Factual Deception

“I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool.”

“I am righteously indignant, you are annoyed, he is making a fuss over nothing.”

“I have reconsidered the matter, you have changed your mind, he has gone back on his word.”
-Bertrand Russell

The above quotes were all examples that Bertrand Russell gave of what he called “Emotive Conjugation”, which has also come to be known as “Russell Conjugation” (clearly in his honor).  If you are unfamiliar with the term, allow me to try to explain.

Look at his first example above.  Firm, obstinate, and pig-headed are all synonyms.  That is to say, factually, they all mean the same thing.  However, they all have emotional connotations as well, and despite the shared meaning, the interpretation of the person who hears or reads it will undoubtedly be effected by the word chosen by originator.  That is to say, if I tell you that someone is being “pig-headed”, you would likely come away from that statement with a negative impression of the person…  but the negative interpretation is my own, and had you had a conversation with another person in the know, perhaps you would have come away thinking of them positively, that they were firm and steadfast in their actions.

Laying out all the words in direct succession illustrates the point rather well, because when you are looking at them all laid out next to each other, the emotive differences are readily apparent.

The choice of labeling the positive emotion with self and the negative with a completely removed person also seems meaningful.  We are of course almost always understanding of our own actions, and see ourselves in the most positive light. (Of course this isn’t always true, some of us have moments of self-loathing and well, then we might be more negative in our interpretations of ourselves than anyone else is).

Something I have noticed from time to time in my own life is that I will hear something on the news for the first time, and I will come away feeling a certain way about it.  I might even feel like I have a strong opinion about whatever it is at that point.  And then, I start to think about it more, and hear about it from more sources, and generally start to deconstruct the information.  When that’s all done, I’ve ended up on the other side of the issue, probably confounding anyone who I spoke to about it early on in my process.

Consider this clip about pollster Frank Luntz from Penn & Teller’s Bullshit (it’s an old clip, from around 2007 I believe):

As a pollster, he uses language and this emotive conjugation very carefully in order to shape the results of his polls, or as he puts it “get the right answer”.  If you word something properly, people are much more likely to agree (or disagree, depending on what you’re going for). He’s still doing it today, and it isn’t unique to Frank Luntz.  Polls simply aren’t reliable… except perhaps if you know precisely how the poll was conducted and are sure that there is no manipulative phrasing throughout the poll.

Think about some of the emotive political phrases that we have.  Illegal immigrant vs undocumented immigrant is a clear-cut example of opposite emotive phrasing.  Politics is full of emotive phrases, such as “common sense” (often applied to gun control or other regulations), or  pro-life/pro-choice, both of which have implications that the other side is anti-life/anti-choice.

As emotions are a core part of our being, it’s simply not possible for us to stop using this kind of language and speak in neutral language to each other at all times in our daily lives, but, I do think we need to learn to be cognizant of it.  When emotional language is being thrown around we should be careful to deconstruct it before forming concrete opinions.

We should be at our most alert when consuming the mainstream news media.  It has never been more apparent than now that they have failed at being a reliable and trustworthy news source.  It would not be too much to ask for these organizations to refrain from using highly emotive language, after all, they are supposed to be delivering the facts and letting us decide, but as soon as they start speaking in emotive language, they are delivering their opinion along with the facts… and they almost surely know that they’re doing it.


“Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
– Ben Shapiro

“Upon occasion, every now and then, some people get a feeling that isn’t real. They may think that it’s real, it may feel very real, and they may truly believe it’s real, but it’s just a feeling. It is wise to remember that, as important as emotions are, feelings aren’t facts.”
-Barton Goldsmith, PhD

“Anyone who has ever kissed a married man or woman because of a strong “feeling” can tell you this: feelings are, at best, fifth in line to the throne — sultry, like a bearded Prince Harry. But they’re no Queen Elizabeth demanding Prince William stand the hell up during an RAF air display.”
-Lisa Fogarty

I’d assume most people who maintain any level of interest in politics are familiar with Ben Shapiro.  Regardless of your agreement or disagreement with his positions, it would seem hard to me for you to argue that he isn’t an intelligent and principled person.  Remember, it is very possible for two intelligent and principled people to arrive at very different conclusions.  One of the phrases I most associate with him is one he began saying in order to combat the SJW ideology that rapidly permeated through colleges and universities in the past few years, and even seeped a bit into the wider culture: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”  I have no idea if he was the first person to say this or not, but, I think it’s fair to say he popularized the saying.

At some point during my web browsing yesterday, I came upon an article that had a title that hurt my brain: “Debunking the Myth That “Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings”.”  If you want to fully understand the remainder of this post, you might want to take a few minutes to read through it.

Done?  Ok, let’s continue.

