Saturday, February 28, 2015


Back in November of last year, Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted the following:

"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
According to "The Oatmeal" author Matthew Inman, this lead him to assume one of two things:
Thing #1: When you [Senator Cruz] accepted campaign funds from telecom lobbyists last year, they asked that you publicly smear Net Neutrality.

Thing #2: You don't actually know what Net Neutrality is.
Deciding that there was nothing to be done about Thing #1, Mr. Inman proceeds to school the reader on Net Neutrality, with an eye that the Senator would read it, and that this would solve Thing #2. (By the way, if you haven't read it, and are up for an entertaining foray into the issue, give it a read.) Ostensibly.

Now, I'm pretty certain that Mr. Inman, as well as everyone who shared the post on social media, knows that Senator Cruz would be unlikely to read it. And that even if he did, he would be unlikely to chance his stance on the issue.

This, as far as I'm concerned, is because Senator Cruz understands exactly what Net Neutrality is. His comparison to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (to use "Obamacare's" real name) isn't the result of ignorance on the part of the senator. It's the result of ignorance on the part of the senator's intended audience - who understand the ACA to be a Bad Thing that "government" is imposing on them, and can be counted on to vociferously oppose other supposed Bad Things that "government" might come up with. And so, I posit another Thing.
Thing #3: Senator Cruz' constituents and supporters among the public are prepared to take his word for whether or not certain policies are good for them.
After all, without that public trust, there's no point behind Thing #1. And who knows - he might actually believe it. (Personally, I doubt this, but people in high places have gone on the record believing stranger things, so...)

I don't subscribe to the theory that powerful politicians are the puppets of, and bought and paid for by, powerful special interests, who in turn insulate them from any threat of public dissatisfaction but who then turn around and engage in a pointless charade in an attempt to hide that fact from us. My observations tell me that as much as individual votes are simply raindrops in a flood, elections do matter, and so politicians spend time, effort and, perhaps most importantly, money on giving themselves the appearance of operating in the interests of voters - or at least that segment of voters that placed them in office in the first place. I'm not of the impression that powerful political and business interests spend their time worrying about the torches and pitchforks coming out.

In my own understanding, the threat to Net Neutrality had never been the opinions of people like Ted Cruz. It was, and despite the FCC's ruling, still is, the opinions of voters in those states and districts covered by Senator Cruz and his like-minded allies. They're the people who, when they think that what's good for Comcast is good for America, will see politicians standing up for "them," and want to re-elect those same politicians to shape national policy.

And so, in the end, it's the Net Neutrality skeptics among our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors that Mr. Inman should have been explaining things to.

Oh. Wait. That's our job.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Different Race, Same Song

One of the oddly liberating things about not being particularly partisan is that I can see candidates for public office as people, rather than harbingers of the fate of civilization. I mention this because it's about that time again; when we, as a nation, apparently forget that we're going to elect the head of a large government bureaucracy (along with a raft of legislators and other assorted ne'er-do-wells) rather than (depending on your outlook) the next messiah or great adversary.

Despite the fact that one administration tend to be more alike than different when compared to the one that precedes of follows it, campaign season will be wall-to-wall with expectations that slide right past the unrealistic and into the completely ridiculous.

“If Obama’s re-elected, it will happen. There’s no IF about this. And it’s gonna be ugly. It’s gonna be gut-wrenching, but it will happen. The country’s economy is going to collapse if Obama is re-elected. I don’t know how long: a year and a half, two years, three years.”

“California is going to declare bankruptcy and you know what Obama will do? He’ll go to states like Texas or Arizona, Florida to bail them out. That’s what he’ll do, and that’s gonna precipitate this stuff. California is showing where we’re headed in every which way,”
Limbaugh Predicts 'Economic Collapse' If Obama Re-elected
Rush's three years are going to be up soon - the apocalypse had better get it in gear if it's going to get here on time.

