Blast from the past

(Editor’s Note : The site came back WAY before the guy said, like I predicted, and that’s why I was able to post the results here, as written. )


My site is down, so I am blogging into a Libre Office document tonight, and that’s depressing to me.

It’s all because of that thing I mentioned before, where I failed to update my credit card info in a lot of places, continuing to haunt me.

And that all stems back to my apparently entirely fraudulent belief that I had updated my credit card info on PayPal, and that all my bills went through PayPal, so I was covered.

Neither of those things are true, as it turns out. And I am still paying for it. Had to pay an extra $15 US to set in motion the return of my blog.

For some reason, that process will take between 24 and 48 hours. I call bullshit on that. Sorry, Nazeem my live chat customer service guy, but it does not take that long for the change to propagate through the DNS servers of the world.

I suspect that, on some level, my web host is holding out for more money. Like this is the sort of thing that is supposed to get my to pay for a more expensive package, or something.

Well I got news for you. I might ditch the whole privately hosted blog thing instead.

I think that, while having my own blog on my own server has its advantages and while it soothes my obsessive need for control, I think that for the most part, it’s put me at a huge disadvantage and cost me greatly because that’s just not how things work any more.

Everything is interconnected now, and if I want there to be any sort of chance that someone might stumble across my words and become a fan, I have to move the whole damned thing to a public blog host like Tumblr.

So as loath as I am to have my precious words end up in the hands of a freaking corporation, it’s a nove I need to make.

Been thinking a lot about my ambitions lately. I swsear I used to have some. But they retreated back into their default “maybe someday but probably never” position due to the new Ice Age of my latest bout of depression came crashing in.

I still have them, but I don’t do a damned thing to pursue them, and that shit’s got to stop. I have to either decide that I am perfectly happy rotting away in this tiny pocket universe of mine till the day I die, never growing up, never making a mark on the world, and never being noticed or taken seriously, or I decide that I am going to start striving again.

But striving is hard, though, and spending all day playing Skyrim is so much easier.

I don’t know. I know I am growing increasingly discontent with this sad Skyrim lifestyle of mine. So I am trying to cut back.

But like any addiction, it fights back hard and plays dirty. So right now, it’s a pitched battle between the addiction and the fact that I know that I am happier doing something like this, writing on my blog, than I am when I am playing Skyrim.

But Skyrim is so much safer. When I am playing, I forget everything else. I am busy, I am occupied, I am pumping out my energies, and I am content. Time flies by. It’s a lot of fun.

It’s hard to say no to that. Who explores the world when they have Heaven in their back yard?

<——–pause for sudden nap attack——>

I’m even part way through figuring out how to get the sexy stuff working in Special Edition.

As you know, my sexuality and my libido have been surging as of late. Perhaps it’s that portion of my teen years finally showing up that is doing it.

But I get real horny now. And it’s kind of stressful but rather fun because it goas me into exploring various aspects of my sexuality – my real one, that is, not the virtual one I use when I am being Fruvous that I have explored to death.

The real thing is always better anyhow. Or so I have heard.

And at this phjase of my life, it would be really great to go back to what I had in the original Skyrim, namely a vast amount of sexual options at my hot sweaty fingertips.

I explored the fuck (ha) out of them when I first discovered the world of Skyrim mods. That was what triggered my slide into total addiction, in fact. I would stay awake and neglect all my bodily needs in favour of working like hell to get this and that working.

It was glorious and horrifying.

But over the months, the thrill of it all went away and I got far more into actually playing the game and the sexytimes stuff faded into the background.

Then I got Special Edition. And I learned the facts of life about it, namely that only a small percentage of all the fun stuff I had in the old game had been updated to work with the new version.

But there was still lots of good stuff, so I was not too worried.

Eventually, though, I wanted the sexy stuff back. IT made things so much more fun. The ability to go from killing monsters and collecting loot to some good old fashioned fucking whenever I liked, purely on a whim, was thrilling.

So I sought out the updated version. And it was… sort of there.

Right now, when I initiate sexytimes fun, everyone involved just stands there while the sexy sounds play. And that’s no fun.

And I know what the problem is – something called ‘beaviour files’ are not being generated – but I have no idea how to fix it.

It makes me consider going back to the original game. Sure, the graphics were more primitive, but there was so much cool stuff out there for it.

Right now, all that is keeping me from doing it is sheer stubbornness. I made up my mind ot make the move to Special Edition, damn it, and to go back to the old one would be to admit defeat.

So for now, I struggle to get the frigging thing to work.

But who knows. I might cave in one day and go back.

Or I might even find something better to do with my life.

But don’t count on it.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

You’re not the only one

No matter how strange you think you are, there are others like you.

That’s the main lesson of the Internet, in my experience. Even if you have an intense fetish for sex during an earthquake, somewhere out there on the Web there’s a message board with other weirdos just like you waiting to welcome you will open arms and tips on how to turn any bed into a “magic fingers” bed with vibration power that measures on the Richter scale… and it’s cheaper than you’d think!

It adds a whole new layer to humanism. Before, the unity of humanity and the basic message that are far more alike than we are different had to be taken on faith past a certain point. But now, you can find all the evidence you need with a simple Google search. The Internet showcases both the common thread of humanity and its myriad ways to express itself on all fronts.

Genetically, we are all 98 percent identical. And that makes sense when you think about how we all have the same organs in the same places and so forth. Even if you were an alien who knew nothing of humanity, you would note that we are all the same except for minor superficial differences in skin color and the fine details of our skeletal structures.

And yet we talk of race as if that’s a real thing. Sigh.

