My reply on the topic of the “Unnecessariat”

I was sent a link to an article titled “Unnecessariat” by a youtube commenter who has asked me on a couple of occasions to address what was written. Not sure if the commenter was the original author of that article, but I did finally get around to trying to comment on it today on that blog, but for whatever reason it did not allow my post. So, I will post my thoughts here instead:

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I was sent a link to this article and asked to comment on the condition of the unnecessariat (a designation I quite obviously belong within as well). Hmmm. What really can be said about all of this? It is true that times have changed and that nearly everybody wishes for a return to “the good ol’ days” but that it’s not going to happen (as the angry commenter above already explained). Is this a depressing reality? Sure. But must it lead us to drug abuse and alcoholism and completely giving up? NO.

Basically what you’re asking here is what’s the meaning of life, or what meaning can sustain a person through a decline with no end in sight. I guess the best place to look would be at the words of those historical figures who endured slavery and bitter poverty and the like to get an idea of what helped them to carry on. For many, it was a deepening sense of spirituality and connection with the Creator. For Stoics, it was adopting a simpler, more principled life so as to be able to appreciate the small pleasures that do exist despite the harshness of reality. That’s where I’ve been turning my attention in recent years.

I did notice the sentence in the article about “why they’re shooting drugs and not dynamiting the Google Barge” and while I can understand the anger it stems from, you have to remember that people make their own choices. Fight technology why? Fight the major corporations why? And the author also disparaged entrepreneurship, dismissing it as “self-rescue with unicorns and rainbows.” So you’re really leaving nobody any out here. I personally am self-employed and it suits me. Will such a strategy work into the indefinite future? Who knows? More importantly, why should I care? It allows me to live a simple life and get by, which is enough for now. Is the goal in writing this to incite people to blow up Google, and do you really think that will stop human progress? Do you really think that might reset everything back to times we like to romanticize about being simpler and more predictable?

The past is gone. And if ever humans manage to knock themselves back into a dark age where we effectively do reset our civilizations and have to begin building again, you can bet that eventually we’ll arrive right back at this point once again. Because that’s what humans do. It’s how we’re driven, right or wrong. Trying to fight all of this can wind up being about as useful as trying to fight the wind. Life’s not easy and there were never any promises deserving of being taken to heart that this project in living would all work out great in the end. That’s our own expectations fucking with us. Adaptation and/or utilization of the current power structures so as to effect change are our best options. Blowing the place up will only create a vacuum wherein another group of ideologues will rush in to fill the void, likely resulting in even more dire results.

Not saying that to sound apathetic, but I do believe it comes down to a question of what it is we’re really expecting in this life. To live on forever and ever in peace? That’s unrealistic. To believe we’re entitled to green pastures into the foreseeable future? That’s utopian. Sure, it’s understandable to not wish to be screwed by those who’ve grown most powerful, and we can work toward booting those people out of positions of power and figuring out how best to protect ourselves from such exploitation in the future. Won’t be ushered in via socialist utopian fantasies, though, that much I’m willing to bet. So, yes, in a real sense it is a “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” scenario. Because we humans have a tendency to both strive toward power as well as become corrupted, and that doesn’t change under a socialist setup either.

My own decision was to not have kids. People love to scream about how horrible the future is bound to be, and yet they keep churning out more kids who will be forced to confront these job and resource shortages. Seems folly to me. Perhaps this is a terrific point in history to forego having kids and instead of losing ourselves in drug and alcohol abuse actually do our best to educate ourselves about what is and what all has come before. Just so we can become better oriented in this life and therefore perhaps better capable of handling whatever is in store.

“Why I Say F#ck No To BitCOiN!” (plus my thoughts)

TruthNeverTold’s video on the subject:

Hmmm. He’s echoing a few of my own concerns about bitcoin, particularly that it’s backed by nothing (a major issue with our fiat currency already),that it obviously isn’t limited since so many different types of cryptocurrencies are surfacing, and that serious pondering on the topic of financial anonymity (for everybody, including politicians and whatever shady shit they and whoever else are wanting to conceal) gives me pause. He brings up the interesting question: anonymous to whom? To one another mostly, or so it appears. If he’s right that a government agency is all up in that scheme, utilizing this technology to manipulate people into behaving as if they are truly anonymous online and preparing people for a switch to purely digital currencies — well, honestly that wouldn’t entirely shock me at this point. Sounds like modern life.

