Sunburn

If ever there was a misnomer its the word ‘Sunburn’.

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What ‘they’* actually mean is radiation damage. You know, from the yellow dwarf star positioned roughly eight light minutes from earth, cooking us with its ultra violet spectrum and general convective-ness.

*the ubiquitous they, that decide these sorts of conventions. Most likely decided in a walnut panelled room, sprinkled with brown leather chesterfields that smell like cigars and spilled cognac. (if you guys are looking for new adherents, I’m available on extremely short notice)

In any event, radiation burns sounds quite serious. Like ‘don’t-go-outside-or-you’ll-die’ serious. And maybe also a little hysterical. So maybe I understand why ‘they’ dumbed it down for us.

Still… some part of me wants to call it what it is.

Maybe it will catch on.

 

Burn burn the truth the lies the news, Burn burn the life that you cant choose – Lost Prophets.

 

Will I succeed?

I struggled through the Lorax* with my two year old before bedtime last night. Nothing like a little Dr. Seuss to make you doubt you your ability to read out loud or annunciate clearly.

*got to start them early on that climate change stuff

I think there is a tempo that I’m failing at. Or maybe it’s the lack of lysergic acid diethylamide coursing through my body that’s the problem? Although that might make Dr. Seuss even more scary than it already is… maybe I should switch to some Shelley or HP Lovecraft. You know, lighten the mood a little bit. I find the Lorax remarkably dark…

almost like its a portent of things to come.

In any event. I do think Dr. Seuss answers some important life questions.

Like will I succeed?

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Which I find quite comforting.

Siderophobia

For a six year old I find Calvin quite philosophic…

But I think dust speck is being quite generous…

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You know… in the grand scheme or schism of things.

Siderophobia (from the Latin sīdus meaning “star constellation”) is the fear of stars. Individuals avoid venturing outside at night, tending to stay indoors with all the curtains drawn. People suffering from siderophobia upon seeing stars may faint, feel nauseous, sweat, tremble and suffer panic attacks.

As phobias go, I think I am most empathetic towards Siderophobia. I mean looking up into the night sky and seeing tiny, pin pricks of light (some of which don’t even exist anymore) as a visual representation of an infinite expanse laid out before you… how can you not feel like everything you think you understand about existence and your (supposed) role in all of it makes any sense?

Of course there are those of us that look up at the night sky and feel wonder and amazement… and while clearly not phobic, should you not reasonably be considered just as unwell?

I likely fall somewhere in between these two extremes. While ruminating space makes me feel a little tingly and light headed… I still want to poke it with a stick.

Probably because I’m a boy.

 

Girls, girls, girls, girls are so polite
They don’t crush everything that they see
You can take ’em to a funky funky forest with big glass spiderwebs
Hangin’ from the ceilin’
They wouldn’t feel the uncontrollable urge
To tip and push and kick and rip and tear and smash and squish and…
Poke and destroy
-Presidents of the USA

 

What we learn from History

They say that history is the greatest of all teachers, and that tales of past deeds define who we are in the present, and what we shall be in the future. It is said that such tales shall with each telling illuminate us all with the light of truth. – narrator, Icewind Dale

I liked this line so much I wrote it on the first page of my very first journal. Back when I was a pen and paper purist. These days I am likely more cynical and tend to align myself with the philosophy of Otto von Bismarck and his penchant for spiky helmets, epic level moustaches and Realpolitik…

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What we learn from History is that no one learns from History – Otto Von Bismarck. 

Truer today, than its ever been before 😉

 

Chaos. German Style

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I’m generally NOT into ascribing specific traits to certain Sapiens bound to an arbitrary geographic location. But this advertisement gets my OCD all flared up and twitchy. Wether that is in fact due to my ‘German-ness’ or some other deeply rooted psychological issue remains… eh.. undetermined.

I’m not sure I can bank with a finance institution that is so flippant with the orientation of its paperclips though.

#justsaying

The Burning Building

A trolley problem is usually defined as a thought experiment in ethics. Although it doesn’t necessarily have to involve a trolley car. Theres also not supposed to be a particularly right or a particularly wrong answer.

