Who controls your narrative?

Who writes your narratives? Who controls what you are reading?

This is something I often think about. With almost unlimited access to information and news sources, which ones do we regularly depend on? And how does that control how we see the world? These questions can take us much deeper; right into our core beliefs. Who controlled our narratives growing up? How are our core beliefs shaped?

I grew up in the post Regan days where DARE was still very much a thing. “JUST SAY NO!!” and all that crap. A few years after going through that program in a white suburban middle school, I started smoking cannabis at the age of 16. It changed my life in a number of positive ways and I realized that I had been fed a bunch of bullshit by most of the authoritative figures in my life. It led me to question what other things they were lying or were just plain wrong about. Fast-forward to 2017 and we know that the War on Drugs is predicated on lies told to the public with the objective to lock up minorities. The War on Drugs has done nothing but harm to millions and millions of people all over the world. The momentum of the program, the money invested in keeping drugs illegal and American’s prisons full, is fighting tooth and nail to keep from reforming. Heck, after the DEA ruled CBDs a Schedule 1 drug, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the UK has just announced that CBDs are medicine.

It goes to show that there are different sides to every story. On the one hand, the stereotypical image of the stoner is something that nearly everyone can call to mind with little hesitation. That image alone is enough to push people away. Compounded by the fact that getting caught with cannabis is the most dangerous aspect of the plant, and it just isn’t worth trying to many folks.  On the other hand, according to this article, which cites this research paper, maybe humans (some of us anyway) suffer from a cannabis deficiency. Cannabis could be downright healthy for us. And without the civil disobedience of widespread illegal cannabis use, we almost surely wouldn’t have the wave of legalization and changing public opinion that we have seen recently. Maybe cannabis isn’t the demon drug my generation was told to think it was.

We have all been fed a steady diet of narratives since we were born. Many of them were outright lies designed to controls us. These narratives mixed with lies have shaped who we are, how we identify ourselves, how we project ourselves to the world, and how we behave every single day of our lives. We are nurtured from childhood to consume stuff. It starts with the toys we want based on commercials we see, the chemicals in the food we crave, and ultimately how we view, and more importantly value ourselves. The story is told in many ways, but the Story of Stuff is a most succinct explanation of how criminally screwed up our society has become in the last 60 years due to a false narrative. It’s really an excellent short film, and certainly more powerful now than when it was first produced in 2007 because very little has changed.

These collective narratives leading us to consume have also led to depression, obesity, pill addictions, eating disorders, climate change, suicides, and more.  It is a powerful narrative spoon fed to us in every imaginable way. The ‘consume’ narrative is propped up by more money than we can possibly imagine, but it is not the way to happiness and never was, despite the fact that we are tricked to believe that it is. Cracks in the narrative have been appearing since the financial crisis in 2008. Recently those gaudy,oversized homes have fallen out of favor. The lifestyles of our parents are unaffordable by their children. Millennials are living at home more than anywhere else. Many are even worse off than their parents were at the same age for the first time in generations.

Compounding into all of this is the fact that everyone still collectively believes the narrative that we have to go to college. As a result, colleges got smart and look what happened to the cost. This narrative needs to be challenged and in some ways, it is.

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Here’s the part where I’m supposed to share a positive upside, but I’m not sure that I have anything positive to share. I don’t have all of the answers, and I’m just as susceptible to collective narratives as everyone else. I buy shit all the time chasing the rush, but that is starting to change for me. This year my wife and I placed a mandate on no gifts for Christmas. We are shopping for our first home, and we are focusing on smaller homes and steering clear of larger ones. I just donated a ton of clothes that I don’t wear any more, and I have no intentions (nor am I the type) to go shopping for more. This year I am making a concerted and focused effort to do more with less. To get rid of stuff, keep more from coming into our lives, and get the maximum utility out of everything we have.

The end result of this, I hope, is that we have more experiences. Personally I want to get outside more. Go hiking and camping and backpacking. Enjoy the vanishing nature that legally belongs to all Americans – for the moment. Spend time with the people I love doing things. We would rather take trips and go places than be shackled to our home by things with little to no intrinsic value. We are rejecting the narrative that stuff brings happiness.

However, choosing your narrative – and choosing it carefully – is going to become considerably harder. President Obama signed into law an act with a provision to create a national anti-propaganda center. The provisions in this law could be dangerous for the freedom of the press.  And almost certainly will totally not turn itself into it’s own propaganda machine to act in the interests of those throwing the most money at it. I mean, I just can’t imagine a scenario where this turns out bad. The American people being told what and how to think by corporate interests under the guise of the government…

My point with all of this is that in the era of fake news and information bubbles we owe it to ourselves to scrutinize not only who we are getting our information from, but the narratives that we ourselves believe – and the narratives that are constantly being forced on us by external parties. When we pick and choose what is right by us, we can’t turn a blind eye to the bigger picture or to the possibility that we are being duped. It is not OK anymore to dogmatically believe in one way of thinking and ignore all evidence to the contrary. The world is a complicated and nuanced place that requires more adaptation now than ever before, and that has to extend to our belief system. When I turned 16 I thought that buying shit at the mall was good and that cannabis was bad. I have since figured out that it is the other way around, guided by the search for truth. In that search I’ve had to shed closely held beliefs as their fallacy became exposed. The quest for truth will never end, but that’s the whole point: it is the journey itself that matters most.