I’ve hung back from the bitcoin craze, initially ignoring it and nowadays looking around to get better acquainted with what’s going on. What I have heard on the matter makes me glad I didn’t have enough money to invest back before trading prices soared for bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, seeing as how the situation doesn’t look like it’s going to work the way many had hoped. It’s been interesting observing people throwing so much faith behind these new currencies, and I can understand their enthusiasm to challenge the status quo. But none of this smells right, ya know? It can’t be that easy to render the U.S. Treasury obsolete.

We’d like to wish it were a possibility, but how can it be? Money is no longer the true name of the game. It’s beyond that now. Or perhaps it’s always been beyond that, money merely being a vehicle for acquiring power. But once one’s firmly entrenched and the System is thoroughly corrupt, you wind up having to fight the System itself. Cryptocurrency alone is insufficient. You’re still locked into this grid and beholden to various major corporations, a number of whom contract with our government. Who’s side do you figure they’ll be on in the end? Helping free you from them? How would that suit their interests?

Cryptocurrency backed by nothing…  Except what? Mathematical computations? What stops a wealthy individual or group from buying up a vast amount of bitcoin? Bid the share price up, scare people over the threat of the bubble bursting to where they start selling when the market is way up, then buy up a bunch once the price drops? Nothing that I can find would prevent that from being a possibility. And then we’re right back into a situation no different than our current mainstream economic conundrum. Disproportionate amount of currency cornered would grant some much more power than most, and nothing is likely to stop that from occurring eventually.

But is it all another government con-job? Maybe. Probably. I won’t claim to know. Just wouldn’t surprise me if so. And I don’t know what you do about that either. It’s like we can run but we can’t hide and most likely will be caught. I don’t like it any better than the next person. And I wish I had an alternative to suggest.

This is why I get to thinking that we’re going into this dystopian future whether we like it or not. There don’t appear to be brakes on this runaway train. Corruption is real and it runs deep. Why? Because power and prestige is very enticing to humans. Control matters. For as innovative and daring as we are, we’re also very predictable in terms of group behavior. Marketing efforts have demonstrated this. We can be swayed and directed rather easily if you know what buttons to push, and the study of psychology has been all the rage for the last century. These are not stupid people running major institutions and agencies, and plenty of them probably honestly think they’re on the right side of history and that they’re protecting our nation and citizenry. Probably…

People often believe whatever they wish to were true. Facts are a funny thing — turns out not as stable and widely accepted as we like to think. What’s popularly assumed so often isn’t what’s actually true.

Don’t know when the shift in this direction occurred. Perhaps it’s always been this way on up through the ages, or perhaps societies always devolved into some version of what we’re experiencing. But what’s perceived by us  on the ground as decline heralds the rise of something else to those who stand to benefit. But really nobody truly benefits during dark ages, despite what power one may possess. At least that’s my thought on the matter.

I just don’t know that we can stop whatever’s coming. Not sure we can even reason with it at this point. It’s behaving like a force of nature by now. Prepare to be lied to and deceived. Utopia is not on the horizon, not in the foreseeable future.

Oh, and as for silver and gold — their true value is going the way of the dinosaurs so far as I can tell. Will retain some commercial value, but can it serve as currency in this day and age? No. (And, again, what stops a few from cornering that market? Nothing. Already happened before and will happen again, you can bet on it.) Many people are having a hard time wrapping their heads around such a claim, but I do believe it to be true. I guess time will tell…

“Joe Rogan Experience #1055 – Bret Weinstein”

Saturday afternoon viewing:

“Logic Is Not Enough”

From the Corbertt Report.

Sunday morning thoughts on that which we call God and the formation of hell on earth

A thought keeps returning to me lately. When in the Christian bible it is said that the meek shall inherit the earth, perhaps what that really means is that lower lifeforms will inherit the earth. Think plants, protozoans, and prokaryotes. (Or, thanks to human ingenuity, perhaps even nanotechnology.) The smallest of the organisms. That would make sense, when you really stop and think about it, considering how the cellular level always adapts and eventually triumphs over whatever we attempt. The microscopic evolve much faster than we do, putting us and other higher life forms at an ongoing disadvantage, with no end in sight.