Of course, Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer, and this is the sort of thing that his audience prefers. It's entirely possible that he doesn't believe much, or any, of it himself. And it's fairly hyperbolic, even for election-year hysterics. But it illustrates the sort of baggage that tends to attach itself to political figures, especially when polarization is high.You can already see the dynamic taking shape for the 2016 elections, despite the fact that the primaries are nearly a year away still.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Love Mundane

I do not believe—and I know this is a horrible thing to say—but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country. With all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out.
Former New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani
For my part, I don't think this is about what President Obama believes, or does not believe. This is about the intersection of (and this strikes me as hokey even as I type it) superiority and lovability. Or to put it another way, how much can you love a person, institution or a nation that you understand is no better than any other? In the article from The Economist where I first found Giuliani's quote, the author notes that: "The ardent and unclouded quality of love that Mr. Giuliani and [Kevin] Williamson find missing in Mr Obama is largely the privilege of those oblivious of and immune to America's history of injustice and abuse."

In my own dealings with people who strike me as more conservative than myself, I have encountered several who appear to hold to the opinion that in order to see a person as being worthy of respect, heroic or, basically, exceptional, one has to see them as morally elevated - even if that means deliberately ignoring what one understands the truth about that person to be. As one conservative acquaintance of mine put it: "There is no reason to take note of the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves other than to diminish his standing as a hero." And as problematic enough as this would be when it comes to dealing with individuals, it's not difficult to imagine the impossible standards this creates for an entire nation, especially when history comes into play.

The first time I was accused of "hating my country," it was because I rebutted the indictment of President Obama as being the architect of a national shift away from a historical pattern of respecting universal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I pointed out that, in the past, the United States had countenanced the massacres of Native Americans, the internment (and then theft of property from) of citizens of Japanese descent and laws that restricted whom various non-whites could marry. But I also pointed out that none of these things were true today. And for making the case that the arc of American history bent towards justice, I was told: "It's too bad that you hate your country." This from someone who felt that President Obama's policies, and the people who supported them, had damaged a once-pristine nation beyond salvation.

The expectation that patriotism means pretending the bad part of history never happened may appeal to people for whom reminders of the less-than-spotless parts of America's past feel like indictments of themselves, their ancestry or both. And it may have its uses, in enabling them to see themselves as superior in patriotism to those of us who see that America has improved over time, and, by virtue of not yet being perfect, is still improving. We can be cast as ungrateful, unpatriotic or hateful and thusly unfit for public service. But if loving your country must of necessity entail a refusal to see it as it was or is, what is it that is really being loved?

Rudy Giuliani appears to demand that President Obama love him, and his audience, for what they desire to see themselves as - the most recent generation of the exceptional inhabitants of a superior nation, rather than as simple human beings who live out their lives in a nation (and a world) of similarly human people. Because the real problem that comes from understanding the troubled history of the United States isn't that it leads one to see the country is inferior to others - but rather just like them. "All our flaws" do not render us exceptional in such a way that the rules are different for us. Instead, they render us like people the world over. The willingness of Americans to see themselves as exceptional when compared to others did the same thing to them as it has done to people the world over - allowed them spread misery and suffering and think themselves righteous while doing it. The arc of history does not bend towards justice because the powerful people, who see themselves as superior, decide that the time has come to be more charitable to those beneath them. It bends because we come to see ourselves as more and more alike and the empathy this builds makes atrocity difficult.

Love, of anything, is a gift, and one that we give as it suits us. If it suits President Obama to love an unexceptional nation, I find no fault in that.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Winter's End

The plums are blossoming again.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Circles of Confusion

I was in a conversation with some acquaintances about the best way to respond to a police officer in a dodgy situation. There was the recommendation to do whatever the officer says and that shifted the argument to the worst-case scenario of an interaction with an officer. The ex-police officer in the group broke it down in two ways - on the one hand, he said, if the officer is in the wrong (intentionally or not) going along with him can result in a false/mistaken arrest and, at most, a night in jail. On the other hand, not going along could result in being beaten.

This is where the conversation took an interesting turn for me, because, as far as I'm concerned, going along with an officer who is violating the law and/or the rights of the individual they have detained doesn't have a night in jail as a worst-case scenario. Winding up in prison for a crime one didn't commit is the worst-case scenario. To back up what seemed like something of an extreme (rather than simply highly unlikely) scenario, I fell back on the fact that I am often mistaken for one Mike Pondsmith. Now, any number of people who have seen the pictures of both us note that we look nothing alike. Which is true - it's also beside the point, because what's really at issue is the intersection of what we have in common and the imprecision of many people's mental pictures of people unlike themselves.

