Coming Up for Air

Coming Up for Air

By

Cognitive Dissonance

 

 

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” – Originally attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but the actual author is now in question.

 "That's another (fine) mess you've gotten me into." - Laurel & Hardy catchphrase.

 

Even though I’ve written about our collective insanity for well over 10 years now, to actually witness it’s metamorphosis from slow burn to raging wildfire is both frightening and breathtaking in scope and intensity. Unfortunately, we have many miles to go before some semblance of sanity returns, both collectively and individually. We are truly living in interesting times.

Those who still struggle to maintain some sense of sanity during these times are at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with raw unfiltered insanity. “We the Somewhat Sane” rely upon clearly defined rules of social, political and emotional decorum. We call this civilization, with a strong emphasis on being civil.

But we are severely (self) constrained when dealing with others out of a debilitating belief in the right of all to their own beliefs and self-determination. And expect others do the same with us. Normally this works reasonably well, at least in a civil society where the lunatics aren’t running the insane asylum. Or at least the transgressions are kept down to a dull roar, as my mother used to say.

We who are reasonably sane are self-constrained, those who are not are not. And to be perfectly frank, the unconstrained are quite alarming when witnessed up close and personal. It’s a proximity thing. A bear seen in the distance is an entirely different animal than one seen loping through the front lawn while you’re lounging on the porch. Or worse, you round the corner and find yourself between mama bear and her cubs.

These days, mama bear is the insanity of the ‘woke’ mob fomented by a biased and agenda driven mainstream media, egged on and endorsed by totalitarian social media, all while being bludgeoned to death by an increasingly tyrannical government. All of which is carefully orchestrated from behind the scenes by those entities who will most benefit from social chaos and economic destruction. One doesn’t need to name names in order to grasp the concept of Cui Bono.

For at least the next several years, and more likely several decades, the most dangerous words we can say to ourselves are “They would never do that.” Because if there’s anything the last decade (or two) has taught us, it’s that they most certainly will.

 

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“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert, Dune

 

Fear, when employed by nefarious hands, is simply and ultimately a control mechanism. While the actual means used to instill fear and the ultimate goal for using fear may vary widely, the true purpose is to limit the target’s perceived choices to fight or flight.

Most will not fight, especially if the person manipulating the fear is perceived as an authority figure or one who has great power via money, influence or politics. That leaves nearly all with flight, which when confronted by those very same powerful people, is often expressed as begrudging and/or passive acceptance. Or, in more extreme cases or circumstances, some will mount a vigorous defense of the fear manipulator and oppressors a la The Stockholm Syndrome.

I remember reading Dune as a young and immature teenager. I was fascinated by the story line and required three consecutive readings before I began to truly absorb and appreciate some of Frank Herbert’s superb and subtle commentary on so-call human nature and the human condition. While the “I must not fear” passage quoted above was instantly acknowledged as profound and revelatory, I did not examine it other than superficially because I was in the middle of my state mandated and controlled ‘education’, also known as programming.

Quite frankly at that age I had little capacity for alternative explanations for life’s various insanities since I was being taught to regurgitate force fed ‘facts’ rather than to critically think. Fifty plus years later, it’s even worse.

About 20 years ago when I began my ongoing and never-ending awakening and was consumed by my initial reassessment of just about everything I thought I knew, I began to realize the emotional response patterns of “We the Conditioned” were primarily focused around fear. And I’m talking about being repeatedly programmed (‘shocked’ to be perfectly frank) with fear applications and responses comparable to Pavlov’s Dog intensity of conditioning.

What exactly is ‘human nature’ when humans have been herded and domesticated for thousands of years, essentially breeding out any semblance of critical thinking, truth speaking and spirituality earlier era humans once possessed. We are repeatedly and consistently told humans have always been the way we are today when it comes to ‘human nature’. Only the tools and methods of human cruelty has changed, not the humans themselves.