Myself, I take some comfort in this unity. I can’t quite believe that there are others like me out there… I am too strange a creation for that. The best that I can hope for is people with whom I have a lot in common.

But as far as I can tell, on a fundamental level, I will always be a thing apart. I have given up on the idea of a community of like-minded individuals. My specifications for like-mindedness have to include my intellect and as far as I know, mine is unique.

So I will always be a giant among pygmies, even though it feels like the opposite sometimes. Even if I find the right man for me, odds are I will be substantially smarter than him. And that is something I am going to have to deal with.

I can only hope that emotional and sexual factors can overcome any intellectual gap. If I love someone dearly and with every fiber of my being and that love translates into the erotic and we make sweet sweet love together…. who cares if I have to explain myself a little more than I’d like?

And it’s not like I am utterly alone. People like my friends “get’ me. Maybe not fully, but considerably more than necessary for me to feel like I have friends.

I think about my mind sometimes and all its layers and complexities and power. I think my real goal, when I talk about wanting to put myself fully into my writing as if I was climbing into the computer with it,. is to use every single mental resource I have in the writing and thus be able to get that feeling of being fully engaged and operating at peak performance.

The Zone, as it is sometimes called.

It’s hard to reconcile the knowledge of what my mind is capable of with my low self esteem. That’s why I almost totally dismissed the knowledge of how bright I am for most of my life. It just wasn’t compatible with my self-loathing.

So I would just shrug the whole thing off as meaningless. Sure, I am smart, but what good has it ever done me? It was just a meaningless number on an IQ test somewhere. As far as I could see (at the time), all it did was isolate me from others.

I think it was my academic year at Kwantlen that reminded me, however feebly, that I have exceptional abilities. Once in a school environment, I remembered how easy school always was for me and how others didn’t’ have it that easy. That makes it hard to ignore how my life was not like those of others.

Thus began the journey to convincing myself that I had something to offer the world. That journey is still ongoing because I still feel naked and exposed and useless and like I am a liability to the world sometimes. The fact that I have paying work now helps enormously. But I still feel it now and then.

Maybe I should buy myself something nice with the money. Right now I have a bit over CDN $150 sitting on my reloadable VISA card, waiting to be spent. Another $75 will land there some time this week, and that will just keep happening for as long as my animation script lasts. I should treat myself with the money somehow so that I can really feel how I have made money.

Right now, it’s just a number on a screen, in a sense.

Of course, getting myself something nice requires being able to figure out what I want and what would actually make my life better. Tall order.

Something to make my bed more comfy could help me by making it easier to sleep and thus improve the quality of my sleep. And that could make everything easier. There is nothing in life that sleepiness cannot make harder and worse.

Or maybe I could get some kind of cushion or backrest for my office chair. Some sort of gizmo to keep my butt from getting sore or ease the strain on my back.

Honestly, anything to relax my back could rock my frigging world. There’s a lot of gizmos for that out there, but I don’t know if they would work on me. I would be willing to pay a lot for something that could handle my big bones.

I know, I will buy myself a gift-pack of coupons for massages from a professional masseur. One of those “whole body massage with full release” guys from the gay personals. That could do me good on all kinds of levels.

Maybe I just need a whole lot of sugar free candy.  It’s the simplest solution.

Regardless, I now know that I should start poking around for something that will make me happy in order to truly feel rewarded for my labour.

Know where I can buy a boyfriend?

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.




Mars in Pisces

I don’t normally talk astrology in this space – despite being somewhat of an expert in it – but I Googled one of my planets and the article I found described me so well that I just had to blog about it.

So if you are some kind of hardcore pseudo-rationalist who finds the very idea that astrology could be useful for anything at all offensive, feel free to skip this blog entry so you can retreat back into those pack of unreasoned prejudices you deign to call “reason” that assure you that you can achieve a state of reason without having to actually think about anything, have a happy life having to live with yourself till you die.

Ahem. Anyhow, on to the article.

The first line to really grab me was this one :

“They tend to go with the flow. They prefer to let life just happen to them.”

I’ve always felt like that. Like I want to just improvise my way through life and see what happens. But I have always felt intensely guilty about that feeling because it really does not jibe with my sun sign Taurus personality. Of course you can’t have anything life you want by just making things up as you go, says Taurus. You have to think and plan and work hard and make sound decisions based on the facts as they are. Pragmatically.

But in my heart of hearts, I dream of a life where all I have to do is indulge my whims and follow my feelings without a thought of the future at all.

But in my case, I would have to become very wealthy before that could happen. Or at the very least, I would have to feel far, far more secure than I do right now.

Then this passage jumped out at me :

They do well intellectually, but they may have problems dealing with physical and practical challenges.

Holy SHIT does that describe my life. I’ve got wizard level intellectual skills but the simplest of practical and physical challenges become huge obstacles in my life and I am constantly tripping over myself to get pretty simple things done.

And that is even less compatible with being a Taurus. Taurus is a sign of practicality and pragmatism and I want to be the sort of strong, competent, capable person that represents the Taurus ideal.

But that’s probably never going to happen. And I will have to learn to live with that.

It’s really the only practical choice.

They need a lot of affection. Without it, they feel sex is cold and emotionless. They need an emotional connection to their partner to be fulfilled. Even better, they are ecstatic when they also have a spiritual connection with their partner.

Amen and hallelujah. I need so much affection. Whoever wants to be my Man of Life will have to be prepared to give me lots of hugs and cuddles. I need a lot of physical reassurance. I can only hope that if I got enough physical affection, I would become more secure and trusting and therefore my appetite for snuggles would cool down to something a little more reasonable.

