Smart people get a lump of coal for Christmas

Well, not really. Not literally at least. Readin’ this thing on the BBC that said people with a higher IQ were prone to higher levels of anxiety, OCD and other mental illnesses which in turn affected their careers, personal relationships and overall well being.

High or above average IQ (especially verbal proficiency, which pushes you over the cliff faster than other kinds of IQ according to said report)- check.

Mental illness- check, for… let’s call her Jackie. You remember her, the type II Bipolar kid I know.

Messed up personal life- check. For me. (yes I’d like to think I have a fairly above average IQ) Well, not really messed up. It’s complicated, just like everyone else’s. But I do know I’m not one of those that can’t go a day without hanging off of the hand of some Old Spice Armani idiot to drive away their fear of being alone. I’m quite happy alone, just as I would be in a good (read: functional) relationship. Anyway, that’s saying too much. I attribute it to my highly developed verbal skills.

Career- meh, in and out right now. Had one, progressed, got another job, Jackie had to switch that around because of you know what, and now I’m going back to uni so I can teach teenagers about The Importance of Being Earnest. Fingers crossed I don’t have to erase this plan from the books and scribble another one in its place.

Am I happier than people who can’t string two words together to make a sentence? I don’t know. I’ve never asked them. They seemed happier wherever I went, but it was about trivial things like helium filled balloons that made you sound like whatshisname and the Chipmunks, or snowflakes; things like that. I’m not saying these things don’t make me happy, I love looking at the symmetry that snowflakes bring, I like the first day of autumn and looking up to see Betelgeuse and wondering if it’ll go off any second. Does that really mean I’m not as happy as people less intelligent than I am? This of course, I’d like to reiterate, based on the premise that I have an above average or near high intelligence.

So- because people like Jackie and I are smarter than a lot of other people, without that sounding very stuck up, does that mean we get a lump of coal in our metaphorical Christmas Stockings?

Do we not get promoted because we work hard the whole year instead of water cooler trousers who only work hard when it matters? Do we get not get jobs because we’re considered overqualified?

Do we suffer when it comes to personal relationships because we think things over too much, as compared to less intelligent people who make decisions based on their feelings?

Does intelligence lose to emotions in that little boxing ring we sometimes call life?

Are we supposed to ignore well thought out decisions and an endless number of pros and cons lists and fly three thousand miles to see someone, adrenaline rush in hand, without an inkling of whether or not they might reciprocate our feelings? Tell me if you got a pair of socks for Christmas.

I think I’m getting a lump of coal.

All images courtesy of Google.



Is there a new kind of Hippie in the 2000s and 2010s?

And yes, I’m gonna start exactly where you think I’m gonna start.
What is a hippie anyway? I don’t know if I consider myself one because there are certain lifestyle traits that come with the label that I refuse to make room for in my life, but who is a hippie anyway? And what better time to ask this question than the time that I feel is most like the period just before World War II. Multiple wars, economic crises, new superpowers and of course, an arms race. In movies, hippies are often referred to as “Bleeding pacifists.” (Is that a line from The Imitation Game?)
I think I would be alright with that label.
Moving on.
Webster, and Oxford, what d’you say?
Oxford’s gone with the more conventional route I’d say:

(Especially in the 1960s) a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.

Webster, you’ve got your hand up. Yes?

: a usually young person who rejects established social customs (such as by dressing in an unusual way or living in a commune) and who opposes violence and war; especially : a young person of this kind in the 1960s and 1970s

And Webster has it. That’s what I think a hippie is. It’s not just about Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds or Puff the Magic Dragon (still great songs no matter what anyone says), it’s about opposing violence and war. When was Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities published? Let’s have a look and see when, but I know that’s when the pacifist in me woke up and danced on the beach like a person who has lost all sense of the word sanity.

About Benedict Anderson and Imagined Communities.

First published in 1983, additional chapters in a 1991 edition and a new revision in 2006.

So a little after the girls handing soldiers flowers period.

There has never been a period when the human race has seen a dearth of war. Maybe it’s just me but I can feel it in all the bones in my raggedy body….it feels like a world war is looming on the horizon. Before I predict the extinction of the human race, let’s look at the conditions before world wars, I or II, or both.

1.Economic depression, check. Let’s not talk about the obvious EU crisis. The US is hanging on, very determined. Asia’s booming, and why I said that will be very clear in the next sentence.
2.New superpower(s): In my opinion NASA should just send a satellite into orbit bearing the words “Earth: Made in China.”
3.Fall of the League of Nations: Sound familiar, UN? difficult decisions vetoed in the Security Council, overwhelming numbers of refugees ( incidentally the UNHCR has stated that refugee numbers are higher now than they ever were before or during World War II. ).
4.Rise of right wing fascism: I was watching an episode of Hard Talk on the BBC iPlayer.
Hardtalk is in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina, to mark the centenary of the start of World War One. Stephen Sackur talks to Karl von Habsburg – the grandson of the last Habsburg Emperor. It was the assassination of his great uncle Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914 that set in motion the Great War. Are similar tensions once again on the rise in Europe?