Also, consider the scripture where it was said that lions will someday lay down with the lambs. Maybe by that what is really meant is that lions and lambs (e.g., higher-level lifeforms) will both succumb to death, as in going extinct as species. Just a thought…

Seems to me life is crazier than we can imagine and that it’s so obviously not constructed to cater to our human whims and wishes.

Was just listening to a youtuber Christian that I turn to from time to time to hear his commentary on current events. Today he was complaining bitterly about how stupid we human beings have become, how our civilization project has led us to become weak and incompetent, comparing us to modern farmed chickens and how far from natural they’ve strayed. What he’s pointing at there is domestication, and yes, we humans are subject to this as well, as should be apparent by now. Does it make us lazy and stupid? Yes. We too are far from natural in nearly every sense, having forgotten in a few generation’s time how to provide even the basics for our own survival. I’ve bitched about this plenty over time as well, noting how most of us nowadays only know how to wave around money, not create things of actual productive value. Sure, modern economics is largely to blame for bringing us to this point, and overpopulation, popular socialization, and increasing technological dependence will keep us here. Is this trend going to lead to human extinction? Perhaps. But such concerns no longer bother me much anymore. C’est la vie. Special as we are, we’re not above Nature. Though undoubtedly a few of us will brave the storm and survive on in the future dark ages. Maybe. Or maybe not, depending on the disaster(s) that befalls us.

I can understand people getting riled up over these topics, angry that we humans can’t seem to change course. But at the same time I also try to accept that we’re not as smart as we like to think, or at least we’re not as quickly adaptive due to our mega social/cultural/political/economic systems currently in place. The individual maintains more flexibility than the collective, yet we’re all absorbed in a major collective scheme at this point in time, whether we like it or not. Indeed, we will go down with this ship when the time comes because there is no alternative for most of us. I accept this and reckon I would be one of the first to go down when that day comes, assuming it’s a big catastrophic event rather than a lengthy decline (the latter seeming more plausible). Is what it is. I, for one, am thoroughly dependent on modern conveniences and technologies and can’t barely imagine life outside of them. Being subject to the elements directly and learning to hunt and gather when modern weaponry have run out of available ammunition strikes me as entirely daunting and best left to the survivalist types who train for such scenarios.

This is the downside of domestication. We grow increasingly dependent on the Systems humans have constructed. We know this, and yet some become very depressed when contemplating this reality. I used to as well, but then I came to see that that’s my expectations acting up. Rose gardens were never in the trajectory, much as we love to envision a utopian future. It’s just not realistic. Especially when you consider who are attracted to wielding such power over and within these Systems and how they tend to get there (hint: not through truly democratic voting into office).

Personally, I don’t wish to see the future past a certain point. Wouldn’t know what to do with it. Continually reconfirms my decision to not have children, having no way to prepare them for what’s to come. Just trying to imagine what 20-30 years into the future will hold is mind-boggling enough, based on my readings of where technologies are heading. Where others see possibilities and easier living, I see enhanced domestication and surveillance. That in no way warms my heart or makes me hopeful for my species, though I do aim to maintain an open mind since I have no way of truly knowing how it will all shake out in the end. Maybe we will get lucky and knock ourselves back into a stone age, that seeming to me to be a better alternative than winding up within intensely technologically-advanced totalitarian societies. The future looks very dystopian to me and has for a lot of years now, try as I might to imagine things working out more in the people’s favor.

Hence why I can’t stand these gender-bent movements and racial movements and other ideological oddities intent on separating us from one another. Just creates more suffering in the meantime, and very little of what they have to say is actually relevant in the big picture. Not really. Just keeps us blaming one another while our ship rocks and threatens to sink, as if that will change a thing for the better. Even our stupid political divides have come to look like nonsense to me over time. Corporate-backed teams with more in common than not, parading as if competing in our media circus. Just another smokescreen, another illusion that we all-too-willingly buy into.

So I guess when I think about these things nowadays, I’m overcome with the thought that we should probably make life easier on one another in the interim. Maybe quit paving the way to hell in our own individual fashions so far as we’re able. Cease blaming others who weren’t alive when the ball first began rolling and who individually have no more power than we do to stop it. Guess I’m taking more of a hospice outlook on life at this point, though I understand that simply making ourselves more comfortable isn’t necessarily the best idea either. But screaming profanities at one another constantly and casting blame wholesale and telling others to get off the planet certainly isn’t helping anything. Much as I don’t like the notion of coddling our illusions, I also take issue with the idea of stripping them from people and leaving them with nothing to believe in. Seems the latter will prove to be a more dangerous tactic, leading more into nihilism and a sense of despair and futility, which will only further paralyze people. That doesn’t sound like the right thing to do.

