Resentment, oppression and examining one’s dark side (quick clip from Jordan Peterson)

His lecture content remains highly relevant and is freely accessible for those curious enough to take time with what he’s sharing. His full lectures are available on his YT channel.

Creating our own dysfunctional realities again and again

Recently I stumbled across some interactions between a group of people online, in which they got into some banal disagreements that turned into all-out videos wars where the gloves came off and the situation quickly degenerated to aiming insults beneath the belt. Typical drama to be found on youtube, for sure. And not particularly interesting either, other than it got me thinking about how and why these individuals attracted toward one another in the first place and wound up playing into one another’s preconceived narratives, as is so common.

Look, there’s a good bit of truth in the notion of like attracts like. Often I hear of self-described feminists online complaining about men and their treatment of women, perceiving themselves as victims of chicanery and “attacks” from the men in their lives. What I’ve noticed though is that in order for someone to be a victim, there must be someone else to play the part of aggressor or abuser, and this can and often enough does wind up proving to be a repetitive pattern. When one’s identity is tethered to being victimized in some such way, whether that person means to or not, he or she tends to be inclined toward attracting people who fulfill that dynamic, thereby perpetuating the very drama one claims to wish to avoid. But how can you avoid such drama if you’re unaware of how you’re attracting it and exacerbating it yourself? And do these folks even truly wish to avoid such drama when it serves the identity they’ve constructed over time? I’d argue that in many cases they actually thrive on such conflicts, especially when made public, because it aids them in broadcasting the narrative and outlook that defines them.

How can one claim to be a perpetual victim if not perpetually victimized by others? Do you think it’s an accident that the perpetual victim attracts perpetual victimization, especially well into adulthood? And here I think it’s important to draw a distinction between pitfalls that youths experience out of naivety and a lack of enough life experience versus the cyclic patterns of behavior fully-grown adults allow themselves to repeatedly become enmeshed in. Unfortunate circumstances that can and often enough do impact youths will hopefully provide opportunities for personal growth and increased self-awareness, albeit learned via the hard way (as proves inescapable in this life). But what about people who don’t learn, or if they do it seems the lessons they gleaned (consciously or sub-consciously) pertain to manifesting more of the same again and again and again, ad nauseam? Should we consider this a sign of willful ignorance and/or manipulative game-playing when one will not extract oneself from such toxic dynamics or figure out a way to elevate the game?

It gets a bit depressing observing people older than myself out here continuing to engage in immature skirmishes that aren’t geared toward improving relations in any way but instead appear to be signaling the same broken message again and again without ever hoping to be satisfactorily resolved. So you wish to be viewed as a victim on an ongoing basis…how is that helpful to yourself or anybody else? It’s pure drama on a base level. Where’s the lesson to be learned from that? What’s of real interest in repeating that cycle? What’s the benefit in portraying oneself publicly in such a fashion? What does one get out of it? Because people who repeat such patterns well into adulthood are most definitely getting something out of the dynamic or they would refuse to keep playing such games with one another. When the costs sufficiently exceed the perceived benefits, one becomes compelled to make drastic changes. We don’t simply stay willingly in toxic dynamics for long if there’s no benefit to be derived for ourselves, and I’d argue that often that turns out to be an ego benefit in terms of bolstering one’s constructed identity. If the game changes, you would be forced to change too, and that requires effort and accepting discomfort as a result. And doing so might cut you off from the easily acquired sympathy and attention garnered through the game you’ve been playing up until now.

We humans are notoriously conflicted about change, commonly preferring known patterns (even if dysfunctional and toxic) to uncertain forecasts. But the only way we’re likely to grow is by being challenged and pushed outside of our comfort zones. Does it really look like people who remain bogged down in these perpetual victim cycles are growing and expanding their awareness? No, more often it looks as if they’re hiding within such patterns and dynamics specifically so as to avoid change, even if that change might eventually prove most beneficial for all involved. It’s another form of escapism of sorts, a role to hide out in that’s comfortable because it’s well-known.

But why would people wish to keep this up? Doesn’t such repetitive drama grow old and boring? One would like to think. But again, what benefit can be derived? Such an individual can utilize these dynamics to garner attention that otherwise might prove to be hard-won and actually require a great deal more effort on her/his part. So in that sense it can serve as an easy fallback routine, a norm that’s grown comfortable over time because one’s familiar with how that game is played, even though it’s also crazy-making in its own right. To expand beyond such trivialities takes effort and heightened awareness, which then tend to force us to confront uncomfortable truths about ourselves and our habits and how we’re creating the very reality we claim to wish to escape.

I get to thinking that most older folks are well aware that they’re perpetuating these ugly dynamics and yet continue to do so because they find it entertaining in an otherwise uninteresting life. Though our lives are only as uninteresting as we choose to make them. So it’s an easy avenue to “excitement” and a feeling of relevancy. While it’s common to accuse the one playing the role of victimizer as only doing so in an effort to make himself/herself relevant, the opposite also is true in that being perceived as victimized makes you appear relevant as well. And if your identity is tied up in the perpetuation of such base drama, how can it be any other way? How might you shine outside of such a tried-and-true dynamic whereby you’re rendered visible and deserving of sympathy and support? Would require a different strategy in order to do so, and some folks just aren’t that creative or ambitious to switch up the routine. Basically, if it works then why fix it? If this provides me with attention over and over again with minimal investment on my part, then why learn another trick? What’s the point in growing if I’m sufficiently satisfied with where I am currently and what this game is providing me (as evidenced by the fact that one keeps with repeating the same old song and dance)?

If it hurt badly enough, one would seek a way out. If you’re still there playing the same game decade after decade, it obviously doesn’t hurt enough. Or you’ve grown comfortable enough with that “pain” that it’s become preferable to alternatives. Otherwise you’d change it. We can and we do if and when we decide the game is no longer worth it. Happens all the time. So we can’t help but surmise over time that those who continue playing such games do so on their own volition. Many, many people have broken out of much worse conditions. People have proven time and again the willingness to try to move mountains to get what they really want (or to escape that which they really do not). We either improve the game we’re playing, discard it for another “game,” or accept it as is. Those are our options and intuitively we’re all become of aware of it eventually.

Personally, I’ve come to see such banal, directionless drama cycles as the product of lazy, unimaginative and/or manipulative people. It strikes me as rather futile to accept such outcomes as the norm continuously. Makes life bland and pointless, dedicated to creating senseless strife that aims to go nowhere other than around and around in the same circle. Crazy-making in the lamest sense. And artificial, unauthentic, and too easy. Where’s the real grit associated with playing such a game? And what’s the real prize in the end? Sympathy and attention received from other people in the same situation as yourself? How valuable is that? The growth potential is nonexistent in such scenarios. And that’s why so often we look upon such people as immature, behaving like 20-year-olds who never grow up, caught up in irrelevant high-school level drama and mayhem that serves no worthwhile purpose. Turns into little more than he said/she said conflicts of the most ridiculously trite kind. Goes nowhere, accomplishes nothing, provides little fresh insight for those involved usually (or for outside observers), and eventually proves boring and lame.

At a time when there’s so much information available to us, easily accessible from our computers, it seems a shame to waste so much time stuck in a dumb cycle to nowhere that can’t expand one’s understanding in this life and only serves to distract and detract. I don’t grasp the value in that, yet it remains popular enough. Granted, we all are intrigued by a bit of drama — such is the human condition. But at what point does engaging in the same low-level shit again and again get stale? For some, the answer appears to be never. And that bores me. Monotonous and dumb.

Life’s so much more interesting when we find a way out of framing everything as an us vs. them/ victim vs. victimizer dichotomy.

Jonathan Haidt on the emerging victim culture

Gotta love him. Highly recommend his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Also appreciated a book he mentioned there titled Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Thoughts on American exceptionalism and race relations

For all the critiques I may volley at my nation, the truth remains that the American national project continues to be the highest ideal dreamt up on this planet thus far. Not that all of its ideals have materialized or been brought into fruition to their fullest extent possible, but the original dream itself is exceptional and awe-inspiring.

Unfortunately, plenty out here today wish to undermine it, spit upon it, and dismantle it. Why? Because they see it as rooted in evil due to being the brain-child of white men from long ago. White men being synonymous with everything hate-filled and exclusionary, so some like to think. They take issue with the fact that slaves were brought to this country (though it can be argued that America engaged in slavery for a shorter duration than many other countries, particularly those in the Middle East). They also take issue with this land having been “stolen” from the natives who lived here before — as if any land hasn’t changed hands throughout the course of history, typically through much bloodshed. And nowadays they take issue with what they see as inherent corruption that they assume is deeply ingrained and a natural byproduct of a powerful Western nation (though all nation-states are vulnerable to corruption, as were all chiefdoms — and this is hardly a feature unique to the West).