If you describe a middle-aged black man, somewhat overweight, bearded, deep voice, salt-and-pepper hair, propensity for dark clothing and hangs out with gamers/comic book fans, that's an accurate description. Where it leads to confusion is in the fact that it's not precise enough to differentiate between the two of us. Imagine the entire population of the Earth, standing together in one huge crowd and arranged so that if you start from any given person in the group, a person close to your starting point is more similar to that first person than someone farther away, and that all people equidistant from a given person have the same level of similarity and dissimilarity to that person. (Of course, in reality, this mob would likely look different for every observer and likely for any given starting trait; this is what makes it a thought experiment - well, along with the fact that it's simply not possible to get the entire population of the Earth into one place...) Any given description of a person would create a shape (a circle will do for this experiment, although it would likely look more like a set of formless blobs) that encompasses everyone who fits within it. The more accurate the description, the closer the specific person you're describing is to the exact center of the circle. The more precise the description, the smaller the circle.

The description of Mike Pondsmith that I created above is accurate enough that Mr. Pondsmith would be well within the circle of people defined by those traits. But because of the imprecision of that description, the circle extends out far enough that I'm within it as well. Which is all fine and good. What trips people up is their understanding that the circle is more precise than it really is, in large part because, in their personal experience, the number of people who reside with in that circle is typically one. So when I walk up, the "Mike Pondsmith" label appears over my image in the onlooker's mind's eye, and they say, "Hey, Mike!"

While there has been a lot of research into the unreliability of memory as a whole, this interplay between people's own understanding of the precision of their memory and how precise it actually is may be more to the point.

Which takes me back to the conversation about what to do in an interaction with a police officer. One of the issues that I think that many African Americans have with dealing with law enforcement is the idea that police and prosecutors, in order to increase their chances of arresting and convicting someone for a crime, often rely on as imprecise a description as they can get away with. Recall the case of Timothy Cole.

A chain-smoking, African-American rapist who used a knife. That was the man the Lubbock police should have been looking for. But it was a nonsmoking, asthmatic black man they eventually settled on.
Timothy Cole went to prison for the rape of Michele Mallin - and died there from complications of asthma - rather than Jerry Johnson because when the police showed Mallin a photograph of Cole, she identified him - her mental picture of her attacker left a large enough circle for both men to fit within it. The police and prosecutors (and, apparently at some point, a jury) then ignored the parts of the description and other evidence that would have made their description of the perpetrator more precise, but would have sent them back to searching for the criminal, as it would have excluded Cole.

And so they built their case against the bird they had in hand. Rather than a night in jail while things were sorted out, Timothy Cole spent the rest of his life behind bars.

Making this point about the imprecision of memory and description, I freely acknowledge that situations like Timothy Cole's are very rare. But "very (or even extremely) rare" and "not worth worrying about" are not the same thing. And I think that this is part of what drives a certain level of resistance to the police when a person confronted feels that their rights are being violated. For the person who recommended that going along with the officer was always the best policy, the idea that it could turn out very, very badly never crossed his mind. Hence a night in jail as the worst-case scenario. But then again, he, in common with most police officers in the United States, is white, and is likely accustomed to a world where descriptions of people are precise enough that the idea of arresting an asthmatic when the perpetrator is described as a chain smoker seems ridiculous.

But for those of us for whom a remarkable level of imprecision is our daily experience, it may make sense to privilege protecting yourself in the moment above trusting that things will work out.

Friday, February 20, 2015


As a teenager, I walked away from the Roman Catholicism that I had been brought up with over a dispute about the existence of Satan. My high-school classmates believed it existed and I did not.

In my own understanding, the physical appearance often ascribed to Satan - goat hooves, horns and tail, and often the entire head of a goat - were indicative of his place in people's minds. Satan was a scapegoat, the ultimate means of dodging responsibility for the things that people did. And maybe this a good reason to believe in a supernatural adversary. After all, taking the responsibility for bad acts upon yourself isn't exactly a recipe for a high degree of mental health.

But as I've grown older, it occurs to me that God can also be a convenient scapegoat for the things that people want to do, but don't want to own. One such case, perhaps, is that of a lesbian couple in Michigan, who had the pediatrician they selected for their baby turn them down.

