relative

You can generally raise someone to love working.

You can generally raise someone to love the law.

You can raise people in so many different ways, and they’ll never quite understand each other, because it’s not so much a matter of logic, as it is a matter of temperament, conditioning, and early life brain calibration.

The conditions for law-loving, work-loving citizens are not favorable at present.  Such people are seen as antiquated and naive by many, if they actually think much about them at all.

The conditions for creating thinking citizens are also not favorable in general lately, world-wide, but there are corner cases here and there…

Is it stupid to want to work hard at work?  Only if you don’t enjoy it, I suppose.

Is it naive to indulge in your desire to work hard at work?  Sometimes it is, because it can be dangerous to attract too much attention, particularly if you are ill-equipped to handle social situations, and it sometimes doesn’t benefit the organization, anyways.

Should it be stupid to work hard at work?  Absolutely not.  I think such a state is a hallmark of a civilization in decline.

Should civilization be in decline?  Only if your people can’t meet the current standards, and you are willing to accept a lower global status which will eventually lead to plunder and displacement by other nations.

Really, the whole reason we can’t just sit around chatting, drinking tea and weaving baskets is to keep other tribes from killing us and taking our stuff.

In any case, it’s best not to assume anyone is simply stupid or naive, right off the bat, but first assume they are motivated by different underlying emotional structures.

childhood’s curve

Initially, we make no decisions.

As we are taught various things, we are permitted to start making decisions.

In a simple society with limited technology, the conventional age of independence is roughly adequate for making decisions affecting one’s own life.  There are consequences for limiting freedom for too long, just as there are consequences for allowing it too soon.

Things have gotten rather complicated, however.

Yet, when I was young, I had not connected the majority of the dots I have now managed to connect, and things seemed simple, and easy to fix.

I believe I was, metaphorically, subtly complicit in tearing down walls in a building that provided structural support.

I fled that building, and now it is collapsing.  Not because of the event of the day, but because the mindset of the people, and the structure of society, prevents it from properly handling the event of the day; today, tomorrow, and until it all comes apart.

Perhaps it would have been better if we had not been allowed to tear down walls before we knew a little more about how buildings worked.  And how cities worked.  And how human life works.

Perhaps childhood’s curve needs a bit of elongation.

all or nothing

Culture is a system; a very, very complicated system.

To the extent that any individual or shared-interest group can manipulate culture, it can do so only in a very crude fashion.

Tweaking culture without unintended consequences… is likely impossible.  This is because humans are so profoundly terrible at understanding their own behavior, regulation, and capacities.

They are bad at it for both direct and indirect reasons.  Directly, because it’s hard to understand, and indirectly, because there are political consequences for investigating and sharing that sort of knowledge.

So, when we deal with a culture, we can effectively either embrace it entirely, or reject it entirely.

Culture is not a buffet; every part is connected to every other part.

The parts you like are connected to the parts you don’t like.  They are inseparable.

And, in any case, culture always changes of its own accord, and in a predictable fashion, and at a predictable pace: it drifts, inexorably, in the direction of chaos, at a pace governed by human life span and current technology.

Order is only added as a last resort by humans facing death, deep misery, or hopelessness, and effectively creates new culture.

regret

You will never regret trying hard and failing.

You will always regret giving up.

I was deprived of the experience of failure in my early academic career, and insulated by my early career from the consequences of failing socially.

Is it too late to change?

I don’t know.  It’s an interesting experiment.

And, in any case, I will not give up.

I am failing lately to be who I want to be, but I will not give up.

Really, what’s there to do when you give up?  Chew on your regrets while waiting to die?

The only direction to go is forward.  Forget last year.  Forget yesterday.  Forget 5 minutes ago.

Right now is all you have.  Never give up.

America really is all about freedom

America is fading, and sinking somewhat into chaos.

It makes mistakes almost constantly, because it has absolutely no regard for the past, or for wisdom.

But if there’s one thing that is pretty cool about it, and that will not change, it’s the American commitment to global freedom.

Americans will always get fired up over freedom, and want to go flying in like Superman to save the day, when some nation steps on some other nation.

You can be cynical about the exact circumstances in which America intervenes, and the manner in which it performs, but the fact of the matter is, the American people are into freedom, and will always be willing to fight for freedom around the world.

That sounds hokey, but I believe it 100%.  As much as I can’t stand Americans in general, and as much as the American polity has changed in my lifetime, I solidly believe that much will remain constant.

humankind

A species that is extraordinary for its periodic bursts of civilization.