Some take issue with our police forces and accuse them of racism. Though current research provides evidence that cops are actually less likely to use lethal force against black people as compared against white people. Then again, other findings suggest blacks are more likely to be handled roughly than whites by cops, so the narrative that cops are racist marches onward. One could ponder the general demeanor of black folks toward cops in trying to understand why cops might opt for a more rough-handed approach in dealing with them, but that’s a taboo topic to discuss publicly, lest you be labeled a racist as well. Seems to me that the general behavior of an easily identifiable demographic has the unfortunate consequences of leading all of them, even those who comply with lawful orders, to be treated with heightened scrutiny and cautiousness. Now, does that qualify as an inherent, institutionalized form of racism? Hmm. It doesn’t strike me as so since it appears more to do with risk assessment and police taking proactive measures to deescalate any potential threats. Is that unfair? Depends on how far it’s taken and what the circumstances are in a given situation. It’s not as if police officers are known for being extremely kind and gentle to all others suspected of wrongdoing. It seems to me this issue winds up being at least partly a matter of projection, whereby individuals break the law or are highly uncooperative when being questioned by police but then become indignant when any consequences are doled out.

Take, for instance, all the talk on Evergreen’s campus about an event in 2015 where a police officer shot two *unarmed* black male brothers named Bryson Chaplin (21) and Andre Thompson (24) shortly after they attempted to rob a grocery store of beer. In a piece titled “In Solidarity with the Struggle for Racial Justice at the Evergreen State College” written by Peter Bohmer (a member of the faculty at Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA — posted May 29, 2017), he harkens back to that off-campus case:

Two years ago, May 21st, 2015, two young Black men, Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson were both shot in Olympia, Washington by white police officer Ryan Donald in Olympia as they were going home on their skateboards after attempting to shoplift some beer from a local Safeway. In a miscarriage of justice and emblematic of the continuing racism here, although there were no injuries to the white police officer, and Bryson Chaplin was shot multiple times by Officer Donald and is in a wheelchair; the police officer was not charged with any crime nor disciplined while the two young men, Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson were convicted on May 18, 2017 of third degree assault. They will be sentenced in June. This is part of the context for the movement on campus which also contains demands against racism by campus police.

Peter Bohmer proved especially prolific in writing about that event in various places, every time characterizing the situation as a white cop mistreating black youths in a completely unwarranted fashion.

Evergreen State College’s student newspaper The Cooperpoint Journal contains several articles pertaining to this case, including one describing major protests in front of the Olympia police station the very next day:

“Whose lives matter? Black lives matter!” was the chant ringing out in downtown Olympia Thursday evening as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in response to the shooting of two unarmed black men, stepbrothers Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, by an Olympia police officer, drawing national media attention.

The two men, Thompson, 24 and Chaplin, 21, remain in the hospital and are expected to survive, although Chaplin was still listed as in critical condition as of Thursday evening.

Officer Ryan Donald shot the brothers around 1 a.m. Thursday morning, after responding to a call about alleged shoplifting from the Westside Safeway, not far from The Evergreen State College.

Olympians awoke Thursday morning to news of the incident, and began organizing throughout the day, culminating in a march to city hall, where the Olympia Police Department is headquartered.

The biggest protest began around 6 p.m. in Woodruff Park, directly next to the Westside police precinct, and about a mile from the site of the shooting.

As hundreds gathered—predominantly from the Evergreen community—they formed a circle around organizers and community members who spoke about their experiences with police, the larger national context of police violence against black people, and organizing and resistance tactics. The speakers continued to discuss these issues over a megaphone as the crowd swelled to an estimated 400 people by 7 p.m. when protesters took the street on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Perry Street.

Protesters marched down the hill, blocking traffic in both directions on Harrison Avenue, while yelling and chanting “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police.”

Crossing the Fourth Avenue Bridge into downtown, the crowd’s numbers reached an estimated one thousand people, shutting down Olympia’s main thoroughfare on their way to the city center.

Once in downtown, protesters stopped and held the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street, for the first time becoming quiet. Organizers asked the crowd to participate in a four and a half minutes of silence, symbolic of the four and a half hours Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after being shot by police earlier this year in Ferguson, Missouri. Everyone sat silently in the street, before beginning call and response chants of victims names: “Andre Thompson, Bryson Chaplin, we honor you.”

When the demonstrators reached city hall, they blocked the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Cherry Street, many demanding that Ryan Donald be indicted for his actions. They continued to hold a rally in front of city hall for nearly an hour, with more speakers and chants, before marching back through downtown and over the bridge to Woodruff Park.

On their way back, at least two motorists instigated confrontations with demonstrators, but the march resolved peacefully, with people dispersing between 9:30 and 10 p.m.

Later that night, a smaller number of protesters rallied again at the Artesian Well and occupied the intersection outside city hall. Most wore all black and covered their faces, marching behind a large banner reading “cops=murderers,” and “judges=executioners,” and emblazoned with a circle A, an anarchist symbol.

This group was more antagonistic towards the police, and the situation escalated when they began to clash with pro-police demonstrators in front of city hall. Police then used flash grenades to disperse the crowd at about 12:15 a.m. Friday morning, leading to moments of chaos in downtown as demonstrators and confused bystanders scattered, running and yelling.

The anger of protesters and community members is exacerbated by disputes about the details of the shooting. More information and facts concerning the incident are still being discovered. However, based on what we already know, many believe that Officer Donald’s use of force was not only unnecessary, but also racist.

Even a vigil was orchestrated for the shot brothers. And this year (2 years later, mind you) they circulated news of another gathering to show more support. Why? Because those students and faculty members view the incident as a clear-cut example of police brutality and the shooting of unarmed suspects, period. This is an ideologically influenced position they are taking, convinced that police are automatically in the wrong in pretty much all cases and that racial minorities are rarely deserving of whatever consequences befall them based on their actions and choices.

This is a problem nationwide currently, the spreading of this attitude. The narrative it promotes is not only anti-police and pro-minorities but it’s also recently showing itself to be outright anti-white and anti-American.

Some would say if you can’t beat it, then burn it down. That appears to be what’s trying to unfold at present across this land…

Nevermind the history — the same sort of people are responsible for tearing down Southern statues and monuments and have since been turning their attention toward trying to remove museum displays. So the modus operandi there appears to be to erase history, or any signs or mention of it.

Take as another recent example the case of a student group called “Reedies Against Racism” protesting a required humanities course at Reed College, wherein a student reportedly stated: “forcing students to take a mandatory Western Civilization course is really harmful.” That being a course said to focus on great thinkers from ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Mesopotamia.

The protest continued this school year, as students interrupted the lecture, got in screaming matches with students, boycotted classes, and vowed to have silent protests during every lecture. The student activists have also brought in mental healthcare advocates for students who have reported having “panic attacks” due to the course material.

“The course in its current iteration draws from predominantly white authors and relies heavily on the notion that Western customs are the most civilized because they are derived from those of ancient Greeks and Romans who are considered the inventors of civilization,” Alex Boyd, a main Reedies Against Racism organizer, told The College Fix via Facebook recently.

Check out the list of demands put out by “Reedies Against Racism.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so goddamn obstructive.

So, what do these types of people want? What’s their primary objective here? Do they really detest all that America is or ever was? If so, why? Totally taking for granted the privileges they themselves do in fact partake in? Ideologically-possessed, yes, but what else is this? Is looking more and more to me like a will to destroy. One obstructs when they cannot or will not construct. So how does one effectively react to this? Arguments don’t seem to work.

Returning to the topic on Karen Straughan, Millennial Woes, racial grievances and what the future may hold

First entry on this topic can be found here.

Not going to delve a whole lot further into what all Karen or MW had to say on the matter. Mentioned before that I can sympathize with both of their stated positions, particularly Karen’s considering her concern over protecting her kids and their future. I do get it. However, I personally have trouble with the way these topics are being framed in terms of racial identities and am unable to fully join a side based on race alone. While I also understand that Karen herself stated that she doesn’t wish to do so either, she still does identify herself as white and would seek out others with the same in-group identification if ever it came down to being violently targeted by non-whites. That’s understandable, for those that applies to. But that’s where I get left out of the equation and therefore can’t help but look at things differently.