But right now, I am a starving man desperate for attention. I’ve been starving for affection for my entire life, even though when I was a kid, I didn’t know it. It was only when I hooked up with the online furry community and had a chance to explore myself via a furry persona that I realized that I have wanted to be touched and to touch back for my entire life.

I get the feeling that I did not get held a lot as a baby.

And lordy, do I need an emotional connection for sex. The idea of sex with no emotional connection disgusts me to the core. I kind of envy people who can have attachment-free sex with total strangers and not feel abandoned afterwards. But I need to have some kind of emotional connection or it’s just not sex to me.

It’s just glandular secretions interacting.

It need not be a really deep emotional connection, though. At least I don’t think so, I have not had the chance to explore that kind of thing yet. I can imagine myself meeting someone compatico and ended up in bed with them having fun shortly thereafter. But I would have to feel connected first. To feel like me and this person are communicating at a deep level, even if the language being spoken is that of lust.

And yeah, if there’s a spiritual connection – one that makes me feel like we’re soulmates, that we’re compatible on a deep level that includes values and understandings – the sex would be off the frigging charts good.

Because then I could surrender myself completely to the act, and achieve the kind of deep intimacy that I crave.

Because I am all about the intimacy.

They are attracted to those who need their care and compassion.

Well… yes and no.

Were I a stronger, healthier, more secure person, the answer would be hell yeah. But as I stand right now, I would be more likely to be attract to someone who can give me the care and compassion I need.

It’s true, though, that I am attracted to those who need my help. I would even go so far as to say I feel compelled to help those who need me. As in, I feel like that’s my role, my job, my purpose, and so when the time comes, everything else becomes unimportant compared to my desire to be there for someone who needs me.

In doing so, I am giving others what I wish to receive myself. What I wish I had received oh so many times in my life.

As far as I know, there is no erotic component to that, although if I feel like sex with someone who cares about them is what this person needs, I might make that part of the treatment program, so to speak.

And my need to help others runs very deep. I might just find myself falling in love along the way. I might have a hidden Florence Nightingale side after all.

Well, that’s my commentary on my Mars in Pisces self.

Who knows, that site might be just as accurate for the rest of my chart!

If so, expect sequels.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.


A little about the middle class

Wrote this on Facebook, xposting it here. 
There is a tendency in the modern bourgeoisie to see the world through the prism of consumer choices. It is, after all, the battleground on which they compete. The classic middle class family is constantly trying to appear as successful and high status as possible, and the best way to do that is through spending your money on just the right things in order to get the most social bang for your buck.
As small a thing as a slightly greener lawn or a fancier front door can determine social victory and loss, and the implied message of the victor is always the same :
“I can’t believe THAT is what you chose!”
As petty, pointless, and pathetic as this is, the real problem comes when they are dealing with poor and/or working class people, because they view those people not as people dealing with an entirely different financial reality but as people just like them and made horrible consumer choices that make them seem way less prosperous and successful and therefore socially repulsive.
Ironically, the problem is that they are treating poor people as equals, in a sense, and judging them as they would judge someone with roughly the same income as them.
If you are not quite clear on what I am getting at (and you are middle class), imagine that you meet people who you know for a rock solid fact have big incomes and lots of savings and investments, but they live like poor people. Unkempt lawn, cars on blocks, kiddie pool in the front yard, yelling at their kids in public, you name it. The whole picture.
You’d think there must be something terribly wrong with them, wouldn’t you? Even though part of you knows they must be living exactly as they please? You would really want to know what the “problem” was. You’d need an explanation.
And deep down, a little part of you would want to punish them. Drive them out of the community, even, for the temerity of living as they please and not how society says they should live.
Despite the fact that being an individual on your own terms is exactly what society tells us we are supposed to do.
Kinda fucked up, isn’t it?
 We now return you to your regular blogging already in progress. 
…and was totally covered in unicorn sperm.
An attack of gravity
It’s been a rough afternoon so far.
After lunch, I was feeling a little sleepy. So I figured I would do what I often do, and take a little nap until around 3:30 pm and start my day then.
Bad idea. Wke up feeling awful. And worse than the usual awfulness I feel upon waking. My head felt like it was full of hot molasses and like I must have been the victim of a very greedy vampire because I felt like my blood level was at least two pints low.
So I played my game, Witcher 3, for a little while but I cpuldn’t concentrate worth 2.05 shits and so eventually, I had to succumb to the Earth’s pull and lie back down and sleep more.
I wonder would have happened iof I had decided o work through the slight sleepiness and say down to work directly after lunch. I had a big glass of Diet Coke to keep me going Maybe by now, I would have already blogged and taken a crack at my Secret Informant work too. I don’t want to leave it all for the day before the meeting, but it sure looks like that is going to happen because I will have to do my episode tonight, and if things keep going the way they are going right now, that will use up all my remaing energy.
Why must I be such a sickly thing? Is it some kinda of karmic balance thing? The price I pay for being so fucking intelligent and such? Like I am some kind of big-headed but physically weak and fragile alien species?
Afte giving in to sleep, I woke up feeling somewhat better. That’s when I sat down to blog. I still feel pretty shitty and it hard for me to concentrate and I keep nodding off at the keyboard. But I am determined to get something done before I once again to sleep’s siren call and slip once more into the icy inky depths of my smothering reverie.
Seem it’s not the sleepiness that is making me write that sort of thing.
It is, however, what is keeping me from caring. I enjoy writing these little flights of poetry and this is my blog so that is where I am going to do it.
I could never be an actual poet, though. The literary scene in general is not my idea of fun. So much pretension, so much petty politics, so much ridiculous over-analysis of works that treats authiors like gods and their books as holy writ.
Plus, there’s not exactly a living to be made from it.
But that doesn’t bother me much.. It’s the scene that does. I suppose I could be an arrogant hermit and send my poems to my publisher directly, without anyone else’s involvement, and show up for readings but ignore everyone there and leave the moment I am done. Maybe sign a few books.
In other words, I could be a poet, but only if I was a total asshole about it. It doesn’t seem to be worth it. I don’t even like reading poetry. Most of it is awful and made by people who want to do poetry and be seen to have done poetry  but have no poetry in them. They just string random thoughts together along with words they think make them seem smart and deep,, but there’s no substance to it. It’s all poses and half thoughts and self-adulation and pathetic toadying for social status.
Fuck that noise. If I was a poet, I would be a combination of Bukowski, Byron, and a snarky sarcastic teenager. A total bad boy with a limited patience for stuffy parties full of dull people trying to soak up some value and status by associating with people who actually have something to say.
So yeah. I’d be a total asshole. Like, Harlan Ellison level asshole.
Think I will stick with the TV writing. Keeps me humble.
I will talk to uyou nice people again tomorrow.