After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients.
Doctor Vesna Roi
Doctor Roi never mentions the sexual orientation of the parents in her letter explaining why she won't treat their baby and apologizing for not breaking this news to them in person. And I understand why she wouldn't. But maybe she should have left that part in, and the prayer part out. But I don't know. Perhaps the Christian god does tell his followers that they shouldn't associate with certain sorts of people.

But perhaps it's more likely that prayer simply became the means by which Doctor Roi reinforced her own discomfort with a couple who turned out to be on the other side of a culture war battlefield.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Turn of Seasons

The Seattle area seems to have two real seasons, Dreary and Amazing. Amazing put in an appearance this weekend.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Winding Path

Suicide rates in America are highest in states that have more guns. Coincidence?
It's a bit glib - not to mention fairly obvious click-bait - but, for all of that, it's at the heart of one of the primary arguments that we have about guns here in the United States. The Economist's deeper dive into Suicide in America is much more useful - it deals with a broader range of the causes of, and possible solutions to, suicide. But this simple graphic, that notes a correlation between the rate of gun ownership and the rate of suicide by state, plays into the Culture Wars, and thus is likely to drive more traffic.

From a Culture War standpoint, to have guns or not to have guns is a fairly central argument, but it's really about a broader question - what is self-determination worth? If we allow people to have control over their lives, a certain number of them will chose to end them at some point. So is the best answer to that to reduce the amount of control people have over their lives, when it comes to dangerous things in the home? Research shows us, according to the Economist, that there are other ways, like increased availability of anti-depressants and counseling. Regardless of what else we do, those are factors that will need to be looked into, if we're really serious about lowering the suicide rate. I don't have any firearms in my home, but I would still be concerned about leaving a suicidal person alone in it. There are a broad variety of things that a person can use as, to borrow from the Economist's headline writers, "A Means to an End." Focussing on one of them tends to mean that it's what actually under consideration.

Using arguments around the suicide rate as tactics in the politco-cultural skirmishing around firearms does the topic a disservice. If we're going to talk about suicide, let's talk about suicide. The Economist seeks to open that conversation, but the path it takes ensures that a number of people will become lost on their way to the forum.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


The idea that many women deal with sexism male chauvinism daily is a lot like saying that water is wet. It's one of those truths that's become so pervasive that it's nearly lost all meaning and faded into the background noise. I can't speak from personal experience, but I suspect that it's a lot like dealing with racism in that one of the sensations that it produces is an isolation from others who don't have the same experience.

The Huffington Post has an article about the #QuestionsForMen hashtag campaign, something that strikes me as part public awareness campaign, part indictment and part support group. In it, Alanna Vagianos selects 16 of her favorite questions to reprint. Many of them are the sorts of things that you'd expect - like: "Question to the male writers/speakers etc out there. Is it common for you to be called an ‘attention seeker’? Or do just women get that?"

But some of them stood out for me.

"When you have a hostile disagreement with someone," Clementine Ford, credited as being the originator of the campaign, asks, "is it common for them to say you’re angry because no one will fuck you?"

And my first thought was: "Not anymore." But I remember this accusation from my late teens and twenties. I don't know if it happened often enough that is qualifies for Ford's definition of "common," but I dealt with similar accusations back in the day. I didn't have a girlfriend as a young adult, a piece of information that I was careful about, because as Jacob Wiesberg once noted in Slate, "Today we find the idea of nonsexuality more bizarre than deviant sexuality." (Whether or not he understood "today" to reach back to 1990, I don't know.) To be sure, I didn't have to deal with the accusation because of my gender, but because of my behavior (or lack thereof), but when people set out to be hurtful, they'll take potshots at whatever target presents itself.

In a job interview have you ever been asked how you will juggle work and home?
Well, yes, actually. There comes a point in time where the assumption that one is married and likely has children becomes the default, and once, when I was interviewing for a job, it was very clear that the interviewer wanted to know if my home life would interfere in my ability to be available whenever needed. (It was a very strange interview - the interviewer took great pains to avoid directly asking any questions that may have gotten him into hot water, but, as a result, the questions were so abstruse that there was another person in the room whose only role seemed to be translating the questions back into English.)
[D]o you walk home with your keys placed in between your fingers? are you constantly looking over your shoulder?
This question stood out for me for a different reason. As I noted a couple of years ago, once, while I was walking home from the grocery store, a White woman walking towards me on the sidewalk made something of a show of taking her keys out of her purse and readying them for use as defensive weapons. For years, what seems to many people to be a perfectly reasonable response to the risks posed by casual sexism struck me as a prime example of casual racism.
Do you get told 'you'll change your mind eventually' when you say you don't want to have children?
This one surprised me, because as a single man, I'm told all the time that I'll eventually want to be a father, even though I'm far past the age when any sane person would want to deal with a newborn, infant or toddler full-time. I figured that every single person in the United States has to put up with this particular form of inanity over and over again.