Scenario #1

A building is on fire, there is a child on the second floor. Without thinking you rush into the inferno firmly intent on rescuing the child. Half way up the stairs you notice a priceless Rembrandt hanging on the wall. Do you can carry on, rescue the child or… do you save the irreplaceable masterpiece?

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Scenario #2

A building is on fire, there are two children in the building.Without thinking you rush into the inferno firmly intent on rescuing the children. Half way up the stairs you realise the fire is out of control and you will only be able to rescue one child… armed with perfect knowledge you know that one child has an IQ of 140. The other sub 80. Which child do you save?

Scenario #3

A building is on fire, there are two children in the building.Without thinking you rush into the inferno firmly intent on rescuing the children. Half way up the stairs you realise the fire is out of control and you will only be able to rescue one child… armed with perfect knowledge you know that one child will one day cure cancer. The other child is your best friends kid. Which child do you save?

It doesn’t really matter what you answer. Unless you’re a sociopath its likely you are likely to be bothered by whatever choice you make….

I can’t overstate how much I love trolley problems. I’m especially fascinated by programmers who are going to have to teach self-driving cars the algorithms required to make life or death decisions. Does your self-driving car sacrifice you by smashing itself into a brick wall… or does it mow down the child that broke free from its mothers grasp and ran into the road?

Decisions, decisions… decided in 0.05 seconds.

What a great time to be alive that we can mull over such things 🙂

 

If you’re interested… my post on the  The Shallow Pond. For more ethical hoodoo.

I see the moon. And the moon sees me.

Next time someone complains that the free WiFi is slow. Or that the queue at Starbucks is five people deep… gently remind them that we have bigger problems…

In a hundred years the moon will be…

Does quick mental arithmetic…

Almost FOUR METERS further away!

How are people not freaking out about this?!?Even our celestial bodies are trying disassociate themselves from the earth… probably due to a case of massive embarrassment.

*heartfelt sigh*

Villain chair

I’ve always had a soft spot for the bad guy. My favorite Star Wars movie was The Empire strikes back, ostensibly because it starts off with the Empire kicking rebel butt and ends with Boba Fett freezing Han Solo in carbonite. I also distinctly remember being upset as a child when Roger Moore dropped Ernst Stravo Blofeld down the chimney in the first five minutes of For your eyes only. What a massive disservice to the character!

Growing up I wanted to be a zoo keeper. Failing that I would have settled for international villain complete with a sprawling underground lair (in a temperate climate). Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately my enthusiasm for zoos waned over the years and instead of (full on) villainy I settled for the lite version. ie Capitalism. I mean I still get my kicks crushing the hopes and dreams of the little people (every now and then) but its not building rockets and stealing the pyramids.

I was (more or less) content with my choice… Until I discovered this…

The ultimate villain chair.

Now I’m thinking… damn… maybe I capitulated. Difficult to justify this mode of transport around the office. BUT… in a dimly lit lair surrounded my a bank of monitors… a hideously disfigured henchman by my side… chortling manically (me I mean, not the henchman… if my henchman were to do anything other than murmur in acquiescence he would feel the back of my hand)

Potentially (at 39) its a bit late for a career change. I feel kinda committed to this path now. Which is a pity.

Oh well.

Black Jesus.

I know. White people shouldn’t write about racism. I can’t write objectively about something I’ve never experienced. I have no reference point. Basically I can only make assumptions about it, based on my intuition, feelings and what I’ve seen or read. Consider me admonished right near the beginning.

I’m going to do it anyway. Because, one, I don’t be like being told what to do. And two, I think that we only have two ways that we can approach this idea. Conversation or violence. I also feel those two things are mutually exclusive and we should probably pick one or the other. And while I am (sometimes) partial to a good, solid bout of fisticuffs I feel, in this case, conversation is the better option.

I should probably also mention that I am not very clever. Or a particularly good writer. So if you’re expecting something profound or liminal in this blog post you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

Let me start by saying I think our definition of race is all messed up. Which is where things start to go awry of us. After all we are all…

  1. from the kingdom of Animalia. ie we are animals
  2. Our Phylum is Chordata. ie we have spine thingy (I know, super technical)
  3. Our class is Mammalia ie. we are mammals
  4. Our order is Primates ie. Yay! Monkeys
  5. Our family is Hominidae ie. Big Monkeys
  6. Our genus is Homo ie. Human being
  7. And finally our species is Sapiens ie. us. Different from Erectus (chortle) and Naledi.