 

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Daily Puff News Round-Up 29 March 2016

Dangerous plants, badass animal attacks, US history gets even more racist, the one new thing you can’t enjoy summer without, and new Trailer Park Boys!

Holy mother of god, I just learned about a shitstorm of a plant. This plant can cause so much pain with just a single brush, it has driven people and animals to suicide. This thing is seriously a demon plant creating hell on earth for anything that runs afoul of it. If it were driven to extinction, I don’t know that it would necessarily be a bad thing. Even breathing around it can cause allergic responses, respiratory issues, and may result in hospitalization. Any way you look at it, it’s the exact opposite of the cannabis plant. (Contact results in months or years of pain and suffering, has no use to humans.)

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2009/06/gympie-gympie-once-stung,-never-forgotten/

lounge1

We have found one MAJOR thing that will change the way we cannabis enthusiasts enjoy our time outside! I saw a video for an almost identical product that ultimately led me to this. With the additions of an anchor loop, cup holder, phone/tablet/book holder, I don’t know if there is anything more amazing than this…what the heck do you call it? Chair? No. Hammock? Closer, but no. Air bag? Ok, Air bag kind of works. It floats, it can seat three, and you can spend a good chunk of the day in the thing and not regret a single minute. I have a vision of me chilling in this bad boy with my two UE Boom speakers on either side playing some reggae, smoking a pipe, enjoying an adult beverage, sitting outside in the sun or shade with an ear to ear grin plastered on my face for multiple hours. Heck, I can even see taking this on a lake or a friends pool. You can take it in a pool! This will especially come in handy at music festivals as well. What more could you want?

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/kaisr-original-the-ultimate-inflatable-air-lounge/x/10001509#/

The Brotherman found this article and sent it to me. It’s old, but that shouldn’t matter. This dude used a pocket knife to defend against an attack by a cougar. The whole story is utterly badass, as is the guy involved, and it serves to underscore the importance of always carrying a pocket knife with you wherever you go – as most of us at the Daily Puff do.

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Attacking-cougar-killed-with-pocket-knife-1092755.php

This story is the only one here that gave me that sinking feeling in my stomach. The kind of stomach-pit that is filled with dread, disgust, and anger. Confirming long held assumptions by many anti-drug war advocates, we know now that the complete failure known as The War on Drugs was started as a way to target far left dissidents and African Americans. With this coming to light, it’s time to end this costly and terrible war and divert all of the funding to NASA and asteroid defense initiatives.

http://mic.com/articles/138664/the-war-on-drugs-horribly-racist-origins-have-finally-been-revealed#.TBIlKL2Jn

Trailer Park Boys season 10 now out on Netflix! After bingeing the first 6 episodes, I can honestly say that I am enjoying it. I had read that some people didn’t like it, but there’s a chance that they were not medicated enough to go with the flow and enjoy it. I have been having a good time with it and I think their expansion into the world of Sunnyvale is pretty cool. My opinion might change upon finishing the 10th season, but so far, it’s a greasy good time.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 2016: Super Tuesday Aftermath 