First, let’s get to that title.  It is, quite literally, saying that it is a MYTH to say that facts do not care about your feelings.  In this context, this title, taken at face value, is saying that the idea that facts don’t care about your feelings is a widely held but false beliefs.  The statement is absurd.  If facts cared about feelings, then facts would change based upon how we felt about them.  I would challenge anyone to provide a single example of where this is the case.  I’m going to go ahead and make the bold assertion that it cannot be done, and then I’m going to move on, because, if you read the article, you know that the article itself never really makes any arguments about this claim anyway.

He begins by seeming to completely misunderstand the meaning of the phrase “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”  He says: “It’s catchy, and a great play on words. But it’s wrong.”  Then he proceeds to illustrate its falsity by pointing out that Republicans, like Democrats (and really all human beings), still sometimes base their arguments on emotions rather than facts.  It’s not that he’s wrong when he says that, it’s that he fundamentally doesn’t understand the meaning of the phrase he is trying to argue against.

Ben Shapiro, and, to my knowledge, no other influential conservative political figure, has never argued that no Republican ever bases their arguments on emotions.  That isn’t what the statement means.  The statement is saying that facts are facts regardless of how you feel about them, and your feelings won’t change the facts.  It implies that facts have greater value than emotions.  It also proposes that arguments based on fact are better than arguments based on emotion.  In other words, ideally, all of one’s positions and arguments are based primarily on reasoned evidence and not emotional response.

Multiple times in the article, he makes the claim that humans are irrational, seemingly in the sense that humans are in fact incapable of rationality.  He includes an interesting quote about how when people are in an over-emotional state they will behave irrationally, or form irrational opinions, but otherwise doesn’t seem to attempt to back up his assertion.   I have no problem at all agreeing that when people are reacting to events that cause extreme emotional states they are prone to forming bad ideas and dangerous policies as a result.  A prime example of this is how congress responded to 9/11, by passing the PATRIOT act, which continues to abridge our freedoms.  Or take a look at the response to virtually any mass shooting (which are incredibly rare, unless you decide that any shooting in which 3 or more people are injured is a mass shooting.  This itself is a great example of forming one’s opinion based on emotions and then attempting to frame the facts to support that opinion).

Whether or not humans are capable of rational thought is very important.  If we aren’t, then by extension science is inherently flawed and anything that it has given to us is at best a happy accident.  That would extend to all of mathematics as well.  It would also mean that there is no such thing as rationality, except perhaps in an esoteric or figurative sense.  Given that it is extremely unlikely that science is fundamentally flawed in that way, given how much it has benefitted us, I feel comfortable using all of our scientific advancement as proof that humans are capable of being rational.

Of course he isn’t wrong that humans also behave irrationally.  It is fair to say that we are not purely rational beings.  We respond in both rational and emotional ways, and the degree to which we do each is largely based on the related circumstance.  Ideally, we are able to keep the emotional part in check.  The closer that we are to a situation, the more likely we are to respond emotionally, rather than rationally, to it.  The mother of a child who died from a drug overdose is unlikely to be capable of forming a rational opinion on the best way to deal with the issue of drug addiction.

During the most recent Presidential campaign, Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson & Bill Weld were on CNN for a town hall, and CNN trotted out such a person to ask them about their position on drug control.  For all his faults, Johnson campaigned on a very reasonable position, that legalizing marijuana would ensure that safe marijuana, not laced with any other drugs, would prevent deaths.  This mother was incapable of hearing anything other than “we will eliminate all drugs so no one can ever use them again”, which is, of course, impossible.

Emotions aren’t without purpose.  It is because we feel sympathy for those who are addicted to drugs that we try to come up with a means to help them.  But basing the entirety of our argument on that emotion accomplishes nothing.

He uses the example of arguments against admitting Syrian refugees to show an emotional argument from Republicans.  I don’t question that perhaps many Republicans arrive there in that way, but, he also sets up a straw man in his argument.  Here it is: “It’s what convinces you that Syrian Refugees are dangerous after reading a story of how the FBI captured one Syrian Refugee terrorist.”  It simply doesn’t follow that if you don’t think we should accept Syrian refugees, then you believe that all Syrian refugees are dangerous.”  People that believe they are all dangerous are certainly among the vast minority, even if you ask only conservatives.  Whether or not they have reached the correct conclusion is irrelevant, but it is possible to arrive at the conclusion that it is not worth the risk to allow Syrian refugees to come here from a rational perspective.

There is one part of the article that I actually like a lot… the section just before the conclusion, where he offers what I feel is quite sound advice regarding working to reduce your emotional level.  Ironically, it is completely in line with the meaning of the quote he is supposed to be arguing against.

Right after my favorite part of the article comes the part that hurts my brain more than the title of the article.  At the top of his conclusion, he writes: “Instead of this brash naïve statement that “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” let’s go with “Feelings don’t care about your facts.”  It’s more inline scientifically, wouldn’t you say?”