Since we genocided all the other genera of human beings (likely with rocks, sharp sticks and our fists), we homo-sapiens are the only ‘branch’ of humans that are left on this planet. We are the ‘human race’ by process of elimination. Why is it that we have included the human race to have a further subcategory of eh.. race? This is where it starts to get a little confusing for me. Do we actually mean phenotype? I think we do.

A Phenotype is the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

So, as I understand (and correct me if I’m wrong) one of those phenotypes is pigment. Which I think is the main determining factor in racism, because it gives us a very visual cue to differentiate ‘us’ from ‘them’.

Lets recap, Our ancestors that lived on the equator about one million years ago started to develop eumelanin as a form of defence against the sun when they started spending more time out on the savannah instead of in the tree-line. Their bodies adapted to their environment and their skin turned darker. They also lost their body hair and developed a better perspiration system.

Our ancestors were all dark skinned. (and we are all African immigrants) As my ancestors trekked north they headed up into cooler climes and their skins got lighter and lighter. With less sunshine our bodies couldn’t absorb the required amount of Vitamin D from the sun, so we started shedding eumelanin. And hey-ho, the white man arrived.

Basically my ancestor was an ape. Then he was a black man and then he became a white guy due to lack of rays. (Personally I think that’s amazing) So when we are hating on each other because of our differing skin color we are actually expressing a serious self loathing for our species.

I know. Some ridiculously large part of the world’s population doesn’t believe in evolution. Also try tell my camo-wearing-god-fearing-rifle-toting-white-brother his ancestor was actually of the coloured persuasion. See how that works out for you.

I do think this means our broad understanding of racism is incorrect though. (I know, look at me, prodding convention) When say racism do we actually mean something more akin to culturism? Ie. My culture is superior to your culture.

Racism is defined as the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

Wait what?

The whole ‘Race’ thing wasn’t even a ‘thing’ until relatively recently. A German anthropologist named Johann Blumenbach grouped humanity into five groups. The Caucasians (or whites), The Mongolians (or yellows), The Malayans (or browns), The Ethiopians (or blacks) and the Americans (or reds). Interestingly as an aside Blumenbach was of the very radical opinion that no race was superior or inferior to another. A very unpopular opinion at the time.

Having been grouped into these broad categories based on pigmentation (which generally denoted how we had migrated across the earth), the stage was set to meld the concept of superior culture into that of race.

Up until the eighteen hundreds, the world more or less ticked along at the same sort of pace. Europe, the Middle East and China were basically on the same level of advancement. Then something happened in Europe that changed everything.

Two concepts were developed in quick succession that would disrupt everything. Capitalism and the Scientific method were born. These two concepts, in almost no time at all, catapulted Europe past everyone else on the advancement track.

I don’t think anyone can deny that what happened next is an undeniable abuse of power. Europe went on to fuck up (almost) every other nation on earth, systematically destroying and plundering every other continent on the planet, no one escaped their greed unscathed.

My ‘superior’ culture started out by killing millions of people, destroying millions of lives. (not that any other culture would have done anything different given that opportunity) Our golden age was mostly punctuated with torture, plague and unbelievable cruelty. Its something a lot of us are (weirdly) proud of. Although we tend to leave out the wicked stuff and focus more on the railroads and medicine as our more notable achievements. Even more bizarre is that we often did all of this in name of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Back in the day I used to be a Catholic. My best friend at the time happened to be a Catholic priest. (which is also part of the reason I no longer have faith) He bounced around after the seminary but eventually he got sequestered in a tiny parish in Soweto called Zondi. I used to go there sometimes to keep him company.

Behind the altar in that church is a mosaic of Jesus and the twelve apostles. Only they’re black. (Judas slinking off with his thirty silvers is actually my favourite part of this picture)

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I remember thinking how interesting it was that a depiction of Jesus wasn’t regulated by the Vatican. (I mean they feel they can regulate everything else) At the time I was parishioner in a parish where the ubiquitous white-Jesus in stained glass looms very large over everyone.