Incompetence and me

I ordered pizza tonight. Pizza hut. My usual deal, where you get the Panalicious pizza with two topping, plus 2 of the following four options :  Caesar Salad, Cinnapart, Boneless Chicken Bites, and Breadsticks.

I always get the Cinnapart and the Caesar Salad. The Cinnapart, while messy, is still pretty tasty, and I am always up for a Caesar Salad.

Plus the Boneless Chicken Bites are way, way over-sauced and too greasy for my tastes, and the Breadsticks are snoresville.

Anyhoo, my food shows up and it’s my usual driver, a kindly seeming older German gentleman. I take my stuff and pay.

Only to realize that the rather hot ovoid on fins type container that caught my eye was not, in fact, a novel presentation of my salad, but some else’s enormous order of said Chicken Bites. Not sure what flavour but the sauce is black so I am guessing it’s one of their variations on Buffalo Sauce.

I wonder if they call it Bison Sauce in upstate New York.

Now normally, I would not bother making a fuss. I’d shrug and eat what I got, and email the chain afterward. But there were two extenuating facts :

  1. I don’t like Buffalo Sauce or most BBQ sauce variations, and
  2. Someone, somewhere, was not gonna get their gross Chicken Bites.

It was the second point that compelled me to do something about it.

So I call my local Pizza Hut, and believe it or not, I got no answer. None. What the fuck? Nobody is answering the phone at a PIZZA PLACE? That’s like a consumer electronics store not taking credit cards. It’s crazy-go-nuts lunacy.

Called back again. No answer. Once more, no answer. I am very close to letting it go through to voice-mail and giving them an earful, but I gave it one last try, mostly out of sheer cussedness but also because leaving voice-mail would have meant accept a reality in which you can call a major pizza chain and get no answer three times in a row, and I just wasn’t ready for that.

A surprising amount of people’s determination comes from weird shit like that.

Fourth time they pick up at the very last second and I explain the issue to someone, and it seems to throw her for a bit of a loop. Understandable. It’s not the kind of call they (hopefully) get all the time.

So she puts me on hold for a while, then some dude with a thick accent tells me to keep the chicken and they will send the salad.

Now, this is not a complaint by me, exactly. I mean, it cost me some stress and aggravation, but I actually profit by some potentially edible chicken.

What it is, instead, is a long-winded way of introducing the subject of incompetence – by which I mean people not doing their job – and me. Because as harmless as this incident was, it touched on some pretty damned big issues, and I want to explore those.

Because the thing is, things like the Chicken Bites Mishap have the potential to make me super angry. WAY angrier that is called for by the situation. There is a part of me that is absolutely furious about all the people who can’t seem to do the most basic part of their jobs right and how much bullshit I had to put up with as a result.

And anyone who knows their way around a psyche can tell you that when such a strong reaction is generated by such a minor source, it ain’t about what it’s about.

It is merely the trigger for something else. The spark, not the forest fire.

And I have a lot of issues surrounding people not being able to just do their fucking jobs. It’s a big chunk of my entire controlling/untrusting complex of issues. Why?

Because I have been deeply wounded by a lot of people who didn’t do their jobs. People such as but not limited to :

  • Parents that didn’t parent.
  • Teachers who ignored me and allowed me to be brutally bullies because they didn’t like me either
  • Siblings too busy to look out for me or pay attention to me
  • School administrators who ignored a crying child covered in scrapes, bruises, and his own blood for nearly an hour before telling me to go to class
  • Therapists who tried to get me kicked out of their group
  • A surgeon who apparently had never operated on a fat guy before so he ended up having to slice me open like a gutted fish to get my gall bladder out as opposed to doing it cleanly and competently via laproscopic surgery, which is the norm
  • The nurses and orderlies who treated me like I was under quarantine, meaning my pain went untreated, as did several small complications, and who, when they did bother showing up, acted like they were being sent before Jabba the Hutt
  • And oh, so, many more

It’s things like that which convince a guy like me that nobody can be trusted to do their goddamned jobs, that I can’t rely on anyone to ever have my back, and that the only safety comes in doing it by yourself, alone.

An extreme reaction, I admit, but you can see how hurt I have been in the past. I was abandoned by everyone who was supposed to be looking out for me, That makes me razor paranoid about it ever happening again, and makes me feel like I have to be ever vigilant and ready to make sure people do their jobs… or else.