Sorry, but no sale. If I were to cage a group of in-the-wild rabbits, then breed and condition them thru dozens of generations to be passive and dependent, could I then claim those cuddly docile creatures exhibit all the facets of true rabbit nature?

The fact remains I couldn’t if I were to be intellectually honest. While it can be competently argued many rabbits are the product of domestication techniques such as genetic manipulation and selective breeding, rabbits you and I would generally come into contact with aren’t an exclusive and only example of ‘rabbit nature', now or at any time in the past or future.

I can say the above with confidence and without significant fear of contradiction because there are still enough wild rabbits available for inspection and assessment to sustain my claim. The same cannot be said for humans. Very few of us retain, let along exercise, our true wild roots and nature. And I don’t mean cave-man primitives when I say wild. There is enough available evidence, written, circumstantial or otherwise, that illustrates man from previous epochs and eras is similar only in appearance to today’s poor specimen of a large brained somewhat self-aware bipedal creature.

We are all products of dozens of generations of (ongoing) socioeconomic breeding and psychological manipulation. And it is rapidly becoming increasingly sophisticated and invisible to those under its thrall and control. I have previously argued we are all essentially insane, but since actual sane humans are not readily available for comparison and review, insanity (no matter how mild it may be) is by default the new normal.

I suppose my argument will be easily rejected by those who wish to because of the ‘insanity’ trigger word I just used. After all, we all know what insanity looks like. All one need do is visit an insane asylum to view the product of insanity in humans. But insanity is not an all or nothing condition, something as easily distinguishable as the difference between black and white.

There are a million shades of gray between those two polar opposites, and contrary to popular (and delusional) belief, nearly all of us fall into a somewhat narrow range of gray within the entire grey spectrum. After all, those who condition and program us desire consistency and uniformity among the plebs, if for no other reason than to create a reasonably controllable herd that can be easily manipulated.

Our masters want us neurotic but productive, compliant but trainable, controlled but still potty trained and capable of maintaining ourselves in form and function. For all practical purposes, free range humans, while still loosely caged and commanded, are much more valuable that forcibly constrained slaves. It’s a productivity thing.

I used the term ‘free range’ deliberately. I want my eggs to come from happy and productive chickens who remain compliant and sated. You know, as in having a low maintenance, low trouble quality about them during their productive years before they eventually wind up as the main ingredient in chicken soup.

If we are to be perfectly frank and honest with ourselves, do we really believe our masters think any differently about “We the People” than we feel about our cats and cattle? In truth, we prefer our sociopath slave masters to be well dressed and spoken so we can remain comfortably compliant, enthralled and blissfully ignorant while enjoying the artificially implanted belief we are ‘free’ and our lives self-determined.

Oh look, a belly button. I wonder if there’s any lint? Finally, another distraction to pursue so I don’t wallow in my own misery or look too hard at my own capitulation.

 

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                    “I'm not ignoring you. I'm busy building my empire.” ― Moosa Rahat

 

Speaking of insanity, Mrs. Cog and I are presently engaged in our own select tranche of madness. Willingly engaged, I might add, and during the worst inflation in 45 years. Even though the socioeconomic wheels are obviously coming off (or at the very least, severely wobbling and missing nearly all their lug nuts) we decided now was as good a time as any to build a house diagonally across from our own little slice of heaven for Mrs. Cog’s mother, my mother-in-law.

Now fully committed to the build, when not occupied by the task at hand I shake my head and marvel at our utter insanity. What was I thinking when I said we could do it? Clearly, I wasn’t. And while I’m the architect, engineer, general contractor and chief bottle washer when it comes to everything from the Sheetrock out, Mrs. Cog has it even worse. She must contend with the entire interior design ranging from the full kitchen to three baths, all interior doors and floors, light fixtures, paint and wall coverings and a thousand and one other details that encompass a finished housing product.

None the less, here we are, playing in the mess of our own making and at times actually enjoying the process. At times.