Jesus was from Galilee. (basically the area north of Palestine and south of Lebanon). If we extrapolate that Jesus looked like your typical Galilean he most likely would have been short, with dark slightly curly hair, dark brown eyes and a short black beard. And most importantly his skin tone would have been dark brown. A feature of Mediterranean skin and being in the sun all day. It is very likely Jesus would have been pulled aside in any immigration queue for ‘additional screening’.

Jesus (if he existed) probably looked like this….

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(from the BBC, I think)

The hippy Jesus look started in the middle ages, when Jewish/middle eastern features and ancestry fell out of favor with the Catholic church. (You know, that whole Christ-killers vibe) Suddenly a white-Jesus appeared, looking decidedly European. A poster child for some crusading action against the heretical browns of Jerusalem. ‘We want YOU!’

So next time you’re on your knees asking Jesus to intercede on your behalf with his Old man. Remember that you are in fact bowing down to a ‘man’ of color. You’d think that’s got to be quite an awkward conversation when you’ve just hung up your conquistador helmet after putting half of South America to the sword.

Unfortunately I think racism in some form or other is here to stay. Probably forever. It has slowly, over time, become less overt and we’ve all become better at hiding our prejudices towards each other. Instead of racism we’ve replaced it with culturalism, nationalism and passive aggression. Those are still broadly acceptable in segregating and disrupting human beings we deem undesirable to associate with.

I think that’s just the way we are. Sure we can try and regulate behavior through laws. But humans are cunning. And hate is largely (and historically) our thing, it motivates us to succeed. Having someone to pit ourselves against drives us to improve and for the most part a visual representation of supposed difference is the easiest to get behind.

I think the only way past this is to constantly reassess the things we believe to be true or have come to accept. Chances are you hate the guy in your office, not because he’s Black or Asian or whatever… but because he’s an asshole. Get it right and check your hate. And then maybe stop projecting onto an entire Phenotype. #justsaying.

Amazon job interview question

I’m embarrassed to say that I have only ever been to one job interview in my life… and it was awful.

I saw this recently. Which was potentially more awful.

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This is/was (supposedly) part of the Amazon interview process.

Dammit.

Math… my only weakness. Well… math and bullets.

Apparently you can solve this problem through logic…

Okay… Math, bullets and logic.

Sufficed to say I could never work for Amazon. (I also struggle with child proof containers)

Solution here.

 

I likely would have answered. ‘I think they’re catching up to the rest of Europe’. And then laughed at my own joke.

(in my defense it is a capital P)

A little housekeeping

To steal a subject line from Sam Harris.

This blog started out as a personal finance blog. Ostensibly because someone didn’t reply to my email right away. (thanks Kristia) Righteous indignation is a powerful motivating factor. But… as it turns out I don’t really have that much to say about personal finance that can’t be summed up in two maxims. Don’t spend more than you earn. And invest the difference. There are only so many ways you can skin a cat. Everything else just becomes arguing the minutiae. I also felt I was becoming a bit smug and preachy about the whole thing and it became difficult for me to sermonize with out the nagging feeling that I was punting a lifestyle choice… while surreptitiously feeding the ego machine with one hand and patting myself on the back with the other. Well done Joey. Go get a sticker.

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Just thinking about some of those (sometimes very aggressive) blog posts makes me suck air through clenched teeth. That’s not say the personal fiance blogs out there aren’t great and super helpful. But that wasn’t me.

Deciding that I should check my ego I pivoted and decided I was going to blog about board games instead. Or perhaps rather, gaming in general. I love strategy and storytelling. Especially interactive story telling.

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Joey getting murdered at Caverna on Friday night.

Going out, dancing until the early hours and then attempting to get slutty while amusing in my twenties, would now leave me seriously dysfunctional for days on end, sofa bound and mewling for ibuprofen. Besides I’m married now which invalidates a lot of that sort of behavior. I’m much happier listening to music on my headphones and playing games with my school friends. At best my gaming blogs were touristy and quite vapid. There are some really good gaming blogs out there and after a while it didn’t feel like a good ‘competitive’ space for me.

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Then I tried personal blogging for a bit. Meh. Which after a while, just felt quite mindless and self aggrandizing. I started to despise my blog and ditched it completely for a while.