This is not a healthy attitude. And I am glad to say it’s only a part of me, and not a dominant part. But there’s a lot of rage attached to it that I have no idea how to release.

It’s not like I can get back at the people who failed me. After all, some of them are family, and the rest are probably either dead or wouldn’t remember me at all.

But a lot of bad shit has happened to me because of other people’s incompetence, and all that rage and pain has to go somewhere if I am to get healthy.

I will ask my therapist about it next week.

And I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.


What money just can’t buy

We have all absorbed the message that money can’t buy happiness through popular culture, and to some extend, we believe it.

But only to a highly limited extent. The extent, that is, to which we are thinking of our own situation. It soothes us to think that people richer than us are no happier, or preferably, less happy due to their wealth. That’s why there is always a big demand for entertainment in which high status people endure terrible hardships.

That gives us the double pleasure of imagining we are them (status balm number one) while cutting off feelings of jealousy and rivalry by having these people be demonstrably less happy, either because fate is punishing them for the temerity of insulting our own status with their highness or because their wealth has made them morally inferior to us and they are their own worst enemy (status balm #1).

Incidentally, science only supports one of those, and it’s not the first one.

But the thing is, this applies to all citizens no matter their prosperity level, even very high levels. So before we go patting ourselves on the back because we are obviously at the correct level of status and prosperity, remember that there is someone who thinks you are too rich to be happy, and someone else who thinks people at your level must be miserable drudges…. unlike themselves.

But notice that in this scenario, we are only imagining ourselves to be in our current position. From wherever we are now, it is safe and comforting to think that money can’t buy happiness.

Hence this Beatles song :

But if we imagine ourselves in a much wealthier, more high status position, this belief that money can’t buy happiness vanishes. Ask someone to imagine that they have won ten million dollars in the lottery and ask them what they would do in that case, and you will find that people cannot help imagining that they would be far, far happier. Myself included.

As I have said before in this space, this is because that is what consumer society teaches us. The true deep philosophy of a consumer society is that there is no problem money can’t solve. So when we image ourselves with lots of money, we implicitly imagine all our problems disappearing and every pleasure we can think of being at our fingertips. Even if, consciously, we know that probably isn’t true.

But like I have also said before, money can’t make people love you. It doesn’t improve the quality of your relationships with others. It doesn’t get you recognized by your peers as something special in an of yourself. It doesn’t improve your self-esteem – shit with money is still shit.

In short, it does very little to improve the things that we know, scientifically, lead to happiness. And yet our need to believe that happiness is something you can buy (as opposed to something you have to acquire via other means) that all the scientific evidence in the world could not convince us of otherwise.

So we internalize this consumerist faith very strongly and from the age we first realized money got you things. It runs through to the very core of our being and one only has to question it lightly (by suggesting, for instance, that you – the person reading this – might not be any happier with a lotto win) in order to see hope deep this unquestionable faith runs.

In fact, odds are that right now your mind is busy formulating a response to my questioning of this faith that money would make you happier that would prove that it would, indeed. You are likely thinking of all the things you would do with the money, both selfish and worthy, and are ready to present this as proof that while other people might not be happier with more money, you definitely would because you know just what to do with the money, unlike other people who would do other, less intelligent things.

But that’s beside the point entirely. Everybody thinks they they would know how to use the money right. This is a necessary belief in order to maintain the faith in the power of money. The idea that you personally would not be any happier with millions of dollars is a profound heresy of the first order, and the minds of us products of consumer society simply refuses to even entertain the thought.

It might be true for other people…. but not us!

The faith runs so deep that we react almost as though questioning it will somehow make it less likely to happen to us. As if there is some god of money who might be listening in, and they will shrug and say “Well I was going to give them a ton of money, but it won’t make them any happier, so…. on to someone else!”.

That sort of clearly irrational belief is a sure sign that you are dealing with a deep faith, deep enough to inculcate deeply irrational but intractable superstitions in the population.

And again, I am very much including myself in that population. I feel it too!

Given all this, it is no wonder that so many people are unhappy in modern consumer culture. We are taught that more money would make us happier, and when that turns out not to be true (we’ve just established a new normal), we assume the solution to the problem must be…. still more money!

And people will live their whole lives via this delusion. They will pursue more money and status no matter how often it fails to make them any happier. Even after they have reached a level where they are very comfortable and not particularly unhappy, they will still strive for more.

Why? Because they are terrified of what would happen if they were to stop. If they stopped, they would actually have to deal with themselves. They would be forced to realize that the things they really want are simple not for sale and that in order to get them, they will have to do things like deal directly with people as human beings, and do things like wait their turn, negotiate, compromise, open themselves up emotionally, and all kinds of other things they have been avoiding by acquiring wealth.

In short, they would have to become human beings again, no different than any other.

And they would rather die.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

What is effort?

No, seriously. What is it?

Let’s say that there is a microchip they can implant in your spine that will exercise your body for you. You will physically do the exercise exactly as if you had decided to do it yourself. Same activities, same pain, same results. The only difference is that you didn’t have to go through with it yourself.

Most people would go for it in a big way. And if you asked them why, they would say it’s because it means you don’t have to go to the effort yourself.

But what is this mysterious substance that we call effort?

It’s clearly not about the pain. The pain is the same. And it’s not the strain either. That too remains the same. It’s not the getting sweaty, or being tired after, or the time it takes, or the boredom, or the muscle aches, or anything. All of that would be exactly the same.

And yet those are the very things we would cite as the reasons why we don’t exercise more. What gives?

There must be a mental resource that we consider finite and treat as precious that doesn’t really map to anything physical or even logical. Something kinda of like effort, sort of like willpower, a bit like chutzpah, but really a thing for which, as far as I can tell, we have no precise name.

