Ideological craziness as exemplified by Evergreen State College

More coverage (click here and here for more background info on this topic) on what’s been going on at Evergreen State College up in Olympia, Washington, where a portion of the students and staff have decided to increasingly push a super-divisive, Leftist narrative wherein white folks are othered on the basis of simply being white (because of “eurocentricism” and “white privilege” being viewed as a perpetual threat to minorities) and ridiculed accordingly and where police are automatically rejected and demonized as racist and oppressive and also where very loud and obstructive protests are encouraged at every opportunity. Yet what they’re demanding exactly isn’t clear. They just wish to push this new narrative and switch up the power roles as they perceive them to be at present.

A student at Evergreen State College, Benjamin Boyce, who graduated last semester has documented much of what’s been going on there lately.

Faculty and students finally began publicly speaking back to this movement:

And lastly, an informal interview with Professor Bret Weinstein who was targeted at Evergreen back in the spring:

Also, thanks to all the chaos, controversy, and blatant disrespect fomenting on that college campus, Police Chief Stacy Brown decided to resign. And can you really blame her? I would’ve too. Life’s too short to put up with working somewhere where you’re obviously unwanted and are restricted by the administration from doing your assigned job.

21st century economics

Was just watching a few minutes of some heart-wrenching movie starring Denzel Washington where he played a father who’s down on his luck due to downsizing at his company, only to be confronted by an unforeseeable heart condition afflicting his young son which requires a heart transplant in order to survive, and only to find out his insurance coverage through his job had been reduced along with his hours. Drew a few tears out of me, not that that’s difficult to do. But it also bleeds into a topic that stays in the back of my mind and always has: modern-day economic disparity.

Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t take an emotional argument like that depicted in tonight’s movie to get a rise out of me. Just happened to be what tripped my trigger this particular evening. Some would argue that a scenario like that described above is fairly rare, which is probably true, and they might go on to caution me to look out how centralized, state-funded healthcare programs haven’t produced the desired results. Won’t get an argument out of me about that. My stance continues to be that we as a society would be better off if health insurance companies were cut out of much of our healthcare system, possibly being reserved for unforeseen emergencies and catastrophic events only. As it stands now, insurance companies dictate the cost of healthcare at pretty much every level and are responsible for so much of it being cost-prohibitive out of pocket for the average citizen. The only way costs will be corrected (and largely lowered) is if our medical establishment becomes a truly free market without middlemen insurance companies aiding in inflating the costs. The fact that nearly all medical expenses (including routine care and prescriptions) are too much for the average consumer to afford is the sign of an unsustainable setup.

Many, many people are beholden to insurance companies in order to receive quality healthcare. I’m not, but I’m an outlier who thankfully has managed to remain pretty healthy thus far. But I listen to all of you out there and hear the frustration. Plenty of people are disgruntled about the cost of insurance that is automatically deducted from their pay, and plenty aren’t intimately familiar with what all their plans will or won’t cover. Because reading those forms is a legalese jargon nightmare, as is so often the case when it comes to important matters.

But my thoughts tonight aren’t restricted to the U.S. healthcare system or Obamacare. That’s just one mighty arm of this larger economic concern.

Modern life can seem most maddening when it comes to observing economic disparity. Now, I already know what my libertarian brethren will say about how we don’t want a socialist system and how that will only make matters worse. Not disagreeing with you there. However, something does indeed have to give. Not sure what exactly or how, but when this many people (and now we’re on a global stage where everybody’s watching) are experiencing feelings of resentment because their reality is absolutely nothing like the rich people’s reality broadcast all day/everyday on television, there’s going to be a problem eventually. The rights people are fighting to uphold are falling apart partly because they’re viewed as benefiting some more than others. Right or wrong, that’s the increasingly common perception. And it’s perceptions that are stoking the embers of aggravation and disrespect — it’s perceptions you are all up against. If perceptions don’t change, which they likely won’t if disparities continue to grow, then more and more people will seek to tear down the very system that’s currently in place. And they might win out.