..And now I’ve been back for about a month.

I’m enjoying this format a lot more. Apologies if you started following me for some of the other blog entries and you’ve found yourself mouthing the words ‘What the fuck is this…’ recently.

I don’t really want to rehash my About page (where I briefly cover my motivations) But I’m likely to continue in this probably quite eclectic fashion. I find it a little bit more introspective and interesting (for me at least).

I’m also going to add comments to the end of posts. I’ve always been quite weary of a comments section. But I also worry I might be getting wrapped up in my own echo chamber sometimes. Existing in this input-less vacuum isn’t necessarily a good thing. I think I’ve been unreasonably weary of interaction with other humans. Conventions and firmly held convictions should be challenged from time to time.

So there’s that.

I’ve also gone through some of my previous posts with a machete. There was A LOT of mindless drivel, typed at pace in sub optimal conditions. What I haven’t condemned to the trash bin I might revive and re-post at some point with some heavy editing. So… there may be some reruns in the future where I think I can do better.

Anyways… thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge rating

I’ve updated my definition of challenging.

Trying to insert a suppository into a feverish two year old that knows what’s coming and is fighting you…

Grateful I have twenty five years of jujitsu under my belt to prepare me for this…

Joey goes for the flying arm bar…

Adulting

Being a grown up and taking on the responsibilities that come with age is something I’ve taken up only under extreme duress. And so I sometimes refer to myself as ‘adulting’ because… well… to be completely honest it’s my little ‘fuck you’ to the seriousness that comes with the passing of the decades and a homage to a time where things were simpler and WAY more fun.

Having said that I am both inclined to both agree and disagree with this statement. (In a lip service kinda way) Usually depending on how well I slept. Which when you have a toddler is usually poorly. Ergo my ability to take life seriously is directly proportional to the number of hours that I have been removed from it in a state of mini death.

Besides is the apocalypse necessarily a bad thing? Sure we’ve attributed a lot of negative connotations to the word… but really, think of the benefits. No more taxes, Star Wars movies or Network News. Ok sure there might be the religiosity of the chaff being separated from the wheat and thrown into the eternal fire (personally I have my doubts) but besides that potential niggle I see mostly upside.

When does someone become an adult anyway? I don’t necessarily remember there being a formal event or ceremony? Some have recently argued this is one of the big problematic features in the world today… a lack of ritualistic event where we are bequeathed responsibility and the moniker of adult and leave our childhood behind us. A point in time where we are yoked to the cart of life as it were.

I’m tend to channel Admiral Akbar on this…

I’m not advocating a complete lack of responsibility or a surrender to the whims of chaos…. but I do tend to think we are a sum of our experiences, a progression as it were and this notion that we need to have a cut off date where we start ‘taking things seriously’ is a little silly. We still are that kid on the monkey bars. Just older.

Besides intimating that I am somehow ‘less’ because I refer to myself occasionally as ‘adulting’… fuck you guy, let’s get this straight, by your narrow definition and metric of what is deemed proper? I’m glad you’re around to pass judgement on acceptable terminology. I am also glad that I am around to disappoint you!

That’s the thing about Freedom. You can be straight, gay or identify as a tuna-fish if you want. As long as you’re responsible right?

Llama Poetry

I’ve recently (I am really late to this particular party) realized there are A LOT of people writing and self-publishing poetry out there. Some of it is really good. (some of it… I don’t understand, but wandering around scowling and confused is not that unusual for me)

I’ve also just finished Legends of the Samurai by Hiroaki Sato. The samurai class appreciated the duality of being both martial and cerebral and spent as much time contemplating verse as they did practicing their sword form. And while I am neither particularly martial, or particularly cerebral… I thought I would give it a go anyway…

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There once was a man from Peru.
Who owned several pairs of shoes…
And a habitually angry Llama.
Yes, that too.
The thing was a beast! 
It wasn’t that bad…
IT TOOK THREE OF MY FINGERS YOU MISERABLE LAD.
A finger and thumb are all that remain, of that chance encounter in the pen that day.
Oh Ned won’t you please, relate for me that tale, of you and that Llama, on that fateful May day.
Well… The Russians were marching… of that I am sure…
And I heeded not the warnings of local (and ancient) lore
I reached out to pat it… But little did I know, the thing was of violent temperament…
And I was a little slow.
It lashed out… quick as a flash… and that… as they say, was that.
Oh I howled and I cried for all that it helped…
My fingers it swallowed with a smile and a belch. 
So should you ever go down to the pens one day…
Remember old Ned… and turn the other way.