As I was talking about with a couple friends lately, everywhere I’ve explored has eventually wound me up at the same place, which is to go to God. And by that I do not mean religion, though I’m not exactly sure what it does mean. That’s just the feeling inside my heart and head more and more these days. Like this is too big for any one of us to comprehend and to take on, and perhaps we’d be better off giving one another reasons to maintain faith in humanity and that which is good and proper and reliable, rather than tearing it all down and leaving people with nothing to believe in. This is an intensely personal and emotional topic for me and not one that I typically care to speak about with others outside of my closest people, so I won’t run on much about it here. It’s just a recurring thought, a pull in a direction that I’m not yet able to fully grasp the meaning of but recognize it as significant. That which I call God isn’t what religions have taught about, though past people tried to point toward it to the best of their limited abilities. It’s incomprehensible in a way, yet very meaningful in Its reminder that life follows a “plan” we can’t control and dominate, try as we might. Perhaps referring to it as life’s “flow” is more accurate, though we tend to conceive of it as if it is a plan since we can note that its workings indeed do appear to have some sort of rhyme or reason. Just not in line with our human melodrama, which then perplexes us. I won’t pretend to understand It, and I certainly won’t attempt to articulate my thoughts about It beyond what I’ve said already since I’m not the one to attempt to do so. And that’s fine. Striving for a personal understanding is all one really can ever hope for, considering we can’t help but experience this life through our own subjective lenses.

As someone who hasn’t been religiously affiliated in over 20 years now, I admit that it feels a little weird to keep feeling this pull toward that which is greater than us, not knowing how to describe it or what it all may mean. Atheists and skeptics would look upon someone like me and say that I’ve grown scared enough that I’m just grasping for straws at this point, when in reality I’ve actually grown calmer through this process of exploration. I was far more scared in years past, back before I began to release my expectations and try to accept life simply for what it is, good, bad and ugly alike. That transition maybe was brought about originally through fear and fatigue from fretting, but I didn’t go searching for it so much as it just crept up on me over time. And I don’t know why or how or what any of it means, but I’m willing to listen to It and accept not having answers. Because there’s nowhere else to go, quite literally. So maybe it is some sort of figment of my imagination — that’s always possible. But perhaps it’s a useful one, far more so than all this bickering and team-joining and politicking and expecting humanity to find its way out of our myriad conundrums. I don’t think we can, not in the foreseeable future. And I do believe there are people poised and ready to take full advantage of whatever power grabs become available, because that’s part of human nature to do so. We’re not a good species, but we’re not entirely a bad species either. We just are what we are, complicated as that can’t help but be. Shortsighted and tribal, power-hungry and nepotistic, sometimes charitable but also unavoidably naive…and on and on it goes.

Seems to me there’s no good reason to loathe one’s own species, especially considering none of us are immune to its foibles and fallibility. This is who we are, right and wrong, and it’s what we have to work with. So many seek power over others, believing that to be supremely meaningful, but really it’s learning to exercise power over oneself that’s especially tricky. We’re not too good at that. Domestication may be partly to blame today, but this problem follows us back to the very beginning of human origins. It’s the perennial conundrum that most of us don’t even begin recognizing the importance of until we’re more than a couple decades into living and will struggle with for the rest of our lives. It’s certainly easier to deflect outward, to blame those over there for our problems, even those at the top, but really we’ve all been complicit in the games we play in this life. Whether we initially meant to be or not, we became so and remain so even after we start becoming aware of what’s going on. No political party or laws on the book can rectify this matter for us. It’s an innate flaw within us — just part of living as sentient life who are always growing and exploring and learning. Can’t be helped and can’t be altogether changed. So no, there is no utopian on the horizon, just more human errors in judgment and striving for power and popularity and playing of the games as have been set before us by previous generations. Plus more technological prowess that many of us don’t fully understand and that most of us will not be able to control.