I read where some alt-righters like to denigrate all socialists or leftists as a bunch of overly emotional idealists with no concept of how the real world works. Well, in some cases that may be true, but the potential threat they pose remains the same regardless. People don’t have to operate with sound logic and rationality in order to wage a culture war, and there are no guarantees that those deemed most logical and rational will win in the end. It comes down to a battle of ideas, and what’s working against some of you is that you’re viewed as insincere and uncaring about the masses. So good luck in attempting to change hearts and minds, especially if you or other dumbass minions claiming to belong to the groups you’re identified with use abrasive tactics in trying to put points across.

Classist concerns have always impacted my outlook and worldview. That’s no secret. And I can tell you that as a long-time libertarian-leaning individual it can feel uncomfortable at times arguing alongside the smug types who care mostly about protecting and maintaining and increasing their own, forever talking as if all they have came purely as a product of their hard work, failing to mention the people they’ve met along the way who’ve given them breaks or the lucky opportunities that have arisen. I’ve been fortunate to have met a wide variety of people over time in person, including a few who received their money through inheritance (“trust fund babies” is what we refer to them as). Had a client once upon a time who shared he was left a sizeable amount of money, enough to where his wife didn’t need to work and he was able to take over a year off between jobs without worrying. That’s not a reality I personally can relate with one bit. And yet he and I both consider ourselves libertarians of sorts and had many conversations about economics (me mostly listening since he worked in that sector and so had plenty to tell).

A man like him can become very defensive when confronted about his fortunate circumstances of birth. Not that I confronted him on it since that wouldn’t have been good for business back then. But I have confronted others I’ve met at times, pointing out the differences between us. Why? Because I can’t help but notice. Another man I used to know, a friend, has a timeshare in Jamaica and regularly vacations there and down to Florida with his entire family. He liked to tell me about it, and honestly sometimes I didn’t want to hear about it, especially when I was hitting the skids and having financial problems. Nice as he was as a person, he couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t understand him entirely on that level. He took time off work to heal up after very expensive elective surgeries, surgeries me and mine wouldn’t have an option to receive because we can’t afford it (even those with insurance can’t afford the amount expected to be paid out of pocket) nor can we afford the time off work. Different options lead to different outlooks.

I used to work for a man who raced Porsche cars that he owned. If you can imagine that. Even picked me up in one one time to show it off (very uncomfortable because when they race them there’s these bars inside to reinforce the cabin in case they roll — and those bars don’t come out) when I traveled down South to visit with him. That man would tell me stories of what it was like going from making over $500,000/yr. to a little over $100,000/yr. — a MAJOR transition for him and most especially for his wife. Was a truly nice guy overall and I still remember him fondly, but do you think I could relate with anything he was presenting me with? I’ve never made anywhere close to $100,000/yr. in my life thus far. Certainly have no idea what a $1,000 champagne brunch involves. Don’t know what it’s like to pay someone to prepare my meals in-home or come clean my house, though my Grandmother does continue to clean other people’s houses in order to supplement her social security money, as is very necessary.

I regularly met with a pediatrician, met with an accountant, met with a tax attorney, met with middle-management personnel, met with successful entrepreneurs, met with a few other lawyers, met with a former lobbyist — lots of people from a different socioeconomic strata than me. And I’m very glad for those experiences since they helped to humanize such folks, making it harder for me to concoct caricatures in my mind since I had met them and gotten to know them. Though I’d be lying if I pretended I don’t still harbor flickers of resentment toward upper middle-/middle-class folks in general. Probably was ingrained in me from the start, and it never fully dies. I remain aware of that tendency within me to judge, partly because I know that myself and mine were frequently enough judged by that class as well. The distrust and cautiousness runs both ways. Always are exceptions, but that’s been the general situation.

At least I’m aware of it inside myself. Plenty aren’t. Or they haven’t explored what it is exactly that they resent. Some are just envious and want what others have. I may be that way too to some extent, but I’m pretty content with having not so much and actually tend to prefer it this way. But that attitude can be a defensive strategy, as in reckoning that the less you have then the less there is to lose and miss. Others would say that’s the claims of someone lacking ambition. Perhaps so. But I would rebut by saying that some who have quite a lot didn’t gain it through pure ambition.