These last two questions illustrate for me the isolation that dealing with prejudice - especially when it's backed up by violence - inflicts on people. Of course, it would be bizarre for a woman on the street to strike up a conversation with a man she fears means to attack her, but the fact that we couldn't know each other's minds prevented us from understanding the patterns that we were playing out that day in Chicago. By the same token the separation between people that the woman who asked about attitudes towards children experiences cut her off from a wide variety of people who would likely happily commiserate with her over the constant presumption that the desire to be a parent is simply a random epiphany away.

In the grand scheme of things, perhaps the separation produced by prejudice is a minor thing. I'm sure that it beats most of the other effects that our overall willingness to force people into boxes of our choosing visits upon people. But perhaps the invisibility produced by its lack of overt consequences is just as much a tragedy as anything else, along with the irony of millions of people being united in being alone.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Just A Little Bit

"I have learned in recent years about the concept of microaggressions (first named by Derald Wing Sue), which can occur when your statement to or about another person or actions, even if entirely well-intended, causes hurt. A classic example is telling a person of color 'you are so well-spoken!;' on the surface this may sound like a complement, but in fact has the underlying message that because of the hue of his/her skin, the fact that he/she speaks good English is surprising or notable. There is an underlying negative stereotype being communicated."
Mama, what is THAT?” a guide to microaggression
I, for my part, have been on the receiving end of "you are so well-spoken" (although the actual term that most people use {and have used} is "articulate") since I was in grade school. And have been told, countless times, of the underlying negative stereotype there. But only twice has it been by someone who actually subscribed to said stereotype - and both times, it was to admit that they'd held it out of ignorance, and that they were wrong.

When I was young, I would bask in the compliment of being told how articulate I was. It was what everyone around me wanted and expected of me. My parents, my teachers, my aunts and uncles - all of them remarked positively on my academician's command of the language, and family members were especially quick to show it off to others whenever they could. They taught me that it was a Good Thing and the mark of someone who was a cut above ordinary. That is, until White strangers began to take notice. As, when I was in Junior High School, the circle of adults that began to interact with expanded beyond people my family directly hoped to impress, the compliments started to come from people who were unfamiliar. And my parents and other family members were no less vigilant about Stranger Danger than anyone else. And that's when they began to teach me about the code.

As a pre-teen, the well-meaning adults in my life began to teach me that the compliments of Whites were often false - that many only commented on how articulate I was because they expected worse, much worse, from me. The "underlying message" was introduced into my reality. Suddenly, the very compliments that I had spent so much time carefully collecting became daggers, wielded by wicked people who hated in secret and spoke in a vicious code. Everything became a competition and the color of one's skin marked which team you were on. Many of the people who would say to me, or to whichever adult I was with, "you are so articulate" seemed to be nice, polite, well-meaning people. And, I was told, not all of them were vipers in human skin. But you never knew which ones. And so every one of them was suspect. And as much as their compliments were veiled criticisms, intended to remind me of my place, their criticisms were also driven by racism, spiteful lies hatched to maintain their sense of racial superiority.

And so, I was told that it was the words of other people like myself that counted. Their compliments were genuine, and their criticisms not driven by animosity.

But in my first year of college, at a Historically Black University, there were few compliments. The way of speaking and interacting that I had been taught to value immediately became a liability. Almost all of the other students, drawn from mostly urban backgrounds, saw me as snobbishly affected - "acting white" - and made their anger at my rejection of them clear. I answered in kind, sneering at their lack of erudition.

In short order I was left with nothing but the understanding that Whites only complimented me to put everyone like me down and other Blacks felt betrayed. The facility with language that I had worked so hard to acquire was worthless.

