navigating a world which feels like gravity is working in reverse

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  • Category Archives Semantics
  • used on you

    There is often a very easy explanation for the beliefs one uses to navigate this world of ours.  How beliefs are used.  People figure if someone is using a belief on them it must be good enough for them to use.  A few hypothetical examples:

    Susie is a 23 year old college graduate who is 30 pounds overweight.  She double majored in math and psychology.  Like many women her age she has body image issues and doesn’t have the metabolism needed to become slender.  She has seen therapists before who told her she was fine just the way she was but she called bullshit on them.  In conflict here is business to business (b2b) verses and business to consumer (b2c) psychology.  Susie absorbed the messages from advertisements vetted by b2b psychologists and felt their direct and indirect (mediated by male and female peers) effects of a thin-obsessed culture.  For Susie poor body image isn’t an anomaly, it’s something handed down deliberately with the aid of b2b psychologist by a culture obsessed with thinness.  A b2c psychologist would stick the pejorative “insecure” label on her.  This same therapist might tell her she has innate worth regardless of her weight but outside the psychologist’s office this belief is not being used on her.  So she doesn’t use it.

    Bill is an unemployed 26 year old who had to move back to a town with no jobs to take care of his dad who had a stroke.  His parents are religious and are always trying to get him to go to church.  Bill goes to a few services and the church talks about how there is hope for everybody, even the least of these.  However the people in the church treat Bill like he’s invisible.  They use conjecture to assess his future and come to the conclusion that he has none.  Bill assumes rightly that if conjecture is ultimately what’s going to be used on him, it’s worth him using.  Bill tunes out all the blathering about hope and stops going to church.

    Nathaniel is a 28 year old working at a small local animal rights nonprofit.  Every day he’s writing grants and soliciting donors.  He wanted to work in a nonprofit to get away from the dollar driven world but it just didn’t work out.  When he gets home he’s greeted with oodles of mail from places he’s donated to once asking for more money.  Eventually Nathaniel succumbs to the idea he was running away from so hard, that money is the most important thing.

  • truth

    science vs faith

    For many in my generation a lie is simply an incongruity between actuality and what is presented verbally.  Truth then just becomes when words and ideas match up with experienced reality.  Daniel Masterson is an effective dating coach but more than that he is a truth teller.  He had a (sadly now defunct) website that told men the 14 things they needed if they ever wanted to get laid.  They were good practical things like good shoes, grooming, cloths, sociability, etc..   Someone on one of the AMA’s he was doing (an AMA is a sort of online interview on the social media site Reddit) called him Jesus.  Because he told the truth.

    It’s not a surprise that our generation has a tough time with religion.  Religion gives you a definition of truth (basically what they say truth is) and forces you to work backwards from it, evidence be darned.  It makes things even more unfair than they already are because while those who suffer the least can get through life on bad information fine, those who suffer more cannot.  For example you are expected to romanticize suffering and pretend God is there with you (some people can play cognitive tricks and make this work but many cannot and those who cannot are guilted instead of helped).  Belief in climate change is another issue, though there is nothing keeping a religious person from believing in human created climate change, the methodology of having things pushed in your brain via force and conditioning rather than rational inquiry makes you susceptible to accepting other comforting irrational ideas.

  • Sizing Someone Up

    Great tool for sizing someone up.  Breaks social class down to components.  I’m high on the education level for having a B.S. but that’s about it.

    This tool is great for those of us on the spectrum who may not be privy to social cues (I wasn’t in high school).  Of specific interest is the first gauge of occupation prestige.  A lot of my hunches were confirmed (like doctors being highest and blue collar things being lower).

  • Discouraged Worker Article

    Really good article on discouraged workers:

    Those silences significantly trouble me because of their ethical implications. Two of the twentieth century’s most important philosophers — Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas — argued that communicative reciprocity is what makes us human. To not respond to someone’s “call” is to deny the other’s being; to relate to an “I” as an “It,” it to treat a fellow human being like a mere object. Job applicants may appear as disembodied data points to managers, but we are decidedly human; acknowledging that fact by not ignoring us is the least potential employers could do to stop contributing to worker discouragement.

  • Shaving and Socializing

    I don’t mind shaving.  I do not have facial hair, I have wires growing out of my face.  So when I shave most of the time I’m not actually shaving, I’m just playing a tug ‘u war with hair.  So I’m not really shaving most of the time, I’m just fighting and scraping, which I do not like.  Same goes for socializing.  Yes, socializing is often draining for me but usually worth it.  What isn’t worth it is when I’m in a group and the people treat me/us like we’re invisible.  I actually don’t consider this a social situation, I tend to call it nocializing.  Of course these kind of situations (which I experienced just last weekend at a volunteering fundraiser) eat away at my morale.

    A lot of people are not comfortable with my “in vivo” definitions (ie. a social situation being one where one has opportunity to socialize, and shaving being the actual act rather than scraping and getting nothing).  But I’m a big fan of Jean-Paul Sartre, existence precedes essence.  All this platonic bullshit we have to put up with in our supposedly “postmodern” world is just bewildering.