Either way, tit for tat squabbles aside, I understand that people’s perception can and does keep them down to where they don’t try to compete because they assume it’s futile. And that’s no way to approach a market economy if one hopes to succeed. Altering such perceptions is important, but how do you do that when fewer jobs with the chance of upward mobility are available now, yet the population continues to increase? Not everybody can be cutting edge and innovative in the ways that are being rewarded at present. When our manufacturing base was gutted and shipped to Mexico and China, that was viewed as a betrayal of a huge number of citizens in this country. It’s a position I hold as well. And once the southern border basically became a joke and undocumented workers came up to take jobs at lower wages than Americans, we as a society were presented with a new host of problems. Now we hear of tech jobs being outsourced to India and read of employees in that sector fretting over their futures. Where does this all end?

We all look out onto our society and observe so many major corporations becoming multinationals, going global and caring only about American consumers so long as another market doesn’t rise to trump our demand. Some say once the middle class grows and becomes better established in China, watch out! I don’t doubt it. Yet our country owes China a lot of money. No clue how that might all shake out in the end.

So many of these major corporations have come to dramatically alter reality for the average citizen, determining where we shop, what we eat, what technologies we rely on and who manufacturers them, how we communicate, what news we’re presented with, what information we can readily access, what hoops we must jump through in order to gain and maintain employment, etc. And yet those same major corporations feel so inhuman. Distant and operating with a whole new set of ethics and values that we then are expected to adapt ourselves to. Do you honestly think people will all be able to adapt? And what happens when they can’t or won’t? Build more privatized prisons to warehouse them within?

Do you see what I see here? This is where the Leftist argument actually contains pieces of truth, uncomfortable as they may be for some out there. People may not articulate themselves terribly well and may rely too much on the wrong leaders to do so on their behalves, but I think this is ultimately what some of them are trying to point at and call attention to. Of course these requests have fallen on deaf ears for quite a while, so I suppose it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that a bunch of ideologically-possessed college students instructed by radical agitators/professors have now taken it upon them to claim to speak for the little people (though many of them arguably are much more concerned with peddling their preferred ideology than actually helping the people whose stories they exhibit — that being how politics tends to roll). These current ideologues are working to appeal to these folks who feel relatively disenfranchised and who worry about what the future may hold.

My question for us is what ideas or counteraction do we have to offer on the libertarian, pro-market end of the spectrum? Because demonstrating that some people can become fabulously wealthy no longer sways the growing majority who can’t relate to or comprehend that level of success. It’s fast coming to be viewed as a pipe dream that’s mostly applicable to those who attend fancy universities and who come into regular contact and hob-nob with other successful people. And that’s pretty accurate since who one knows does definitely play a part in all of this. Networking is key — haven’t we all grown up hearing this repeated? For a great many people out here, it’d likely be through pure happenstance, chance, that they’d rub shoulders with a very wealthy and influential person, let alone develop an ongoing relationship with one. And now that the student loan bubble has hit a record high, fewer youths will be willing (or able) to take the risk of taking on inordinately high loan debt in order to attend a quality university. The vast majority of us needn’t worry about Harvard or Princeton since we’d likely never be admitted anyhow.

Yet every day people do turn on their televisions (much as I wish they wouldn’t, praying that they would please cancel their cable subscriptions and recognize that them paying for the service only further enriches those they view as rich and influential enough already, perpetuating the problem) and gaze upon the Kardashians and other wealthy celebrities and politicians, adding more fuel to the fire and enhancing the sense that we increasingly live in a time of haves and have-nots. But television has proven addictive, so telling people simply not to watch it is pretty pointless. Besides, people feel entertained by doing so. But what do they learn? What messages are they being sent over and over again? If you think the mainstream media is neutral, think again. And if you think marketing and advertising has a minimal impact on our mindsets and behaviors, you’re incredibly naive.