It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing. I was a home builder and remodeling contractor back in the 70’s and 80’s, so I know more than enough to be a danger to myself and everyone else within a 10-mile radius. And while the learning curve isn’t as steep as someone who is new to the field, old knowledge clouds the thinking. Not only don’t I know about many new construction materials, but also construction methods, entirely new products and 30 years of residential building code changes and requirements.

While placing studs 16 or 24 inches on center with particle board or plywood sheathing is still industry standard (at least for now) just about everything else I know is outdated or obsolete. The learning curve has been steep for this one. Unlearning something is often required in order for new information to displace the old. The last time I did any architectural design was with a lead pencil and a drafting table. You should have seen me struggle to learn the complicated professional architectural CAD design software.

I’m reminded of the story of a monk instructing a young student of the need to pour some liquid from his full cognitive cup so there’s room for more knowledge and understanding. Often the biggest impediment to personal growth is our unwillingness to discard old notions and beliefs. Instead, we tend to desperately cling to the old and outdated and summarily reject the new and innovative.

Compound all this with whiplash inducing price volatility that’s simply astounding if you’re watching construction material costs on a daily basis. We started planning this ‘cottage’ back in late April 2021 when lumber prices were beginning to recede from their ridiculous heights. They bottomed around August/September (but were still on average twice the price of 2 years ago) and started their second accent a couple of months ago.

For example, I bought several hundred sheets of 7/16 inches OSB board for what I thought was a ridiculously high price compared to two years ago. In the 2 + months since, the price has doubled (again) and is still moving higher. The same with the 5/8-inch exterior (CDX) plywood, which for a few days was actually slightly cheaper than 5/8-inch (actually 19/32) OSB (chip) board. That same plywood is now up 120% in price with no end in sight.

And let’s not even discuss floor and roof trusses. I ordered them 2 months ago for delivery next month. It was revealed to me last week they have gone up 40% in price since I ordered them. I’m only half joking when I say if these price increases continue at this rate, I could sell all the lumber already on site for such a tidy profit, it would reimburse us for the already purchased lumber and the already installed foundation and we’d still make a significant profit.

But then I would still need to build the house. Such is a nature of unconstrained price inflation.

I am a veteran of the last inflationary impulse here in the US, that of the 1970’s and early 80’s. My first mortgage, for a duplex in dire need of major repairs, carried an interest rate of 16%. At one point during the late 70’s many supermarkets no longer placed price tags on the items themselves because food prices were changing so quickly the supermarket couldn’t change the price stickers fast enough. That’s when they started placing pricing just below the item on the front edge of the shelf. It made it immensely easier to quickly mark up in-stock items.

In some states, laws needed to be changed to allow supermarkets to no longer price each individual item. Prior to this, people actually thought they should be able to pick up an item and see the price on the actual item. How quaint.

So, when I say I’ve never seen inflation this bad I have perspective everyone younger than 50 simply doesn’t have. While one may say they understand inflation intellectually, actually living within and during the last inflationary explosion adds great depth and perspective to my knowledge base. While all consumer goods are not rising in price at the same rate, every price IS going up, often at remarkable speed.

Mrs. Cog and I have been preparing for hyperinflation for 9 years now and we’re still not ready. While we’re well stocked with a variety of food and various other items (for years I followed the practice of why buy one when you can purchase two at twice the price) and we have a productive garden and greenhouse which we actively cultivate, ultimately if our income doesn’t rise at least in step with inflation, we eventually reach the end of the road. Or as many like to say, between a rock and a hard place.

I’ve begun to see stories in various (state mouthpiece) mainstream media outlets spewing propaganda about how inflation is simply a normal cycle in business and society. You know, like the weather. Nothing you can do about it, it’s just a thing that happens and then we move on.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is, all of this, deliberately planned and intelligently executed. If we don’t understand this by now, either we’re helplessly naïve or simply stupid. Or utterly enthralled by the shadows displayed on the damp cave wall.

 

01-31-2022

Cognitive Dissonance

 

The Cottage Foundation as of the end of January 2022

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