Monthly Archives: January 2016

Why Bad Things Happen

The world is complex and governed by certain rules, like physical law, and perhaps other laws we do not yet understand, having not yet sufficiently studied and proven them.

If there is a powerful agent controlling the world, it would make sense for it to choose to obey these laws of the world, in the world, because in the long run this is better.

Perhaps these laws could be otherwise; perhaps the set we have was lit upon by such an agent after much trial and error; whether it is the best I certainly could not say. However to alter it would mean to alter us, irrevocably–at a minimum knowledge of such a different world would necessarily be outside of our experience.

Because there are these rules, one event impacts another, which impacts another, which impacts another still; the effect, as we measure it, of events in what we can think of as a chain like this can vary drastically from link to link, depending on the length of time between them, and likely other factors as well.

But this is a perilous contemplation: on one side beset by fatalism; on the other by paralytic awe of the consequences of our actions; furthermore limited and confused by the notion of causality, itself quite flawed.

Resolution can be found by carefully separating cause from intent, and consequence from corollary. The fire does not burn because I lit the match: it simply burns afterwards; lighting the match was an event I intended, while the burning of the flame was not.

And so we could choose to say that there is no causality, only an on-flowing world of happenings, parceled to enable us to act. This act of choosing, however, represents a change in such a world, attributable exclusively to our choice, whatever its constraints and inputs. Therefore I choose to say there is no cause but choice.


(Lady that I first met tonight, I am so sorry for your loss.)

A Sane Response to Poverty


What are we going to do about the poor, my friends ask each other constantly? What are we going to do about the city? What are we going to do about the crime? Let’s get serious and do something.

I don’t know, I guess they’re right. We should be doing more to stop murder. We were going to form our own police force and go clean up the streets, but House was on. And I meant to commandeer a few hundred hotels to house the homeless last weekend, but I was scrapbooking, and you know how time-consuming that is. I did hire a squad of goons trained in social work to force every kid in my zip code to go to school and pay attention, but now we’re all busy painting a mural on the side of my house. I’m sorry! It’s a great mural! And we’re using that paint with less fumes?

Really, I’m sorry. I should do more…

Wait—–I’m not the government!

It is insane, I hope you can see, to think that any bunch of 20-year-olds, no matter how committed, no matter how intelligent, is going to do anything to stop crime. It’s insane to think that any bunch of nun-types–even with the full power of a global religious network behind them, not to mention Jesus– is going to do anything to end poverty.

So why do we keep trying? It’s like trying to hammer in a nail with a leaf. I guess it looks neat?

But, meanwhile . . . maybe we should *look* for a hammer?

Charity would work much better, or does work much better, when we don’t give people things unless they ask for them. It is reasonable to expect people to ask you for something, if they want you to give it to them. You don’t have to guess. Humanity’s number one skill? Knowing what it needs. Poor people’s number one skill? Usually, justifying why you have money that they don’t. Number one justification?* Because you were born lucky, and they weren’t.

Is that true?

Is it?

Are people poor just because they are unlucky?

Then shouldn’t the United Way be handing out rabbits’ feet?

A sane response to poverty is to help people, when they ask for help, if you want to. When we do things we don’t want to do, that we are not obligated to do, we’re not actually helping anyone. It may look like we help, but actually we slow down progress by clinging to old problems instead of letting them resolve. Maximum efficiency dictates that each person use his/her talents in the way only he/she can; it is the things you want to do that will bring about the goals fastest. (Side note: any task taken on out of guilt is guaranteed to exhaust you.)

No wonder all these people are getting on your nerves! Leave them alone!

A sane response to poverty is to stop feeling guilty that you are not President. You are not qualified to fix these problems. Please find and elect people who are.

If you want to help poor people directly, this is what has been shown to always work: find a child, expose them to a stable, successful adult at least once a week, and don’t treat them like they are poor. Those nails will hammer themselves.**

All you have to do is hang out and let them watch you.

Talk a lot about yourself. Tell them all about your job and your money and how fun college was. Don’t try to solve their problems.

Maybe try to make them do their homework.

charity: the good intentions of many people warped into a double-edged sword, slicing away at the capabilities of both our government and the people it should be helping; human kindness tragically taken advantage of; coincidentally, also my friend’s babymomma’s first name.

If we do it, they won’t have to.
Let’s make them, instead.

Thanks for reading! Shoutout to my favorite spambot for the violent metaphors.

*Man that show Family Feud is racist. Someone needs to fix that!

**Bunch of children asking for your help, if you need help finding one.


The Corporate-owned Commons

Just because a business establishment is owned by a huge, faceless corporation doesn’t mean its physical space is any less inviting than one which is not; doesn’t mean it isn’t run by people just as nice; doesn’t mean it is to be avoided.

If one considers the distribution of publicly accessible indoor space in the United States, I believe one finds the majority of it is corporate-owned. There are only so many transportation centers, limited by security; only so many churches, with limited hours; and only so many smaller business establishments, limited in number and size by government policies that reinforce economies of scale, and of course economies of scale themselves. The number of public club- or meetinghouses (are there still such things?) is probably not significant enough to appear on a graph.

And so if we are to see each other, for sufficient time to speak at all with those unfamiliar with our viewpoints, a corporate-owned business establishment is where we are most likely to do it. And as it currently is, our consumer choices partition us into strange, isolated networks within the same geographic region–those who only go to the independent coffeeshop, the farmers market and the library versus those in the Starbucks, the Wal-mart, and the mega-church. Never the two shall meet, except perhaps in the street.