No, I would not say.  The statements are equally true and not mutually exclusive.  Facts and feelings very frequently have very little relation to each other.  I might feel that you did something just to spite me, but perhaps your motivation for taking whatever supposed action was completely unrelated to me.  In such a scenario, I feel hurt, but the fact is, you didn’t take said action to spite me.

The remainder of the conclusion is a continuation of his team-based mentality, essentially boiling down to “Nuh-uh, we democrats have the facts and we aren’t basing our arguments on emotion!”  Never mind the fact that he just made the basis of his entire argument that people aren’t capable of arriving at positions based on rationalism.  Obviously, there are intelligent and principled democrats.  There are people in both major parties (and also in minor parties) that hold views that I would argue are impossible to arrive at rationally.  But obviously, the inverse is also true.  Sometimes, a person might have rationally worked out almost all of their positions, but on just one they have allowed emotions to dictate their position.

There are definite differences in the ways that liberals and conservatives think (I don’t know if there are studies that explore other political opinions, such as libertarians, but I’d be interested to see them).  It doesn’t seem that there are any solid conclusions that can be drawn just yet, except to say that there are physical differences in the brain.  Whether it is causal or consequential is, so far as I am aware, still an unknown.

The takeaway is this: Learn to identify when you are responding emotionally to an issue.  Identify why the issue makes you feel that way, identify the perceived problem, and temper your emotions.  Critically and rationally consider the best way to resolve the problem.  Perhaps you will discover the problem is different than what you thought it was in the process.  Follow the facts to whatever the ideal resolution seems to be.  If the facts change, be willing to re-evaluate and change your mind.  If you do this, you will be a principled individual, capable of intelligent and productive discussion.  And then you can save the world from the over-emotional crybabies who try to shout down everyone they disagree with.

Desultory III

So I decided about a week ago that I would reactivate my Facebook account tomorrow.  I am writing this post prior to the reactivation because I don’t want to make any kind of “I’m back” announcement, or draw attention to it in any way, but, for my own records (I really do like to go back through old posts, chat logs, emails, etc…  so when I say I’m writing for me here, it’s completely accurate), I want to write this.

I am going forward with some rules for myself in regard to my Facebook use.  The main one is that I am not going to install the Facebook app on my phone.  I am unsure if I achieved all my goals with taking the break, but if I can be more intentional in my use of Facebook rather than just using it as a way to pass by time, than I think I will have achieved success.  While I didn’t post here as much as I intended to during this time, my posting has definitely increased from the almost never that I was doing so before, and so it was successful in that regard to.  I have also made some progress in writing a personal project that I had been meaning to get to for some time.

My plan going forward with this blog is to reduce the number of intended weekly posts to 2 for the time being, allowing one of those 2 posts to be one of these rambly aimless “desultory” posts about nothing.  The other I will require myself to put some thought into and have some substance.  Of course, I if I have 2 such posts that I want to write, both of the weekly posts may be substantial ones.  My limit will be what my former goal was, however, 2 substantial posts, 1 desultory one.  Should I want to write a 3rd substantial post in a week, I may write it, but I won’t publish it until the following week, when I may be struggling to find motivation for something to write about.  In the unlikely event I am struck with constant motivation, I may revise these rules for myself.

In any event, I’m interested to see what it’s like to get back to Facebook now that I’ve been gone for a little over a month.  We’ll see how long it lasts!


Several days ago, I happened upon a video called “Against Empathy”, by Paul Bloom… it’s a promotional video for a book of the same name, which I would guess is probably an interesting read, but I have not read.  I am coming at this mostly as my intellectual response to what is in this video after letting it simmer for several days.

That said, I feel it is important for you to watch the video before proceeding, and so I am including it here:


After initially feeling that I simultaneously agreed with most of what he was saying but being a bit put off by the idea that empathy is altogether bad, I began to suspect that he’s not really saying the latter.  He is challenging the notion that empathy should be the highest good or our absolute guiding star.  I expect that in the book he probably more elaborately explains that… the video here is meant to be a bit more provocative.  That said, there is a lot worth addressing here.

The idea that putting yourself in the shoes of another, and acting on feeling their pain can blind you to the long-term consequences of your actions to better their situation is one that has gotten us into a number of quandaries in the political realm.  Not the least of which are the wars he mentions in the video.  But just look at what we got with Obamacare.  By any objective standard it has failed, but a lot of people will read that and respond emotionally saying “but more people have health insurance!”  True, but is the insurance worth a damn?  I’m not saying there are no individuals who are better off than they were before, but for the most part, people are paying more money than they should be for less care than they should be getting.  We have the system we have (and even what we had before Obamacare) because of empathy.  And it’s garbage.  (As an aside, we should have a system where insurance is fully optional, and most people would simply purchase catastrophic health insurance…  and pay for things like doctor visits and generic medications out-of-pocket.  When you get insurance companies out of the equation and doctors need to compete, watch how fast prices drop.)