  • suffering choice in a field

    Pretend you are in a field.  This is a big field, one that people come and fly kites on.  Now imagine three people you know are there.  You can see one just at the edge of the horizon and they can see the other person you know at the edge of their horizon in the opposite direction from where you are.  The person in the middle can see both people but the person on either end can only see the person in the middle.

    Those of us who suffer a decent amount are like the person in the middle.  Having suffered gives us the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of the person furthest out (who suffered more than us).  However the person furthest in just can’t empathize with the person furthest out’s suffering at all (represented here by them unable to see her).

    The point is, the person with the intermediate amount of suffering gets to make a choice.  They can romanticize their suffering to make the person furthest in comfortable.  However they are at disadvantage to do this not just because it requires romanticizing their own suffering but because they can put themselves in the shoes of the person furthest out (whose suffering is so bad it’s impossible to romanticize).

    I myself am in the middle and I have always refused to romanticize suffering.  I spend many years in pretty serious eye pain, am bipolar 1, and have some visual impairment.  I know people with much worse chronic pain than me and know people with worse mental illness than me.  I can somewhat put myself in their shoes and when I do I see no silver lining on their cloud.  As society tempts me to romanticize my suffering (for the sake of making people who haven’t suffered feel comfortable with it) I won’t do it.  Not just for me, for those who have suffered exponentially more.

  • Can’t Conceive

    Just because you can’t conceive of something doesn’t mean it’s not true.  Despite all our powers of intellect we can’t conceive of non-existence.  It’s like how totally blind people don’t see black, they simply don’t see.  And we can’t wrap our head around that.

    People (especially religious people) like to romanticize suffering.  So it’s incumbent on the person suffering to make others feel comfortable with his or her suffering by trying to justify the cloud by its silver lining.  This is because we are uncomfortable with (and often can’t even put our head around) senseless evil and chaos so we ask those who suffer to do a kind of “damage control” of its worst elements for the rest of us.

  • Uncomfortable Questions Subreddit

    You can visit a sister site, uncomfortable questions (and comment on them if you have a Reddit account) for generally loaded questions like this:

    Why do people get so up in arms about people having imaginary friends while being indifferent of the fact that these people don’t have any real ones?

    Why do both God and the devil (and their kind) refuse to be measured? Wouldn’t one of them submit to measurement to get the upper hand in their battle for our souls?

    Why do people bend over backwards to support those with cancer but not do the same for chronic conditions like diabetes? Does it have something to do with the perceived threat of eminent death?

    How do you justify telling people to follow the voice of God, particularly in light of the fact that those with more fragile mental health may do so in weakened mental states with catastrophic results?

    Physical pain’s neurologically designed so that one cannot ignore it. Does modern anger/bitterness have this kind of property?

    How can you make empirical claims about what God will do in certain situations and then tell people not to “put God to the test” validating them?

    If we were forced to make the choice, would we treat our cats like we treat our pigs or our pigs like we treat our cats?

    People will experience the same things but for some it will turn them into more of an everyman and others it will turn them into less of one. How would one be more like the former?

    Why is suffering framed as a test of the individual’s character but not as a test of the character of those around her (ie. testing whether those people won’t drop out of her life like flies or turn against her)?


    Listening to: David Dondero, Live at the Hemlock

  • Vulnerability

    The process of vulnerability is peacemaking.  You start out at a cold war (mistrusting each other) and each party tests the waters of drawing down and seeing if the other party reciprocates.  There is also the issue that some people don’t have much about themselves that will send others packing while some do (I’m of the latter category).  So the process of vulnerability is different depending on how much you have to lose by being outed.  Popular culture encourages people to be vulnerable but the stakes are so much different depending on how adverse a reaction you’d get by having it slip out.

    Also lionizing vulnerability causes people to trust the first person that expresses interest in them instead of guarding their heart and vetting people carefully. The problem is the first person is often not worth their trust (trust me, I found this out the hard way). The irony is people who are more judiciously trusting are the ones that remain more trusting.

  • gramblings on “aid in dying”

    “Aid in dying” is often dressed up in compassionate cloths when it’s really just a way for the state and private insurers to save on end-of-life care (which comprises a large chunk of healthcare spending).  The state would never leave people the power to conveniently and painlessly end their own life.   It’s in the state’s power to pull you into (capital punishment) or push you away (suicide attempt hospitalizations) from death.  They would never give this power up.  Imagine, after being denied badly-needed pain treatment, you could just walk into a place and be put to sleep like a dying house cat.  You could never do this because as an able-bodied citizen you still have the potential and obligation to be a net gain for society.  However, once you are enough of a net drain on society “aid in dying” options open up.  Unsurprisingly I buy arguments from disability rights organizations like Not Dead Yet.  It’s human nature not to give people power over their own death.  Even if you enact a law that pretends to it doesn’t magically change human nature.  It’s like enacting a law banning sex and expecting everyone to remain chaste.  Liberals have a lot of good ideas but don’t have a firm grasp on human nature, specifically the depravity of man.