Some of what’s being marketed to us, day in and day out, is divisiveness via neo-tribalism and false narratives. Because there’s a political competition, as always, geared toward telling people what they want to hear (or scaring the hell out of them through intentional fear-mongering), and as with advertising, people can be swayed. They may not trust the Democrats, but they certainly don’t trust the other side. So then what? Libertarians who get televised tend to talk about abstract matters or legalizing/decriminalizing marijuana and that’s about it. Even when folks online do create a platform to discuss our Constitution and the necessary protection of our rights, that may appeal to someone like me, but what about someone who views the police and government as dangerous and rich people as in their own separate orbit?

We have a conundrum on our hands at present, and it certainly won’t be alleviated by throwing around useless labels and calling one another names online. How do we get across to people who haven’t learned all that much about the origins of our government or why our rights matter (thanks largely to the downfall of public schools)? How do you reassure people that caring about any of that is in their best interests when they think the whole system is rigged against them, don’t trust the corporations either, and basically have resolved themselves to be against the current setup? Call it nihilism, sure, but that doesn’t make it go away. Some folks out here seem to be craving greater chaos, almost with a devil-may-care casual attitude toward the fallout likely to occur as a result. Most others just aim to stay out of the fray and go about their daily lives, believing these feuds have always been ongoing and likely always will be, hoping they can make it through their own lives before the wheels fall off of this national project. But then that leaves their kids and grandkids to reckon with the mess when the shit eventually hits the fan.

I won’t claim to have any answers here. But I will say that considerations like this continuously reconfirm my decision to not have kids. Wouldn’t know how to prepare them for the future. And maybe that’s viewed as nihilistic on my own part, and so be it. Something’s obviously happening here, and I doubt the U.S. will be able to keep it together throughout my lifetime. More and more it looks like major social instability is just on the horizon — provoked by political opportunists, yes, but coming nevertheless. People do see an unfair situation, and I can’t blame them for viewing it that way. It’s a tough reality to come to terms with, especially when there appears to be SO MUCH wealth generated and so many possibilities on how it could be better spent rather than rich people congregating at high-priced galas or buying private jets and vacationing on luxurious islands, then showcasing it to the rest of us.

Maybe Hollywood will wind up checked this time around. Maybe. Perhaps people are finally growing tired of the lavish and inconspicuous displays of spoiled celebrities. Personally, I think it would be good for us to come to grips with how watching them really isn’t all that entertaining and instead tends to make us feel worse about our own selves and our own realities. Such comparisons only push the envelope farther. Helps no one, not even the rich celebrities who complain that they’re unfairly targeted with negative attention and are granted no privacy. Might as well give them what they want then. Would be better for us to turn our attention elsewhere and find ways to build our skills rather than continue bankrolling the already wealthy (especially where such fortunate circumstances appear undeserved). Maybe we would be better off with a more leveled society, relatively speaking, to where at least the disparity wasn’t this immense. Libertarian types might not like to hear it, but I’m frequently reminded of primatologists describing how perceived inequities lead to intense displays of outrage and aggression among chimps. We’re talking murderous rampages in some cases, even over fairly minor favoring one over the other(s). Well, we humans obviously are civilized and have a great deal more tolerance than chimps (thank goodness), but we do have our limits too, and it’s very possible that we’re approaching them (at least in terms of how the situation is being perceived — again, perception winds up being everything here). Rather than call on the government to redistribute money, which most don’t want (or don’t trust the government in doing so), we’d be better off figuring out better ways to vote with our own dollars so as to shift the balance. Talk of shopping locally turns out to not only be a hippie slogan — in our own communities is where we can have the most positive impact. Also actually voting in local elections instead of only in presidential elections (at least for those who claim to care about politics). Choosing our entertainment options more wisely so as not to reward spoiled celebrities. Figuring out more sustainable forms of energy so we can finally cease being beholden to the Saudi Royal Fucking Family. Seriously, fuck those guys! We do need more jobs, but the government’s no good at providing them (aside from the military and contractors). What else?

Some of the ideas commonly associated with the Political Left aren’t bad ideas. Not all are purely idealistic. One would think that real conservatives and real liberals alike would choose to care about sustainability. That’s an area where we could make inroads with one another, bringing ourselves into direct physical contact in the process.