I actually really like his example of the level of care we give to something like a baby trapped in a well vs something like climate change… and it brings to mind the quote: “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic,” which may or may not have been uttered by Stalin.  In terms of how the human mind processes it, there is truth there.  Small-scale, relatable issues, especially if they are close to home, are what we tend to feel the most empathic about.  This causes us to misdirect our efforts.  We spend all our resources trying to get a few babies out of the well rather than directing them toward things that are actually much more likely to effect us all.

Warm glow altruism is another major problem, not only as it relates to charity, but as it relates to politics.  People choose their activism based on what makes them feel good.  And so if they can find a person who claims to be oppressed, defending that people gives them that endorphin rush they’re looking for.  I’m not going to call out anything specific here, but the oppression olympics that is American politics needs to stop.

At one point in the video, he calls empathy “selfish moralizing”.  I can’t help but draw a parallel here to the Randian ideology of Objectivism.  To Rand, all people act out of selfishness, and even an act of love is one made out of self-interest.  (If you’re curious, I find objectivism fascinating and think there is often truth in it, but, I certainly don’t agree with Rand on all points).    I do think that is what is happening here.  It feels good to react to everything according to your emotions and simply let them be your guiding star.  However, what feels right is not always the best thing.  What feels right may be illogical.  What feels right may be harmful in the long-term.  Doing what is best for people may not feel as good as doing something that seems good but is unsustainable.

Empathy has a place in our mind.  In terms of day-to-day how we treat people, we should definitely still follow that golden rule.    However, empathy can’t be our highest standard.  We need to temper our empathy with logic and reason, and be cold-blooded when we need to be.  Sometimes the best thing for someone is to not give them what they want.  It can be hard, especially if it is someone close to you, but it’s worth it in the end.


Everything should be made as simple as possible … but not simpler.
-Albert Einstein

Simple style is like white light. It is complex, but its complexity is not obvious.
-Anatole France

All political movements are like this — we are in the right, everyone else is in the wrong. The people on our own side who disagree with us are heretics, and they start becoming enemies. With it comes an absolute conviction of your own moral superiority. There’s oversimplification in everything, and a terror of flexibility.
-Doris Lessing

One of the great detriments to our society is our tendency to over-simplify… well… everything.  It’s an understandable tendency, as simplicity is nice and easy.  When there’s a clear-cut right and wrong, you can be sure about something, and it feels good to be sure about something.

Simple is not always wrong, of course.  Some things are quite simple, and on those issues there tends to be very little diversity of opinion.  For instance, on the subject of murder, you would be hard pressed to find many who would consider it a moral good.  But, when you loosen it up a bit, diversity of opinion, and thereby complexity, will become manifest.  What about, not murder, but killing in self-defense?  In defense of others?  In war?  As punishment for murder?  There are many arguments for and against each of these.   Even with simple beginnings, complexity will arise.

In the current American political arena, I see the oversimplification of ideas on a nigh constant basis.  Presently, I mostly see it on the left, but, to be sure, the right has done so in the past, they will likely do so in the future, and there is probably some issue on which they are doing so now.

The most prominent example of political simplification that I can think of is the issue of illegal immigration, specifically as it relates to Donald Trump.  Ask a leftist why Trump wants to build a wall, and their answer should be obvious to you by now….  “Well, because he is a racist, of course.”  Ah, the height of oversimplification.

Now, I can’t prove that Trump isn’t a racist, though I would assert the burden of proof is on the person claiming that he is, but even if he were, this argument is a bit of a non sequitur.  There is no doubt that America has an immigration problem, and it needs to be resolved.  Will building a wall solve our immigration problem?  No.  That would be an oversimplification.  But (and I’m not saying I think the wall is practical or will be effective), perhaps it is a place to start.

Here is the complexity.  We have many, many laws related to immigration, and these laws are being broken every day.  In many cases, they are being broken by people who are otherwise obeying the law, and that probably most of us would consider to be “good people” if we were to come to know them personally.  However, a law that is unenforced effectively might as well not even be there.  Borders are only meaningful if they are enforced.  Well why should we have a border?  There’s a lot of social safety nets in our country that people could come and take advantage of without ever paying into the system.  It may sound humanitarian to help them, but it wouldn’t take long for the whole of the system to collapse under the weight of it.  You can’t divorce people from their beliefs and culture, and a concentrated flood of a group of people from one location to another would necessarily alter the culture of the destination.    That’s not to say that there is no argument to do away with borders.  Philosophically, I would agree that they are meaningless, just imaginary lines, and that people should be free to live where they choose.  But perhaps this is an idea whose time has not yet come.