I’ve always identified simply as Caucasian. Is that the same as “white”? Can be, but that’s not all who constitute this racial group. All whites are Caucasians, but not all Caucasians are white. Many Hispanics are also Caucasians, as are many (if not most) Middle Easterners. Quite obviously, the Caucasian demographic is composed of people from many different cultural backgrounds, so there is no monolith there. It deserves to also be stated that white people belong to all sorts of cultures and backgrounds as well and aren’t a monolith unto their own either. As most of us clearly understand already. Italians in Italy aren’t the same as Spaniards in Spain or Germans in Germany or Swedes in Sweden, etc. Even in America we differ according to our regional cultural differences (tell me the Deep South is all that similar to New England or California — major differences between all of them), as well as socioeconomic backgrounds and political views, etc. Not in lockstep with one another and never will be, regardless of how similar the shades of our skin may be. Then there are the Canadians who to many of us Americans appear about as foreign as Europeans, despite sharing a border. Same holds true with Mexico and Central and South American nations. Very, very different places populated with people who don’t all think alike or share the same values.

That seems like common sense to where I feel a bit foolish having to spell it out on here. Yet it needs to be stated since people are turning more and more to racial identities these days now that identitarian politics is fast becoming the name of the game. Old tribalism is really what it is, or at least there’s a desire to return to it. But it won’t work, not anymore, no matter how badly people might wish to seek refuge into that dream. If you can really call it a dream — looks to me quite nightmarish what’s unfolding from where I sit.

This turn toward racial divisions leaves those of us who are mixed out in outfield. Too ambiguous to truly belong to any one camp. I’ve read what several white nationalists have to say about mixed persons as well as Arabs, how they perceive bloodlines as being of primary importance (perhaps even above national loyalty and cultural identification), and how they wish to create societies that expel those not belonging to their tribe. Which would include me. So why would I attempt to identify with them, knowing plenty of them do hold that position? That’d be suicidal in the end, wouldn’t it?

My (maternal) family members are all white, or Caucasian if you prefer, though mixed with Native American blood on my grandfather’s side. Most of my friends are white/Caucasian, including my best female friend who’s married to a Mexican man and has mixed children. So I can’t help but worry for them and people like them, not wishing to see them (or myself) ever mistreated simply due to the color of our skin and other people’s biased assumptions. Political ideologies have gone too far when we find ourselves in the 21st century being pitted against other members of our own society whom we care about. American society had made such wonderful strides away from all that for several decades in the 20th century, and now people aim to roll back the clock by promoting a warped mindset where color is everything. I don’t buy into it, not like they do. Nor will I ever. We all have our biases and prejudices, right or wrong, but if we can’t take individuals on their own merit then we have morally failed at this stage in human progression. That’s how I see it, firmly so.

I find it interesting that the most vocal racial identitarians out in society like to make fun of us who can’t or are unwilling to choose a side. As though we’re being shortsighted and too idealistic. Seems to me it comes down to principles and worldviews. For myself, any race or ethnic group who take the ethno-nationalism position will necessarily include members who would view me as not belonging and thereby treat me as an outcast. So, that’s one concern. But beyond that, I’ve grown up around white folks all my life and am well aware that they’re not all constituted equally. There are good and bad people in every demographic, and I don’t wish to associate with those I can’t stand, regardless of race. Some people embrace the notion that the enemy of your enemy by default can be your friend, but I am very cautious of this idea. That’s not a solid basis for developing friendship or camaraderie or shared allegiance. It’s mostly just teaming up for the sake of trying to either screw over or ward off other people. Warding off menaces I can understand, to a point, but often it doesn’t stop there since we humans do enjoy flexing our power and too often lack the foresight and integrity to grasp when enough is enough. So I think it’s wise to choose your friends and associates carefully in this regard. We often must learn through trial and error, but learn we must, lest we wind up repeating history and finding out how wicked others can be when they were only using us to get where they were trying to go.

Lots of that goes on in society. Always has and probably always will.

The way I see it, we’re facing down multi-pronged crises going forward. And these racial divisions solve nothing and only add more tension to what’s already a highly stressful ordeal. Black folks are particularly well known for being racially focused, and so be it since I doubt I can sway hardly any of their minds. Though I will go on record to say that they too will soon enough find out how many of their fellow black people don’t necessarily share the same values or agenda as them, and their own fellow black people can be just as treacherous toward other blacks as anybody of any of other race has ever been toward black folks. In short, black people are not immune to this very human tendency to abuse power and to defy tribal identities for the sake of self-aggrandizement. As should be clearly evident already if one cares to pay attention to news reports and crime statistics. Though I can already hear members of the peanut gallery objecting, saying that it is the fault of Europeans or white Americans for why blacks behave in such ways. That is not a satisfactory explanation, and research into African nations and their histories demonstrate that black people behave as wickedly as any other humans have up through time. They are not specially kinder or more empathetic or more generous — notably not even toward their fellow blacks. AND, as stated above about Caucasians, the same holds true when it comes to black people: they are NOT a monolith. Black people belong to many different cultures with diverse heritages and value systems. As should be obvious. Ask a Jamaican black person what he or she thinks of American black culture. Ask a Nigerian Christian what he or she thinks of the Muslim Nigerians in their country. Ask an American black person from a rural area how much he or she relates to inner-city blacks and their lifestyles. Not all one and the same, nor deserving of being treated as such.

Same obviously goes for Orientals and other continental Asians…

There are major concerns affecting us all, such as the need to preserve our civil rights (particularly our rights to privacy, freedom of speech, and self-defense) and reckoning with technological advancements that are reshaping our whole world (from what we eat to how we commute, access information and work, the latter actively being displaced via automation). And it’s much bigger than just all that. There are those who say the Cold War hasn’t ended and rather is being revamped into what may prove to be an even more deadly international conflict. We have come to live in the time of perpetual industrial-strength war (though often these invasions aren’t explicitly acknowledged in our press to be wars). Religions are on the decline, and in their wake evermore sophisticated political ideologies are on the rise. Our public education system is scarily shifting into becoming little more than propaganda hubs. Our political system has been disintegrating under the unsagacious influence of both the Republican and Democratic parties — neither of which gives much of a damn about the average citizens. There are major questions as to which direction the U.S. should go in from here on out, in deciding where to redraw the line on federal powers-gone-wild and what social programs can be afforded in the future. There are other major economic concerns as well, including confronting the burgeoning student loan bubble, while also dealing with states like California becoming two-tiered societies unto themselves (sharply expanding gulfs between the haves and have-nots) and states like Illinois imminently facing bankruptcy. Not enough money to go around. Yet political corruption has grown more pervasive and troublesome than perhaps ever before in this country (or so it surely seems).

Our mainstream media outlets can no longer be relied upon for providing accurate information. Our K-12 schools are introducing curriculum that very likely will further stunt student math and reading scores. Multinational corporations like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft behave more and more like monopolies run amok. Obesity and diabetes are proving epidemic. Major corporations are forever meddling, from unethically influencing scientific research to political lobbying efforts that only further corrupt our politicians and sway laws in their own favor (against competitors/small business interests in many cases). AND we as a nation are taking in so many immigrants and so-called “refugees” from elsewhere that the public resources are being tapped dry, jobs keep growing more scarce, and our uniquely American culture promises to be dramatically altered as a result soon enough.

These are dark times we’re approaching. I’ll argue that we’re far better off defining what it is we actually do value and forming alliances with similar others rather than wasting time on racial dividing. Those are the old ways of forging group identity — we live in a new world now. Those old ways no longer make sense, which I’m willing to bet the ethno-nationalist types will ultimately find out. Race/ethnicity alone isn’t sufficient to form real and lasting bonds, not for most Westerners anyway, not anymore, because we as people have evolved beyond that stage in our social development. Our civilizations have grown beyond such restraints as well. And those that haven’t sooner or later will be forced to do so. All who look like you certainly aren’t your friends and don’t necessarily share your interests. Possibly just the opposite. And often enough those who consider themselves continuously disadvantaged will jealously prohibit others they can influence from achieving better. That’s no good. Leads to a dead-end road.

Demographics alone do not define us as the individuals we are. Yes, they contribute to our individual makeup, but we need not be entirely constrained by them.

Because I am a woman doesn’t mean that I share a great deal in common with all other women (actually find myself at odds with most women most of the time). Because I am half Arab doesn’t mean I must give a special damn about other Arabs (I merely see them as other human beings inhabiting the planet and treat them accordingly, though admittedly so far I have not encountered Arabs I share much in common with — too big of a cultural divide since I was born and raised in the U.S. to a non-Arab family). Many mistake me as Hispanic anyway (that being, for the record, a group in which I’ve met plenty of very kind, hard-working people whom I take little or no issue with — at least so far as first-generation migrants go). And because I am Caucasian doesn’t mean I must see myself or be seen by others as being automatically in opposition to black Americans. Some black folks are very cool, and some definitely are not. Crime statistics do alert us to the potential danger that lurks within American race relations, and I keep that in mind while aiming to treat people in accordance with how they choose to treat me. That right there is the best any of us can offer one another: to judge individuals as they come rather than simply as members of this or that demographic (assuming we’re even able to discern the demographic in question in each case).