That’s enough on this topic tonight.

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.

Karen Straughan, Millennial Woes, racial grievances and what the future might hold

Came across a blog post by Karen Straughan earlier tonight that she had written a month back titled “Open letter to Sargon of Akkad.” In it she’s taking issue with where modern identity politics are taking us in Western nations and how it’s now become socially, morally and legally permissible to denigrate white people (and white straight cisgendered males in particular).

She goes on to bring up a legitimate concern about how those currently claiming minority status and thereby “epistemic privilege” (or “epistemic advantage” as Millennial Woes helpfully reworded it to better clarify) can and very likely will continue using the argument being advanced now that they have been oppressed and remain oppressed, even if their ethnic groups become a population majority and even if they switch from being under anybody else’s thumb and in fact become the oppressors (in this case, of white people). That’s a very interesting observation that I happen to agree with her on. Why? Because victim narratives die hard. And, as she well knows, victim narratives in this day and age have come to provide a sense of entitlement, which then can be experienced as a privilege of sorts in its own right (despite those claiming such a narrative refusing to acknowledge this reality).

Considering how humans tend to operate, I don’t doubt for a minute that people will continue exploiting such a situation. Why? Because people belonging to various ethnic groups in the West have indeed been indoctrinated into seriously resenting “the White Man” and all that he represents. Dates back several decades by now. See no signs of it slowing anytime soon. In fact, the trend appears to be on a sharp upswing once again, having simmered down a bit in the ’80s and early 2000s.

Makes me think of the Zimbardo prison experiment where students were randomly assigned to the position of prisoner or guard and how the guards in short order began abusing their power. Why? Because they could. Felt like a license to do so. What starts out as playful prodding can degenerate quickly when one desires a scapegoat or a target on which to direct their animosity. Add authority to the mix and one can feel empowered. Now, on top of that add years of steeping in racial grievance industry propaganda and being repeatedly told that you’ve been mistreated, you’ve been taken advantage of, you’ve been denied your proper dues, your ancestors were raped by these bastards’ ancestors, you were made into slaves and stolen from your native land and disrobed of the royalty you and your people once possessed — well, you can imagine that tensions will run high and that pain will indeed be inflicted when and where opportunities allow for it. Embolden black Americans and latinos and native Americans to take this view and to join forces against white people, and the result may surely be an eventual attempt at genocide.

I don’t doubt it. Sounds like the trajectory we may be on at present. Certainly is what some are foaming at the mouth in their wishing and praying to bring about. I can think immediately of examples of BLM members and “King Noble” and some man provided air time on CSPAN a few years back to promote his dream for white genocide. Some are indeed wanting this to be the outcome, and they clearly say so. How many are in agreement with them? More than makes me comfortable. Makes a person pause and wonder how many more will embrace such barbaric thinking in going forward. Time will tell…

So I can appreciate why Karen is nervous. She has three light-skinned, fair-haired, blue-eyed children (according to her). This is a future they will inherit, and it will be them who may wind up victims of these cries for vengeance. Surely I can understand why any parent today would be worried about what the future may hold. Doesn’t look too good. Makes me to ponder on what it might take to change this course.

Karen understands that tribal identities are deeply ingrained in people. I’d argue most especially in non-white people these days, for whatever reasons. Somewhere in all of this she stated (to paraphrase) that she’d rather her kids grow up in a white identitarian society than wind up “targets of a legally and socially acceptable hate campaign.” And what parent wouldn’t prefer the former if the latter were the alternative? I get it. Don’t have kids of my own and considerations like this only added to my reasons over time for refusing to have any.

She asked the following (rhetorical) questions: “Would leaving your entire estate to people of color, as that BLM leader he vlogged about suggested whites should do, be enough to remove the stain of original sin and spare your children? Would paying reparations be enough? Is there anything that would be enough to wash a white person clean of their unearned privilege and the blot of having benefited from a system of white supremacy that has uniquely exploited all other groups? How could it, when the system is set up so that you can’t help but benefit, and cannot, because of your privilege, even appreciate how you’ve benefited?” NO. Because it’s not about achieving equality among the races/ethnicities anymore, if it ever really was. It’s become a power grab, plain and simple, and for some it’s driven by a sadistic desire to unleash hell on others. POWER.