Further complicating the issue, there are those who decide to be willfully obtuse, and say things like “people are not illegal” when someone comments on what should be done about illegal immigrants.  Of course people are not illegal, but no one is saying that, and you don’t really think they are, you’re just trying to be clever.  “Illegal immigrant” is obviously shorthand for “Person who entered the country without following immigration laws.”  Such a person is by definition a criminal.

Now, there are certainly circumstances under which a person who came here illegally perhaps should be allowed to stay, but probably in the vast majority of circumstances, they should not.  By the way, I mean this in terms of “going forward”, I think that we have ignored the issue for such a long time that anyone who is here now and is an otherwise law-abiding person should be allowed to stay, if for no other reason than that it would be impossible to deport that many people.  There are also of course an abundance of complexities as many have had children here, and have well-established lives here.

Do you see how it isn’t anywhere near so simple as “people are against immigration because they are racist”?  Hell, it’s not even as simple as “people are against immigration”.  Most everyone thinks that people should be allowed to immigrate here, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be done with no regard for law.  Anyone making these arguments that we are a country of immigrants is making the wrong argument.  No one disagrees with the words they are saying, but they do clearly disagree with what the person means to say.  If you want to abolish borders so that anyone can enter with no controls of any kind, well then, you should be making the argument to abolish borders, not to allow immigration.

These same principles can be applied to refugees and the “muslim ban”, and to things like gun control, healthcare, economics, and nigh any issue you can think of.  If the issue seems simple and without nuance to you, perhaps you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what those on the other side(s) of the issue really believe.

This extends beyond politics and culture and into religion and philosophy as well…  but this is already quite long…  I’ll save that for another time.

Desultory II

Without fail, when I say I am going to do something with this blog, I will fail to do it.  That’s not really true, but I do often suggest that I am going to do something here and not follow through.  I was otherwise occupied last week.  But, I have a couple of ideas for things to write about, so hopefully I’ll get in a couple of posts with real content here tomorrow and Saturday.

I decided the other day that I am going to actually take a stab at doing a podcast or YouTube channel.  I’ve thought about it for a while, and about a year ago really decided what I would want to do with it if I ever committed to it.  Surprise, it would look a lot like the sort of things that I write about here… sort of an intersection of politics, culture, faith, and philosophy.  I’d like to focus on the interplay between all of those things, as well as examine some specific aspects of them all.  Obviously I will be coming at it all from my own political, cultural, religious, and philosophical perspectives, but I also want to consider some things that I do not hold to as well.  Anyway, I picked up a pretty decent microphone, and I created a YouTube channel (nothing is there yet).  At first it’s going to be all audio and I’ll probably just cut together some images to talk over.  Once I’m comfortable with the voice aspect I might capture some video as well… almost certainly I’ll just be using my iPhone’s camera for that, as it should do the job well enough and anything better would be a bit pricey.

In any case, I am probably weeks away from actually posting something, but I plan to start recording audio (you know, as trial runs) tomorrow.  Tomorrow might literally be just reading through the blog post I write, or maybe just talking off the cuff about the same subject.  In any case, it will literally be just for me, as I won’t be posting it anywhere.

Soon though!

Oh, I guess I should update my feelings on being disconnected from Facebook.  It’s still pretty great!  I don’t miss it at all really.  There’s been a couple of times when not having it was slightly inconvenient because a link on google was leading me to someone’s Facebook page, or some app I was using wanted to log in to Facebook, but I really don’t miss being on  there.  This COULD last indefinitely, though whenever I decide that it will, I will probably briefly activate it to pull down all my pictures and whatnot on there.  I’ve found that life feels less contentious, and I’m not feeling that obligation to stream through that flood of information.  I guess the one thing that I have felt is a bit weird is whenever I come across something that I think is great (a video, or an article, or whatever), I haven’t really known what to do with it.  But I think that’s good.  I can share it directly with someone who I think will appreciate it, or I can just absorb it and use the information when interacting with someone, instead of just randomly shooting it out there and hoping that people “like” it.

Ok, that’s enough rambling.

Real post coming within the next 24 hours!

Desultory I

I haven’t taken the time the past couple of days to sit down and write, but I’ve been thinking of occasionally just blasting out a post of whatever random, disconnected thoughts pop into my head.  So that’s what this is the first of (that’s a roman numeral 1 up there, so be prepared for a II at some point).  This is unlikely to be the most profound thing you’ve ever read or that I’ve ever written, but, take it or leave it… like I always say, what I write here is primarily for me in any case.