Am I trying to sing kumbaya over here tonight? No. I’m not one of those ultra-positive types who professes the belief that people are mostly good and come in peace. Some do, some don’t. Sometimes we mean well, sometimes we don’t, and sometimes our best intentions prove insufficient. And I’m not one who pretends to be colorblind. Impossible to not notice one another’s skin color, and I am openly curious about people’s backgrounds and upbringings. Not a fan of political correctness and not too good at sugar-coating shit. Won’t even pretend I get along with most others in general terribly well.  lol  Hence why I’m not really in the market seeking a group to identify with, though I observe a number of you aiming to do so. But c’est la vie. We each shake out however we do. My primary tribe is my small circle of close friends and relatives — outside of that I am simply an American. Civic nationalist, you say? What’s with assigning all these labels?  straight_face  Some are forever seeking convenient ways to label so as to dismiss other people. Not a game that amuses me much.

Anyway, not trying to stand on my soapbox so as to declare moral righteousness here either — read more about me on this blog and you’ll be disabused of that assumption. Not claiming to be a grand person. Just one person out in the crowd. One stranger in a world of over 7 billion, trying to find my way just as I imagine all of you are. And I’d rather not further complicate this life by ushering in primitive, outdated, tribalistic racial divisions that mostly serve those wishing to see the rest of us divided and rendered incapable of opposing whatever power grabs they’d like to attempt. It’s become a serious distraction.

This isn’t really about ethnic pride so much as fanning flames of hostility at this point, and we know it. For those hell-bent on being divisive, I say go — take off to form your intentional communities so as to attempt to implement your ideological visions and leave the rest of us be. Rather see you folks actually make a go at what you’re dreaming about than continue listening to you bitch at the rest of us for not sharing your vision and agenda or for supposedly holding you back. Not all are on the same team, nor will we ever be. So, go! Do what you think you need to do. Return to Africa if you feel the need and help rescue your African brethren from their collapsing societies. Apply for a visa and return to wherever in Europe that you consider your motherland and try to offer aid in dealing with their immigration crisis if you care so incredibly much. Go ahead and explore the world if you’re so unbearably discontent with current conditions in the U.S. Go see what’s out there. Go find out how privileged you appear in the eyes of others elsewhere on this globe.

If your goal is only to remain here while doing everything in your power to further dismantle what this unique national project was originally supposed to be about, I wish you a very difficult uphill battle with much resistance. While we don’t all get along nor ever will, we Americans do share a nation and an overarching culture, regardless of our racial/ethnic makeups. Surely we don’t all experience living here in the same ways, but that’s true also regardless of one’s race. Blaming others only gets us so far. Much more fruitful to turn inward to work on our own selves — where we possess the most real power to change. Forever waging political battles with one another, especially over social matters of varying importance or over historical realities that none of us alive today can erase, is only destroying the social fabric of this nation, our home that we all depend on.

So, in closing, I’d say that turning to others that look like oneself when seeking help and protection might sound reasonable on the surface, but when you really deeply ponder on it it’s easy to see frailty in that line of thinking. It’s wishing for an easy answer where one isn’t present.

I’ll also quickly add that this trend where everybody except white folks get to celebrate their cultures and heritages (where, in fact, white folks are demonized for doing so) seriously needs to stop. It’s unfair and racist in its own right. And it will foment eventual consequences in the form of resistance and rebellion. As to be expected from any group treated in such a manner. I, for one, would prefer to see us not further escalate tensions. Because there are some out here itching for a fight (possibly even an outright civil war), waiting for the opportunity to unleash their pent-up savagery, and many innocent people wind up victimized when the shit hits the fan. Could be your loved ones, could be mine. We’d be better off working to defuse this mounting animosity before there’s no longer a way to stop that ball from rolling downhill and running over whomever happens to be in its path. That’s my prayer for us this evening.

Mirroring back bad behavior vs. Taking the higher road

Just finished reading this article in the New York Times (posted yesterday) titled “We Brought Charles Murray to Campus. Guess What Happened.” That taking place on the University of Michigan campus. And reflecting on a Google Hangout discussion I partook in last night where a self-described “MGTOW” was arguing that mirroring feminist behavior is necessary in order to show people the wrong in their ways.

Hmmm…  The topic of whether to employ the tactics of one’s “enemies” continues to leave me with mixed thoughts. On one hand, I tend to think it best that we hold ourselves to higher standards and refrain from behaving like schmucks since that sends a better message to the general public observers. But on the other hand, I can also see where groups who behave in such foul ways as disturbing assemblies and refusing to allow invited speakers to speak and blocking entrances to lecture halls really do deserve retaliatory comeuppances, partly because it’s just desserts but mostly because I’d like to think if they experienced this sort of treatment in kind they might realize just how much it sucks and agree to a ceasefire.

The subject honestly perplexes me. If you allow the other group to behave like hooligans without behaving in kind, perhaps onlookers and outsiders will come to associate them specifically with the use of such tactics and disassociate themselves as a result. At least one can hope. BUT in the meantime, your speaker has been unfairly berated, along with the attending audience who came to listen to him or her, not to a loud crowd of assholes hellbent on pushing their own political agenda (nevermind if it doesn’t even apply in the given situation, they not being the types to actually look deeply into what exactly it is that they are protesting). And there’s the concern that the outside world will just ignore what’s going on, leaving your organization fuming but without any real recourse. That’s entirely frustrating and unfair. We’re supposed to be a society all about the free exchange of ideas, but that’s cannot be the case when hooligans do nearly everything in their power to be super disruptive and derailing.

But what happens when we fight fire with fire? Sometimes we do draw more attention to the situation, though not always in the ways we’d wish. While observing and reading about the tactics of MRAs (men’s rights activists), because I was unaware of the extent feminists were misbehaving prior I got the initial impression that the MRAs were a bunch of bullies. My sympathy toward their causes was hesitatingly expressed because I didn’t wish to closely associate with bulldog jackassery, not from them or from the feminists they were reacting to. The more I learned about how feminists were conducting themselves (after a few-year hiatus from keeping up with much going on in the feminist scene), the more I began to grasp why MRAs were acting as they were in response. But I still loathed their tactics and wished they would take the higher road instead. To which they commonly responded that they tried that and it led nowhere other than them and their plights being roundly ignored. Which is probably true. For many, I imagine, it didn’t register as a concern until a bunch of women out in society claimed to feel threatened, insulted, and unfairly mistreated.

Having said that, I came to take issue with the so-called “MGTOWs” (Men Going Their Own Way) whom I encountered online (never having actually met a self-described one in person) because I found that they tended to go on the offensive when dealing with women, not waiting for an incident to react to before spouting off epithets and deriding random women they happened across as “whores,” “cows,” “sluts,” “cunts,” and openly celebrating their hope for us to die alone with our cats. Deal with enough jokers like that your sympathy threatens to dry up entirely. Which I openly expressed a few years back once I completely tired of their incessant and unwarranted remarks toward myself and others who hadn’t done a damn thing to them to provoke such a reaction. They tend to argue in response that they’re entitled to behave this way due to how womankind tends to be, dismissing any objections that the individual in question they’re currently addressing isn’t guilty of what she’s being accused of, stating that she could be if she so desired thanks to the current state of the System. So therefor we all deserve to be tarred and feathered outright regardless of who we are, what we’ve done, how we actually live, or what values we assert. I’d say that’s mad…completely and utterly. That strategy and worldview is every bit as bad as that professed by the worst feminists they’re claiming to be trying to combat.

Leads a person to a “no win” situation in a hurry. Can’t communicate effectively with people employing such tactics. Can’t stand to even be around them. Can’t escape them since they like to seek out those they disagree with. Can’t live and let live since they refuse to do so. Can’t fight them back half the time without looking like the bigger asshole through the way the situation winds up being spun. Can’t defend oneself effectively since members of groups like this like to travel in packs and prove relentless in the harassment they dole out. So what then? Where do we as individuals and as a society go from here?

I worry that if we attempt to fight fire with fire that we’ll just wind up burning down the whole house. That nobody will ultimately win but a whole lot on both/all sides will wind up suffering. That free speech will be lost amid the chaos. And that people won’t limit their reactivism to tit-for-tat exchanges where they’re willing to lay down their arms when the other side agrees to do so, preferring instead to sadistically keep on and on at them beyond the point of reason. Why? Because humans sometimes revel in behaving like assholes. Smells like POWER. Easy to get drunk on the stuff.

