The San Francisco Quarterly Report – March 2019

Weather

Since the last report there has been extreme weather. Late in 2018 a fire season began that was massive. Whole neighborhoods in Santa Rosa burned to the ground. The city of Paradise in the Sierra foothills burned to the ground. There were massive fires in southern California and all up and down the coast. In San Francisco the smoke was so thick you had to wear a mask to breath outside. From San Francisco, Oakland was not visible.

Then on Thanksgiving Day the rains came and it was a gift from the heavens. Since then the rain and storm dump on the Sierra. Snow-pack is at 150% of normal. For people who like to hike up to the tops of mountains and ski down – that activity will be available until the end of June. We are just now beginning to dry out.

Politics

Governor Jerry Brown has retired and been replaced with the former mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom. Jerry Brown has been a great public servant, and we will miss his generally good judgement, candid sense of humor, honesty and fiscal skills – why Republicans get the moniker of being fiscal conservatives when they always drive federal and state governments in to debt is strange.  Jerry leaves Governor with money in the bank. We know that with Gavin, at least we now have a Governor with way better hair but certainly less brains. Let us pray that Gavin uses good judgement. We know he has no sense of humor.

Sporting News

I do not pay attention of professional sports so this is about the local sports. The skiing is fantastic, there is plenty of snow. Biking is off the charts when you can hit a clear day after a rain, 50 degree weather. Great light.  Light winds. The surfing is off the charts with many head-high and overhead days with off-shore winds and long period swells.

Surf in Norther California – 2019

San Francisco Construction Boom

A few photos of San Francisco and the changing skyline. Building all over town is extensive. The new Warriors stadium is looking like it is on schedule. Warehouses are being torn down. Condos are being built in record time.

Thoughts on the New APA Guidelines for Men

Recently the American Psychological Association (A.P.A.) published their new guidelines entitled the American Psychological Association’s guidelines for practice with men and boys . Writing and publishing something like the guidelines for practice with men and boys is a strange and ill-advised project. Creating guidelines for protologists on the use of the FOS-425 for colonoscopies on men over fifty seems like a good idea, but men are far too  varied and complex to create generalizations and guidelines.

Before you read further, I highly recommend that you read the actual paper. It is rather odd that like Moses’ 10 Commandments there are 10 A.P.A. guidelines for practice with boys and men. But perhaps it is more like an A.P.A. awards document as I am sure that of all the researchers and contributors who’s studies are cited celebrated this career triumph with a lot of wine and champagne to fortify their narcissistic egos. I believe the  guidelines will be viewed as a curious historic document, similar to writings and guidelines for women during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when doctors and the medical scientists viewed woman as having the “woman problem.”  This is clearly outlined in For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Now that Western medicine has terrorized woman for over 200 years, for some reason they now have moved on to men. In fifty years, the  American Psychological Association’s guidelines for practice with men and boys will be embarrassing evidence on just how absolutely naive, cult-like, dangerous and  ignorant the A.P.A. is to history, philosophy, language and actual science.

Indeed, after the American Psychological Association’s guidelines for practice with men and boys were released it created a bit of a firestorm. People on the conservative right and academics of all walks often criticized the paper as either being an attack on men and traditional morals or simply inaccurate and absolute intellectual self-deception. The New York Times ran an opinion piece that basically side-stepped the issue and did a report of how various people and authorities on the subject responded to the “guidelines.” However, the critique I found most perceptive was by Jacob Falkovich and his essay Curing the World of Men

Curing the World of Men

This is, after all, the same organization that classified homosexuality as a mental disorder until the seventies, and whose members were not discouraged from recommending conversion therapy until 2009. You’d think being wrong about gays for a century may teach the APA some humility. –Jacob Falkovich

What I find alarming about the A.P.A. is the fabric of the organization. To me it has characteristics more in keeping with a cult or a religious organization than a scientific organization.  If you simply start with the “definitions” at the beginning  (gender, cisgender, gender bias, gender role strain, etc.)  you can see right away they are laying the ground work for current fashionable cultural assumptions and not science.   For example, the term “gender non-conforming,”  which is so in fashion in psychology these days, rarely gets scrutinized. “Gender non-conforming” – based on what? Is the A.P.A. now determining the “style” of a certain gender. Is a gender “style” for some reason now an important part of psychotherapy and also a subject of science? From the very introduction, the paper begins with some pretty shallow assumptions.

Boys and men are diverse with respect to their race, ethnicity, culture, migration status, age, socioeconomic status, ability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religious affiliation.

Seeing as men make up about half of the 7.5 billion humans on the planet, this statement seems accurate.  However, how can boys and men be diverse with regards to gender identity? They are both male. Last time I bought airline tickets I had to choose between either male or female in the gender dropdown. If the A.P.A. has discovered additional genders they perhaps should inform United Airlines. I do hear of non-binary as being another gender and there is of course intersex or hermaphrodite people but this paper and guidelines are for men. Then the next sentence gets to the core of how the A.P.A. defines gender.