And on and on it goes. Sometimes it feels very daunting to take in, but other times I feel relatively at peace about it, sad as it can’t help but make me. Am I still scared of the future? Sure. How could you not be if you’re really looking into what’s being developed and what ideologies are growing in strength and numbers? I worry a lot for my loved ones, but I take some solace in the fact that our lives will only last so long. Some say that’s pessimistic thinking on my part, but what really strikes me as pessimistic would be if we were designed to live 150 years or more. That sounds like hell on earth. Which gets me thinking about the reason why I lost my religion in the first place as a young teen: I couldn’t believe in infinite suffering in hell. That’s what broke me out of that faith originally, finding no answers to that question. And since then I’ve come to understand at least that hell is something we humans can create on earth, and I can’t help but believe that in the future we will construct a greater hell than has ever been known before. That’s not what I’d like to believe, but all signs keep pointing in that direction. Why? Because our good intentions don’t tend to jibe with reality, as has been proven time and time again, yet technologies can and will allow for the formation of far more invasive ways of life. And many people will embrace them, believing the hype and accepting the rhetoric claiming that these technologies will aid us in reducing waste and saving the planet/climate and becoming evermore efficient as societies and within corporations. People will believe it because they wish to, going back to that naivete mentioned earlier. And people will gnash their teeth and people like myself, calling us fear-mongerers and luddites and pessimists for not gleefully being on board. To which I say: we’ll inherit the life we deserve. So be it. We do not understand freedom and have shown nearly a fearfulness of it and the responsibilities it requires of us to maintain it. That much is clear by now. So we will get what we help bring about. Right or wrong.

I’m just grateful that life isn’t too long. Allows us to appreciate what time we do have and what people we’re lucky to know while alive. I can grieve for my country and my species in general, but it will change nothing. We’re an interesting lot, if nothing else. Life is indeed fascinating and mysterious, and I look forward to observing it continuing to unfold during my lifetime. I try to tell myself not to be afraid, that it’s just life and this is how it can go. That no suffering can go on indefinitely (though some torturers have demonstrated to the public that it certainly can go on far longer than one can sanely endure — hence our capacity for evil). Feels like a game of whack-a-mole sometimes where the objective for the average layperson is to not get shut up in a box somewhere, whether by a government entity or a crazed stranger or even in an abstract, ideological sense whereby the box is fictitious yet we treat it as if it’s real and keep ourselves within its parameters out of fear and/or obedience.

Life is crazy, life is mad. And it always will be, that much is guaranteed. But with the notion of God comes Love, and I think that’s of infinite importance right about now. Others in the distant past have said it’s true, but reality keeps demonstrating just how true it really is. But then again, that topic perplexes me too, so I continue to grapple with it, not comprehending what it’s even asking of me. Not known for being a very forgiving person myself, so I’m likely very limited in my understanding of what that all may mean. But I will continue to explore it, feeling that it’s very important and deserving of our dedicated attention and contemplation.

Makes me feel very humble reckoning with all this stuff, feeling like a little animal who’s just not competent to make sense of so much in this life. It can be very overwhelming, undeniably so. But I’m trying not to be paralyzed by reality so that I may participate in a more meaningful and productive fashion. However successful I prove to be at that is yet to be seen. My prayer today for all of us is that we be willing to reckon with all sorts of unknowns, particularly those which contemporary “wisdom” deems as off-limits, irrational, or otherwise heretical. I believe it will be good for us to do so, albeit difficult as well.

“Jordan Peterson LIVE: 12 Rules for Life – An Antidote to Chaos”

His 4th appearance on the Rubin Report:

Evergreen’s Educational Model (Weinstein / Heying Interview)

Part 2:

That was an interesting conversation to listen to. Helped change my opinion a bit, based solely on what I’ve read and heard online about Evergreen State College this year. Helps me to realize that the way the curriculum was structured there wasn’t in itself the problem and actually sounds rather nice for non-traditional students. But indoctrination can happen anywhere, and like they acknowledged, perhaps the environment structured within Evergreen allowed it to be taken a bit farther than we might expect in other institutions of learning because the students spend so much more time with a particular professor. If that professor happens to be Naima Lowe, well, then Houston we have a problem.

Good conversation overall. Interesting to learn more about Bret Weinstein and his wife (and fellow professor).

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.

The Year of the Scam

Did I mention that a few months back somehow a crook got hold of my debit card information and used it to place two purchases, one to an online retailer I’ve never shopped at and the other to a utility company in the Northeast U.S.? Yeah, that happened as well. A little over $270 in charges, all reversed by my bank once caught and reported that same week. Bank representative told me it was likely that my information was collected through a gas pump skimmer scam and that I’d be better off going inside to pay for fuel purchases in the future. That’s a bummer. So I began paying for gas in cash more often than not.