Last night sent an already historic presidential race careening into the primaries amid an unprecedented amount of turmoil. Trump took a major lead for the Republican’s, but Cruz refuses to respond to the bug spray and go back into his hole in Texas. Clinton took home seven states to Sanders’ four, but the progressive still had impressive turns at the polls. In the seven states that he lost, Sanders won around a third of the vote or more, sometimes nearly half, with the two exceptions being Alaska and Georgia with 19% and 28% respectively. Still a considerable pull for someone who never stood a chance…
With the most populous states yet to vote (Texas being the exception), the race is far from over. Trump and Clinton both gave their speeches from Florida amid their continued campaign. Clinton’s message changed somewhat from earlier in her campaign. Her speech attempted to unite her party’s foundation against Trump and win over some of Sanders’ base with some progressive lingo borrowed directly from Sanders’ talking points. Seeing her attitude change towards the progressive policies is encouraging, but the American people have been fooled by this before. It’s old politics and her rhetoric is only masking the nebulous possibilities of what a Clinton presidency could hold. 
Elsewhere in Florida, Trump gave his Super Tuesday victory speech. First introduced by Chris Christie, the fat bully and bigot from New Jersey, there was great pleasure to take in watching Christie share the airwaves while Trump expelled his signature gaseous eruptions. Christie, standing over Trump’s right shoulder in prominent view as he attempts to sidle up to the GOP’s wrecking ball, offered us insight into his lost soul. His brow constantly furrowed as his eyes darted around the room, unable to remain focused for long. We see him frequently getting lost in thought, not paying particular attention to Trump. Christie is clearly on another planet, praying for Trump’s speech to end so he can engulf more of the buffet. I encourage anyone to – just once – fast forward or rewind through Trump’s speech and focus on Christie the whole time. His performance was that of a brilliant sad clown. 
Drumpf’s speech was entertaining as usual. Covering familiar points, the fatuous fuck praised his voters – CNN isn’t shy about calling them dumb, poor, and white – for giving him his lead. Offering little in the way of policy, and shutting down a reporter or two trying to ask real questions, Drumpf provided us with the familiar canon that has pulled him to lead in this race. 
As his neck folds attempted to engulf his shirt collar, Drumpf continued to sell his base on his negotiating skills while taking ample opportunities to inhale his own stench with long, audible sniffs. The questions that have been left unanswered, and I’m sure Drumpf would call me a loser and refuse to answer them, is how in God’s name does a trade deficit equate to A) Mexico paying for a wall? and B) the Gulf States taking in refugees? There is no answer because it won’t happen. Drumpf is great at selling himself and negotiating from a position where he holds the power, but what happens when he gets into a mess and has little or no power left to negotiate with? He is a bully, like the sniveling barnacle suckling at his jowls, Chris Christie, and when their power dries up, or the tables turn against them, there is no doubt that this type of megalomaniac will sell us all down the river, or scorch the earth trying. Make no mistake, the sots parading before us are not there to help make America great; they’re there only to make themselves great. 
But credit must be given where it’s due. Both Drumpf and Sanders are galvanizing a population dissatisfied with establishment politics and corporate interests buying up Washington. Both party establishments have taken years to painstakingly usher in this current wave of political revolution and creative destruction. Granted, that certainly wasn’t their intention. No, they were vying for complete control; constricting the movements of government to a two party system that serves as a profitable charade for private institutions. Politics is the entertainment division of the political industrial complex, we are told. 

The GOP, for years, has worked diligently night and day to keep large swaths of America poor, dumb, and fearful. They’ve been grooming that vein and tapping into it regularly for the last 50 years. What they didn’t anticipate was that it was open for others to tap into as well. 
Both parties, by creating such impossible barriers for a third party after the ‘96 elections, have limited America to a two party system – which is why we have Drumpf running as a Republican and Sanders running on a Democratic ticket. This circus has now created a schism of divide within each party. Unless each party addresses the progressive, antiestablishment contingents by catering to them, the parties are doomed to splinter or ruin, with the GOP falling first. The larger thought is that America needs more than two parties. The idea of a two party system representing the vastly different regions of America is as absurd as saying that Texas, New York, Chicago, California, and Florida are all pretty much the same; one you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all.  
On the democratic side, it would seem that by moving towards the center right since the 80’s, they’ve alienated a certain – and sizeable – chunk of their base. And there is really no telling how the Sanders supporters are going to vote come November if it’s a Clinton/Drumpf race, which it will almost certainly be. More than a few people see any alternative to Clinton as a ‘fuck you’ to the powers that be… At this point in the race, Clinton is not the unifying candidate Obama was in 2008 and she lacks the charisma and charm of her husband. She has begun changing her message, but with a campaign entrenched in scandal and a current of distrust rippling through potential voters, Drumpf has a shot of winning some of the democratic antiestablishment over to his side. He will have no trouble pouncing on her weaknesses and ripping them open like a rabid hyena in front of all the world. (What’s the over under for how many times he calls Hillary a loser? Anyone want some of that action?)
The irony of Drumpf parading as the antiestablishment Republican candidate is that he is the very type of businessman that makes his fortune swindling the middle class, the poor, and the ignorant. His rhetoric last night about forcing Apple to bring their iPhone production back to America, bringing jobs back from elsewhere in the world, sounds great, but has no founding in actual economic or political principal. For any of this to work and be profitable for the company, the American worker would need to acquiesce to a life of indentured servitude – which is what the poultry industry has done to its farmers. 
Drumpf is seducing the fat, dumb, American country girl with his glamorous, big money, big city ways. When the lights come on next January, there’s going to be a lot of shame, self-loathing, and regret. But that’s not to say that there isn’t joy to be had watching the establishments of both parties scramble and the two party system teeter on the verge of crumbling. For many of us, myself included, there is a bit of glee watching party politics fail and a joke candidate transform into a sobering reality as we careen forward, almost certainly to our doom.