But there’s a lot of truth in the claim that people are stubborn to learn the wrongs of their ways without feeling the brunt of such treatment themselves. Having been around dogs all my life, I am aware that some dog personalities are obstinate to the point where they simply don’t (or possibly can’t) learn to stop biting until they are bitten back hard  and enough times in response (usually by other dogs, mind you). They’ll take rough play too far amid human cries for them to stop and demands for them to settle down, and I believe a good bit of that pertains to the dog not respecting the human owner’s authority. Because there are little or no consequences for their bad behavior. That’s another topic for another time, but I toss that out there because I’d also argue that we humans tend to be a lot like that ourselves. Thoughts of the debate over child-rearing and the use of spanking as discipline springs to mind. Some screech at the idea, calling it abuse in all cases, while others swear by the tactic in raising their own kids. Just the same, some kids report being spanked by their parents as having been character-building for them while others sulk  well into adulthood over the matter. I’d argue that it entirely depends on the temperament in question as to what the approach ought to be. Divvies up differently for different people. Some people will eventually gain enough empathy and/or sympathy to come to recognize the err in their ways and will aim to make amends with those they’ve harmed. While others will continue behaving like jackasses until the end of time unless they’re physically stopped from doing so. Many in the middle will finally experience a lightbulb moment where they’re essentially forced to realize that they don’t like the just desserts doled back onto them so therefore they must discontinue doling it out to others. Consider it an appeal to one’s self-preservation (if only in regards to preserving one’s own peace of mind).

We tend to be a selfish bunch. Some of us will carry on with a behavior until something obstructs our actions and exacts a consequence that we find sufficiently uncomfortable. Perhaps when it comes to feminists and antifa they would be swayed by having their own rallies invaded and “safe spaces” disrupted and their own speakers shut down. Maybe. But maybe not. Perhaps they will then up the ante, as those with a well-entrenched victim mentality are prone to do. But I’m willing to bet a good many of them could be influenced to change their ways if they were shown a clear comparison of what their group did and how it made people feel vs. what wound up being done to them in retaliation, assuming the retaliation was kept directly proportional.

But that then leads to the next problem, which is that people have a hard time keeping reactions and responses proportional. People get angry and lash out and sometimes take things too far, which then makes victims of those you were aiming to merely mirror. That’s no good. But there’s always an asshole in the crowd who doesn’t understand proportion yet craves revenge and winds up making the whole situation worse for his own group. And I say “his” here for a reason — many of those who escalate the situation to violence are men. Women prefer utilizing more passive-aggressive, crazy-making approaches generally. Initiating an act of violence or a major overreaction tends to hurt one’s cause more than anything. So then you’ve set your group or movement back all the more and brought yourself and your affiliates scorn from the general public. That scorn isn’t soon to be forgotten either in most cases. Ruin your group’s reputation in such a way and it might never be restored.

So what the hell do we do with this?

My instinct keeps telling me we have to adopt a higher road in our responses. But I’m not 100% sold on the idea, acknowledging the handicap it can create for those unwilling to properly defend themselves and to give their tormentors a taste of their own medicine. Self-respect tends to hinge on being willing and able to stick up for oneself. But it’s all in how we go about it. And the bigger the group, the more likely that one idiot therein will take matters too far and muck up the situation for all involved. Hence why I don’t involve myself in groups. Hate the idea of my own reputation being tarnished due to the actions of somebody else. But sometimes we’re grouped together whether we mean to be or not, as in attending a speaking event. To outsiders we’re then viewed as supporters of the speaker, whether we’re just there out of curiosity or are devoted fans. Might not have any idea of what other groups are in attendance or what they might stand for, but that doesn’t stop opposing parties from lumping us all in together. Not sure how to get around that, aside from staying indoors and away from all others.  tongue_out

We ought to be able to rise or fall on our own merit and be judged according to our own individual actions. But that’s a bit naive to expect, especially considering the hold and influence group dynamics and their enshrined ideologies commonly exercise on their participants. No human is an island. We tend to judge people in accordance with the company they keep, even if that company was kept unintentionally or accidentally. Especially now that so many are actively aiming to make real world events mesh with the socio-political narratives they’re pushing forth. It ceases being about accuracy. Quite obviously.

There are no easy answers to this conundrum. Perhaps it comes down to assessing what’s most appropriate in each event and situation. Doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all approach that won’t eventually run into trouble. I’ll continue pondering on this matter.

Recent virtue-signaling over Hollywood fiasco (damsels vs. powerful pricks)

Okay. Let’s try a little test, shall we? Watch this video and determine how you feel about it:

That was Ben Affleck in 2004 with an actress named Hilarie Burton. Full disclosure: I’m not familiar with who she is other than reading today that she was a Total Request Live host back in the day, and I am not much of a fan of Ben Affleck or any movie he’s ever starred in.

Now, if your response to that video footage is to angrily declare Ben’s displayed behavior there to be “rapey,” I’m gonna assume you’re an SJW or someone who hasn’t spent much time in taverns and bars or someone who can’t discern between a serious threat and an annoyance. Why? First off, Hilarie was FLIRTING BACK WITH him. Observe the hair tossing, the girlish giggling, putting her arm around him as well, coquettishly nuzzling in toward his neck and chest. THAT’S NOT SEXUAL HARASSMENT, YOU NUMBSKULLS. That’s two idiots flirting! That’s what it looks like. Plain and simple.

“But he’s a douche-nozzle!” you say. Okay. Yeah, I agree. His tactics wouldn’t appeal to a woman like me, but to each her own. Obviously appealed to THAT woman, and that’s all that matters in this particular scenario. Ever been around jocks and cheerleaders? No? Well, they behave in a similar dumb fashion. The guy says crude and stupid shit and the girl giggles and plays with her hair and sits in his lap and laughs at his retarded jokes. Then he knocks her up and they live happily ever after, until they divorce. Welcome to it. Happens ALL the time, folks.

Oh, but I can hear it now. “Retarded??!!” Yeah, I said it, because it’s a useful word. Ben said something similar there also. You don’t have to like it. If it offends you, then okay. Great. Don’t hang around guys like Ben Affleck then (or me either, for that matter). Chalk it up to incompatibility and move on if it bothers you oh-so-badly.

Ya know, since Trump said what he said and the mainstream media collectively lost their minds, and now Harvey Weinstein has shown himself to be a piece of shit, people out here in the public (especially on social media) are losing their shit in trying to drum up a witch hunt (once again!) over anything and everything they possibly can construe as sexual harassment or inappropriate. And it’s a real shame since it detracts from ACTUAL cases of severe wrongdoing. Harvey Weinstein sounds like an ass, and what made him particularly problematic was how much power he personally wielded in Hollywood. Had he been some random schmuck in a neighborhood tavern behaving as he did, he probably would’ve been slapped plenty and few would’ve pussy-footed around calling the guy out on being a perverted asshole. But with money and fame and power comes privilege. Some folks do aspire to work in Hollywood and therefore will tolerate jerks like him in order to do so. That’s not cool. Wish it wasn’t the case. But you wanna know how you do NOT address matters of that magnitude? By pretending that anything and everything under the sun qualifies as matters of that magnitude. Like some of you are trying to do with this clip of Ben Affleck merely acting like a fraternity house dumbass.

Geez. I’m beginning to wonder if the majority of people on social media truly are just that naive. Is it because so many of them are young? Too little life experience? Too pampered and protected of an upbringing? Where have all the older web surfers gone?

Look, there are dangerous sexual deviants out here in society. And then there are opportunistic jerks, a number of whom inhabit positions of power. Yes, they can impact people in all sorts of ways, from causing them to not get hired or to lose their job, to ruining their reputation, to actually harassing them, and even occasionally going so far as doing real physical harm to them. Hence why it’s very important that people learn to discern. Not all jerks are created equal. Not all are serial rapists without a conscience (in fact, most aren’t). Not all even expect to get their way despite their advances. Some even respect you all the more when you do stand up to them and call them on their bullshit. Some will say offensive stuff but that doesn’t mean they will physically attack you. Then there are others who will play up to you and pretend to be a close confidante only to later learn they were working against your best interests from the start. Lots of different types of jerks out here in society.

