Random Stuff I’ve Learned

COE Square•  Dogs like icewater in the summer, just like people do.
•  The burger you get at the counter has no resemblance to the picture of the burger on the poster.
•  If they tell you it’s “for your own good” or “to serve you better” … it isn’t.
•  Once you lose half your hair, the pressure’s off.
•  Everything mouse-sized and bigger has feelings.
•  The death of a loved one makes everything else small change.
•  Most everybody else is too busy dancing to watch how good or bad your dancing is. But you probably do suck at it. On the the other hand, the point of dancing isn’t to impress others.
•  Charity is cheaper if you do it directly.
•  You can’t wait for real life to start at some nebulous future date. Life has to be enjoyed every day. Get on with it.
•  I can overlook a lot of your peccadilloes as long as you’re self-supporting.
•  Never lie to a child or a dog for any reason.
•  The thing is, nobody really knows how things are supposed to be. As long as you don’t hurt anybody, including yourself, do the stuff that makes you happy.
•  In playing with your dog, let him win. Every time.
•  Little people think the way to be big is to hurt or control other people. Big people want power FOR people, rather than OVER them.
•  One of the nicest things about children is that they give adults an excuse to blow bubbles again.
•  Someday you’re going to be dead. Might as well make the best of the situation while you wait.
•  In court, bigger and better and higher-priced liars almost always win out over simple honesty and good faith.
•  Not all beliefs and cultures deserve respect. If you believe in treating women as property, your culture is an inferior pile of doodoo. I don’t need to respect you. You need to change.
•  Talk to children as if they were adults. Expect adults to sometimes act like children.
•  The brains of die-hard smokers are incapable of imagining cigarette butts and litter can be the same thing.
•  Human beings often go to war over their differences, despite being 99.99 percent the same.
•  Nobody outside Texas knows what real barbecue is.
•  Cats look a lot smarter than they really are.
•  Pretty much everybody is a well-meaning doofus. Including you and me.
•  Step in and put your hands on. Every person should know how to build things, how to create things, how to fix things. No sitting back playing helpless.
•  Some large fraction of what passes as acceptable business practice is purely predatory on the customer-victims.
•  No animal on earth smells worse than an unwashed human. Whatever else is happening in your life, if you’re not showering regularly, I’m not sitting next to you.
•  If you ask for a favor in a way that assumes I can’t say no, I’m saying no. If it’s obligatory, it’s not a favor.
•  Not only are you not the boss of me, I’m pretty sure I didn’t even hire you as a consultant.
•  Fame is a cheat, because it depends more on what other people think of you than on what you think of yourself.
•  Not every member of a downtrodden social class is an innocent fluffy bunny. Some of the people cops shoot actually deserve it.
•  There is no place you can get to in life, however low and helpless, that there isn’t somebody who’s figured out a way to suck just a teeny bit more life out of you. Sometimes that method is called “state lottery.”
•  If you turn your car stereo up to 10 and then go into a store with it blasting, it’s not about your love of music.
•  There are artists and there are people who say they’re artists. If you tell them you don’t understand their work and they retort that there must be something wrong with YOU, they’re probably the second type.
•  If you’re going to have a pet, don’t complain about a little fur on the furniture.
•  If they “deserve” it, you can do anything to them, including torturing and killing, and sleep well at night. Now you just have to figure out how to make it look like they deserve it.
•  There are creatures who walk around upright, wearing human clothes and speaking human language, but who are no more human than sharks. Many of them seem to do well.
•  Money can’t buy happiness, but if you’re going to be miserable anyway, you might as well take the money.
•  If they’re selling religion, just close the door.
•  Listen to someone closely and he’ll think you’re the brightest person he’s ever met.
•  Every discussion is about learning something, or reaching agreement. Every argument is about winning. There are people who CANNOT have a discussion.
•  The War on Drugs is like trying to put out a forest fire by doing away with Bic lighters. It’s the wrong solution. But then again, it keeps alive the richly profitable prison, lawyer and cops-and-courts industries. And hey, destroying people is a small price to pay for that, right?
•  Sports fanatics are idiots. But they seem to have more friends.
•  Skin color is a stupid way to divide people up. But there are people of every color who think it is.
• “Feminist” doesn’t automatically mean “right.” But don’t dare try to tell them that.
•  People who deliberately breed small, stubby-legged, brainless dogs are not really animal lovers.
•  The shrieking modern rejection of the occasional physical punishment administered to children is probably misguided. Civilization was built by people who had their butts whupped.
•  Everybody farts. But when the Pope does it, nobody notices.
•  Some people have never had an original thought in their lives. Fortunately, they never notice.
•  Give people compliments. If you think something good about somebody, tell them instantly.
•  It’s okay to be wrong.
•  Nobody gets enough hugs.
•  Your parents probably didn’t mean to do it to you. They were stumbling through life just like you are. But that doesn’t mean everything is forgivable.
•  Nobody ever thinks it’s their own fault.
•  If two young people take up living together, they will both immediately assume the other one is doing the housekeeping.
•  Used to be, if you were overweight, you were just overweight. Now you can be a victim of horrible oppression. Every. Goddam. Time. Someone brings up the subject of fitness.
•  Cities are not the natural environment of humans. You can never feel so alive, so free, so centered, as when you’re in the wilderness. But well over 90 percent of us will never know this.
•  European tourists dress funny. If they’re French, that goes double.

We Are SO F*cking Doomed

Jesus LightSaw this pic on Facebook, with the caption

do you see jesus? type “amen” if you see him

How many typed “amen”? I didn’t go through and inspect every single response, but in the looking I did do — the most recent several hundred responses — every person typed “amen” or something even more goddy.

