Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Stop thinking of yourself as a good person.

I’m serious.

If you think of yourself as a good person, if you think that’s part of what you are, then it becomes part of your self-image. And your natural tendency is to defend your self-image. You’ll move heaven and earth to deny, dispute, and ignore anything that challenges your self-image. You’ll project, you’ll deflect, you’ll do whatever mental backflips it takes to throw out any evidence that challenges your self-image of “I am good”.

And that keeps you from taking responsibilities for your mistakes. And you will make mistakes. If you insist of making “I am good” part of your self-image, your choices are (a) never make mistakes, good luck with that, or (b) go right down to the mat, screaming and kicking, to defend yourself against any charge that you’ve made a mistake, ever.

Or (c) let your self-image be shattered when you really hurt someone and can’t defend yourself any longer.

Instead, think of yourself as a person who tries to do good. Even better, be a person who tries to do good. Make it something you do, not something you think you are. Because then making a mistake does contradict your view of yourself, and doesn’t have to shatter your self-image. You just take responsibility for your mistake, and keep trying.

Venting. Deal with it.

I’m honestly not having a great time at work. I’m having a difficult time on the new project, and I’m additionally having a hard time distinguishing how much of that is me and how much is interacting with people who want nothing more than to tell me I’m doing it wrong, when secretly the only way I could possibly be doing it right is if I weren’t doing it at all and they were doing it instead.

Plus, there’s the whole “new project” in the first place. I was re-org’ed for the first time this past February, along with about a quarter of the people in my office. It was nothing to do with our work, we were told repeatedly. Over and over we were told that. The Quality of Your Work is Exceptional, But. We’ve Never Been Anything But Happy With Your Team, But.

But headcount. But some VP found it easier not to think about us. But the company gives enough of a damn about us not to fire us (after much fighting from our local site leads) but not enough of a damn about us to treat as anything other than disposable and interchangeable.

And meanwhile, there’s the news.

I do honestly feel like I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery for several years but right now it’s at an impasse. The necessity of compassion feels so obvious to me, but I don’t know what to do with that realization. And meanwhile the world gets kicked on its side and set on fire by selfish, terrified narcissists who’d rather cause themselves pain than let anyone else feel joy, as if joy had to be hoarded.

And I don’t know what to do except shout into the void. Clearly “same old, same old” isn’t working, but as of yet I’m still too scared to do anything else.

Alright, pity party’s over for now.

I just want to run screaming through the streets

Let’s just say it. Trump is an intellectually lazy, thin-skinned, vainglorious narcissist, a habitual liar, and a bully. He’s both comically and tragically unfit for office…

…and he’s polling at about 40% of the popular vote.

Trump is not the problem. Trump going down to inglorious, humiliating defeat in November doesn’t solve the problem, even if he doesn’t contest the result, even his supporters don’t riot in the street.

America, how in hell did you let it get so bad that this cheeto-faced contemptuous blowhard can get 40% of the popular vote? Why wasn’t this buffoonish corporate mascot laughed out of public view months ago?

This is your fault. Fix your shit.

It’s been hard, hasn’t it?

Yeah, right there with you.

The world, despite being glorious in many ways, is filled with people determined to turn it into a dumpster fire. A lot of those people have had the floor for a long time. We may need to chase them off the stage.

It’s not enough to sit at home and be good people quietly, tut-tutting at hate in safety. We need to be good people loudly. We need to love openly. We need to shout out that those who hurt other people, hurt us. And that we won’t take it any more.

Otherwise what good are we? 

Because if I don’t talk about it here I might explode

Posit:

1) Political opinions vary along multiple axes. A two-party system can’t possibly represent all opinions faithfully.
2) In the USA, the two parties’ positions on the geo-political and national security axes can only be distinguished by trained experts.
3) Their positions on the economic axis vary, but not in a way that honestly matters to the average voter. Their positions on the social justice axis vary, but not in a way that honestly matters to large donors, lobbyists, and other policy setters.
4) Consequently both parties treat social justice issues as not much more than a flag, around which to rally voters to economic policies that would otherwise either bore them or horrify them.
5) Democrats approach this from a position of pride, assuming that if they simply take the correct positions then voters will accumulate to them by right. Republicans approach this from a position of cynicism, assuming that if they scapegoat the correct people then voters will accumulate to them out of spite.
6) But ultimately both are basically taking social issues hostage in the service of an economic agenda.

Enter Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Bernie’s trying to do the honorable thing, staking an economic position which I think he honestly believes and which distinguishes him from the establishment candidates. I think he’s genuinely trying to lead. But he fucked it up. His position on the social justice axis was weak; he basically walked right into the establishment Democrats’ first line of defense and let them feel smug about it in the bargain. Worse he fell in with a core group of supporters who are more than willing to shoot the hostage, so to speak. He’s not going to succeed, and he’s going to make things worse in the process, wounding the Democratic party but not killing it.

Donald’s trying (and succeeding) to do the deeply cynical thing, calling the Republican’s bluff and taking over their con. It’s breathtaking in its horror, an extended fart in a funeral by a man I think genuinely doesn’t give a rat’s ass about any agenda other than his own glory. He’s doing better than Bernie, though, because he identified a better attack vector.  And everyone on the planet who isn’t Donald Trump is going to be poorer for it.

The best-case scenario now is a Hillary win and a cementing of the Democratic party into power for a decade, but that’s not a good enough scenario.

What was needed was the opposite of Trump: someone to call the Democratic party’s bluff on social issues and stake out a new position on economic issues, but from a place of genuine idealism instead of Trump’s uncaring cynical pandering. Someone to shatter the Democratic party the way Trump is shattering the Republicans, but to build something better in it’s wake instead of just pissing on the ashes. Bernie wasn’t it. He did half a job, which may have been worse than no job at all. Better now to just burn both parties down.

Why I’m a cynic

This is how we treat each other.

This is how we treat the world around us.

And this is how well the substitute worlds we build work.

In the face of this, what else can we do but show compassion to one another as we fly over the cliff?

On Truth

We hate truth and abhor it as a culture.

We form “polite fictions” to keep us from saying the truth out loud; we let media companies distract us to keep us from contemplating the truth around us; we worship cynicism and detachment as a culture to keep us from voicing the truth in our hearts. We drive ourselves to collective insanity to avoid coming to terms with anything approaching the truth.

Is it that the truth is too big? Or our hearts too small?

On persuasion

I used to think that rhetoric never convinced anyone of anything. Cold, hard, evidence, sometimes, but never rhetoric. (So why do I have a blog? Shut up.[1])

Now I’m wondering if that’s oddly backwards. If maybe one can’t help but convince people of things whenever you open your mouth…just never what you set out to convince them of.

[1]”Please listen to me” is on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right?

I understand how the Codensity operator optimizes a certain class of functions!

This is not the most useless thing I’ve ever learned, but it’s pretty close.

That game,

That game, where the first person to get emotional loses? It’s a shit game.