When it comes to us as women and how we conduct ourselves, I’m admittedly growing very frustrated with so many women acting as if we possess no agency. As if just because a man tells you to do something means you must do it. As if we somehow lost the ability to say “NO!” and mean it and to back it up with actions. Unless you’re physically overpowered and made to do something against your will, your will remains intact and it’s a choice as to how you decide to act. If an old pervert groping you is unappealing, then don’t let him do so. I’ve had old men grope me when I was younger a few more times than I care to recount, and yes, I understand that some are obstinate asses who don’t like to take “no” for an answer. But to hell with them. If they want a fight, give it to them. But don’t just collapse into their arms and then later pretend like you had no choice. That’s bullshit for any adult to claim, and it’s a BIG part of the reason women aren’t taken seriously enough. And not just by men but also by other women. We don’t respect one another due to this double-speaking/double-acting, underhanded BS.

Understand this: The rest of the world CANNOT READ YOUR MIND. Super important to comprehend that. If you don’t say it OUT LOUD and make it clear through your body language, then others can’t be expected to know what you’re thinking and feeling inside. We can’t. Sorry folks, but there’s a barrier around all of our brains making our own minds our own exclusive property. Nobody else can get in there. So we have to outwardly project what it is we’re wanting to get across. If you don’t want to sleep with someone, tell him/her so and act in accordance. If a big-shot guy jerking off in a potted plant is offensive to you (as it understandably would be for most of us), then let it be known. Best to directly tell the person you’re dealing with, but if you truly are afraid to do so then tell somebody else who can possibly assist you in handling the matter (if you find it to be that important to do so).

Now, I’d argue that not all matters always need major handling. Sometimes we choose to keep matters to ourselves. Other times we warn our friends and acquaintances to keep away from a jerk and that’s about the best we can do. Certainly not everything is a criminal matter, nor is everything needing to be aired publicly. Totally depends on the situation. Scary guy truly acting rapey and menacing and threatening calls for a different approach than an idiot like Ben Affleck snuggling against you while drunk or high (or whatever he was on). As should seem obvious. Different problems = different tools needed in handling them.

I do get disappointed when reading about celebrity women who have power in their own right acting as if they’re too afraid to speak up on their own behalves or for other women who may be enduring worse treatment. The reason being that many of these same celebrity women are quick to lecture the rest of us out in society about our moral duties and push their political views. Meryl Streep immediately springs to mind, as does Ashley Judd. Celebrities are merely humans too, it’s true, but they’re humans with major platforms and a whole lot of influence and big followings and a lot of money and connections. Doesn’t make them more moral than any of us though. Some might argue the opposite tends to be true more often than not, and I lean that way myself in assessing the situation. Hence why I opt to vote with my dollars by NOT subscribing to cable television, rarely going to movie theaters, and rarely giving a damn what any celebrity has to say on political matters. They are ACTORS by trade, which calls for a personality type capable of suspending judgement, disbelief, and reason. They’re also surrounded by a bunch of other actors much of the time. Plus, they’re vying to arrive at and belong within the big league, with hopes of making millions of dollars based on their charismatic skills and physical appearances. So it doesn’t surprise me terribly that their discernment capacities tend to be wonky. Given enough years to observe ample examples of actors’ and actresses’ publicly displayed behaviors and choices and flippant reversals in brazenly expressed opinions and moral outrage, youngens too will likely cease being so easily surprised by much out of them anymore as well.

Some say this Harvey Weinstein fiasco will lead to the “draining of the swamp” in Hollywood, but I highly doubt it. Isn’t the first time a scumbag was exposed and won’t be the last. Look how many times it’s happened among politicians and yet that swamp remains firmly intact. Glad to see Harvey Weinstein step down from a position of power (though long overdue) since he demonstrated irresponsible immaturity in handling that role. But aside from that, I’m seeing mostly virtue signaling out of most in the mainstream media and on social media. People trying to distance themselves from him because now it’s the popular thing to do. Republicans and Democrats at it like usual, slinging mud at one another and crying foul, forever attempting to discredit one another’s parties (as if either is worth defending these days). Why isn’t Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama getting outraged at this news about their “friend”? Likely because they knew all along and aren’t all that different from him themselves. Birds of a feather…

Is it such a major surprise that Hollywood is filled with opportunistic perverts? Really? Or Washington D.C.? Come on, folks. None of this is new. And it won’t be stopped simply because we engage in dialogues about it either. Shaming people impacts specific individuals, not the system in place itself. Why? Because a lot of this comes back to human nature, not only in the types who prove most ambitious and vie for power but also in all of us in how we tend to swoon in the face of charismatic people and give them what they want. I believe that cycle is destined to repeat again and again and again, regardless of what changes we might try to make to the political structure or how many “diversity” courses we come to require in this field or that corporation. The best we can probably hope for is to learn to govern our own selves better as individuals, to choose whom we associate with more wisely, to figure out how to pick the battles most worth fighting, and to not compromise our principles (even—or most especially—when confronted with opportunities for financial enrichment and an enticing increase in popularity, power, and influence). But those are very tough lessons for humans to reckon with. Been trying to for thousands of years and don’t appear to have made much real progress thus far. It’s a perennial battle within and across members of our species, and it too promises to go on and on and on into the unforeseeable future.

Doesn’t sound like the happy ending you were searching for? Well, welcome to it. This is life. Nobody promised us a rose garden or claimed this shit would be easy and straight-forward or that all would shake out fairly or even that it would make a whole lot of sense. It simply is what it is. Figure out for yourself how to navigate in life most effectively, acknowledging that we won’t all prove to be on the same team or living in accordance with the same morals and beliefs, as should be obvious by now. Sell your soul for money and fame if you want to, but understand that there will be some sort of consequences. If you treat others poorly, then don’t be surprised when they eventually turn on you and aim to ruin everything you’ve ever built. Of course you can wind up targeted without having actually done anything wrong (or at least not terribly wrong according to some standards — Edward Snowden and James Damore spring to mind) — happens often enough. We’d like to think the greedy and cruel always get their comeuppances, but that’s unfortunately not always the case. Just as good folks aren’t always rewarded. Such is life…

BUT, in order to bring about more fairness and justice, our only real option is to begin with our own selves and how we behave toward others. We’re all sinners and wimps, but that’s not all we are, or at least it needn’t be. Lots of grey area in this life, which provides us lots of opportunities to learn and grow and explore. Much of the time when we strike out in indignation against some stranger whom we don’t even know outside of news stories, we’re doing so because it’s tripped some recognition within our own selves that we’d rather not confront. I believe this to be true much of the time. So when I read of all these supposedly outraged strangers on the internet getting up in arms over a Hollywood big-wig and other actors or over some words spoken by Trump years back, I have to wonder what we’re really reacting to here. What people we don’t personally know have done or said, or how that resonates within parts of ourselves that makes us uncomfortable? Willing to bet about 50% of the time people are freaking out because they don’t want their own little dark secrets to ever see light, so they pretend that they have none through loudly declaring the “bad guy” to be oh-so-bad over and over again. Deflects attention away from oneself. Drowns out our own nervousness. Very common tactic. Those pangs of weirdness and shame offer an opportunity for introspection for those willing to explore their own abyss. Much more fruitful, IMO, than simply focusing all energy outward in perpetual judgement of others.

Anyway, before I completely slide off topic here, I’ll end with this. Want to drain the swamp of Hollywood? It’s easier to do than draining the swamp of D.C. All you have to do is starve it off financially. Quit giving it money. Quit paying to watch movies by producers you don’t respect, showcasing actors you claim to have moral qualms with. Just quit it. Quit clicking on their twitter feeds or gossiping about what they’re up to. Do your due diligence on where you’re spending your money to better ensure that your expenditures align with your professed values. Don’t want to support and promote womanizing jerks who abuse potted plants? Okay, then quit buying products and services that line such people’s pockets.

Putting myself on a diet

Enjoying a lazy weekend over here. Though I am a bit moody as well, partly to do with trying out a diet plan (referred to as ketogenic wherein you severely reduce carbohydrate intake). Why? Because my weight bugs me. Went down between 2015-2016, then jumped up again in 2017, irking me a great deal. Occurred because I got lazy over last winter and spring and also because my former partner is a good cook who loves to make all things fatty and/or sweet. I don’t care to cook much, so I rely on his meal offerings instead, and so then I ballooned up 20+ lbs. once again. Certainly not his fault — he has enough muscle to allow him to eat whatever he wants. I, on the other hand, must be more restrictive.

Can’t say that I’m terribly enthusiastic in this stage of the game though. My net carbs today came out to 20g — on point. But I can’t stand the taste of artificial sweeteners. Never did and likely never will. Tried Stevia, tried erythritol. Nonplussed, to say the least. disgusted  Would rather skip sweeteners altogether than deal with that crud. Ugh. But this is a temporary diet intended to help burn off the stores of fat I’m currently toting around so that eventually I can maintain at a healthier weight level. That and I’ve been having issues with my blood sugar acting up during the day, leaving me jittery and shaky. Can’t be having that. Gotta get my body under better control and cut out a lot of this highly processed food, particularly the carb-rich, starchy products that have long played havoc on my health. Heaven forbid I turn out to be pre-diabetic.

