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.

good and evil

It’s important to note that social pragmatism is antithetical to advanced societal order.

Criminal cultures run on primitive social pragmatism.  They view morality as naive at best, and idiotic at worst.

If you look at the nice places to live in the world, you’ll find they run on mostly on public order, rather than the loose, shadowy, shifting alliances that typify the criminal world.

I think this is primarily because national wealth/strength depends on public order and specialization of labor to sustain complex logistics, production, military, and research efforts.

In a chaotic world, everyone must be generalists, and technology requires order and specialization, above all else.

too weird to die

My life decisions are generally made by normalizing and averaging the typical vector for someone in my position, generating the plane orthogonal to that vector, and then choosing a random vector lying on that plane.

When you do that enough times, you become so strange that people no longer know what you are and aren’t capable of.  You can no longer relate to anyone, and they can no longer relate to you.

Now, being hopelessly strange is freedom, and it’s kind of safe, assuming you can find the right job in the right place(which, I suppose, is 90% of safety, anyways).

But it’s lonely.

Of course, when you stay lonely long enough, the pain goes away, and then you become even stranger, because then you can no longer deal with random social situations at all.

Still, I like working.

In Idaho, I always dreamed of having a place where people could just work, and talk about work, and work all the time, and work together on projects.  No one really seemed to quite understand.

Fortunately, I don’t have to implement such a place myself, as I discovered later that it already exists, and it is called “Japan”.

I just hope I can find a way to stay here.

The Internet

The commercial Internet was so cute when it was a baby.

If it would have stayed the way it was in 1998, perhaps we would have all been better off.

It became a monster, and consumed us in ways we could not have imagined.

We kind of implicitly assumed that Internet power would mostly be used by people for distribution of information and shopping, but really didn’t foresee what would happen when it became a truly mass medium, when it became accessible in smart phones.

The echo chambers, the wholesale destruction of various creative industries, the information flows governed by the most charismatic, rather than the most informed…

I still kind of compare it to the post 50’s glut of food technology… trans-fat preserved snacks… the mass consumption of high calorie foods we no longer needed.

Eventually, we learned food discipline, once we understood all the limits that were simply never encountered by the masses before, since food had never been so unlimited before.

Eventually we will learn Internet discipline.

Not merely in the sense of, “don’t play mobile games for more than an hour,” but in a more all-encompassing way, since the Internet is certainly all encompassing.

Rather, we need to understand that the instant gratification… the ability to evade even the shortest moment of boredom with something, is like weightlessness in space.  It’s easy, but it robs you of your strength rapidly.

I think we’ll find that boredom and creativity are more inextricably linked than we realize now.

We learned not to eat things just because they taste good, and instead focus on calories and nutrition.  Likewise, I hope we are somehow able to stop consuming Internet things just because they are fun or gratifying in some way, and focus on the effect it’s having on our minds.

Even things like Wikipedia are perhaps informational junk food.  When I  go back to books for similar information, it is kind of disturbing how much better a source of information they are.

Difficult vs. Easy.  Cheap vs. Expensive.

Being a successful streamer requires a very particular set of people skills, at a level certainly far beyond my grasp, but not much in the way of hard skills.  I’m not sure how valuable it is for people to watch Twitch streams.

I think a lot about what life was like when we bought and listened to whole CD’s, and bought books from stores, and watched movies, and, as importantly, spent a lot of time not doing any of those things because we couldn’t.

I think a lot about how different people are now who never experienced a world without the Internet, and further, people who never lived without the mobile Internet, and how different their minds work.

But never without the thought, in the back of my mind, that I must avoid senseless nostalgia and stereotypical resistance to change that one begins to experience around my age.

What are the limits?  What is the future like, and what kind of minds do we need to have for it?  How to we prune our mental environment to give us back what we’ve lost, if that’s even possible?

Is it even possible to do so and still remain functional in the modern world?

before, as now

Long ago, nature killed the weak.

Then humans found ways of fighting nature to stay alive longer, far past the prime of life.

But it seems nature is finally catching up with us again, at least for now.

Coronavirus is not the end of the world.  It is only a return to the past.