I’m not the only one who thinks so… Right wing parties are winning votes from the left and the right (couldn’t resist that one, it was right there)

In the UK, no need for introductions Mr.Farage. Enter the National Front in France and the BJP in India. Also coming to play are the Sweden Democrats, the Danish People’s Party and possibly the Pegida party in Germany. They’re benched for now.

Ah yes, and the upcoming US elections that are almost certainly going to be painted red by the Republicans.

Did I forget to mention all these political outfits have a rather strong anti- immigrant policy, or was that clear when you were denied a work visa at the Borders?

There’s a really interesting post about the 2014 general elections in the UK. Well worth a read, have a look here:

Given all these rather interesting and fundamentally disturbing factors, what is the hippie of the 2000s and the 2010s to do? Their cultural predecessors didn’t have the exact same environment to work with obviously, but where does the answer lie?
To what? To war, to extreme right wing politics (and by that I mean patriotic war loving arms dealers who’d send their brainwashed men and women into battle in the blink of an eye).
First, we, and the contemporary cousins of the 60s and 70s hippies ought to start with the definition of a nation. (yes, there is a difference between country and nation as a kid that has just learned how to add two and two together will tell you).
How do I see the nation? And who’s with me?
To me, the nation is an idea. An imaginary concept that exists within certain boundaries only because someone says they do. It’s an idea based on the premise that people within geographical borders share cultural and social histories, and it’s this idea that unites people and keeps communities together. I don’t take it rather seriously and I think the world would be a much better place if people loosened up and didn’t take nations as seriously as they do.
Going by that logic, just as Anderson says, the world could consist of nations based on the football clubs that people support. Arsenal Nation, The United Kingdom of Manchester, The Real confederation of Real Madrid… I could go on.
So yes, I’m with Benedict Anderson. Hand up if you are too.
That is the whole problem isn’t it? The whole ISIS thing, people waltzing off to Syria after watching Youtube videos at 3 in the morning, that is what is causing this entire mess isn’t it? The idea of a nation?
So , my question remains. Is the new hippie the person asking all these questions and staying out of war and radicalisation, and not taking to the streets? Is this a generation of silent flower children? Are they actively staying out of political issues because they want to, or are they more pinterest photographers than political progressives?

You tell me.
Or don’t.
All images  (Ultra Hipster and otherwise) courtesy of Google.

8 Ill-advised Reasons for Getting Married, 1792

8 Ill-advised Reasons for Getting Married, 1792

Aha! I’m not the only one.

The History of Love

What would you say makes the most solid foundation for a marriage? Trust? Financial security? The sort of profound and death-defying passion that would make Jack & Rose weep with envy? [let’s face it, they are the modern-day Romeo & Juliet, and I’m only moderately ashamed to admit it.]

It was in the latter half of the eighteenth century that the concept of marrying for love began to gain currency in the English popular mindset, and the younger generation expected a bit more say in who their partner might be. Inevitably, centuries of parental tyranny in these matters meant that alliances negotiated in terms of acreage and titles continued to sweep many reluctant couples to the altar.

Here, however, we have a brilliant print suggesting that many people cannot be trusted with such a momentous decision, giving a range of slightly less conventional – but still remarkably unwise – reasons for marriage. Take…

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Our Generation Did Not Invent Political Correctness, But We Can Fight It

Something to really, really think about.

Claire Lehmann

Political correctness is not a new phenomenon. The fact is that many dangerous questions are currently walled off by the baby boomers who dominate our universities (and large sectors of the media). Today’s culture war likes to scapegoat young people for the rise of the illiberal Left, but the responsibility really lies with the generation who came before us.

Each one of us has the ability to generate a hypothesis. A hypothesis simply comes from asking a question about the world and then using our imaginations to answer it. Almost every advance in human history first came from a person willing to look at the world, or the status quo, from a different angle. But if questions and hypotheses are going to have any impact they must be articulated. Questions have to come out of our minds and into the world around us.

The problem with P.C. is that it…

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We Don’t Need No Thought Control

As a former teacher and a person soon to return to teaching, this post did scare me.

A Buick in the Land of Lexus


Our kids are in CRISIS.

I work with teenagers in an affluent suburban area.

They don’t comprehend what they read. They use calculators to multiply 10 x 10. The average high school junior has no clue what the word “diligent” means.

They write essays resembling those of a 5th grader. About how Albert Einstein discovered electricity.

In tests administered in reading, science and math to 15 year-olds globally, we are behind TWENTY NINE countries in math. And our kids’ performance in reading and science is  not much better. And yet, American investment in education is unrivaled, globally.