Let’s call it “the wherewithal“.

And it seems to me that the question of exactly what it is we are talking about is extremely important because a lack of this substance or power is the single factor keeping us modern consumers from being the person we want to be.

My feeling is that it has something to do with serotonin. After all…. everything does. On a neurochemical level.

Some activities deplete our serotonin supplies, others preserve or even recharge it. Things like exercise, housework, or pretty much anything else that requires doing something we don’t want to do because it isn’t the steady stream of unalloyed pleasure (or at least, lack of pain) that modern society can provide depletes this serotonin (or whatever) and because this substance is the basic building block of our sense of wellbeing, our default behaviour is to hoard it and spend it very conservatively.

The physical manifestation of this is what we usually refer to as “laziness”.

The irony, of course, is that this attitude is all wrong. It does not lead to maximizing happiness. The best it can do is minimize pain, and because of how consumer civilization programs us, we tend to view pain as the enemy and a lack of it as a kind of victory.

This results in a mindset where he thought that some pain is actually worth it – that there are things which involve some pain but bring far more in pleasure than they cost in pain – has a hard time taking root. Pain acquires a level of fear and/or reluctance associated with it that is wildly out of proportion with its actual severity.

So a kind of unenlightened hedonism kicks in, where the idea of delayed (but vastly superior) gratification disappears over some seemingly distant horizon and people act in an almost robotic, mindless fashion, without forethought or purpose.

Why? Because they are so depleted by their lives that their basic needs (in this case, for that reward/serotonin) override their rational brains, and even very intelligent people engage in self-destructive behaviours that they know are stupid, but they don’t feel like they have a choice.

And in a sense, they are right. Evolution gave us big brains, but it also gave our bodies a kind of veto power over our powerful rationality. If the body’s needs are not met, it can usurp control of first our minds and, if things get bad enough, even our body itself.

That’s why it’s hard to concentrate when you are hungry or thirsty. Your body is raising the alarm and there is only one way to turn that alarm off – give it what it needs.

Back to our main subject. How do people end up so depleted in the first place? Let’s start with work.

Work involves a massive investment of that mysterious substance. So does school, to a lesser degree. Our simpleminded and hedonistic ids have to be restrained and forced into things every second of our workdays. So many primitive impulses (like, say, wanting to smack the crap out of one co-worker and mount the other) to suppress, so many stimuli to filter out, so much energy invested in dragging our inner children kicking and screaming through out day that it’s no wonder that when we get home, we don’t want to do a single thing that would take any wherewithal whatsoever.

As we mature, we learn to stop fighting ourselves and just do the things we have decided to do. And of course, exactly how draining your workplace might be is highly variable.

Then there’s diet and exercise. Yes, the very things we want to motivate ourselves to do. There is no doubt, scientifically speaking, that we are making bad choices. Not from the point of view of some moralistic purity standard, but from the purely selfish hedonistic point of view. Our tendency to try to solve emotional issues via consumer purchases, coupled with our depleted states and consequent lack of rationality, leads to a string of short term solutions that in many ways just makes our problems worse over time.

By trying to fill the hole in our souls by cramming things into it, we only make it bigger.

I don’t have a ready solution for this problem, but all solutions begin with the same thing : awareness. If more people knew what was really going on inside them and what they were really up against, maybe they could find ways of making themselves happier in the long term. At the very least, they would find it easier to motivate themselves to do the less-fun things in life if they knew that they were not just deferring pleasure, they were investing it in being a richer (happier) person later in life.

So don’t go to the gym thinking “I want to be hot!” Don’t eat fresh fruit instead of a donut thinking “I want to be healthy!”. Don’t spend time reading instead of frittering away your time on things you don’t even like that much thinking “I want to be smarter!”.

Our inner selves don’t care about that shit.

Say to yourself “I want to be happier!”.

That’s something our ids can understand.

I will talk top you nice people again tomorrow.

On The Road : Specialness edition

Usual place, usual space.

Warning, none of the following truths are gentle.

All my life, I have known I was special. Different. Unique. Many times in my early life, I was told I had so much potential it was scary. I have grown up thinking I was really something special.

And I am. So what? That and five bucks will get you a Starbucks coffee.

Specialness is shit. It has no inherent value. In a world where everyone is special,specialness is the cheapest thing imaginable.

In the real world, specialness doesn’t mean shit. You don’t get marks just for showing up, Nobody is going to show up and hand you a check for a million dollars “just for being you”. Nor are they going to give you a free pass for unlimited pussy (or whatever) just for being such a nice guy.

All society cares about, like the man says, is what you can do. And that’s not the world being cruel or cold to you, it’s exactly what you expect of the world.

If someone knocked on your door and said “Give me your brand new Bluray player!” and you said “Why?” and they said “Because I’m such a nice guy, and I have a lot of potential!”, you’d laugh and slam the door in their face.

See how it suddenly changes when it’s your stuff on the line?

And let me tell you, a lot of people waste a lot of years waiting to be rewarded for their specialness without having having to do anything. On some level, they feel like having to do something for their reward means they lose and life wins.

Wins what? The battle to make them do something in order to get something and thus deny their inherently wonderful extra special specialness. It’s a battle that is absurd on the face of it and absolutely unwinnable, and of course, most people don’t know that it was they are doing.

But they are. Take it from someone who knows. They waste years upon years waiting for life to make the first move. Like some cosmic agency is going to show them exactly how to get to happiness without effort or risk and then they will just do that. Like life should be without struggle or risk, and anything else is cruel injustice.