As of 9:45 p.m. today, the post got 125,177 comments, 310,000 likes, and almost 13,000 shares.

Oh, and Donald Trump just won the primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. It wasn’t even close.


On the plus side, I think Hillary is going to crush him. The comedic dynamic of the GOP primary is that the “joke” candidate is kicking the asses of the “serious” candidates. The GOP built this monster, and if he runs amuck and destroys the whole party — while they tear out their hair and scream to the heavens “What have I done!!?” — that’s fine with me.

But still … that he’s getting votes at all is a testament to the utter gullibility of some of you Earth people.

Hey, come to think of it, that light in the clouds looks a lot like Donald Trump! Someone alert Fox News!

Thinking Tools: Weather and Will

BGL copySome of what you work out — hopefully, anyway — as you go about your daily life, are what I call “thinking tools.” These aren’t just facts, they’re ways of viewing or understanding the world around you  in a way that allows you to deal with life in a more productive, or less painful, way.

I wrote about something I call “Nailing” quite some time back, and that concept is one of my own thinking tools, something that helps me understand a bit of seemingly irrational human behavior. (Such as why people can be MORE supportive of war after their kid gets killed in one.)

I often have these things in my head for years before I finally sit down and think about them, much less commit them to paper. One such idea is something I call “Weather and Will.”

“Weather” as I’m using it here is meant to represent natural forces as distinct from human ones. It’s all the stuff we have no control over, and have to just be aware of and careful about.

“Will” is what humans do, and it’s subject to, well, human will.

Anytime there’s some sort of incident involving Weather — say Bob gets hit by lightning while playing golf during a thunderstorm — we tend to think it was Bob’s fault, if anybody’s. He should have taken into account that standing out in the open during a storm — and holding a long metal rod aloft — was a bad idea. It’s no fault of the weather itself, which was only doing what weather does — be weather.

We might generously call the event an “accident,” but if there’s any blame to be leveled, it would definitely go to Bob. Recognizing that one of the factors involved has no human volition and the other does, we’d never say the weather should have done something different, but we would definitely say Bob should have done something different.

You challenge Weather, or ignore Weather, or forget Weather, you better expect a bad outcome.

But “Weather” is not always WEATHER. It’s all those other uncontrollable, non-volitional forces too.

If a man lies down drunk on the railroad tracks at night — even through trains are human-made and human-controlled — whose fault is it if he gets hit by a train? We tend to think it’s the drunk guy’s fault. Trains are Weather in the sense that they have this sort of inevitability about them: They can’t be stopped quickly, but even if they could, the train engineer might not be able to see the guy lying on the tracks at night.

Besides which, it’s not like trains leap out of nowhere, or chase you down and kill you. They’re not stealthy, or malevolent. Not only do trains run on tracks which are unmistakable for anything else in civilization, their crossings are always clearly marked, AND a train makes a noise like … well, like a locomotive. Civilization has been SO careful to make trains safe, it’s extremely rare that we could say “Yeah, that whole family was killed after stopping their RV on the clearly-marked rail crossing, but it wasn’t their fault.” No, most of the time it IS their fault, or at least the driver’s fault, and not that of the train or its engineer. There’s really very little about it which is accidental.

But there’s a confusing idea out there about Weather and Will. We see situations — both in fiction and in real life — in which one person gets blamed for something another person did: “The bank robber wouldn’t have shot Bob if Bob had only done what he said. It’s his own fault, really.” “He wouldn’t beat her if she didn’t provoke him.”

Both of those formulations make the bad guy’s actions out to be Weather — as if he’s some sort of unstoppable natural force, something nobody, not even he, could do anything about — when they’re really completely about Will. It’s NOT Bob’s fault for getting shot, not even a little bit. It’s never the woman’s fault when she’s hurt by an abusive boyfriend.

In both cases, the injury done to the victim was 100 percent the doing of the aggressor. There is no element of Weather about the thing. That guy shot Bob because he wanted to. He might have set up this bogus choice for Bob — “Obey me, or die!” — and in truth it might be good in that specific case for Bob to just obey, but nothing in the situation says responsibility for any later shooting rests with anyone but the guy with the gun.

An abusive boyfriend might say “I wouldn’t hit you if you’d just be quiet when I tell you to!” but at no point does that become Weather. It’s his CHOICE to hit her, and he can choose not to. We might say “My gosh, woman, get away from the bastard! Leave now and go as far and as fast as you can!” But this is more in the way of a avidly suggested precautionary measure. At no point does the physical abuse become her fault.

We tend to see large-scale human things like government or war as Weather, and in the sense that they’re big and unpredictable, or take on a Weathery life of their own independent of the human wills within them, it certainly can seem to be true. But it’s important to continue to think of them as the result of Will. Government is a thing humans do, and they can do it differently. War is a thing humans choose to do, and can choose not to do.

There are statistical effects from massed human behavior — actions or effects that arise from our own unconscious nature — that we tend to consider as Weather. For instance, we might say that anytime large numbers of humans gather together — for an outdoor event, say, or just crowded together in cities — there will be masses of litter left to pick up. We expect it, grimly resign ourselves to it, as if there’s nothing that can be done but hire people to try to keep up with the deluge of garbage.

This is certainly true in New York City, where I travel every day in the course of my work. But a half day’s drive to the north, Ottawa, Canada, is the fourth cleanest city in the world. The streets and sidewalks are spotless. Not because the Weather is any different, but because the people of Ottawa CHOOSE to act in a different way.

I think the point is, only Weather is Weather. When it comes to human behavior on any scale, even when you’re dealing with what appears to be unavoidable results, it’s still Will.

Meaning it can be changed. Altered. Done differently, and better.