Are you scared yet?

We lead the world in the consumption of illegal recreational drugs. And one of the chief sales outlets?


Our teenage suicide rate is the highest in the world.

EVERY DAY there are over 5,400 suicide attempts by kids in grades 7 – 12.

NOW are you scared?

The two places teenagers…

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Why me? Ask me.

This post was written after I spoke to a friend who has Type II Bipolar Disorder. She’s had it for about two and a half years.
She didn’t want to write it herself, but she wanted to get her thoughts out there. This post is a mix of her thoughts on the illness and what I felt when I listened. She has also given me permission to use this post in any of my other pieces.

Here’s what she said, after days of talking and three thousand cups of Earl Grey.


I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t. It’s got hormonal, teenage type whiny angst written all over it. I didn’t want to talk about it; even with P (her therapist) and certainly not with myself. Certainly not with the other two girls either.
But it all came rushing in to my head at the same time, like a sudden rush of blood as though I’d been hanging upside down on monkey bars or every time I remember the last words my grandfather ever spoke to me.
Why me?
Why do I have Bipolar Disorder?
Why do I need to throw back 9 pills every day and talk to someone about my feelings every Friday, when it rained just a little- not enough to give me an excuse to go home, but enough to drop in your little paper cup of cheap milky tea and annoy the hell out of you. Some people say it’s beautiful.
I don’t see it.
So yes, why me? Why do I have to be stuck with this?
Of course the answer is “nobody knows.” Cause they really don’t and neither do I. I can’t blame em. I understand it logically. But I can’t reconcile with it emotionally. Perhaps if they removed that part of my brain- the amygdala, probably- i’d be fine. No more breaking things when you get angry and no more shutting yourself in your room for 3 weeks and switching off your phone.
No having people look at you strangely when you sit in a long corridor waiting for the nice psychiatrist with the big bag of pills to call you in. No more waking up everyday and wondering if how I feel is going to change, and how much it’s going to change. No more taking extra meds to make it through class or work, no more falling asleep early because of the meds and not handing in papers. No more wondering if I’ll have to quit another job.
No more of ‘no warning signs.’ I don’t want a warning sign. I don’t want any sign at all.
I just want to be…normal? Is that what it is? Am I not normal because I’m Bipolar?
Me: This brings to mind a number of cultural and historical references of two opposites of the same coin, two polarities of the same person or the same entity. The Roman god Janus, Jekyll and Hyde even counts in my opinion and I’m sure you will agree once you look at it through the lens of bipolarity. Even in things like Harry Potter, although once you want to see something you see it whether or not it is there. I’m stepping on the toes of Oscar Wilde’s speech when he was convicted of indecency under the 1890 Labouchere amendment.
For some reason I need no excuse to bring up Oscar Wilde’s indictment. Or the Marquess of Queensbury’s infamous libellous note that he sent to Oscar Wilde, that had a very famous spelling error in it. Look it up.
“You just have a- a problem.” said Harry.
“I do not forget- professor Snape made me the wolfsbane potion every month. I could curl up in my office, harmless, while not in my human state. I was just a harmless werewolf.” said Lupin.
HIs other side, yes. HIs other side that often put himself and those around him in danger. Sounds a lot like the confidentiality clause in the agreement between mental health care providers and patients.
One of three circumstances in which psychiatrists can or are obligated to reveal the nature or existence of a mental illness is when the patient puts either his or her life in danger, or endangers someone around them. I’ve signed many of those babies. Can do it with my eyes closed.
On one hand I know I shouldn’t be complaining. I know I’m better off than a lot of people out there. People who share my condition but are in worse health, people who share my condition and cannot access healthcare, and people who don’t share my condition but aren’t as fortunate as I am. The law of large numbers or a chance occurrence with no meaning attached to it, those are the circumstances of my birth. That sounds like I’m an important person, you know, globally. ‘Course I’m not. I’m happy with that.
Anyway, I digress.
I hate saying these things. I’ll deal with it. Course I will. Then why am I so angry…sometimes?
Everyone is, right? Everyone should be I suppose. I don’t want to ask them…and I don’t want to tell.
Me: I don’t see this as a test obviously. Atheist. Don’t see this as an evolutionary landmark. Genetic predisposition to mental illness is definitely something that homo sapiens sapiens needs to weed out. It just doesn’t make sense, evolutionary.

So there’s going to be a point of time in human evolution where there won’t be people like me at all. That’s a good thing I guess.
Is that supposed to make me feel better? Is that supposed to make me feel special now?

I’ll tell you why I’m angry. And why my train of thought is so disconnected.
I’m angry because it’s the natural response to something like this.
That makes me normal in a way… doesn’t it?

Image credited to: iesnoth on Deviant Art