So, this is what I’m trying to do currently. Figure it’s high time I confront this sugar addiction. Not a major fan of sweets so much as potatoes and bread, but all winds up affecting my blood sugar in a similar fashion. I guess I consider this phase 2 where quitting drinking alcohol was phase 1. Seems like a good idea, or at least it did until I tried eating a bowl of artificially sweetened chia seeds and hemp hearts this morning.  yuck_smilie  Straight-up sucked!

Lots of eggs are also involved in this diet plan. Lots and lots of them. Made an egg bake yesterday with tomatoes, spinach and cheeses that will hopefully be finished up tomorrow. Tried making a veggie pasta the other day with spaghetti squash noodles alongside a grilled chicken breast, but something was seriously off about the squash. Didn’t smell right. Must’ve bought a bad pack, so into the trash those noodles went. Settled for sauteed zucchini grown in my best guyfriend’s garden, which was great. And bacon is permissible on this diet plan too, so that’s comforting.

I’m not one to diet. Never really have been. Tried Weight Watchers once upon a time (over a decade back) just so that I could track my food intake on their nifty website (now a better and free alternative exists: myfitnesspal.com). Tried a water fast for 4 days back in early 2007, but only because it was necessary that I drop a few pounds pronto (for reasons I don’t care to disclose here, just know it wasn’t for vanity purposes). That wasn’t too bad after the first couple of days, so I’d be willing to try a water fast again eventually (during a week when I’m not too busy). But other than that, dieting has never been my bag. Always struck me as unsustainable and not worth the time and effort. Better to just exercise more and eat relatively sensibly. But then I got to reading about the dangers of sugar in our typical American diets and how it’s linked with various medical maladies. Then I learned of people who dropped significant amounts of weight (even without exercising) through cutting down on carbs. So now my vanity is acting up and wants a piece of the action.

So, this is the new project to keep me occupied in weeks to come. Have a few items on order from Amazon to aid in this pursuit, including a dark chocolate protein powder (that received high ratings and better be tastier than the other I sampled recently). The primary goal of making shakes/smoothies for me is to use them as a means to hide other ingredients within, such as beef and pork gelatin powder (for my joints — still having a lot of trouble with my knees) and veggies that I otherwise won’t eat (like kale). We’ll see how well that works out.

A few days ago I purchased a bottle of Torani’s sugar-free hazelnut syrup for my coffee and was left seriously disappointed. Perfectly good cup of coffee ruined by that. The aftertaste lasted for hours no matter what I drank or ate (even after brushing my teeth). Ugh. So gross. Wondering which neighbor I can possibly pawn that stuff off on.

Am thinking that I’d be better off finding ways to utilize the sugars in fruits instead of screwing with those nasty non-sugar sweeteners. Otherwise I’m just going to stick with eating fruits by themselves on occasion and Ghirardelli’s 86% cacao squares for when I crave a dessert. Earlier tonight I tried my hand at making a chocolate mug cake, though I reduced the amount of sweetener the recipe called for since that stuff sucks. Turned out tasting pretty weird. Not sure I want to go that route again. Seems I’d be better off using a tiny bit of actual sugar and then cutting carbs elsewhere on days I decide to fix a treat. Or maybe I can find a blueberry mug muffin recipe that doesn’t call for sweetener at all. That’d be ideal.

AND, this week I also fucked up by sampling a seaweed snack on sale at the local natural grocer. OMG! SOOO nasty! It had the texture of crinkly plastic film and came in super thin sheets. Folded one sheet into my mouth and attempted to chew, but no. No no no no no. Had to spit that crud out right away. That’s not food. Tasted like a dried salty leaf (which technically is exactly what it was) and smelled like old seafood (duh). Made me angry at myself that I ever put that in my mouth. Ha! No joke though. That was disgusting! I kept the bag just so as to warn others. Annie Chun’s Roasted Sesame Seaweed Snacks — buyers beware. Its texture and taste is still haunting me.

Yeah, so I’m off to a rough start. Not a seasoned dieter, so I’m bound to make dumb mistakes like this. Probably will be best if I just keep it simple and stick with basic tried-and-true foods that also happen to be low on carbs. Like meats and cheese and veggies. But it is fun experimenting, at least some of the time anyway. Turns out that I happen to like unsweetened vanilla almond milk. And I found some tortilla wraps that are high in fiber and low in carbs that actually aren’t bad (brand name: Tumaro’s). Sunbutter (kinda like peanut butter but with sunflower seeds instead of peanuts) is all right. And I’m planning on trying my hand at making a pizza crust using only riced cauliflower and parmesan cheese — wish me luck with that.

As of the last time I weighed myself (on Wednesday, I think), I was down approximately 5 lbs. Will likely weigh myself again on Tuesday (when I regain access to a scale, refusing to own one myself). Still working out, but only at the gym maybe 3-4 days a week right now. Playing with my dumbbells at home some too. Still trying to take it easy so that my left elbow will heal, but it’s proving to be a very slow process.

Currently am 15.5 weeks into my commitment to stop drinking, with no slip-ups since that first week. Giving up beer seems to have contributed to me turning toward consuming more carbs and putting on a few pounds — hence another reason why this all feels necessary right about now. Many people quit drinking and lose weight, but not me apparently. Nope, I turned to snacking on junk food instead. So this is my attempt to rein myself in and develop greater self-discipline while aiming to curb my appetite for sugars so that hopefully those cravings will lessen with time. Sounds good in theory anyway. It promises to be an interesting exploration regardless.

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Time for another update (journaling in late September)

Can’t complain much these days. All has been going pretty well lately. Other than my car eventually needing some expensive repairs, life is pretty good.

Been saving up so that I can finally pay the IRS their blood money. Oh joy. Extensions make life easier in that department.

Have been working out regularly lately, typically 4 times a week at the gym and most of those days with my trainer. Was sore as a mofo the other day in my hip flexors/inner thigh area, so probably wandered around town looking like I just dismounted a horse. Ah well. It happens. Comes with the territory. Slightly injured my left elbow a week or more ago and so have been trying to let that heal up and focus on other muscle groups in the meantime. Didn’t do as much cardio this week; maybe next week I’ll feel a bit more motivated. Also got in some yoga after one workout with my trainer this week, so that was nice.

As mentioned on here previously, I put back on about 20 lbs. since the winter due to getting lazy for a while there (though it was a milder winter by Midwestern standards, winter conditions still make hitting the gym a PITA). So I got back up to a whopping 174 lbs., unfortunately, and my weight has stubbornly hovered in that range, particularly after I quit drinking alcohol and began craving other carbs as substitutes for all that beer my body felt deprived of. So…that’s been an irritating development. But it’s kicked me back into gear in terms of working out more and trying to watch what I eat a bit (at least some days). I’ve managed to drop back down to 170 lbs. (once again) and hopefully this time can keep the trend heading downward instead of yoyo-ing as has been the case for the last few months. I blame sunflower seeds and birthday bon-bons for some of this stagnation and have notified my former partner that I am no longer open to receiving big boxes of chocolates on future holidays. Can’t do it. Keeps my butt too big. Heh

Part of its muscle gain though too. Can’t discount that. My arms are looking better defined once again, which is wonderful. Just love seeing definition there, though the overall layer of fluff tends to obscure it. Was down to 152 lbs. last summer and miss that. But I was working out a lot more vigorously back then when my trainer’s own gym was still open. Oh well. We adapt. The new gym he’s now working at is a comfortable atmosphere, so I’m growing more bold there now too. Just gotta waltz in and act like I belong there and not let the super-muscular guys intimidate me. Not that it’s their fault — just that one can get self-conscious in their presence. Get to feeling like a dweeb playing with my little dumbbells in the corner sometimes.  lol  But c’est la vie. There’s a wide array of people at this gym, of all ages and skill levels, so there’s really no reason for any of us to feel out of place. And I love how much cheaper membership is there.

Wednesday I stopped by the local shooting range and signed the necessary waiver and watched the video required prior to gaining access. All of that is now taken care of so I am ready to finally officially start training with my handgun. Yay! They have a really great lady’s night special on Wednesdays that I look forward to taking advantage of, as well as 2-for-1 pricing on Fridays. american_smilie  That will go a long way in making that hobby more affordable. The place looked nice and the staff were friendly and helpful, so soon I will give it a go. This has been a goal in the back of my mind for a long time that I finally can take part in and check off of my list of things to do.  I consider it a reward of sorts for knocking off the drinking habit: allowing myself to go shooting at the range and exploring further weapons training. Really proud of myself for making this transition so that I can responsibly improve my marksmanship (wouldn’t allow myself to do much of that back before, and for good reason IMO). So yeah. Yay!  Good times.  biggrin_green  Already own ear and eye protection and ammunition and a carrying case for my firearm, so I’m ready to go.