Any public space can easily be transformed into a forum for polite and casual conversation by one person with the nerve to approach that public space as if it were his/her home, or the home of a close friend; to treat his/her fellow patrons as fellow guests at a party, where the frozen yogurt toppings happen to be plentiful and/or the burritos happen to be made with hormone-free pork; or to imagine them as fellow bargain-hunters at a well-organized yard sale, with an enormous selection of wares made in China.

Even without speaking much or at all, an attitude of being at home and part of the whole group on the turf of an abstract corporate behemoth is an effective counter to many of the invisible mechanisms of control wielded by that behemoth to increase our spending and reliance upon it.

Why should the experience of watching a stranger make you a sub feel so very much different from watching a loved one do the same thing?

Why should the tone of our speech to that stranger be so very different from the tone we use with our friend next to us in line?

As it currently is, our daily economic transactions force the human beings involved into one of just a few rigid roles– I am the shopper; I am the cashier; I am the waiter; I am the one being served. These roles accreted, over less enlightened times, helped along by marketing executives. They preclude interaction among those not designated by the business to interact, and they preclude anyone acting outside of them, much to the detriment of everyone in the public space. In that space, we are no longer ourselves: we are the ones being served, or the ones waiting to be.

We are trained to ignore the fact that other human beings quite similar to ourselves are standing or sitting silently all around us, each with a life so rich with experience it is hard to contemplate. We are trained to ignore that some of them are performing various wonderful deeds for our benefit, thanklessly. Because money will be exchanged, no one is a person; everyone is a pawn; everyone who didn’t walk in the door together is alone.

So, it is in this case just as it is with the cellphone: without claiming any knowledge of a conspiracy to bring about the state of affairs we find our current communication in, let’s assume, for but a moment, that its creation was intentional. What would you then say were the motives of its creator?

Fight the man. By having a nice, long, leisurely conversation with someone you don’t know well, or at all, in line at Chick-fil-a; or in the aisle at Target; or around a few tables in Panera. Where you choose to spend your money is of course a different decision, with different factors.

PS: I forgot about bars! Sorry. I don’t drink.

Dear Lenta Marie,

Dear Lenta Marie,

Thank you for the card. We are very busy here with lots of parties and it rained all weekend. I hope your new job in Atlanta is fun. When we come visit this winter Daddy1 says we can go to Sea World again. We can go straight to the dolphins because I know they are your favorite.

I have all straight As again except for gym. That is stupid because I am the best at lacrosse. There are two mean girls in my gym class. There names are Marin and Paige. Everyone likes them except me. That is just fine.

The big news is that Daddys have a new Princess. I call her Lenta Heather even though she’s not my lenta. I told her my lenta wouldn’t mind. Daddy2 is making a lot of lists of things to get for her. I am supposed to be in charge of the clothes, because as you know clothes are my thing, but I didn’t make any lists yet, because I don’t know her personality yet and clothes have to match your personality. I told her that.

I can’t wait until she moves in to put her feet up, because she is very fun and I told her I would show her how to sew and she has a cat. She says she might not even want to move in until like the last week and Daddy2 said wait and see. We had a big party when she agreed and she is already pregnant. We had another party for that and then Saturday a party for my birthday. Did I tell you yet I am getting confirmed at church? We’re going to have another party for that next week and I will be the hostess and get to serve the cake. That’s a lot of parties! My dress is ok.

Anyway everyone hopes she has a girl except me. Nothing against Kara but if Michael had a brother we could play girls against boys basketball and we would probably win.

Did you get a dog yet?

I’m going to make you a picture as soon as I find the right app. It is good you are in Atlanta because if you were here these parties would probably wear you out! Daddy1 says you were very funny at your parties and danced a lot. I said that makes sense because you are always smiling and dancing, and he said yes, you are a very happy person and maybe I get that from you.

See you in November!!!! XOXOXOXOX

Your Baby, Corine

PS: Daddy2 is the bio dad! We are so proud of him!

Not Advice

Listen close, this is important. This is some seriously helpful stuff coming up here in a second. I mean it. Valuable.

Many of us are always trying to make people to do things, and we can’t. So give that up. Bingo! Now you are happy for the rest of your life. Bored.

What you want to do is change people’s minds.

Harder than you’d think. But also easier. See, that’s how minds work. Try making someone to do what your mind just did! Facile.

Ok, that is the first part. Here is the second. Two-parter.

When you see something in someone’s mind that you want to change, oh, does it hurt like the devil. How can ignorance like this exist, given our powerful brains and modern advancements, you burningly moan to yourself! Why, why–whywhwyhwyhwyhwywhy are we not yet better, you clamor? What, if anything, can I do to rid the world of this person’s terrible misconception, you plead? Bad.

Simple: pretend, obviously, that the ignorance is right. Pantomime it is true. The mind wisens right up on its own as soon as it sees you are pretending, without a word of direction from you! Imperative-free.

And noone gets their feelings hurt. Safe.

People like this so much they usually get excited to show you the rest of their ignorance. So run away then. Bye!



(I write the longer blog, celebrate my new digs.)

PS: lulz

The SleepAnywhere Standing Bed

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*The battery of the SleepAnywhere Standing Bed V3 lasts up to 3.5 hours.


The medium

is the message. The means are the act.