Why do I say that? Because power has been the focal point among many of these identity groups for decades, and at the exclusion of nearly all else. It’s what their teachers resented most and what so many have been actively taught to desire to wrest from others. Why? Because they believe it is their due. Where does it eventually end? Probably in such a major moral crisis that those claiming victimhood today will be forced to see themselves as having become the victimizers. Which is to say far past the point of initiating violence and dispensing of protection of rights for all across the board and fairness under the eyes of the Law. Why? Because people can’t resist pushing envelopes, most especially when they’re ideologically possessed to the point where they are rendered blind to the reality of the situation and cannot clearly ascertain their own hypocrisy in the least.

Humans are sons of bitches, that much is true. We can be wonderful, giving, considerate beings, but we can also be hellish beasts bent on revenge based on distorted worldviews who refuse to accept the possibility that we might indeed be wrong. Even inhumane in our own right. Heaven forbid we turn out actually worse than those we’re claiming were such god-awful oppressors. But then again, we can rationalize anything if we try hard enough. “They made us into the beasts we are now. It is because of them and centuries of slavery under them. They had it coming.” And all will be deemed justified until enough within their own ranks experience a crisis in conscience and choose to forcefully speak out and resist (assuming enough ever do so — that’s not guaranteed).

So yes, I can completely understand why the future looks so bleak and why white folks are concerned. They/we should be. How do you make it stop? Millennial Woes was right in his video where he stated that those on the extremes are done talking. They don’t want to work it out because they see any compromise in this regard as futile or it doesn’t deliver what they desire. Some indeed do see it that way. I personally don’t, nor can I view this situation entirely in terms of race and join a group accordingly. Am one of those mixed beige misfits he spoke of who probably would wind up rejected along racial lines, so I have no choice but to seek answers elsewhere. My view is that this is more about culture than it is expressly about race. Western cultures have European roots which were white in origin, but that doesn’t mean all who are white currently embrace Western cultures or their extensive history, nor does it automatically exclude all not in possession of European ancestry and blood from heartily appreciating, upholding and fighting to protect Western cultures and values. To make this about race is a losing game, and I don’t just say that based on my own bias. I honestly don’t see a massive race war ending well for hardly anybody.

At this point I’d like to offer up Millennial Woes’ video response to her:

Watched it shortly after reading her blog post. In his video he discusses thread commentary that must’ve taken place in Sargon’s comment section. Now, as far as alt-righters go, I happen to like MW. Don’t agree with him on everything and recognize that he’d probably view someone like me as an irrelevant distraction and not to be trusted (based on half of my ethnic bloodline). Fair enough. But I still watch his videos from time to time and take into consideration his views despite where our opinions starkly differ. He said some interesting things here that I’d like to draw attention to.

Pausing at 33:35: He spoke of society having the option of being either “white dominant or white vulnerable” due to assuming that all this hate being generated toward white people will likely result in legal protections not being granted toward white people if ever they are removed from power in our Western countries. That gets me thinking about an academic journal article I read yesterday titled “The Case For Colonialism” by Bruce Gilley. Kind of hate to mention it in this context since the paper is receiving enough heat as is, but what I appreciated about it was the emphasis on the benefits bestowed by colonialism and how its removal has led to devastating collapses and social unrest in many third world nations. Basically the author reframes the role colonialism once played and discusses how technological, legal and political advancements became possible in those regions while under foreign rule. I see no harm in entertaining the proposal that colonialism provided benefits to nations that otherwise couldn’t have arisen, as was also true for European societies who themselves were once upon a time colonized by more advanced Romans and the like. Cultural appropriation was key in the advancement of societies up through history.