Like they expect to win the lottery without ever buying a ticket.

So you know what? Fuck your specialness. And mine…. especially mine. Society, with the best of intentions, fed you a false narrative that because you were special and unique and wonderful…. that’s all you would ever need to be. Nobody said that you would actually have to do things. Things like taking risks, investing effort, making yourself vulnerable to the world, and fighting like hell to get what you want.

School was great. It was clear that the system liked people like you. You were the right kind of person in school. And whether you worked hard to get those high marks, like a lot of people, or just took them for granted, like my lazy ass did, it was clear that you were destined for greatness, or at least respect.

But nobody told you about the fighting, and the struggle, and the stress. Why, you will just major in your favorite subject from high school and get a job in that! And that will lead effortlessly to a job doing that exact same thing, and you will love that job so much that it won’t even seem like work.

Nobody told you that all those academic degrees like art history and English lit can only lead to one career, and that is teaching it to other idiots like you. And that you will be competing for those tiny numbers of jobs in your field with hundreds of your fellow idiots, so it’s either become the Type-A competitor you have never been, or resign yourself to getting the exact same kind of job you could have gotten without going to college in the first place.

And should you get one of those kinds of jobs, you know, the sorts of jobs anyone can get, it will only be a matter of time before it occurs to you that maybe, just maybe, you aren’t middle class any more, and suddenly you won’t feel special at all any more.

That will be your crossroads. In one direction lies depression, self-loathing, self-destructive behaviour, and feeling like a colossal loser. On the other path lies ambition, drive, passion, and a healthy sense of self because you have decided that you are special, god damn it, and you are going to prove it.

Luckily, it is never too late to change the road you’re on. I am living proof of this. I languished on that first path for twenty years simple because I was unable to grow up and face reality and accept that I really did have to do things that were scary, uncertain, and difficult if I wanted to change my situation. I had to take responsibility for my own fate, and push myself to find the place where the gap between where I was and where I wanted to be was small enough for me to jump across.

As it turned out, that was Kwantlen.

And maybe you are reading this and thinking I am mean and sadistic and a total prick. That’s your right. You can totally throw all your hate and anger at me and convince yourself that I must be wrong about everything and a horrible evil person besides.

I just want you to ask yourself this : Why am I so mad? What is it about what I have said that makes you so furious. There’s lots of opinions in this world with which you disagree, many of which are far more evil and offensive than anything I have said here tonight.

So what is it about these particular statements that makes react so strongly?

You’d better figure out what it is if you hope to defeat me.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

Three Hundred Seconds

Modern consumer society does a lot of weird things to our brains as it programs us to desire instant (and therefore more profitable) gratification. This takes many forms, but nowhere is it stranger and more illogical than in our attitudes towards food and health in general.

Now I am not talking about how we all should survive on cabbage leaves and strained quinoa until we reach our ideal weight. Or how everybody needs to embrace jogging so they can live a longer life of jogging. I am not talking any of that pie in the sky (mmm…. pie) crap that the health food cult industry tries to sell you.

No, I am talking about the immediate future. Not six years from now. Not just in time for swimsuit weather. Not even tomorrow. Heck, not even this evening.

I am talking about five minutes from now. How will this make me feel five minutes from now? If I eat this donut, will I feel lousy after the sugar crash? If I eat those fries, will I feel bloated and gross five minutes from now? If I have this complicated coffee/dessert thing from Starbucks, will this actually help me with my day, or will it leave me feeling strung out and confused?

And the thing is, for must of us products of a consumer culture (emphasis on product), our minds instantly rebel at the thought of taking that into consideration. Instant gratification means instant. Not five minute or even five seconds from now, NOW. We automatically feel like thinking about how something will make us feel five minutes from now threatens our deeply entrenched consumer gratification system that supplies our need for reward, and so we shy away from the thought. We come up with reasons why we can’t or won’t do that. We do what it takes to make the bad thought go away. Myself included.

But peep this : what if it is the very things we do and eat that makes us need so much instant gratification in the first place?

Maybe every time we give in to the desires for an unnaturally strong artificial stimulus, we are accepting the terms of a very bad deal. We get a few moments of pleasure in return for feeling really crappy for a while, and we don’t notice this because to us, it’s totally normal?

We think of this kind of empty feeling as natural, and obviously some of it is, but a lot of is, I think, artificial.

What if the cure for the modern malaise is simply to stop eating crap? Would it make a difference? Would we be able to make the transition?

And again, I am not talking about some distant fitness goal that might as well be in orbit, it would seem just as attainable. And I am not talking about what you “should” do in some inane moralistic way that heavily implies that the real reward for healthy living is a sense of smug superiority. I am not talking about what your doctor, your mother, or the American Heart and Lung Association wants you to do.

I am talking pure selfish hedonism here. Pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness, feeling good versus feeling bad. Would you rather spend more time feeling good and less time feeling bad? Is a minute of pleasure worth feeling crappy for two hours? Are we getting good value for what we are eating, or are we settling for less?

And why is it so hard to think about the subject? The logic is flawless. Obviously, if someone said to you, “OK, the deal is that you will feel really good for a second, then terrible for two hours…” we would say “Um, no thanks, that sounds awful.

And yet, we make that terrible decision all the time, myself included. That’s what consumer culture does to us. It make us dependent on instant gratification from superstimuli. So dependent, in fact, that it blinds us to the non-immediate consequences of our actions. We cling to our unhealthy foods and activities because it truly feels to us that it would be “impossible” to live without them, and without them, life would not be worth living.

But billions of people go on living without our modern luxuries every day. They don’t seem to think life is not worth living without them. So clearly, that can’t be literally true. If you didn’t have these things, you would still go on living.