Each of these social identities contributes uniquely and in intersecting ways to shape how men experience and perform their masculinities – Introduction to A.P.A. guidelines

“… how men experience and perform their masculinities.” What a strange notion that a man simply performs “masculinities” as though a gender has no biological basis and is simply a “performance.”  This notion perhaps comes from the psychologist Judith Butler and her notion that gender is defined by “gender performativity.”  That the A.P.A. adopts this theory as being a scientific fact is rather odd. This is why the A.P.A. is more akin to say the Catholic Church. Indeed if you create a study that is peer reviewed and published that challenges another prominent researchers’ work, you immediately get called out for not towing the accepted line. This is exactly what happened to Lisa Littman when her paper Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports when data challenged the  assumptions of other scientists currently in fashion. That people like Diane Ehrensaf, PhD from UCSF dismissed the study outright just shows how political and cult-like is the field of psychology and the APA. As a scientist, you would think Ehrensaf would be curious. “Interesting. You are taking a different angle than I did and found that kids with Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria seemed to be due to environmental factors and a common feature was an addiction to the internet.”  Instead, Ehrensaf dismissed the findings outright even though her work is often based on studies that have yet to be replicated.  This is but one example of how the APA is not really interested in science but ideological conformity. Often, in the end they become the unknowing henchmen of the pharmaceutical industry.


 

Not related to men specifically, Drug Dealer, MD is an insightful look how the medicine in the United States is the cause of the opiod crisis.  That “pain” is now considered a vital sign has profound influence on the prescribing of narcotics and other prescription drugs.

 

 


While reading the comments from the New York Times article it was interesting to read that the guidelines use of the word “stoic” is actually inaccurate, shallow and lacking of historical perspective. It is almost as though the modern psychologist notions of the topic of men was informed only by time spent reading the latest studies, watching beer and truck commercials, John Wayne movies and never bothered to learn some of the fundamentals.  Three times in the paper it discusses how stoicism in men is a bad thing, that “not showing vulnerability, self-reliance, and competitiveness might deter them from forming close relationships with male peers.” A rather odd statement for anyone who has ever participated in athletics and formed bonds with teammates and opponents. Online, in the comments, someone pointed out that “Stoicism” as a ancient philosophy of life is very different than what perhaps how the APA defines stoicism.  Recommended reading was the book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy Irvine, William B.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy Irvine, William B.
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy Irvine, William B.

It is good read and what you learn is that Stoicism as an ancient philosophy of life has more in common with Zen Buddhism than emotional repression and asceticism. I am certain learning about Stoicism is much more worthwhile than reading the APA guidelines. For when after the APA psychologist, who is having therapy session with your anxiety-prone child, decides “maybe its time to start medication or hormones” and suggests Prozac or Ritalin, you will need to consult some of the practical advice from the ancient philosophy of Stoicism in order to come to terms with your life’s turn of events.  But now I am going to stop writing, and as my father did before me, a very stoic creature,perform one of my many “masculinities” and do the dishes and clean the house.

Although there are differences in masculinity ideologies, there is a particular constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population,
including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence. These have been collectively referred to as traditional masculinity ideology

– From American Psychological Association’s guidelines for practice with men and boys.

What a strange definition of something the APA calls “traditional masculinities.” Of all the thousands upon thousands of men I have known, I have yet to know any who embrace that list. To stereotype people is a sign of a shallow intellect and for health care providers a dangerous path.

AJ Lee and Blue Summit – Don’t Miss this Band!

It is a strange thing that in this information age more people do not know about the band from Santa Cruz, California by the name of AJ Lee and Blue Summit. Last Sunday I went to the show at the Chapel and along with the usual familiar bluegrass community heard a really great line up of bands. It was the  Be Unbroken: Bluegrass Fire Relief Benefit Concert & Auction , a benefit for victims of the recent Butte County fires. On the bill were The T Sisters,  Lost Radio Flyers and Blue Summit. Blue Summit closed out the show and unlike other times I have heard them they were rightfully placed as the headline act.

Even though AJ Lee and Blue Summit are all under twenty five and AJ is just twenty they play and sing with a skill, soul and maturity beyond their years. That they have not been signed to a big record deal is amazing. That they often get called upon to play opening sets for bands way under their level is surprising. That they do not get called upon to play big festivals or even big local festivals like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is just strange. People in San Francisco into all genres of music should know about this band – they are that good.

Anyway, this post is a big shout out to AJ Lee and Blue Summit. AJ’s singing is steeped in the blues and when she plays the mandolin hold on to your hat because she can really play. When you do see them on some trendy late night show in a few years, just remember that I warned you, but I have been saying that for a few years now.