Abstaining from Facebook is going pretty well.  I was surprised to realize that my previous break from it was over 2 years ago.  Didn’t seem like it had been so long.  That time for the first week or so I experienced strong urges to log in and would catch myself starting to type in the address or looking for the tab in my browser.  This time around I’ve barely thought about it.  That time I had planned on staying away from it for at least a month, and I think it had worked out to that almost exactly in practice.  This time, I have no planned timeframe, but it will almost certainly be longer than that.  Especially if I continue to not miss it.

The job search continues.  I’m trying to expand my options but my hopes continue to be with BSW.  It took a good while before I heard back from them the first time around, so I’m hoping that’s all that is happening this time…  I think I submitted my application about 3 weeks ago now.  There’s no way to know for sure for the time being.  Otherwise, I have a contingent job offer, but it’s going to take a while for that to go through, so I at least need something temporary in the interim.

I’ve gotten back into playing Final Fantasy XIV after a fairly extensive break.  I’m really enjoying it again, much more so then when I had decided I needed to get away from it for a while.  MMOs can sometimes start to feel like a chore rather than being fun, and when that happens, it’s best to step back.  Expansion is coming in just a few months and I’m excited for it.

I’m hoping to dedicate some more time to writing over the next couple of weeks.  I still haven’t done much work on the novel that I’m wanting to write.  It’s just a matter of setting the time aside.

Now that the weather has been really nice, and I think is going to consistently be getting nicer than it has been overall, I’m looking to do some more active things outdoors as well…  mainly going on some bike rides and running… maybe mix some hikes in there as well.  I’ve done a couple of bike rides already, and went for a run which was enough to realize I need to get my endurance up all over again.  Oh well.  It will come.

Going forward with this blog, I’m going to try to write 2-3 thought out topical posts per week, and 1-2 of these random thought posts to pad it out.  For the first couple months it’ll probably be on the lower side of those ranges.  But, I think it should be doable.

So… look forward to it!  Or don’t.  You know, whatever you want to do.


Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.
-Isaac Asimov

“Transition isn’t pretty, but stagnation is hideous.”
-Nikki Rowe

“When our first parents were driven out of Paradise, Adam is believed to have remarked to Eve: “My dear, we live in an age of transition.””
-Dean William R. Inge

Many times in my life, I have found myself in states of massive transition.  I suspect that I have experienced more of them than most people my age, though, I would also wager there are many who have experienced more than me.  Unfortunately, the last couple times it has felt like my life has come to a screeching halt while the rest of the world moves on around me.  Suffice to say, it’s not a pleasurable state to be in.

I have definitely questioned a lot of the choices I’ve made, and I wonder how things would be different if I had decided different things, or if I had reacted to events differently.   I tend to think that I’d probably at least be in a more stable and established position if I had done so.  But really there’s no way to know what would have happened.  There are many people that I would never have met, and loads of experiences I would never have had.  I can’t help but come back to the Taoist parable that proclaims “Who knows what’s good and what’s bad?”  It may be pointless to even reflect upon, because at this stage, there’s no going back.

So again I am at this crossroads of trying to find somewhere I belong.  The most obvious aspect of this for anyone that I interact with is that of employment.  I need a job that pays decently and that is at least tolerable.  This one is probably also the simplest, while it’s taking long than I would have hoped, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until something works out.

Less obvious might be that I don’t really have a social group that I feel like I really belong in anymore.  Which isn’t to say that I don’t love and appreciate my friends here, it’s certainly not their fault that this is the case.  But I don’t have even one single (as in, not in a couple) friend here.  In the best of cases, it’s limiting.  This is where some of what I wrote about in my previous post comes in…  I need to be better at meeting people.  Even forging one connection with, say, another single dude, could help greatly in connecting with more people.  That said, I feel an itch to be elsewhere, which I suppose may or may not actually be scratched by actually being elsewhere.

All in all, I would say that at present I feel profoundly unfulfilled.  I have few local friendships, and virtually none of those are terribly active, I have no romantic prospects, ever since my contracted at BSW ended I’ve lacked fulfillment in a job as well, and now have plenty of time to think about all that lack of fulfillment.

I recently decided to start working on a novel.  It’s not a format that I’ve done very much writing in, but I want to give it a try at least.  It seems like a good creative outlet for me for the moment at least.  Hopefully it will provide at least a modicum of creative fulfillment once it really gets going.

Anyway, I have to figure things out and find my way to a point where I’m at least partially, and hopefully mostly, fulfilled.  It’ll probably take some time and some effort… but I’m sure I’ll get there.

Sorry for the depressing post, I promise it gets better from here!