Also been considering eventually purchasing a semi-auto to accompany my revolver, but that’s a ways off into the future. Have car repairs to worry about before then. Might even have to buy a different car since this one has such high miles that it’s really not worth dumping too much money into. And that might mean taking on car payments once again.  Oy.

What else? Been learning about the ketogenic diet lately. Not sure if I’m interested in going that far, but I definitely see the benefits in reducing my carb intake. Recently listened to the audiobook The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung and appreciated it. Would recommend it to others! Also discovered several YT channels that offer HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, which are reminiscent of the types of workouts we used to do in classes at my trainer’s former gym. Had a lot of success with that form of cardio before and look forward to trying it out again. Though I’m sure my downstairs neighbor won’t be too thrilled by what sounds like a water buffalo romping around overhead.  Ha!  Ah well. He’ll get over it. Will try to time my in-home workouts around his baby’s nap-time if needed. Will be good for me, especially once winter hits for those days I don’t feel like driving through snow and ice to get to the gym and then having to change out my snow-boots once there. Too easy to blow off going to the gym under those circumstances.

Feels good to remain active. Actually been in better spirits for a while now. Even my Grandma commented on that. She’s sooooo glad that I quit drinking. It’s now been 14.5 weeks. So that’s cool. Once I began working out again more regularly back over a couple of years ago my mood began to improve, and now it’s improving even more. SO nice not waking up with a headache and feeling ran over right out the gate. So nice saving all that money and no longer having to worry about DUIs/OWIs. Nice also to have more free time on my hands to do other things and in a functional manner. Like doing my nails (not worth attempting while buzzed or drunk). Been less grumpy overall, and it’s become really obvious over the last few weeks. Notice myself laughing more. And that also has contributed to getting along better with my former partner (as I refer to him on here since I don’t know what else to call him anymore). I haven’t felt as sensitive about the stuff he might say or as reactive, which is good. If he annoys me, I manage to laugh it off (at least more often) instead of getting hot-headed or feeling insulted or whatever else. That’s worth its weight in gold: improved relations with my people. And when I don’t get snippy or over-reactive, he then is less prone to do so as well, and contentment becomes possible. Obviously he still drinks a good bit and he did have that bad night back in July where he decided to be an asshole for no particularly good reason, resulting in us taking a few weeks apart. Since then he’s come back with a better attitude, and so I’ve decided to let bygones be bygones and to just roll on. Upward and onward. Bad days happen. Less drama = less stress = less opportunities to create further drama. Glad to see us in a better cycle for a change. Reminds me of what we originally enjoyed about one another’s company. He seems to be in much better spirits as a result too. Says he has no desire to tempt me back into drinking again, that he’s proud of me for recognizing how volatile it makes me and for letting it go. I agree.

Though, he did make a comment this week about how eventually he expects me to be able to handle drinking moderately. Told him I don’t really want to, that I think I’m better off leaving it alone in going forward. That’s maybe not what he wants to hear, but he’ll learn to accept it over time. Not all of us are cut out for continuing the drinking lifestyle. Lots of downsides to it, and increasingly so as time rolls on. We discussed the matter and he expressed feeling badly about being a bad influence on me over the years we’ve known one another, but I told him that I don’t regret meeting him and likely would’ve taken drinking too far even without his presence in my life. Was mourning the illness and then death of a family member and didn’t handle it well. Besides, I’m grateful to be where I am now, so whatever had to come before to teach me important lessons was likely necessary to create this outcome in the end. So I can’t really regret what all has transpired. Just glad to be moving forward.

Am also glad to be less of an emotional drain on my best guyfriend since he’s the one I talk to on the phone the most. Lord knows I’ve probably stressed him the hell out over the last few years with all my crying and struggling with my lifestyle. But he’s remained by my side as a solid friend regardless. Gotta love that guy. Wouldn’t know what to do without him in my life. Looking forward to going out with him to a movie and dinner on Sunday.

The book I’m currently listening to is Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Owned a print copy for many years (courtesy of my Dad) and never got around to reading it, so decided to order the audio version instead so as to have it read to me while I go about my day. Am enjoying it. Much more interesting than I originally thought it would be.

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“Addiction – Reconsidered” (plus personal thoughts)

Liked that video and want to share it with others. Often lately I think about the notion of being cleansed by fire, which is to say purified in some sort of way through trials and struggles.

This past weekend was the first time in months I’d talked to my (ex-step)dad and brother on the phone. Told them that I had quit drinking, which I’d been holding off on sharing with some folks until I had more progress under my belt. Today marks the beginning of week 11 since my commitment to stop drinking. Dad asked if it’s been difficult, if there were physical side effects like shakes, and I told him this time around it’s actually been surprisingly easy, as it has. Though it’s been perplexing me as to why it’s felt so comparably easy.

When I think on it, I believe the reason is that the process actually began a little over 2 years ago. Back then I did get shaky at times due to going through spells where I’d drink entirely too much and hurt my body. Drinking on that level was often concealed at home where I could be alone. And that’s an awful way to become. Then when I did start heading back out to bars once again I’d wind up having problems with people over social matters, which were the sort of issues that drove me to staying home more and more in the first place. My behavior and attitudes became increasingly volatile as a drinker. I was severely unhappy — depressed really. Frustrated with myself but at the time feeling too weak to make real and lasting changes for the better. Dreamt of changing all the time, but struggled to do so and keep with it. So there was a lot of yo-yoing occurring within the last couple of years. And I guess that time period was in itself a slow-motion bottoming out. Actually I know it was and knew it at the time too. But I kept thinking I wasn’t on total rock bottom yet…not that I wanted to land there, but there’s some stupid little measure of comfort in believing you’re not there yet.

Humiliated myself many times. Numerous bad nights pepper my memories over the last couple of years (and before). Nights when I’m lucky to have made it home in one piece and not harmed anybody else in the process. Nights where portions of the evening are completely erased, blacked out, only known through what others later told me. Bad thoughts and bad decisions had me in a tailspin for a long time there, culminating in those last two years of suffering because I knew the jig was up but yet couldn’t seem to lay it all down and walk away. That was a very frustrating time in life, to say the least.

And then something happened inside that allowed me to say I’d had enough. Don’t believe it was any one event, just a broad collection of them that finally broke the camel’s back. And I got really angry, at myself and the others surrounding me and the lifestyle overall. Had been angry about it many times before, though, so I still wonder why this time something stuck and I was able to walk away. Didn’t feel like the change was completely due to my own will power alone considering how much that had failed me in years prior. Hard to say why the shift occurred so abruptly and how I’ve been able to stick with it this time around. Too much water under the bridge? Too many bad memories generated? Too much money wasted to where I was facing dire straits soon enough? Too many embarrassing episodes spanning back longer than I care to look? All of the above and then some.

But that had been my lifestyle all throughout my adulthood and it was my norm. Though, some part of me inside was never content with it, always critical about it. Maybe it was that inner voice that finally took over the helm when I was weak enough to allow it to do so, and through doing so I’ve gained a measure of strength and determination that I didn’t know I had. It’s kind of queer to think about really, how it’s unfolded and where my mind has been and how something inside became so damn enraged that it simply refused to live like that anymore and therefore took over operations. So, in truth, I did save myself, or at least a part of me saved the rest of me. And that’s a strange thought since so much of me had fallen down and I figured might not ever get back up and stay up. Most of the people I surrounded myself with on a day-to-day basis were heavy drinkers themselves who saw no problem in our lifestyle choice, taking every opportunity they could to defend it. Sometimes I’d debate with them over what we were doing, hypocritical as that always felt (in a bar setting, no less). But in the end, none of them or any of their empty excuses mattered one iota, and I was able to walk away.

Does it have to do with one’s personality? Has my stubbornness saved me once again? Or my fear of complete and abysmal failure? Or worries over becoming a devastatingly negative force for change in the lives of some innocent people who happened to cross my path at the wrong time? Or concern over potential destroyed and wasted? Or humiliation over the (repeated) results of the toxic mix of alcohol and emotional volatility that undeniably damaged my character? All of the above, I assume. But it still seems so strange to me that someone can be that entrenched in a way of life and that deeply steeped among others of like mind and still break free. But I did. Still coming to terms with that and am so grateful for my internal levee to finally give way, generating enough force to propel me out and away from that addictive trap.