Maybe the real problem is that modern society sucks the life out of us in a million little ways that we can’t even perceive because we are habituated to it. Our supply of happiness is drained away by everyday life, especially our jobs, and so we become dependent on these “safe” (in that they don’t threaten how we live our lives) megadoses of artificial reward in order to continue to function.

“Why do you stay in that cage?” asked the man. “It’s not even locked. ”
“Because the food is really good!” said the monkey. “And I have my cage set up just the way I like it!”

That’s an exaggeration, obviously, but it gets the point across. Modern life depletes us and we are, in theory, free to leave that behind (quitting your job optional) at any time just by changing our habits.

But we all know it’s not that easy. We are bound by chains of artificial need, and our entire worldview is shaped by that. We can’t see outside the cage, not because there is something wrong with our eyes, but because modern society has trained us not to look there because looking there makes us feel sad and confused, and why should we put up with that?

Even someone who starts, in many ways, outside the cage and just keeps going, like myself, stays in the cage to do it. I might see further than others and I might be less restricted that some of the rest of the monkeys, but I am still in here with you all the same.

I just have a spot with a view.

I will talk to you nice monkeys again tomorrow.

The rich are enemies of capitalism

Most of the people today who say they love capitalism really only love the idea of getting rich.

A true capitalist, like myself, who only wants what is best for the capitalist economy in which he lives, knows that accumulated private wealth, especially of the inherited kind, is anathema to the health of a capitalist economy. We would be far truer to the goals and ideals of the capitalism they claim to love, if we simply took the bulk of their wealth away and redistributed it to the poor.

See, private wealth is, by definition, money that is not circulated in the economy from which it was derived, or any economy at all. The only thing capitalism needs to thrive is for money to flow freely. When it gets walled off into private wealth, it stops flowing and remains static.

On a consumer level, that money might as well no longer exist.

And these people dare to call themselves job creators. The money they spend on their outrageous luxuries employs far fewer people than if it was spent in the regular consumer economy. If they insist upon labeling themselves job creators, we must not hesitate to remind them that flipping burgers employs a hell of a lot more people per monetary unit than building yachts, and that if they are job creators, they are the least efficient job creators in the world.

Now if you built a business empire, with real businesses that produce goods which consumers pay for, and thus enriched the economy, then you at least accomplished something that benefits others and the money you have accrued can be said to have been earned.

But if all you did was get luck on the stock market, or win the birth lottery and be born into money, then you contribute nothing to society. You are merely a name on a bank account, and it could be anybody’s name and it would be worth the same.

Also, I am not talking about functional wealth – the wealth that the wealthy spend to support their lifestyle. While it might not create jobs very efficiently, that money is still participating in the economy. Those butlers, maids, yacht designers, party planners, and so on will spend the money they are paid, and the places they spend it will spend it, and so on.

No, I am talking about what I call, if you will excuse the verbal legerdemain, idle wealth. Money that is simply not participating in the economy. It hires no one, it buys nothing, it invests in nothing, it just sits there in some bank account or passive investment somewhere. It’s just digits on a screen, a sum with a name attached.

Were that money spent, it would be stimulating the economy. It would be flowing from business to business, consumer to consumer, and every stop it made would increase the liquidity, and hence the efficiency and power, of the economy. It would be paying salaries, purchasing products, investing in new ideas, and making the world a better place.

But no, we have somehow let it be locked away from where it can do any good. This problem has only one solution : release the funds.

In other words, take the goddamned idle wealth away from those who have erroneously allowed to accrue it and inject it back into the economy by giving it to people most likely to spend it. Namely, the poor.

Now I must stress : this is a fully capitalist argument for the redistribution of wealth. This has nothing to do with the means of production or the rights of the worker or the labour theory of value or any of that Marxist bullshit. I am an avid capitalist who applauds some of communism’s aims but considers their methods to be entirely impractical and based on ideology, not reality.

But the same can be said of the so-called capitalists who worship the golden idol of unfettered (unless fetters prove more profitable) capitalists. Their ideas are just as impractical, as unrealistic, as unreasoned as those of the most overheated of coffee house liberals.

At least the liberals mean well.

These capitalist cultists, like most fanatics, strenuously avoid truly examining the object of their worship in fear of discovering it does not match their idolized (and made to order) vision of it. They think that because their ludicrously impractical, childlike ideas are said by impressive looking people in business suits, they are somehow superior to those espoused by people in Birkenstocks and hemp.

This fetishization of the appearance of respectability has become a shield that offers social protection to vastly inferior people with all the emotional development of cranky toddlers. They literally cannot imagine a reason that tell them no could ever be morally justified. Their wealth and the culture that supports it (and idolizes it) acts as a co-dependent partner to their moral and intellectual degeneration, and by indulging them so thoroughly, create the ideal conditions for power (wealth) in the hands of infants (the rich, especially the old and rich).

The first step to ending this miserable charade is to stand up to these people in language they can understand. Tell them that no, they can’t have everything they want. Remind them that they, too, are citizens, and subject to the exact same laws and limitation as everyone else. Tell them that the ability to get away with something does not, in fact, make it okay to do it. Instruct them on their duties as citizens of a world which, in case they have forgotten, contains other people with their own lives, needs, and desires…. and that’s okay. Reteach, or just plain teach, them the art of taking turns, only taking as much as you need, cleaning up the messes they make, and in general behave like the kindergarten graduates they would have us believe they are.

And in this scenario, the only available headmistress is the government.

After all, it’s not like market forces are going to bring about the necessary correction.

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.