There Isn’t Really A Word For It…

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
-Dr. Seuss

If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
-Timothy Ferriss

It’s insecurity that is always chasing you and standing in the way of your dreams.
-Vin Diesel

I think we all have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, whether it’s shyness, insecurity, anxiety, whether it’s a physical block, and the story of a person overcoming that block to their best self. It’s truly inspiring because I think all of us are engaged in that every day.
-Tom Hooper

I spent a while trying to come up with a word to describe what this post is about for the title in order to keep with usual modus operandi of simple one word titles, but I really couldn’t think of or find one, so it’s two posts in a row with multiple word titles.

If you’re reading this, chances are you are familiar with the fact that I recently decided I was going to deactivate my Facebook account and take a break for awhile, and then enacted that deactivation just prior to posting this.  I didn’t want to post about any of the reasons why on Facebook, but if you bothered to come here perhaps you are interested, and even if you aren’t, I consider this blog to be more for myself than for any of the very small number of people who read it.  Truthfully there are a lot of reasons, but I am only going to talk about one of them, at least for this post.  You’re probably not going to see the connection to Facebook at least at first…  but maybe you will by the time I’m done trying to explain it, if we’re lucky.

I’ve never been what I would describe as a self-confident person.  I would say that most if not all of the negative aspects of me probably derive from that fact.  One of the most negative aspects of me, in my opinion, is that I am dreadfully terrible at meeting new people.  The main reason for that is that I am terribly uncomfortable around people when I don’t know how they are going to react to me.  And for some reason, I tend to believe that they are going to react negatively to me.  I’m sure this is probably rooted in some childhood experience and is a behavior I’ve never managed to unlearn, but I would really like to.  But more so, I want to reach a point where it doesn’t matter as much to me whether they like me or not.  Not feeling that need to be validated (or really I guess not feeling the need to not be invalidated) would take the pressure off of me when dealing with people I don’t know.  If I am dealing with just one new person, or just a few among a group of friends, I can handle it much better than I can when thrown into a large group of unknowns.

The problem mostly dissipates on the individual level as I get to know a person.  I feel like I can safely assume that once I know someone really well, I don’t need to worry about that anymore.  Although I can’t give voice to why I should be worrying about it in the first place… not being liked/validated by someone shouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  However, I often find myself moderating some of my thoughts around people who I know disagree with me about things because I have grown to like them, and I fear that they will not like me if I give voice to my contrary opinions.  This is one of the key areas where I feel like Facebook has been problematic for me.

Additionally, I think that for someone such as myself who struggles with many social situations, Facebook can become kind of a social crutch.  Although it might be more accurate to re-appropriate the immortal words of Mitch Hedberg and say that Facebook isn’t a crutch…  “a crutch helps you walk, [Facebook] is like a step I didn’t see.”  Facebook is all about the illusion of social connections and it makes you kind of sort of feel connected to people when you really aren’t.  That’s problematic for me.

Even as I write this, part of me feels that I shouldn’t post it.  Some part of my brain is telling me that I’m running the risk of being invalidated and that is something that should be avoided.  But that is why I need to post this.  Maybe someone will think it’s pathetic… I mean, hey, that’s cool, I actually think it’s kind of pathetic too.  Who goes through as much of life as I have and is still this bad at interacting with people?

If/When (I assume I probably will, but I’m not committed to the proposition) I return to Facebook, I want for 2 things to be true.  First, I don’t want it to be a social crutch any more, preventing me from obtaining and maintaining more real relationships.  Second, I want to no longer fear receiving invalidation or hope for validation based on whatever I decide to post.

So hopefully this is the start of a path to becoming a better human being.

There is no moral argument for Clinton/Trump

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
-H.L. Mencken

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate-look to his character.”
-Noah Webster

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.”
-Samuel Adams

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force…Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
-George Washington

“When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither. And when that choice is presented in rival arguments and debates that exclude from public consideration any other set of possibilities, it becomes a duty to withdraw from those arguments and debates, so as to resist the imposition of this false choice by those who have arrogated to themselves the power of framing the alternatives.”
-Alasdair MacIntyre

I feel like I’ve seen only one thing when I’ve logged into Facebook for the past week:  Endless posts stating why one  of the major party candidates represents a superior moral choice over the other one.  I’ve even seen some headlines talking about making a moral case for either candidate.  The very idea is laughable to me.  You cannot possibly make a moral case for either of them.  After all, we are talking about voting for the most powerful government official in the country…  and when you vote someone into office, you are without question culpable for the things that politician does when they are put into office.  The excuse of “but it would have been worse if the other one was in there!” won’t absolve you of that culpability.

It’s telling when you find yourself in the position of defending a candidates’ grotesque remarks about women.  There were many things that Trump said during the campaign that I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on, but at this point it’s pretty clear it’s not just that he’s an asshole, he’s a misogynist who also happens to be an asshole.  I still don’t believe he’s a racist, but he does lack empathy of any kind.  He is an authoritarian.  He is an enemy of free speech.  He advocates gun control based on the no fly list (a list that you can be put on without any kind of due process or recourse).  He’s a blowhard.  He’s a rich guy that pretends like he has the common man’s interest at heart, and he’ll say whatever he believes will help him get elected.