 

Not exactly Robert Frost with his divergent thoroughfares…  but I’ve giving myself a gold star on my forehead for effort. Yay me!

High noon equivalency

I tend to favour Western Philosophy. Likely for the reason that I’ve just been exposed to more of it. Thats not to say I don’t ‘culturally appropriate’ concepts from Taoism or Buddhism, or any other -ism that I like and find compatible with my Joey-OS… its just that when it comes down to fundamentals it tends to be predominantly Greek in origin.

The internet these days feels a lot like the domain of madmen and gunslingers where civil discourse seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Venture a political opinion or engage in satire anywhere and you’ll soon find yourself being called out onto Main street to settle things with six shooters.

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‘All I said was Jordan Peterson* makes some good points’. ‘Shut up you fucken Nazi’.

Unfortunately these bouts happens figuratively, with mean spirited insults traded in a public sphere with ideologues lining up behind their champions with ancillary barbs. I think people would be kinder to each other if a difference of opinion could actually lead to duels to the death on some dusty, rutted thoroughfare. That way all the assholes (on both sides of the divide) would be dead… and we could move on with constructive debate and dialogue. (the dream)

*I use Jordan Peterson as an example because he seems to be quite loathed (at the moment) But really you can substitute Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris or Christina Hoff Sommers in there (to name but a few who I think get unfairly mailgned for thinking out loud)

Whatever happened to the Socratic Method?

The Socratic method is a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presumptions.

If Plato, debate and conversation isn’t really your thing, how about some good old fashioned Eastern philosophy. Specifically the concept of Yin and Yang.

Yin and Yang (literally dark and bright) is a concept of interdependence and interconnectedness of concepts that while seemingly contradictory are deeply necessary for the functioning of the natural world. Yin and yang should be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. 

Whatever you believe to be true (the light), without some darkness (opposing ideas) to balance you out, you are not whole. Seek some of it out. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with the ideas that you find in opposition to your own, but appreciate that they exist, and that they exist for a reason.

In all honesty I haven’t always been civil to people. (I’m trying to be better about that) And I’ve definitely tweeted and posted stupid stuff that would (these days) lead to a rabid mob with pitchforks descending on my domicile. But how great is it that we can change our minds and evolve our ideas as we grow and experience? All of us want to be judged by the sum of our whole surely? And we would balk at our entire being getting categorized and judged by single tweet or quote. I know I would. So why do we do it to others?

downloadI don’t like quoting from the Bible. So instead I’ll quote Brodie from Mallrats. ‘Touch not, lest ye be touched’.

I think those are pretty good words to live by. And (as an added bonus) has good synergy with libertarianism (which I love).

Herewith endeth my rant.

 

The wisdom of Thomas Sowell

I really like Thomas Sowell. He is likely one of my most ‘screenshot’d’ personas. I find him incredibly adroit. It also makes Twitter think I’m a right wing conservative…. because you need to be clearly defined, labelled and classified as one thing or another. Its a notion I abhor since I really struggle to keep my big crayon colouring between the lines.  Instead I like to think of myself as straddling the political divide… with my testicles resting lightly on the cool linoleum that paves the aisle.  Proving not only that I can do the splits… but also that I probably should have worn pants.

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I don’t think I could ever improve on a Thomas Sowell quote. I am not that ego-maniacal… but I would like to (humbly) propose an addendum.

Isn’t it more of a windfall to have even been born at all?

I mean the odds are pretty much stacked against you. Galactically* I mean. That you should exist at all is pretty fucken amazing. You get to experience life. Well done. You’re a winner. (go get a sticker)

*you know, Pale Blue dot, that’s not too hot and not too cold in some nowhere, backwater part of some galaxy.

But hey if you want to waste your time comparing your state of a ‘aliveness’ with somebody else… go for it. I just don’t think its very useful.