And so, rather than pride, there was hurt. But that hurt was not caused by people who were well-intended, but ignorant. It was caused by people who saw the compliments paid to me as coming at their direct expense, and demanded that I pay, too. It was caused by the well-meaning, caring people in my life who taught me that marginalization, embarrassment, stereotyping, silencing and disempowerment were the norm between people who were unlike one another and to not expect this at all times, no matter how nice, polite or complimentary someone was, if they were Other, they could not be trusted. It was caused by people who sought to protect my self of sense from being torn down but wound up cutting me off from the majority of sources that would build it up. Looking back on it, that's where the unintended, and mislabeled, "aggression" lay.

I've said this before - the answer to our feelings of "you're different, and that's bad" does not lie in forcing those whose opinions of us we feel matter to bow to a carefully curated way of speaking to and about us. It lies in freeing ourselves from the idea that those opinions, in and of themselves, matter. If Jim Crow is truly dead, then the opinion of among Whites that we don't command the language as well as they do will not resuscitate it, and if it is not, shielding ourselves from the knowledge that others think poorly of us will not keep the coffin closed.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Three Quarters

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) stirred up something of a firestorm with his contention that vaccinations for children should be voluntary - decisions made by the parents of said children based on their priorities, and not those of the state, or society at large.

Of course, we all like choice - there are things about our lives that we feel are our own prerogatives, and we resent other people levering us into surrendering our choices. But when we talk about choices, who should have them - who should not, and what things should be subject to personal choice, we run into an interesting situation - because while the argument is often framed as being a dispute over choice, it's really about the choices under consideration right at that moment - and what justifies the given positions.

Typically, disputes about choice break down into three camps: those people who are fighting to preserve or obtain the right to make a particular choice because they want to make it, people who wouldn't make the choice themselves, but wish it to be available to others and those people who have no use for that choice themselves and do not wish it to be available to others. The debate over marriage equality for same sex couples here in the United States tends to break down this way - you have same sex couples who want the right to marry, you have people who have no intention of ever marrying someone of the same sex who want same sex couples to have the right to marry and you have people who have no intention of every marrying someone of the same sex who want to deny same sex couples that choice. When the people who want a particular choice are a small enough minority, they can become, interestingly, bystanders in a public debate that they are ostensibly the subjects of - again, same-sex marriage comes to mind - the primary warring factions in this Culture War campaign (one which is rapidly drawing to a close) are straight people who support same sex marriage equality and straight people who want the practice to remain (or, quixotically, return to being) illegal.

The "to vax, or not to vax" debate lacks that "allies" faction, and so primarily pits those who wish to opt out of vaccinations against those who wish to make vaccination either effectively or literally mandatory. But both arguments lack a fourth facet - people who want, and would make, a given choice, but fully support the right of the society at large to restrict it. So we don't see, for instance, a vocal group of gays and lesbians who argue that while they would like to marry any partner of their choosing, society is perfectly within its rights to deny them this choice. By the same token, there isn't a vocal group of anti-vaccine activists, who similarly accept that the final choice isn't theirs to make. (Note this is different from doing something under protest, or vocally submitting to the threat of punishment.)

And this, I think, is why politicians, like Senator Paul, can move these social arguments into an area of "freedom versus tyranny." While many people tend to argue that societies have the right to restrict choices, it's rare to hear people openly argue that societies have the right to restrict choices that they actively wish to make.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


When I was younger, affirmations struck me as vapid, cheesy and, perhaps most importantly, inaccurate statements that people would use to sugar-coat reality. One of the benefits of maturation is that I've grown past the idea that the world is a nasty and dark place of necessity. So, today, affirmations strike me mainly as cheesy.

But I still find myself indulging in them sometimes when I talk to people. I think that it's more about learning not to take myself as seriously as I tend to otherwise. But a part of me also thinks that they work, at least somewhat. The idea that someone believes in us, I think, gives us license to be ourselves - which, unsurprisingly, is what we're best at.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Fair's Fair

It does not surprise me that human beings visit so much misery upon one another - I have seen enough instances where a difference of opinion has prompted someone to wish for the blood of the innocent just so that they might witness the tears of the guilty to understand that one person's tragedy is another person's just desserts. And once you arrive at that point, all one needs for an atrocity is for someone to decide that they are unwilling to wait for Nature, Fate or their god to make that tragedy come to pass.