Then when I was finally filing my taxes after having filed an extension to put off doing so, when using TaxAct (which is the site I normally use) I had to deal with their relentless upsell attempts throughout the process. And because I didn’t have a discount code this time around and did have a second source of income from a side job (if you can really call that income since the fuel costs involved nearly equaled my earnings — certainly wasn’t a money-maker, come to find out, at least not for us independent contractors), my taxes were complicated a bit, prompting TaxAct to claim I had to upgrade to a higher plan in order to continue filing. Before all was said and done, TaxAct was wanting to charge $87 for federal and state filing of what’s normally been a very straightforward and basic tax return. Everybody’s trying to get their cut this year it seems. Considering not filing through TaxAct next year as a result, especially considering the upgrade didn’t seem any different whatsoever from the usual plan used. Didn’t even import last year’s tax information for comparison purposes.

But my financial problems are relatively minor compared to what’s been going on out in larger society. Did you hear about how after Avast took over CCleaner this summer it then somehow was corrupted and placed malware on a bunch of private and corporate systems (2.2 million affected), using that established backdoor to deliver more malware so as to collect data? The word is that that was the handiwork of a Chinese hacker group, said to be the same ones responsible for hacking into Google’s infrastructure back in 2009. Learned about all that while researching what CCleaner was when I noticed it (or a faux application by that name) was left on my computer by the Indian tech support pretenders I dealt with last week.

Now, the cyber-security and antivirus giant Kaspersky is under fire, with the Los Angeles Times reporting today (based off of the NYT’s story that ran yesterday) that the Russia-based company was found (by Israeli government hackers) to be in possession of hacker tools coming from the United States’ N.S.A. Which then makes one wonder why it was so easy for an N.S.A. contractor to take home so much classified information in the first place. And I’m not clear on why U.S. federal agencies were utilizing a Russia-based company’s security products when so many in our government claim to be extremely skeptical of all things Russian. Just doesn’t make sense.

Then there was the curious case of the hacker group known as The Dark Overlords made infamous in its attempt to collect ransom from Netflix this summer by threatening to dump full episodes of their exclusive show Orange Is the New Black, along with other shows on the site, turning its attention recently to hacking into a suburban Iowa school district and scaring the hell out of parents and students alike. Bunch of bastards those hackers are. Their link to this crime was made known through Twitter when members of TDO themselves took responsibility for the school hack. How lovely…

And in other news, there now appears to be a vulnerability on Android phones thanks to something called the Dirty Cow bug. So make sure only to upload any apps directly from the Play Store.

Then there was the Equifax breach (which, btw, in case you weren’t aware, when you clicked the link on their site to find out if your data possibly was compromised and sign up for their credit monitoring offer you’re also agreeing, per the fine print, to forfeit the right to sue them and instead to accept arbitration if problems arise — just so you know). But fear not others like me who procrastinated and are behind the times — public outrage forced Equifax to back down on trying to enforce that arbitration clause this time around. Though it wasn’t likely their little arbitration clause would’ve held up in court anyhow. A class-action lawsuit is already underway.

Now, the Cato Institute has come out saying that Equifax isn’t a one-time security concern and that all data-collectors, including those within our own federal government, are vulnerable to being compromised in a similar fashion, as was demonstrated by the 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management databases (resulting in data on 21.5 million government employees, security clearance applicants, contractors and their relatives and associates being breached — the major exception being employees of the CIA, conveniently enough straight_face  — as always, those guys move in mysterious ways) as well as the 2016 hack of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) that was made public only within the last month.

Back up and running (early October update)

It’s been a long week. Began last Wednesday when I had been having an all-around decent day and finally made my way to the local shooting range with my revolver. All went well there, then I got home and was searching on allrecipes.com that evening, thinking of what to make for dinner, when something peculiar jumped up on my screen. And guess who wound up getting scammed. You get one guess.