And before people begin screaming in horror, read his article to the end where Gilley discusses how modern colonies might be established whereby the governed provide consent (and how a number of people in these foreign lands indeed do wish to be recolonized after witnessing the disappointing outcome after gaining independence). Gilley’s proposition to bring multinational corporations into the mix was off-putting for me, but the idea could be extended to the formation of intentional communities ran by Western expatriates who choose to reside on location rather than govern from afar. The idea has merit, or at least it could if more details could be hammered out, and I think such projects are overdue in being attempted. Though I don’t doubt the most radicalized among us would probably like a crack at bringing about their idealized utopia in such places, which very likely would lead to more disastrous failure. But then again, the most extreme among us probably wouldn’t leave the West if paid to do so, seeing as how they’re most interested in exploiting this land and this culture for all it might be worth.  Though I’d be down with trying to pay them to go off and try out their ideas. Let rubber hit the pavement and experience why it won’t work firsthand. But if they do fail, naturally they will find a way to blame the West regardless. So maybe the extremists should just stick around here and be dealt with accordingly since they’ll bring misery wherever they go. But those possessing sound minds and an interest in advancement and the formation of a stable, sustainable system could prove to be a major asset in these third world regions where hope is currently dwindling and nation-building isn’t proving to be the natives’ strong suit.

Everything in life being a trade-off. Maintain one’s stubborn pride in the face of warring factions and a destroyed infrastructure and a black market takeover, then that’s on you. Instituting and enforcing effective law and order hasn’t arisen everywhere where populations no longer can be governed according to tribal customs. That’s a reality we’re confronted with, whether we like it or not. What Gilley referred to as “anti-colonial” movements indeed do appear to have done their fair share of harm since the WWII era, if not more than the colonists they claim to take issue with. So paying empty lip service to conditions in unstable regions and laying all blame at the feet of white imperialists for ever colonizing such places in the first place isn’t doing a damn thing to help at this point in history when populations have already expanded and a desire for more modern standards has long-since arisen. Most people on earth don’t desire to return to living in the proverbial grass huts, nor do many (if not most) of those facing such conditions wish to remain in them. But then again, there is the question of whether it’s even feasible at this point to construct and maintain modern infrastructures elsewhere on the planet when necessary resources are growing more scarce, with competition mounting over their acquisition. So, maybe it’s all a pipe dream on my (and the author’s) part.

Anyway, getting back on topic, such inquiries do help one to consider the benefits that colonialism brought to distant lands, which then helps us to recognize it not as simply an evil thrust upon others by white men but an expansion of Western technologies and culture to places where otherwise they might not have naturally arisen for many ages to come. Basically sharing and spreading modernity. At this point I expect my fellow social science-lovers to protest, saying that lands outside of the West would’ve been better off if never introduced to such technologies and cultural values in the first place. Okay. But nearly everybody stating that lives within our Western nations and was educated by our Western schools, and every single one of us has benefited from this setup, whether we care to acknowledge it or not.

That’s my next point: All of us growing up in America (or Canada or the UK or elsewhere in Europe) in this day and age can’t help but be privileged in the eyes of the rest of the world. We have ALL benefited from what Western values and advancements have furnished society. That can’t be helped. From our social programs to our universities; from indoor plumbing to a pretty darn fair legal system (in global standards); to the countless comforts we take for granted everyday. Yet people balk in the face of all of this, as if life would be better were we still trying to eek out an existence on the savanna. Really wish for a return to hunting and gathering? Most of us would never survive it, especially us spoiled on Western conveniences (despite what we might like to imagine). This is what we’ve got, and it’s the best humans have been capable of coming up with. Yet people protest and spit at modernity and its history. Because it was not the product of African nations, then it is rubbish?

Sometimes we can’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Our fantasies and concocted ideals like to lead us astray…

I’d like to continue this ramble, but the night has come to an end. Need sleep. Hopefully a topic to be resumed tomorrow.

“Modern Times: Camille Paglia & Jordan B Peterson”

Great to listen to those two discuss what’s going on in academe, between the sexes, and in society in general. I will return to this post later to highlight key points of their discussion.

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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Karen Straughan’s afterthoughts on Chris Cantwell and white nationalism

All of her points made there sound reasonable to me.