SEE: https://www.bluesummitmusic.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Week In Havana, Cuba

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to spend a week in Havana, Cuba.  I was tagging along with my wife as she was attending a Pan-America Nursing Conference. While she and her colleague attended the conference during the day, I explored Havana. The week was amazing.

Hotel National

People in the United States do not often think of the possibility of even going to Cuba. For so many years it was seemingly off-limits to US citizens, but in the last few years, midway through the Obama presidency relations “normalized” a bit – whatever that means. Getting into the country, flying in from Miami was no problem. A simple stamp on our flight boarding pass was all that seemed necessary. Checking the the box “cultural education” seemed the obvious choice but nothing was questioned. The usual custom form. Welcome to Cuba.

We stayed at the Hotel Riviera about three miles west  along the ocean of central Havana.  I can unequivocally say that the Hotel Riviera is a great place to stay. The rooms are fantastic. The staff is incredible. The pool is awesome. The buffet breakfast in the morning is awesome. When we left, we felt that we were saying goodbye to good friends and this is a hotel with hundreds of guests and 20 floors of rooms.

My main route into town was along the Malecon which runs along the entire north side of Havana. We walked this many times. It is a colorful place. The people. The architecture. The people fishing off the wall. Not far from the Hotel Riviera is the US Embassy.

Us Embassy in Havana

Recently there was a issue with these mysterious waves of energy that were targeted at US Diplomats and people in the CIA. At the time I did not think about that at all. Along the Malecon you would see trumpet players, even trumpet sectionals rehearsing, impromptu parties late into the night with live music, young lovers watching the sunset.  Often when walking this route someone would walk along side you and start up a conversation. “I work as at biologist. I make $50 a month salary.” Eventually the conversation would end up at “can I get some money for milk for my kids?”  This is what we soon realized was what we called the “Cuba tax.” Of course as the week went along we figured out how to avoid or ignore this scenario.

I saw Havana Vieja, The Museum of the Revolution, Hotel Nacional, Jose Marti’s birthplace, the Revolutionary Plaza. At nights we would venture out and hear some great music. The first night at a neighborhood social club, where in the back was a 12 piece Son band. Four trumpets invigorating themselves between mambos with a bottle of rum. Passing it around like a bunch of teenagers. The bass player, playing a home-made baby bass –  in the pocket and swinging hard, maybe a little bit more modern than the style dictated but he was in his 70’s so who is to say. Other nights spent at an extraordinary rumba concert where even Pedro Martinez played a solo set. A late concert with the group Interactivo that was fantastic. A few sets on the top floor of the Lincoln Hotel listening to the Septepto Nacional, a traditional son band that is an internationally touring act. All of these events and contacts courtesy of my son Kai who has blazed the trail in Cuba the last few years and made many friends.  Special thanks to Koton, Bencomo and Gioser who’s friendship we value like family.

Of course for people from the US, just seeing and driving in all the old Chevy’s, Fords, Plymouth’s from the 40’s and 50’s is a treat.  There is something a bit ironic about that fact that cars in the US now last often only 10 years. The old cars in Cuba are over 70 years old and probably because they were made to last to begin with they keep them running out of necessity. Often, they are completely reupholstered and the drivers consider them like a novia.

The historic city of Havana is a beautiful place even in its crumbling decrepitude.  Buildings are literally falling down. Balconies are falling off. People live in these 400 year old structures that are definitely not safe.

For a week after returning from Cuba, I could not help but think about the people and geography. Visit Cuba. 25 miles from the US mainland, it is a world way.

If you want to see an outstanding documentary to get an idea of Cuba, see Cuba and the Cameraman by Jon Alpert

 

 

 

The State of the Narrative

“You know, whether you send a bomb or receive a bomb it’s important to remember that we have some very fine people on both sides.”

Albert Ross – Colorado
From comments to NY Times article After Bomb Scares, Trump Tries Bipartisanship, Then Blames the Media


Two weeks before the November elections and all kinds of stories emerge. We are guided by narratives which is really about shining light on certain realities.  Assassinated journalists close to home reporting on events far away. Strange, explosive packages in the mail. Disenfranchised, vulnerable people migrating north from Central America in search of peace and opportunity. All events true and all extremely symbolic.

I cannot help but think what is the big deal about the migrants coming north. There are so many crappy jobs to fill in the United States of America that we should just open the doors and let them in. “Here’s a pizza and I think there may be a gig cleaning toilets at the Trump hotel or gardening at one of his golf courses. But be careful. Many people in El Norte are pretty stressed and on narcotics.”

One of the narratives which is perhaps heavier than anything in the news is the latest story in the New Your Times about the sorry state of the Pacific Ocean off of California. California’s Underwater Forests Are Being Eaten by the ‘Cockroaches of the Ocean’

If our oceans die, we die. That should be obvious. The intelligence of homo sapiens is way over-rated.

Nevertheless, remember to vote and if you do not vote you are letting some nutcase determine your future and you have nothing to complain about.