the animals really well. A few of you could be that lucky.

Here's some industry-based information about what a meat package is allowed to say...  You'll learn some valuable stuff here about what code words indicate additives, but the biggest lesson is that they really really really aren't into letting you know what's in that product.


Sure, you should also consider the source when choosing plant foods; after all, they take in substances too. But:

1. Fruits and vegetables aren't so often sold in anonymous wrapped slices or mince
2. The nasties put on plants aren't specific to mammals like us
3. Animals get a double dose: any plant nasties from their food as well as anything the farmer adds
You are smarter than packaged foods - now go out and prove it!