Since civilized people are more successful, they tend to become dominant, but few cultures seem to be able to keep it up for very long.

For as long as humans are around, though, they’ll keep trying, because civilization is so much more powerful than running around like wild animals.

Maybe its a tragedy of sorts that we can’t run around like wild animals.

Why can’t we run around like wild animals?

Because then we’d be displaced, marginalized, or destroyed by civilized humans, like all the other higher mammals, or domesticated to some particular use.

Probably better to wash up and put on some clothes, brush up on your studies, and go to work.

the thin blue line

I would like everyone to contemplate how difficult it is to subdue an individual who may or may not be armed, who may or may not suddenly attack you, and who may or may not be a better fighter than you are, reliably, without getting killed, on a daily basis.

When you factor in the fact that people seem to hate you, except when you are risking your life to save theirs, you kind of have to wonder who would want the job.  Crazy people?

Well, to some degree, maybe so… Continue reading

transgender

I’ve never been very good at being transgender, but that was never really the point for me.

It can’t be proven empirically, but my instincts have always been a mottled mix of what a male and female creature would logically exhibit.  An incoherent jumble of the two.

I spent half my life nominally male, so I figured I would spend the rest somewhat female, primarily by altering my hormone levels to roughly match female parameters.

On so many levels, I had no idea what I was getting in to(having no real social awareness), and I was really not in a healthy state of mind to handle it(having been depressed for a decade, completely isolated, and prescribed stimulant medication for years that was quite interesting).

To summarize the lessons:

  1. In the highly polarized American political climate, particularly starting in about 2015, everyone thinks transgender people belong to group “B”.  Group “A” hates you on sight, because you can’t hide being medically transgender.  Group “B” expects you to conform to group “B”s rigid social and political norms.  The former is mentally impossible for me, and the latter is too absurd for me to go along with.
  2. In the American workplace, you become a landmine.  Everyone is afraid to offend you, and there’s nothing you can do to effectively assuage their fears, because they can lose their job over it.  Even if they trust you to not report anything, other parties can report “incidents” on your behalf, which is just as damaging.
  3. Women often assume that your behavior, ideals, and interests, as a transgender female, is reflective of the way you see them.  In actuality, I’m just me.  I don’t do a very good job representing myself in life, much less anyone else.  I like things because I like them, not because I think women are supposed to like them.  Really, I’m just me.  I’m not good at social things.  I just like to work and think.
  4. Men do not understand women, and women do not really understand men.  This is by design.  Once you understand both, you understand, in a very visceral, emotional way, just how heartless nature is.  Perhaps you then decide you want nothing to do with gender whatsoever.  And then, perhaps, you wish you didn’t understand, but you can’t go back.
  5. Estrogen and Testosterone are profoundly and deeply mind altering.  The presence, absence, and ratio of the two all have noticeable effects, and if you are graced with control of them, and you experiment enough, you can tell by the way you are thinking and feeling, roughly what your levels are.  This takes place on various time scales; some changes are fairly immediate, but others take weeks, or months, to occur.

If there’s one takeaway lesson I wish everyone could know from my terrible but fascinating experiment, and the twists and turns my life has taken since then, it’s this: there are many events and states in life that males and females experience in a profoundly different way, by design.

If someone shows strong indications that they don’t like something, even if that something wouldn’t bother you, perhaps it makes them uncomfortable in a way you can’t even imagine.

By design.

communication

One difference between American and Japanese education is that, if you get a piece of information from your teacher in Japan, it is always critically important, and it will not be repeated.

All of it.  Seemingly unrelated things written on the back of other things are critically important.  There will be no reminders.

In America, there’s a huge volume of stuff that is sent that neither the sender nor the recipient really care about, so you learn to filter it.  You expect important things to be covered in blazing yellow and red, with “important!” plastered all over it, and you apply varying levels of attention to the rest.

I think here, it’s kind of an insult to remind someone of something, as it implies the recipient is not responsible enough to follow through on information, or that the sender doesn’t trust, or does not respect the recipient’s ability to schedule/remember things.

And, they just don’t want to bother you.

In America, people are used to treating each other like idiots, and have no qualms about disturbing one another, so communication is more of a fire hydrant that you sort of have to filter.

Anyways, 気をつけてね。 Buy a calendar book(lots of stationery stores here).  Use software with Gantt charting ability.  Absolutely do not put off examining every piece of paper, front and back, that you receive, until you have accounted for when its relevant/due.

I’ve been a little sloppy this term; I’ll do better next term.