To the reluctant Trump supporters out there (which I believe is the vast majority of Trump supporters):  Whether you like it or not, a vote for Trump is an endorsement of all of that.  Voting for Trump is an endorsement of the idea that it’s either OK, or “not that bad”, for a guy to treat women, including perhaps your daughter, as a piece of meat, and talk about grabbing them by the pussy.  It’s an endorsement of the idea that one can act without empathy.  That voices of dissent should not be heard.  That government should be given more power.  That rights can be taken away from law-abiding citizens at the government’s whim without due process.   Even if you are correct, and Clinton represents something even worse, a vote for Trump is an endorsement of these ideas.

Glenn Beck’s recent statement that allowing Clinton to win by not voting for Trump is a moral, ethical choice (http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/10/10/glenn-beck-electing-hillary-clinton-moral-ethical-choice/) was one of the things that spurred me to write this.  He of course was misrepresented in that headline as saying that “electing Hillary Clinton” was an ethical choice…  he didn’t say that.  He said:

“If the consequence of standing against Trump and for principles is indeed the election of Hillary Clinton, so be it. At least it is a moral, ethical choice.”

I would add the converse, that “If the consequence of standing against Clinton and for principles is indeed the election of Donald Trump, so be it.  At least it is a moral, ethical choice.”

That aside, for exactly the reasons I outlined above, he is 100% correct in that statement.  Not voting for Trump is a moral, ethical choice.  Of course, to the partisan that refuses to acknowledge that the 2 party system is not mandatory, voting for anyone who is not Trump, or not voting at all, is akin to voting for Hillary.  And of course, the converse is also true when talking to the Clinton camp.  They would tell you that you are therefore morally culpable for what the other does, if elected.  Such a statement is illogical, ludicrous, and not worthy of any serious debate.  Not voting is a perfectly valid choice.  Voting for a candidate you believe in, whose character and ideas you can endorse, is the only POSSIBLE moral choice.

Now, Clinton supporters… especially you reluctant ones (which, again, I believe to be the majority), I hope that you aren’t feeling too high and mighty right now.  Clinton isn’t as rough around the edges as Trump is.  She carries herself better, and has a certain degree of class that Trump lacks…  but really that’s only because she’s been in the political game much longer than he has.

Clinton represents the height of government corruption.  You needn’t look any further than the recent Wikileaks releases to see why (but don’t worry, we will).  She privately (which is another way of saying “in actual fact, contrary to what she tells you”) opposes same-sex  marriage and gay rights.  She knows that a no-fly zone will result in the deaths of many Syrians, and she supports it anyway.  In addition to that, a no fly zone would likely initiate World War 3.  The Clinton Foundation has accepted money from the Saudis, despite her acknowledgement that the Saudis fund Isis.  (As a side note, Obama recently vetoed a bill to allow victim’s families from 9/11 sue the Saudis.  I’m pretty sure he was aware of this information too.)  She conspired with the DNC to undermine democracy within the democratic party and edge out Bernie Sanders.  She worked with the media (who many have LONG argued are largely in bed with the democratic party, and are now proven right beyond any doubt) to push Trump into the limelight to help ensure he would get the nomination.  I know you long ago convinced yourself they’re no big deals, but those emails of hers and Benghazi are both really big deals.  She most certainly did harass and verbally attack the victims of her husband’s sexual assaults.   This is without getting into anything where speculation is involved rather than hard facts… and yet you ask me how I can possibly think she’s not any better than Trump?

If you vote for Clinton because “at least she isn’t Trump”, you aren’t just voting against Trump.  You are endorsing each and every one of those ideas.  You will be morally culpable.  For a no fly zone that will kill Syrians and God knows how many people if it leads to a World War, for being in bed with the same people who fund Isis.  For undermining democratic processes.  And for attacking victims of sexual assault when it suits an end desirable to you.

You can tell yourself that you’re doing the best thing you can do by voting for a “lesser” evil.  But evil is evil, and voting for evil is an endorsement of evil.  It’s pretty clear that the only thing stopping a 3rd party from getting elected is the fact that so many people refuse to vote for a 3rd party because they are obsessed with voting for something slightly less evil.  Whichever of the major party candidates you support… deep down, you are reluctant to do so.  You’ve found yourself defending things that you would never defend in a friend or family member.

I can’t make you do anything, but I can beg you to follow your conscience and vote for someone who you can give your full endorsement to.  I’m not going to disown you if you vote for Clinton or Trump, but I cannot possibly understand why you would do so, and I 100% believe you are morally responsible for whatever the consequences are should the candidate you vote for gain office.