Ugh. Was a stupid mistake on my part. One would think with 20 years of online experience under my belt that I wouldn’t fall for a frickin’ scam. Was a pretty sophisticated pop-up, I’ll give them that. Claimed to be a message from Microsoft and included an audible recording. Locked up my screen and spooked me enough to call the number listed.  Dumb, I know. Figured that at the time but took the chance anyway. Why? Hungry, tired, not thinking straight. Anyway, long story short, they didn’t get any money out of me and I’ve spent the last week trying to make sure they’re completely out of my computer along with any software they tried leaving behind. Frickin’ Indian scam artists looking to cause trouble and extort money is all they were. And yes, I’m a fool for freaking out and calling the number. I know. But all appears to be back to normal now, though I’ve beefed up security measures since then. Didn’t know what a VPN was before, but I do now. Learned about a bunch else too, but I won’t disclose all of that.

Going to chalk that up to a learning experience. Gave me a reason to reacquaint myself with parts of my computer that I don’t normally venture into. Been meaning to devote time to better secure this computer since purchasing it a couple years back and failed to do so, relying almost exclusively on the Microsoft products included with it. So it’s my own damn fault. Plus I should’ve known better than to think Microsoft would post up something like that on the screen. It’s not their way of doing business. But I got frazzled in the moment. There’s a first time for everything, and this was my first time to be scammed by an Indian techie-wannabe over the internet.

I will note this. They left three pieces of software on my computer: Supremo (another remote access application), CCleaner, and Malwarebytes. The last two mentioned there were unauthentic — malware. Got them all removed, then figured out my Windows Update had been disabled. Following directions on an actual Microsoft page remedied that. Ran more scans this week than I ever have on this particular machine. Had to learn command prompts and restored the system to a month back. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve fiddled with a computer to this degree, but all appears clean now. Hopefully. Let us pray…

So that proved pretty frustrating. But it’s been teaching me a good bit. And I didn’t get taken for any money. So it could’ve been worse. Glad they didn’t employ ransomware. Because they still wouldn’t have been paid and I would’ve had to kiss a bunch of files goodbye.

Last week was a dumb week all the way around. Like my brain wasn’t working right. Kept making all sorts of stupid mistakes. Decided to lay off the diet after that and returned to eating carb-rich foods with my former partner (ya know, let’s just call him “Former” going forward, for simplicity’s sake). Will resume the diet soon enough. Lost about 5 lbs. overall so far. Not sure if that had anything to do with my idiocy last week, but it certainly didn’t seem to help. Been feeling a bit better since resuming normal eating. Maybe that was the sugar addiction’s way of getting even with me for trying to overcome it. Well, I’ll let it win that battle for the time being.

Just going to continue monitoring the situation over here in days to come. Didn’t mean to conjure up drama for myself, but managed to do it anyway.  disgusted  I can just imagine how an even less tech-savvy internet surfer might wind up taken advantage of by those scammers. They were trying to finagle $240 out of me, and I’ve read elsewhere online since then that plenty of folks have actually paid them more than that. Reported them to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), for the record. And to econsumer.gov as well. And I encourage others who’ve been in contact with scammers to do the same.  These creeps gain remote access to your computer and then try to extort money from you by basically holding your computer hostage, threatening to “disable” it if you do not comply. Best to not call them at all and instead to either close down the browser completely, or if unable to do so because it’s locked up, to just go ahead and turn off the computer and reboot. Microsoft had this to say on the matter.

From what I’ve read, these pop-ups are generated by ads embedded in sites. Apparently even on otherwise reputable sites, like allrecipes.com (assuming that site’s ads are involved since that’s what I was perusing at the time). So I also shot off an email to allrecipes.com alerting them that they may want to look into their advertisements to see if they are indeed generating such pop-ups. Wouldn’t be the site’s fault, and I’m wondering if the advertising companies themselves even realize what they’re passing along. Very sneaky these scammers are.

Since then I’ve had another weird thing happening. A phone number (360-112-2000) from the Washington D.C. area keeps calling my number the last 3 days. Called about 7 times yesterday alone. The times I answered the line is silent. Searched the number online and read how others have been receiving calls from the same number, some claiming it’s silent while others claim it’s someone on the line pretending to be with the IRS or a federal agency and trying to conduct a scam. So I assume the Indian techie-wannabes passed my number along to some of their pals or else are directly involved in that scam/harassment scheme as well.

Internet gangs — that’s essentially what we’re dealing with here. Welcome to the New Age.

Well hey, at least in my week of fumbling I didn’t click on the fake Firefox Critical Update scam. It did come up, but I ignored it. Yay me.  rolleyes_smilie